I have recently set up an adventure Go Box to help me be more prepared on our spontaneous micro-adventures. The box I used is from Ikea but you could also do this using a bag you already have at home.
Basically the idea of a Go Box is having all of your stuff in one place so that you are ready to go at a moment’s notice or whenever the need to escape arises. I decided that my Go Box was going to have everything in it that I needed to go on a day trip adventure, either on my own or with the kids, at the drop of a hat. Basically all I need is this box and the outdoors. You could also have separate boxes ready to go wild swimming or paddling, cycling or camping.
List of stuff currently in my Go Box, in no particular order….
- First aid kit
- BruKit from Alpkit – for making hot drinks or food
- Pacmat (And if you want 15% off, enter Revitalize15 at checkout).
- Drybag – This one from Alpkit has a strap so I use it as a day bag to carry around the essentials from the Go Box when we are out on the adventure!
- Microfibre towel
- Lip balm
- alcohol sanitiser gel
- Swiss army knife
- Pasta sauce
- Sun cream
- Head torch
- Spare socks
- Kids aqua shoes and waterproof trousers
- Solar-powered charger
The box now lives in the boot of my car and it means everything is in one place so I don’t need to spend time faffing about getting everything together. I feel much more organised and it will hopefully mean I get to go on some epic spontaneous adventures with my friends and family!
Follow me on Instagram to see me and my Go Box on some adventures!
What would be in your Go Box? Am I missing anything?
Camping holds a special place in my heart. For as long as I can remember I have been camping. One of my earliest memories is of my dad stuffing the tent in the back of the car after a washout weekend camping trip!! I now go on at least one camping trip a year, sometimes with the kids, sometimes alone with my friends as a social.
It is now easier than ever to get started with camping. You don’t have to spend thousands of pounds on all the gear. What I would say is that it is worth spending money on a decent tent. On more than one occasion I have seen people leave a campsite in the middle of the night because of a leaking tent! The rest of the gear can be borrowed or used from home until you want to spend more money. My favourite tents to use when I am away with the kids have been Vango and have a sewn-in groundsheet and have a separate bedroom and living space. This gives you somewhere to sit if the weather is awful as well as space to sort the kids in the morning and for bedtime.
Absolute Camping Essentials
- Sleeping bags or pillows and duvets
For your first trip, you could find a campsite that has a place to eat on-site or close by. This would mean you wouldn’t have to take as much food, cooking stuff or washing up bits. I use Cool Camping to find my campsites. If you are going away for the first time, I would advise staying quite close to home.
You could always ease yourself in gently by trying out a camping pod before you take the plunge and buy a tent. These pods are a bit easier than camping as the “tent” is already there when you arrive on the site. You will still need to take all your own sleeping and cooking things though.
As you go away for longer you will need a bbq or cooking stoves to cook on but taking plenty of snacks and breakfast options with you is always a good idea.
If you have time before you go away, cook a meal and freeze it, chilli works well for this. By the time you get away and get the tent up your evening meal will be defrosted and ready to heat up.
Even if you go away in the summer it can still get chilly on a night, so pack plenty of layers, snuggly blankets, hats and buffs.
How to Survive
Don’t expect to stick to the same bedtime routine as you do when you are at home, the kids will probably stay up a lot later than usual. However, all that running around in the fresh air should hopefully mean bedtime goes fairly smoothly!
Get the kids involved in deciding the activities, ask them what they want to do and get them to come up with a bucket list of things they want to do outside while you are away. However one of the massive benefits of camping is that if you want to you can just hang out by the tent and let everyone have some time to themselves, especially if you have older kids who want some time to do their own thing.
Get the kids their own little camping bag with their own head torch, writing pad and toys to keep them entertained. Camping is a massive adventure for you but especially for the little ones.
Going camping is a great time to explore more of the local area. I use the Kamoot App to plan and find adventures in new areas. If you feel that you have cracked camping with the kids and want to have a go at solo camping, check out my blog post.
Happy Camping x
The Scientific Bit
In the first part of the menstrual cycle, the follicular stage, training should be focused on high intensity and heavy lifting. In this phase oestrogen is the dominant hormone meaning a higher pain threshold and increased insulin sensitivity leading to better muscle building capacity and reduced fat storage ability (2).
