Why Starting Small Rendered Huge Rewards

When my son was young, I took him on a lot of hikes.  These were not strenuous hikes, nor were they long, but they were our hikes, and that is what made them fun.  This may not seem like a difficult task, but was a much more involved undertaking than it may seem.  When planning a hike for a group of adults, several assumptions can be made.  Each adult will dress accordingly, pack the necessary items, have a comprehension of what they have agreed to do, and if they forget something, it’s generally on them.

This is not the case when you take your small child for a hike, regardless of the duration. Everything is on you.  You have to dress both of you appropriately, pack and plan both of you, and everything that happens on the hike is entirely on you. This requires far more planning. I’m not saying the level of preparation is on par with planning a trek to the top of Mount Everest, but it is more involved than when you plan a hiking trip for just adults.

As small as this routine undertaking my son and I engaged in may seem, I learned a lot from it, and it set the stage for to take on more significant challenges confidently.  You see, one additional element was always present in my planning that never entered my mind when going to do something with just adults.  That element was my love for my child and my all-consuming desire to keep my child safe. This changes things tremendously. While I was capable of controlling most of the environment inside my home, I had no control over the environment on a hiking trail.  A million what-ifs would run through my mind, and the best I could do was my just in case preparation, but that was it.

It was scary.  What about wildlife, what about people, what if we get stranded, what if I didn’t pack enough, or pack the right things?  It took me facing those fears and finding the confidence in myself to go and try and learn anyway.  Sometimes I didn’t pack enough diapers.  Sometimes I didn’t bring the right snacks.  Sometimes we got too hot.  Sometimes we got too cold.  Occasionally we only made it 100 feet before a scraped knee sent us back to the car. But, sometimes we spent hours picking wildflowers.  Sometimes we made it a mile.  At times we splashed in a stream and saw a deer and chased butterflies and laughed for hours.

My son was two when I started these small hikes.  By the time he was four, I had bought him his first pair of snowshoes.  I also took him skiing.  When he was five, we started camping.  When he was eight, he started kayaking.  My son is now eleven and has been through several mountain bikes, countless hiking boots, three pairs of snowshoes, and has his own tent.

I don’t say all of this to show my son’s accomplishments, I say this to show mine.  See, it was through starting small that I built up my confidence to take on bigger and bigger challenges with my child.  It was my chance to make mistakes and learn.  I was able to see that my child was developing confidence by watching me try.

We all have fears, and we all have to take those first steps into the unknown, where the only thing we can control is our self.  But, when we feel the fear and do it anyway, we grow.  We learn we can step into the unknown and be okay.  For me, it was through taking my child into the great outdoors.  For you, it may be trying a new activity or traveling someplace new.  But know that you have that ability in you, we all do. And that sometimes starting small is the best way to show ourselves just how much we are capable of.  This is the Wander Girl spirit.  So I encourage all of you to go do something small and allow yourselves to grow into the incredible women you are meant to be!

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