And they're (mostly) right.
You know what they don't talk about? Tantrums on the ski hill. Getting no sleep. Plying your child with candy so you will stay sane. You know, the real stuff.
Since I have nothing else to talk about lately, thanks to a torn ligament (long story, another blog post) I thought I would tell you the REAL part about being an outdoor parent. If you have kids, you may find yourself nodding, thinking, "Oh thank GOD someone else's life with kids outdoors isn't ALWAYS awesome." And if you don't have kids, well, I may just scare you off completely and you will head off to your next backcountry ski trip with a clear conscience.
1. GET A BABYSITTER. GET A BABYSITTER. GET A BABYSITTER. Did I mention GET A BABYSITTER?
Yeah, yeah, I know, attachment parenting, we must all be connected at the hip all of the time, blah blah blah. But I had a relationship with my husband loooooong before any kids came in to the picture. That relationship involved lots of skiing, climbing, camping, cycling...in short, it was pretty rad. Sometimes, we still like to pretend that we are kid-less and care-free and we fork over half of a mortgage payment to go have fun together. On those days, we are amazed how smooth and effort-less everything is without children- how much faster we can ski, how much farther we can cycle, how worry-free everything is. It. Is. Awesome.
2. Candy is your best friend.
Cavities, schmavities. Do you want your kid to love skiing or hiking as much as you do? Then stock up on m & m's now. Because you will need a shit ton of them. Let's be honest. My 4-year-old could care less about the word "epic". But she cares a whole lot about candy. And trust me, you may need that candy to get her to walk the entire 1/4 mile from the car to the viewpoint (on a paved trail). Even then, she may still throw a tantrum. Then at least you have the chocolate for yourself.
Oh yeah, and don't give me the whole "well, if your kid had been hiking with you from birth, she would be a super-duper hiker by now." She was camping at 4 weeks old (her infant brother not so much, but only due to timing not opportunity) and hiking with us at 2 weeks. She's 4, which means she is bi-polar. One minute, hiking is THE BEST THING EVER! LET'S RACE TO THE END OF THE TRAIL! The next minute, she's face-down on the ground, crying that she's too tired. Just. So. Tired. (That's preschool-speak for "Daddy, pick me up!")
3. Your kid could go to a playground in Indiana and think it's just as awesome as a hut trip in the Alps. In fact, your kid will probably like it better.
Let's face it. Your kid cares exactly zero percent about other cultures or mountains in a different country. One day, he or she will. Probably. But until that day, is it really worth it to pay $1500 to fly your kid to another country just so he or she can go to a children's museum that looks pretty close to the one at home? Honestly, that's for you to decide, but in our family, it's a resounding NO. Now, this does not mean that I don't want to go to another country. I just plan to leave the kids at home until they're old enough to get something out of it. Preferably when they can pay for their own plane ticket.
4. You can do pretty much anything on no sleep.
Though sleep is always preferable to no sleep. I have raced on zero sleep due to one or both of my kids refusing to cooperate with my racing needs (what's up with that?) and done ok. I have had some amazing ski days on 2 hours of rest. I have even rock-climbed fairly well as a zombie. The part that sucks is afterwards, when you have to go home and take care of the munchkins who kept you up all night. That's the truly exhausting part of your day. Word to the wise: little kids can't read clocks. Put them to bed an hour earlier on those days. Then forget about the dishes or the toys on the floor or the laundry and GO TO BED.
5. A little tv is ok sometimes. (see #4)
I will admit that when I first became a parent, I was pretty adamantly in the NO TV camp.
Let's just all take a moment and laugh about that, shall we?
Ok. Are we all calm and collected now?
Being an athlete is exhausting. Being an employee/member of the workforce is exhausting. Being a parent is exhausting. Sometimes, you need a break. And sometimes, so do your kids. After her 5 hour ski lessons, Hazel is worn out. Trying to entertain her until bedtime is an exercise in futility. This is a kid who would almost always rather read a book than watch tv. But on those afternoons, she just needs to stare at a talking box. A book is almost too much. We also have an infant who needs our attention. He's not likely to get that attention if his sister is melting on the floor.
Watch some tv. No one will die.
6. You will always forget something really important and it will always suck.
No matter how much you plan, strategize, make lists, you will forget something vital to your adventure. And it will suck. Accept that it sucks, put on a fake grin, move on. That's the only way I know how to deal with it. And bring lots of duct tape. Duct tape solves all problems. Forgot a doll at home? Make one out of duct tape. Favorite blanket? Make one out of duct tape. Need a water bottle? You get the idea.
7. It's ok to admit defeat.
I have been there, you guys. I have spent the night mostly awake tending to a child's needs. Then I have spent two hours getting everyone ready, two hours in the car to get to someplace amazing and then? Then, everyone just loses their shit. And I don't mean their stuff. In that moment, it is perfectly acceptable and justifiable to admit to yourself that it's just not in the cards for your family this weekend and that you would all be happier at the nearest Mexican restaurant, drinking margaritas and eating quesadillas.
It's best to hire a babysitter for the next day and try again- sans children.
8. You will cry tears of joy when your kids accomplish something big- riding a bike, skiing the blue run, climbing that wall and you will need a drink to celebrate. You will cry tears of frustration when your kids refuse to ski, ride, or climb and you will need a drink to drown your sorrows.
You can never predict what kind of day it will be. Either way, you will need a drink. Be prepared. Maybe make a flask out of duct tape.
Life doesn't always look like this when you play with your kids outdoors.
Disclaimer: I love taking my kids outdoors. And I do it all the time (evidence: Hazel has 75 ski days under her belt). So don't think I hate it. I actually love it. Really. Truly.