Advice for climbing mums
I wanna go climbing too! This has been my rallying cry for years now.
Before my kid was born I was a climbing freak. I had a good midweek workout where I combined bouldering, swimming and a brisk trot round to work the legs. By the way, the other day I heard on the radio (quite literally) that “… scientists had discovered that running and jogging are the same thing…”. They didn’t say anything about trotting though. Anyway, moving swiftly on…. At the weekends I gave it my all on the ropes. Any available route, for as long as the light lasted. A devotee.
Then, one day, it occurred to my partner and me that it would be cool to have children, potential mini-climbers, who could climb our routes in the future. But what mini-climbers, what routes, what future…? The fairy tale of The Happy Climber.
If it was already difficult to reconcile professional and personal life, what happens when you add climbing? Or is climbing part of personal life? Well, who cares! What it comes down to, is that not having enough hours in the day to fit in all the obligations and duties, I ended up always sacrificing the same thing.
Not that I regret for a moment making that decision. Nooooooo. I wouldn’t swap my little dude for anything in the world. What happened is that it took me a while to put all of the pieces of the puzzle back together. So, let me share with you mums and dads (dads, please take note) a little advice which allowed me to put the climbing back into my life.
The first year is the most difficult to keep up (or even have) a good exercise pattern
- Keeping small goals in mind is more satisfying than obsessing over a pending route, hours of training or weekends away.
- The most important thing at this stage is to learn to establish new routines and schedules as you will have to adapt them a bit to your baby’s rhythms.
- If you used to go running, you’ve got two options: take advantage of nap-times (can be a bit chaotic) or invest in a good three-wheeled pushchair and run with your baby. Good design and quality are recommended: big wheels, plenty of swivel, high handlebars, good brakes. As a plus, you can also take the pushchair out into the countryside. These models are all-terrain and usually have a bike adapter.
- Time spent at climbing walls is made more complicated by the noise, overcrowding, magnesium dust, etc. If you can find a small centre with a super-flexible schedule, so much the better.
- Surround yourself with friends in the same situation, especially if you going out on the rocks. The tribe effect works like a charm, with caretaker mums and climbers swapping roles It also takes a lot of the pressure off the “I must” (redpoint, onsight, push on…). It’s possible that to begin with you’ll be top-roping a lot, but don’t worry about it.
As soon as the baby grows (and is walking) more possibilities open up.
- You can take your child to the rock wall but make sure you check the rules of the sports centre first. This the moment you discover that you have eyes in the back of your head. While you’re trying to do a block, your little one will be tumbling all over the mats. Before he or she tumbles off a mat you are already there to catch them. It’s up to you to work out if this way of climbing is worth it.
- An alternative to this is to block out an afternoon (or as many as you can) for training. A sort of “Holy Tuesday”. In an ideal world, this afternoon should be yours and yours alone. By which I mean, you dispense with the kid and that you gain autonomy as well as regaining a sense of freedom.
- Choose family-friendly climbing schools, those with comfortable, wide routes and remember that safety comes first. At first it will be difficult to concentrate because the word “mummy” will pop up a thousand times a day. You can “negotiate” child care, you can give them “missions” (picking up sticks, leaves…), you can even ask them to be quiet and if that works for you, please write and tell us how you managed it.
- Occasionally, the thought “we have to buy a campervan” crosses our minds. More and more people are choosing to go out on the rocks as a family without having to give up basic comforts and necessities. A van or campervan will give you life. These are big words, but bear in mind that everything has its price.
Ideally your partner should be there to support and collaborate with (take charge of) your climbing agenda as well as the rest of the tasks. Physical and emotional release is essential so plenty of love and communication!!!
To sum up, you can have children and carry on climbing but you’ll need to make certain adjustments. What it does give you, though, is more self-confidence so, as soon as you recover physically, your performance will be even better.
Share new recommendations for climbing mums, the “super TiTANAS”: