How Taking Time Away from Being a Mom to Backpack Helps Us Roar!

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Over the years, as we’ve watched many of the women we know become mothers, we’re struck by how often outdoor adventures seem to abruptly end for these ladies. Whether talking about a day or a week, we seem to hear a lot of comments along the lines of ‘I just can’t swing it.’ 

While we understand that the challenge is REAL, and it definitely takes having a support system and/or the resources to pay for childcare, we want to use this month’s blog as a sort of nudge or encouragement to re-examine that way of thinking. 

For many of us, the biggest thing getting in our way is ourselves. If we really examine many of the beliefs holding us back, there can often be cracks in our logic. Yes, work (in the home or office) is busy, and also everyone needs a break. Yes, our partner may have a full schedule, and he or she might also love (or at least be up for) some solo time with the kiddos. Yes, our young ones might miss us, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to show them that mom takes care of herself too and it also gives them an opportunity to experience a level of independence. 

Another great thing to remember is that adventures can come in many shapes and sizes, and it’s not a bad idea to start small. Plan a half-day hiking date with a friend. Then move onto a full day. And, eventually, you’ll find yourself planning a multi-day backpacking trip, because you’ve laid the groundwork for everybody to understand how to make it happen. 

Purple Rain Adventure Skirts Founder Mandy Bland recently went on a multi-day backpacking trip with fellow moms. Here’s her thoughts on why it was 110% worth the (hard) effort to make it happen!

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I recently joined two other badass ladies for our 2nd annual mom’s backpacking trip. We took on the Three Sisters Loop in Central Oregon logging 50 miles in 3.25 days — not too shabby!  

I've logged my fair share of trail miles, mostly solo and a lot with my partner. But never have I hiked more than a day or two with just women, especially women who are also moms.

It was like herding cats too coordinate our schedules and it was tempting to bag out when last-minute things came up that seemed to be demanding our attention, but we pushed through and prevailed the moment all three of us together set foot on trail.

It feels good to be self-reliant on trail. It feels good to weather relentless rain and wake to snow. It feels good to test yourself in ways beyond the patience it takes to raise small children. It feels good to miss my family!

My friend Natalie, one of the mamas on our trip, commented that several times she was reminded of her labor slogan … 'the only way out is through.' 

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This trip also confirmed the community we've been cultivating for the past few years. To say it's been difficult to start a family away from our own families is an understatement. And it's hard to make friends when you're in the trenches of early motherhood. I felt honored to share this journey (motherhood and backpacking) with these women. I've found my community and my tribe, and what they give me is a sense of belonging — something I'm not sure I've felt before.  

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the physical and body image part of it. It’s hard to accept how your body changes during pregnancy and postpartum. Moms work relentlessly managing the home, keeping littles alive, and regaining control of our bodies/lives. My body may not look the same anymore, but three years in it's reassuring to see I've still got it!  

Backpacking is a strength that requires a full body and focused mind. I'd say that's also motherhood in a nutshell. And to not give a shit either! It got hot and Natalie ripped her shirt off.  She said three years ago she never would've done that. We are mamas hear us roar!

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And, we weren’t alone in our roar. There were so many other women out on trail as well — solo women, women in groups, older women, young women, badass trail runners doing the whole 50 mile loop in one day! It felt empowering to see that, to say the least.    

There was so much wrapped up in this trip, and I am still processing it. After my brother died, I wanted to start a hiking grief group, but I never felt strong or capable enough to do it. Maybe this is my version, a mom's wilderness retreat. Because I am strong, I am capable and I do know what the hell I'm doing! In motherhood and on trail.  

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In addition to showing that to myself, I want to show that to my son. We are an adventurous family and do our fair share of camping and backpacking as a family. It's important to me that he also observes me having an interest outside of our family. I hope he sees me as the badass mama I feel like!  

Before closing I want to share my gratitude for having loving and supportive partners/ husbands who not only help us logistically make the trip happen, but who also encourage us to make ourselves a priority. My partner basically shooed me out the door the minute I mentioned the trip, seeing the value it would provide for not just me, but for our family as a whole.

I’m curious what reflections you all have on this topic? Please comment below!!!

Here are some thoughts another mom shared …

Getting Over Mom-Guilt and Taking a Wilderness Mom-cation