Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Mother's Morning Walk

I made a few little changes to my Average Daily Chart at the beginning of the year.  I didn't make any drastic changes, just a few little adjustments to the flow of our day to try and make things even better.  But with kids being sick and a few days out of town, we've had a rough start to the year, and I'm still in the testing and adjusting stage with most of the changes.

Heading to the trail
One change, however, has been wonderful.  I've started taking a 15-20 minute walk by myself each morning before Morning Time begins.

The trail
I can vividly remember a time when I heard a mom with older kids remark that she was taking a walk by herself each day after lunch, leaving her kids home to clean up after the meal.  At the time I couldn't imagine being able to do that...  and now, here I am, almost ten years later, leaving the breakfast clean-up in Emma (13) and Nathan's (7) capable hands.  Emma is also tasked with dressing her two year old sister, and Justin, my 4 year old, is supposed to get dressed, play quietly, and not be a nuisance while I'm gone.  Gregory (10) does some independent work like practicing the piano and typing, and reviewing geography.

The trail junction.  This tree dropped in a early snow storm a few years ago and we left it there to discourage people exploring with ATVs.
There's a not insignificant part of me that feels guilty for not taking the kids with me, and feels guilty for enjoying the solitude and the beauty of the woods without making the effort to bring them with me.

Our recent rain have turned this portion of the trail into a small seasonal creek.
A good mom would take everyone, wouldn't she?  Everyone needs some fresh air and exercise to start off the day!

And then swells into a large puddle that requires some cross country travel or wading.  The sign on the tree says, "No Prospecting, Panning, Sluicing, Dredging, Sniping, or Metal Detecting"  This is gold country, after all, and this section of the creek is claimed and occasionally worked.
But if I bring everyone, the walk balloons into an expedition.  The two minutes it takes me to change my shoes and grab a jacket becomes at least 10, if not 15.  Someone doesn't want to wear that jacket.  Someone wants to bring a large stick and accidentally whacks someone else with it.  Someone starts crying.  Someone wants to be held.  Someone doesn't want to go in the stroller.  Someone else does want to go into the stroller, which makes the first child want to go in too.

Amazing to think this was the dry creek bed of late September!  I wonder what happened to all the banana slugs.
Much of the child-wrangling energy I have is expended getting out the door, getting everyone pointed in the same direction, and then getting everyone home again.  What was supposed to be short, restful, and invigorating becomes long, exhausting, and draining.  Most of the children will come home in good spirits, but there will be one or two who will not be, and will require additional soothing and care before they are ready to be content again.  I'm willing to do it once a week for our nature walk, but every day?

In a few months, this meadow will be a wonderful place to find wildflowers.

And so I go by myself.

The shortcut back to our property, can you see the house just peeking through the trees?

And I come back refreshed and invigorated and I'm much more able to be present and cheerful all day long.


But I still feel a little guilty.


  1. Wow! This is in your backyard?! What a treat and I think you have an excellent idea. What a way to make a good start to the day. Good frame of mind, fresh air, mental prayer even. I love it!

    1. Thanks, Lucy! Yes, I can access this without driving anywhere. Only a little bit of it is our property though, most of it is either BLM (federal) land and a little bit is our neighbor's property. It is an amazing and beautiful (although somewhat inconvenient!) place to live.

    2. There are always trade offs true but this is a trade off I would be happy to live with! The wildlife you would see must be inspiring.

    3. Yes, definitely! We've seen everything from squirrels, deer, rabbits and skunks to bears, bobcats and coyotes. My husband even saw a mountain lion once when he was out on a walk! I love being able to look out my kitchen window and see all the trees and the ridge beyond.

  2. hehe! don't feel guilty; as I have learned (the hard way), a mother's sanity and peace is what the family really needs. and so if this helps you, then go for it!

    1. So true!! Thanks for your comment.

  3. If I could get out and take a walk like that, I'd do it alone in a heartbeat! My suburban neighborhood is not quite as inspiring. ;) Your kids seeing you taking those moments to be outdoors is going to be a powerful witness in their own journey toward being naturalists, I'm sure. You have me thinking I at least need to spend more time in the backyard when I have a few free minutes and need a refresher. :)

    1. It is amazing how refreshing just stepping outside for a bit is. I remember doing that and finding it helpful even when we lived in a little condo in the Bay Area. One thing I do miss about the suburban neighborhood we lived in was all the flowers and the more dramatic seasonal differences. There are definitely seasonal changes here, but for the most part they are more subtle.

  4. wow. Makes me miss home. What a blessing to walk out your door into nature.

    1. It really is, and I try to remember to always be thankful for it. Making the effort to take these walks each morning really helps me to be grateful - otherwise I can start to only focus on the inconveniences of where we live.