In the second phase, the luteal stage, progesterone takes over the role of dominant hormone, thereby reversing everything mentioned above. Strength training is still beneficial but you may find that you aren’t able to perform or lift what you usually do or can during the follicular stage. Focus on relaxing and restorative exercises including foam rolling and stretching during this part of the menstrual cycle. Also shift the focus from short intense sessions to longer, endurance based, fat burning sessions (2).
If you are using a form of hormone contraceptive, your cycle will look different to this and therefore you might not experience the same effects on your training and body as mentioned above (1).
The Reality Bit
Basically every woman is different and you are all training for different reasons, at different intensity levels, all while dealing with varying levels of stress. Plus every one of you will experience your own personal menstrual cycle and individual symptoms, as Heather Watson knows all too well, putting her poor performance on the tennis court down to “girl problems”(3).
It’s important to know your own body. Use the above section as a guideline but listen to your body and trust your instincts. If you feel like lifting some heavy weights, brilliant, but if you feel more like a chilled out yoga-based stretching session at home in your comfy pants, do it! Don’t get too bogged down with what part of your cycle you are in and don’t beat yourself up.
I use a really good period tracking app called Clue. It lets me add in additional information so I can keep a log of what my body is doing, how I feel and what training I’ve done. Start using it and see if you can see a pattern developing.
This also seems like an appropriate place to mention reusable sanitary protection products. They are great so I’m on a mission to make sure everyone knows about them! There are loads to pick from, from cloth pads and liners to menstrual cups. I use a Mooncup but there are lots of different versions available now. Not only are they a healthier option for you and your body, you also save money and the planet – boom! I have exercised and ran with my Mooncup in and never had any bad experiences. It can take a bit of getting used to at first so I would recommend using a pad as well the first few times you try it.
The Take Home Bit
Keep moving and exercising whatever stage or time of the month you are in. Find something that you enjoy doing and just keep doing it. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day. Listen to your body, love it lots and go with the flow!
I made this to be shared.
To make people think.
To change minds.
To let you know that you that’s it ok to be you.
There is more to life than what you look like.
Don’t let any one tell you otherwise 💗
So last week in my wonderful Facebook group I asked my ladies a question.
What is your biggest fitness struggle at the moment?
And the biggest response was the option, the motivation to keep going. Which got me thinking. Why do we feel the need to brand ourselves An Exerciser?
If you are genuinely struggling with motivation to work out I want you to re frame your thoughts about exercise.
- You do not have to go to a gym
- You do not have to rack up miles of running
- You do not have to stick to the same schedule every week
Being physically active should not be something you dread, it should be part of your lifestyle. You do not have to attend structured exercise sessions to be fit and healthy. Even 20 squats in the living room makes a difference. Forget exercise and focus on being more active everyday. Live a life full of movement and adventure with sitting less around.
Running is great, but you don’t have to do it if you don’t like it! You don’t have to do any form of exercise or activity if you don’t enjoy it! Walking is so beneficial to your health, both physically and mentally. Having a walking buddy will make a massive difference to your motivation and energy levels too. Share this post now and write what days/times/ distances you want to do each week and find a local friend to go walking with you.
Sticking to the same fitness classes each week is a good way to build up your confidence as a beginner, however once you start to get stronger your body will respond better and continue to make changes if you mix up the sessions. Keep the brain engaged and don’t let any session switch you into autopilot mode.
It is true that your body reduces its fitness and strength at a quicker rate than it takes to build it up. This should not put you off resting and recovering. Your body needs rest and time to recover. If you have a few weeks of reduced activity THAT IS FINE! Just listen to your body and when you feel like being more active go for it. Don’t feel guilty for having some time off.
Walking, climbing, playing, swimming, dancing are all things that benefit your health and can be done anywhere. If you enjoy it, do it!
So if you ever find yourself thinking “I cant be arsed” ask yourself what needs to change. And then do 20 squats!
This week, 6th – 10th June, is infant mental health week, raising awareness of the importance of the first 1001 days of a babies life.
