There’s something about saying yes right away, without overthinking that makes me not want to change my mind, Yes propels you forward, cannonballs you into life. And life, with its flash floods, push-ups, and bugs, is exactly what I don’t want to miss.
– Melanie Gideon
(author of Wife 22)
When I was in my 20’s I would seek out fun and adventure like an infrared camera. If there was any movement nearby, I’d catch it. Finding adventure was easy: trapeze school, renting a ski house with friends (though I didn’t have much experience on skis), salsa clubs, operas at Lincoln Center. New restaurants, new people, new experiences? YES! Heck, every Friday morning I’d pack my small suitcase and head to New York City after work for the weekend because Friday alone was reason for adventure and NYC is adventure’s playground. Like the post office, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” could have stopped me in those days. These days, if I look out the window and even think it might rain, I second guess my plans… and then cancel in favor of Netflix and chilling – the real kind with an actual movie and lots of wine.
I don’t want to blame my kids for my adventureless nature the past few years, but having kids made me less adventuresome.
I’ll skip over the suffocating fear that has buried itself into my existence of all of the bad things that could happen and I’ll also skip the “kids are an adventure too” talk. Of course they are but it’s different from the yesteryear kind when you could do anything on a whim, with a this moment kind of freedom. This moment freedom doesn’t exist with kids. Say Hey! Let’s go do this right now and watch one kid drop a 102-degree fever like it’s hot and the other have explosive diarrhea at that exact moment. It is the Murphy’s Law of kids. Right now turns into an hour and a half later (if you’re lucky) when you have to dress two kids, brush their teeth, comb yogurt out of their hair; then dress yourself, brush your teeth, and comb yogurt out of your hair. Then pack the diaper bag, the toy bag, and some snacks. Crap! We have to walk the dogs. And when you come back from your brisk walk with the dogs – in which now you’re sweating – One kid has to – yes, of course – pee. “Right now” has just been replaced with “maybe later.” “Maybe later” is the new black and is there a bigger buzzkill for adventure than putting something off for another time?
So how do we go about finding adventure again once we have kids? I have a few suggestions (and would love to hear yours!) but I’ll start with what I think is the biggest and most important:
YES. SAY YES.
It all starts here.
If we’re honest, having kids didn’t kill our adventure gene, it just made it easier to find the buts – but I’m tired, but the baby’s sick, but the packing, the money, the routine, the fill in the blank – good excuses but nonetheless – excuses. So stop. Stop talking yourself out of it and say yes to the packing. Yes to spending money (well spent) for an experience that you and your kids get to experience together. Yes to the upset of routine. Yes to the possibility of something going wrong. Because that also means you’re saying yes to the possibility of it going right.
Some more good ideas to help you get started:
Start small and start easy. Don’t chop down the whole tree if you just want one mango. The go-big-or-go-home, rip-off-the-band-aid deal doesn’t always work and then you’re overwhelmed and less likely to say yes again later. Instead of taking one step forward, you have taken three steps back. (If your kids are young, hiking the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage is probably a terrible idea but a small hike for an hour or two is a great start.)
The Yes Position. I don’t want to learn to scuba dive, skydive, or dive into a pool. Diving puts me in a place of NO. Actually, a place of hell no. But ATVs? I’m very likely to say yes to that. I’m putting myself in a position of yes instead of reaching way out of my comfort zone. Once you’ve gotten a taste for adventure again, you can start diversifying but for now just put yourself in the best possible place to start.
Know YOU. Camping in general, let alone camping with kids, sounds super unappealing to me. But “glamping,” a camping experience with a more glamorous feel sounds magical AF. I’d try that. Everybody wines. I mean, everybody wins.
Recycle and reuse. I used to like getting decked out and going to the opera and feeling fancy. Would doing that with kids be an abysmal disastrous? Yes. Yes it would but a Play in the Park or an open-air concert in the park wouldn’t be. Think about the things you used to like and then think about how to breathe new [kid-friendly] life into it.
Choose your own adventure. Don’t forget that adventures are about having fun. What is a fun adventure for you may not be that for others. So what? Don’t think adventuring has to involve climbing, dodging, running, hiking, or dashing. Sometimes exploring a new park or discovering a new city could be as great an adventure as any.
Give them some credit. Kids are adaptable but we have to let them be. We become so used to being our kids’ protectors that we forget they are capable, little humans who can do more than we think they can. You never know they may just be up for some adventure too.
I’ll never be in my 20s again – and thank God for that. Sure there is that pick-up-and-go-freedom to mourn when you have children but there is also more to gain. Now, you get to throw yourself down water slides again and build sofa forts and visit Disneyland in full costume, all in the name of being a good mother and all solid adventuring.
What about you? What’s your advice for injecting more adventure into your life? I’m curious to hear!
~ UNTIL THE NEXT BOTTLE ~
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Oprah Magazine’s April 2014 issue featured: 20 Questions Every Woman Should Ask Themselves. I’m slowly working my way through these questions. This is question 7 of 20: Do I Say Yes Enough?
(Top photo of watching movies by Ginny via Flickr.)