I’ve been struggling mentally lately with the question of “Am I doing enough as a mom for my girls?” I’m sure I’m not the only mom to ever ask themselves this questions, but it seems to be bothering me more and more now than ever. I do my best to give my girls, who are 3 years old and 9 months, every opportunity to get out and explore – to get them into nature or even just go to a park. I want them to grow up with the love and passion for the outdoors as I do. I want them to experience life first hand and not just see it thru a screen. But, lately, it seems to be harder and harder to do.
I live in Central Florida, so as Spring comes to a close and summer begins, the temperatures rise to a sweltering near 100 degrees. We already have our first named Tropical Storm for the 2019 Hurricane season (which hasn’t even officially started), and the weather is the most unpredictable this time of year. Lately, I find us staying inside more and more every day. This is so hard for me mentally. I don’t want my girls to just lay around watching an iPad all day, but its just so hot outside. I feel like it’s almost too dangerous for them to be outside for long periods of time. I know they can get dehydrated so easily at this age. Especially my littlest one.
With this dilemma, I started to ask myself “Am I doing enough for my girls? Am I giving them the best opportunities to explore and to learn?” How do I still get them outside and it not be so dangerous for them? One answer, go out earlier in the day. This is easier said than done considering my girls are on polar opposite sleep schedules. So I have a short window of time in the afternoon when they are both awake and not grouchy. Another answer would be to go to places with water. Which we can definitely do, but there are only so many times you can go to the exact same place. Well, at least for me. I get bored VERY EASILY!!! I’m sure there are many of you reading this and thinking, “she’s crazy, I could go to the same place every day all my life”. And, I envy you. I wish I could just enjoy the same place over and over again. But, alas, it’s just not my personality.
So, last week I was determined. I said, “I’m gonna get these girls out of the house”. The first day we waited for late afternoon and went to a favorite park nearby. It’s a really pretty park, covered in trees to provide lots of shade from the blistering sun. It has an amazing playground for my oldest child, but best of all an almost 2-mile boardwalk that goes over the lake. It’s extremely beautiful and was so easy to walk while pushing the stroller. I was so proud of my oldest daughter who managed to walk the entire thing without complaining. She was even more excited to play on the playground afterward. I was shocked to realize it had been almost 2 whole hours that we were outside in 91-degree weather! Once I realized this I immediately rushed to leave only because I didn’t want my littlest one to get too hot.
With my extreme joy of taking my girls outside all by myself in the heat, I decided to give it a shot the next day. I made sure we were set to leave at the same time of the day and was hopeful it’d be another great experience. However, that was far from the truth. We got to the park (a new one) and yes there was shade but NO BREEZE! It was so muggy and the bugs were out. I coated us with sunblock, fed the baby, and got my toddler ready to go on a short walk. This park is home to the oldest and biggest bald cypress trees in the area. A 1/4 mile boardwalk takes you to the two largest of the trees. From the moment we got out of the car my daughter acted as if I was torturing her. She didn’t want to walk at all. The entire time it was “no, I want a playground, no I don’t want to go, mommy no”. She pouted the entire way. The only time she got happy on the walk was when we found water and she could see little fish swimming in the stream. Other than that, it was miserable. And when we got back to the playground she could barely play on it because the 93 Degree heat made the equipment too hot to touch. She slid down the slide once and said “mommy hot”! She was right, the sun made it so hot I could barely touch it. At this point, it was a tug of war to get her back into the car to head home. I felt completely defeated.
All I felt was, “what did I do wrong?” I planned and planned, I was prepared, yesterday was a great day, but today not so much. I mean it’s only May, what am I going to do in July and August when it’s even hotter? Am I only going to be allowed to go to the water? And how crowded will that be? Too many questions were going thru my head all at once. I was completely overwhelmed. And on top of that, it was a 25 minutes ride back home which my 3 years made sure I knew she was upset the whole way home. I didn’t know if I should join her in a crying fest or just laugh like a crazy person at the madness.
The last few days I’ve just made the effort to get my girls in the backyard. It’s definitely a little more controlled environment right now, and after the last experience, I’m honestly scared to plan something else. But, I’m going to. I can’t let fear get in the way of showing my daughters the world. I can’t raise them to give up, even though I damn sure as hell want to. Maybe I’ll just have to suck it up and go earlier, maybe I need to find something with water, maybe I just need to plan better. I am not sure, and I still question myself if I’m doing enough. But, then I remind myself that I’m doing as much as I can and my girls know that. My girls are going to grow up with experiences that many kids don’t have. I love getting them out on the trails, and I can’t wait to take them backpacking in the winter time. So I’m just going to have to take things one day at a time I guess. Just live in the moment. Some moments will be good and some will be like a spiral of defeat, but it’s a moment and a memory I will cherish forever.
To all you moms out there with me, you got this!
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