But it’s not just the first 1001 days of a babies life, it’s 1001 days of a mums life, of your life.
- 1001 days of change
- 1001 days of learning
- 1001 days of tiredness
- 1001 days of adjustment
For some mums these 1001 days can be dark, scary times. It is difficult to admit that you are struggling to bond with your baby or finding it hard to cope, maybe feelings of being inadequate and overwhelmed and maybe even having thoughts of harming yourself or baby. For some mums the first 1001 days is clouded by Postnatal Depression. PND can also affect dads and the information below is just as relevant.
Getting through the day with Postnatal Depression is an hour-by-hour task and exercise is often the last thing you feel capable of.
But exercise can play an important role in the recovery of a parent with PND. Any type of exercise or movement is beneficial as long as its enjoyable. If putting your favourite song on repeat and dancing in the living room feels good, do it every day! Focus on doing what makes you feel good rather than how your body looks.
Exercise and physical activity helps to produce feel good hormones called endorphins. Exercise can also play a big part in your self care or “me” time, giving you time out from the daily routine.
Walking is a great place to start as the fresh air will help boost mood enhancing hormones. Baby can come with you in a sling (which also helps to support bonding and closeness for both parent and baby).
Exercise classes like my Sling Fit and Fit Mums sessions are also a great place to meet new friends and build your confidence and self esteem. The sessions are relaxed, informal and social and you can bring baby along with you.
Enquire at your local leisure centre if they have an exercise referral scheme. This will give you access to trained fitness professionals who can help to build you a programme in the gym and support you on your recovery.
I want you speak to your health visitor or GP if you think you have PND.
I want you to speak to me if you think you have PND.
I want you to speak to someone if you have PND.
It’s ok to not be ok. Postnatal Depression is an illness. It says nothing about you or your abilities as a mother. You don’t have to go through it on your own. Please speak to someone.
Kind thanks to Forging Families for the use of their images and infographics.
I am a runner. I am also a mother. Therefore I can’t just casually announce that I am off for a leisurely trot around the park whenever the urge strikes. My exercise time is scheduled, bartered, planned and precious!
This post is to get you thinking about whether you could fit active travel into your schedule and some tips on how to do it.
I have to be clever about fitting my runs in. I don’t want to run at the expense of family time and I certainly don’t want to be waking up at 4am to fit my runs in. So I run to and from work. I walk the kids to school/nursery, leave them there and then continue my commute to work with a run. I then run home again once I’ve finished work.
What if I don’t have a shower at my work place?
I am lucky, I work in a sports centre. I have changing rooms and showers once I arrive at work. If you don’t have a shower at your place of work (or final destination) there are other options.
🔸Wet Wipe Wash
🔸There are some waterless shower gels coming onto the market that are aimed at active commuters (and festival goers!)
🔸Seal a wet flannel in a plastic zip lock bag
🔸A shit load of Impulse!!!
How do I carry my stuff?
When I first started running to work I bought a cheap running bag from Sports Direct. Once I had built up my confidence and I knew this run commute was something that I would be committing to doing weekly (if not more) I invested in a more expensive running bag from OMM. I luff it! 💗
I have a toiletry bag that I leave at work with shampoo, shower gel, deodorant in so I don’t need to cart all this around with me. I also leave a spare pair of trainers at work so I don’t have to wear a pair of wet muddy trainers all day.
This is normally what I end up carrying in my bag to work. I’ll have space for some dinner too. The microfibre towel I got from Decathalon and its great, folds up really small and dries quick. Flashing lights and reflectors are always in my bag so I know I have them when needed. Be safe, be seen kids!
If you are thinking about giving it a go plot a route to work using Google maps. It doesn’t have to be all the way. Get off the bus/train a few stops earlier and run the rest of the way in.
Also have a test run. Try the route on a weekend or day off when you don’t have any time pressures. See how long it takes you so you can be confident of the time you need to set off and run in without being late.
I highly recommend that you try running to work. There is no better feeling than being sat at a desk all day with those endorphins pumping and warm loving waves of smugness washing over you! Save all those bus fares and treat yourself to a new running bag or pair of trainers for your efforts!
