A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Chantal, a human of the outdoors. Chantal lives in Edmundston, New Brunswick and gets outdoors with her husband, Marc, and their 2 daughters: Catherine who is 4 years old and Aria who is 1 and a half years old. Here is her story…
On her time outdoors…
My husband and I are both teachers so during the summer time we are always outside with our two daughters (1 and half and 4) either playing on our swing set, drawing on the pave, working in our yard in our garden or flowers, working on a Pinterest project, biking on a trail, hanging out a my husbands parents place at the lake, hiking a mountain or camping and enjoying a camp fire. In other words our daughters make us go outside all the time. During the winter time, we go snow shoeing, skiing, skating and sliding.
My husband and I became lovers of hiking together. For some reason, we never really hiked or camped before, but together we fell in love with these adventures. Now that we have daughters, we are transferring our love for the outdoors for hiking, camping or just spending a day at the lake relaxing.
Our daughters always ask to go outside rain or shine. We are lucky that we have a closed-in deck off the kitchen, so they come and go as they please (with our permission of course). We try to make the outdoors all about exploring, so they love to smell the flowers, pick up rocks or splash in the water. During winter time, Cat helps to shovel the snow, I’m sure our adventurous little Aria will be out there this year too! We limit screen time to pretty much non-existent, so they have lots of time to go outside 🙂
On falling in love (with nature)…
It’s pretty random, how we came to love the outdoors. At the beginning of our relationship, we went camping with some friends, back when we were in university and we had a great time. Then, not long after, the same friends asked us to drive across the country with them as they were moving to Yellowknife and needed someone to drive the U-Haul. So we camped for the 10 days across the country. On that same trip we visited Banff and Lake Louise and fell in love with hiking. How can you not? So, I guess our trip across Canada 7 years ago had a big influence on us, including getting engaged in the mountains.
Marc and I have a lot of energy and we like to explore, go on adventures and challenge ourselves. Plus you can’t deny the beauty of the scenery, and the benefits of nature like staying healthy and active.
On spending a week (or two) without a car…
Marc and I are students this year, we are both home doing our masters. That being said, we have never spent so much time sitting and not moving in our lives (we apparently weren’t so studious the first time around haha). All of our plans start out with some joking around, with a little “Hey! Imagine if we did this?” Well the car-less challenge started like that, we decided to try it and we really loved it! We are in close proximity to everything and we have extra time since we aren’t working. The girls love it too, it gives the them time to talk about their day, they walk, sit in the stroller, bike. It’s all about having fun and keeping things simple. It’s making us move, get outside, save money on gas (we are now students ouch…heehee) and helping us live a greener life, it’s good all around.
On other half-joking wild ideas…
Oh, our famous rock climbing wall! The thing with how Marc I work is that I give him a million ideas that I see on the internet, on TV or in my head and he filters through them, haha. I was planning our toy room and pinning all of the cool ideas. The rock climbing wall was in it. To my surprise, Marc said yes! He did a lot of research (because once he agrees to something, he invest a lot of time in it) and we ended up buying our rocks at MEC (60 rocks for $250) – the best deal we found from a company that we love and trust. We then bought plywood, drilled holes and put in the bolts (or whatever the are called), even where we didn’t put rocks, because we can move the rocks around. We ripped the sheet rock off the walls and braced the plywood to the house studs, added a little paint and screwed in the rocks. It was affordable, although a little pricey, but awesome results and only 2 days work. Looks harder than it is:) A big thank you to the other people who had a great idea and posted it on the internet. The girls love it and it’s hours of fun!
On the ups and downs of outdoor adventures…
We have many stories and memories built around the outdoors. From my husband asking for my hand in marriage on a mountain at Lake Louise to falling down when descending Mount Carleton and having a rock in my knee for a whole month before the doctors finally found it and then running my first 5km race that weekend. This summer our 4-year old daughter hiked her first mountains in Banff and it was a really wonderful to share these moments with her and to see the pride in her eyes. Our other daughter (1 and a half) is all about the water. If we pass beside water she must touch it and usually her bum ends up in it too. Our hearts are filled with these wonderful and less wonderful moments that happen in the outdoors. But that’s what makes it fun!
On inspiring others to adventure with kids…
I find it funny that people are impressed, because honestly I think everyone can do it. When I say can do it, I mean doing what they love and not stopping living because they have kids. Share your passions with your kids, live experiences and bring them along. Was our trip to Alberta easy? Not really. Were we tired? YES. Was it amazing? YES!!!!!
Being a parent isn’t easy and consists of always being tired, so you might as well be doing something you really love while being tired. PLUS we are sharing our love for the outdoors and hiking with the kids and that has no price.
People often say, “But your girls are so calm!” or “My kids would never do that!” Um…have you hung out my kids for 24 hours? There are tantrums, and fits hahaha. They are kids 🙂 But there are also amazing moments that block out the “real” moments. Aria kept the whole campground awake in Banff. Marc went and slept in the car with her because she screamed so much. Life isn’t always pink it’s often brown (pun intended…).
Another comment: “You and Marc are so good, we can’t do that.” My response: “Why can’t you? or “Did you try?” The thing is, everyone is doing something special and amazing in their own way with their families. Raising kids is not an easy job. High five to all parents who are keeping their kids alive and happy. Do I think we are impressive? No…hahaha. Do I think we are doing the best we can? Yes. I think maybe the difference between us and other parents is that we try to make everything fun, we have a lot of energy. We also like to challenge ourselves and I guess we have a way to present our activities with little “spark” that makes them look special? (Am I making sense?)
Sometimes I wonder if I should share so much info into our personal lives, I don’t want people to think we are bragging. But the reason I do it is to inspire others to do the activities we do… WHY? We hike because we saw people with their kids hiking, we camp because someone showed us it was possible, I make a healthy recipe because someone shared it with me.
A little anecdote: when we were on our first trip in the Rockies as a dating couple, we saw families hiking with their young kids and teenagers. Marc and I said, “That will be us one day.” This time around, a young guy stopped us while we were hiking with the girls and took a photo. He said “I want to show my girlfriend, I want to be you guys someday with my future kids.” Marc and I smiled and told him, “You are us 7 years later.”
It’s all about sharing the adventures 🙂
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: Granola bars are a must, we also like to bring apples and bananas (any kind of fruit, really). The kids like crackers, cheese and fruit sauce pouches.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
A: ERGO BABY is our must! Hiking boots, because if not I fall everywhere. We also love our jogging strollers (single and double) and our Deuter child carrier backpack.
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: People are often impressed with all the things that we do with our 2 daughters, but like I’ve said being a parent (and especially and adventure parent) isn’t always easy and is often tiring, so you might as well be tired while doing what you love to do. If we wait until they are older, we will be missing out on so many adventures that we can share with our daughters and we will be keeping them from exploring so many new things. Seeing the world through their eyes is amazing and makes our adventures just that much more special.