Choosing Outdoors Family Time, Every Time!*
Now the dust has settled from our sons misadventure with the back garden step, life is good again. We can breathe deeply. We cringe when he takes a tumble. I cringe when I hear how often I tell him to be careful. The guilt hasn’t disappeared. Someone told me it doesn’t go, but it does lessen. All I know is I never want to feel as helpless as I did when it happened, but nor do I think it’d be a good idea to keep him at home, put him in a bubble to try to protect him from accidents. You can’t can you with kids? Nor should you.
Which is why I’m writing this blog. You see, when he broke his leg friends and family rallied round. My husband and I were still in a bit of a shock to be honest, and were a bit raw for the first few days. High emotions and lack of sleep does that to a person right? Add to that the fact that one of the most loved and important people in your life has hurt themselves, well, defences will also be at an all time high.
So, when someone said “I guess he’s so active climbing etc…”, it didn’t go down well. He broke his leg when he fell awkwardly on the back door step. In our own back garden. After hearing what was said, I cried. A lot. We tried not to dwell on it, we had other things to focus on. But for some reason, it’s still niggling at me. Even now.
You see, we choose to spend time a lot of time outdoors as a family. We play hard, we laugh hard. We’ve walked along massive mountain tracks, and tried to pick the best way through heather to try to reach the summit cairn. We’ve been camping and seen no one for days. It’s been just us as a family, enjoying our time together, and having a laugh.
Because we enjoy these activities with our son, because our son is “always so active climbing” does that mean he was asking to fall and break his leg? What does being active got to do with it? Were we to blame for him breaking his leg? Does it make us bad parents because we spend so much time outdoors with our son?
Because our sons accident didn’t happen on one of those days out in the mountains. It happened in our back garden, when he was wearing new wellies and tripped over the back garden step. It happened that quick. There was nothing that could have been done to prevent it from happening. Nothing I could have done. Believe me, I’ve gone over it time and time again in my head.
Did you know the riskiest thing you could ever do with your child is get in a car with them? I didn’t know that, but what a scary thought. We’ve been to those indoor soft play areas, and out he came covered in bruises with a bloodied lip. He didn’t like that! He did some arts and crafts just yesterday and gave himself a papercut all along his hand. They sting! What I’m trying to say is that everyday things all have their share of risk. It’s not just being active outdoors that does it.
If you’ve read our previous blogs about spica casts, you’ll know that we really wanted life to continue as close to usual as possible for him, so we bought a 2nd hand all-terrain pushchair. When we took him out for forest walks, or along mountain tracks, you could tell this is where he wanted to be. There were no manmade restrictions for him to get frustrated with, unlike a trip to the park where a few wheelchair accessible rides upset him as everything wasn’t quite right, everything out of reach etc. On our walks, he was still able to be inquisitive, see new things, ask lots of questions and the only restrictions were ones he wanted to put on himself. He was still getting out there and experiencing things, enjoying the ride and the view.
We experience what we can outdoors, together as a family. We choose to spend our free time having mini adventures, and fit in the ‘day to day’ stuff around it. Our house isn’t the tidiest. The fridge isn’t always full. Our lawn is overgrown. Our car is full of empty wrappers and a few mouldy apples. But to us, that’s ok. Because when we’re away, we spend time just being together, listening to each other and making decisions together, without any distractions, exploring new areas, and discovering fun things in nature. We sit and cuddle and listen. We run around, dance and sing. Our son is like a different person when we’re out in the mountains; more confident, more comfortable, inquisitive but focused, more talkative and giggly. And boy do our bellies ache from giggles!
Our mini-adventures aren’t always straight forward, toddlers can be really stubborn (apparently he takes after me), you need to factor in a bunch of different things and be prepared for most things, but as with anything else, you take the rough with the smooth and each day as it comes.
Yes, I would rather have that any day being “active”, than at home where you can’t guarantee accidents won’t happen!
Was our “active” son asking for a broken leg? Absolutely not! Would we get outdoors more if we could? Absolutely! Does that make us bad parents? Hang on, we’re just on our way out…
***Please note: This is a blog that was previously published on another of our blogs Adventurous Little Legs, and linked to an online store we also had. We have closed these both down. All content and pictures remain those of Stacey and Keith at Adventurous Little Legs and An Outdoors Family.