Have I convinced you? Its really not as scary as you think. Let me know how you get on and send me some pictures! If you get stuck I’m always happy to help. Comment below or find me on Facebook!
If you follow me on Facebook you know I like to remind everyone how important it is to put your health higher up the to do list. I asked Bea Marshall to write me a guest post about the importance of looking after you and to back me up!
I’m going to come straight out and say it. You matter.
Maybe you think I’m talking to someone else and you don’t think that I’m talking to you. Are you a Mum? Are you busy juggling several balls and working out how to keep it all together? Are you struggling to find enough time to balance everything on your plate? Are you tired because raising kids is hard work? Really hard at times.
If the answer to any of those question is, “Yes, that’s me.” then I’m going to say it again:
Two words that are easy to brush off because the implications of allowing them to settle deep within your being can be huge. If you imagine, for a moment, that you are no longer in the equation then what happens around you? What happens to your children, your partner, your job, your laundry, your garden, your life admin if you are no longer available or present?
Things quickly go downhill. You do an extraordinary job. This is why you matter.
It’s vital to take care of the things that matter. It is vital to take care of yourself.
As a Parenting Coach, I help Mums to have extraordinary relationships with their children without needing to spend time and energy on discipline or coercion (how great does that sound?!). I speak with many Mums about the challenges they face as parents and one question I always ask is, “What are you doing to take care of yourself?”
So I ask you the same. What are you doing to take care of yourself?
If you’re anything like the majority of mums I speak with, you might not actually be doing a lot. Hot baths seem like a luxury that take too long when you have laundry to put away and bills to pay. Some daily yoga or meditation gets pushed down the to-do list because you haven’t got time for that right now. Going to a local exercise class would be nice in an ideal world but your kids have homework or you’re too tired from a day at work. Investing in yourself financially with a Personal Trainer or a massage would be amazing but you need the money to pay for school uniforms or baby clothes and next year’s holiday.
I understand all of this. As a single Mum of two amazing boys, running my own business from home, I really do understand the pressures of family life. I also know that when I prioritise my own self care I have significantly more resources to invest into my family. I have made it a priority to take care of myself because that is the best way to take care of others.
I choose to get up early so that I can go to the gym first thing in the morning because this sets me up for the day. It clears my head, gets my body moving and ups my energy. I also set aside a small amount of money to work with a Personal Trainer every fortnight. He keeps me focused on my goals and he also encourages and supports me, especially when I feel weak or tired. I am learning about mindfulness and meditation because connecting with what’s going on inside me really helps me to be a peaceful, present and connected parent.
Self care is a journey that is best taken with small steps.
I decided in December 2014 that I wanted to get up at 5.30am instead of 7.30am. That was an impossible goal in the short term but I worked out a manageable approach in the long run. I set my alarm fifteen minutes earlier each week or two until I was waking at the time I wanted. Some mornings this was really hard and occasionally I listened to my body and went back to sleep. Sometimes I gave in to excuses! But now I get up at 5.30am and the first few hours of my day are mine completely.
I also decided to stop spending time on my phone at bedtime. Instead I choose to read a book. It’s a really small act of self care that makes a huge difference. And often I’m so tired that I’ll only manage a couple of paragraphs! Small steps still go the distance.
What small steps can you take to move towards valuable self care?
Unless you begin to say Yes to your own needs you will find that you cannot consistently say Yes to your children’s needs. Self care leads to less irritability and less shouting. It also leads to improved mood and increased energy. And one of the most important, and often most forgotten, aspect of self care is that it models to our children how to take care of themselves. We need to be the change we wish to see in our children.
Here’s my challenge to you.
Choose 3 things that you will do in the next 7 days that are directly related to your self care. You might plan a hot bath, ring a friend and go to a Fit Mums class together, get up 15 minutes earlier in order to sit quietly with a cup of tea and your thoughts. What will work for you?
Your own self care is one of the best ways to ensure that you are being the best Mum you can be.
Bea Marshall is a Parenting Coach who helps Mums to have an extraordinary relationship with their children, without spending time and energy on discipline and coercion. She is also the Founder of Yes Parenting, an amazing way to raise children in a complex and demanding world.