I’m a single mom, and for most of the time I manage adequately. I change my own bike tubes, re-seal bathroom leaks, pay my own bills and juggle my 5 year old’s school and child care needs with my full time job. Sometimes though, it all feels a bit heavy. So what do I do? I plan something for us to do, outside. It might be for tomorrow, or next week, or even next month, but having something to look forward to distracts me from the weight of being a single parent.
Nate enjoying outdoor time with mama.
So, our Easter break (Spring Break) was coming up, and I lifted my single-parent-spirits with planning my first overnight hike with Nate. I realized I’d have to carry most of the gear, so starting from the bottom I donned my Oboz Sawtooth. Most of the time we’d be on the beach, with plenty of soft sand to give me a work out, so I opted for the mid-rise, giving me stability but allowing for some lateral movement.
We walked 19km/12miles over 2 days, camping at Shelley Beach Headland between Brooms Head and Angourie on the East Coast of Australia. It was a blast! Here's how I pulled it off.
Spontaneously throwing food, water and sleeping gear in a backpack may work well for adults, but when taking a child hiking, forgetting things can be an emotional disaster. We had everything out on the floor 2 nights before we left. Nate helped me choose the food, his clothes and packed his own little backpack that contained a water bottle, our snacks, his hat and sunglasses. For about half the hike I ended up carrying his backpack, something I hadn’t planned for!
I wanted to get to camp with enough light to enjoy some “down-time” before cooking dinner. As expected, Nate was more into exploring the headland and beach than helping set up camp. We took a snack break and he went off to play while I set up camp. After I’d finished, there was enough time for a swim in the ocean before Nate helped me cook dinner.
Play games, eat snacks
I was ready for periods of “are we there yet” and “my legs are tired” and many other small person complaints. Having some old tricks like “I spy”, alphabet and rhyming games successfully alleviated these complaints several times. Another tactic I successfully used was letting Nate choose s snack for us to sit, stop and enjoy. It seems that 5 year olds like making these important decisions!
One night out was enough for me, and probably enough for Nate at this stage, too. We both had a good time, but until he carries his own pack for 100% of the time I won’t be planning any multi-day adventures. The double-edged sword in being a single parent is feeling at times overwhelmed by the responsibility, but having complete freedom in what I can plan for Nate and I to do.
Belinda James spent her 20s living, traveling and working in Canada, England and the United States. A.K.A a typical intrepid Aussie! She's on Facebook and Instagram @belindalouisejames.