I’m having a baby. Will I ever go outdoors again?

Yes, you’ll go out in the world together. And you’ll notice the seasons in such detail it’ll blow your mind.

If you love nature, you might be surprised what outdoor holidays would work with a new family

The great green world from Laura Eades on Vimeo.

Getting down in to grassroots level

You’ll show your child dewdrops, and think “Wow! maybe they focused their eyes long enough to be looking at what I was looking at!!”, and then you yourself will have a dewdrop in the eye because it’s very moving, noticing the world’s wonders again; getting slow and organic, like nature itself.

Mrrrrrrahhhh! Earth mother alert. No, that’s not me, I don’t think: I need the hum of the city for my day-to-day. But I feel very very good out in the green and need to top it up from time to time.

The park, yes. But holidays?

These last couple of years, we’ve had quite a few leafy outdoor holidays. It’s partly desire, and partly to keep costs down. Partly because our daughter’s not old enough to enjoy sand or a swimming-pool. We’ve surprised ourselves, what we could enjoy!! You just need to keep the equipment/luggage management situation under control, and stop worrying about dirt.

Here are some things that were achievable: 

  • Baby – We spent hours walking with the buggy or sling in London’s parks or Dulwich woods.
  • A few months old – Walks and hikes with a sling. At 3 months we had a weekend away this way. Later, we did a full day’s hike along the dorset coast with her in a sling – my husband got vertigo going up a cliff and I had to do all the donkeywork – yes yes I know it was good for me. I think we carried her this way up until even about 8 months, but she was quite light!
  • At 6 months – When I started weaning my daughter, I tried to give her as many meals as possible in the park, mainly because I was sick of wiping down the high chair. And baby-led weaning is a fearfully messy business! Also, since meals would take a very very long time, it helped me feel fine about that.
  • 7 months – Beach. We borrowed a friend’s holiday home near Marbella, and spent most of the hours on the shady parts of the lovely terraces.
  • We had to work hard to keep our daughter out of the sun. She was very iffy about sand, and sea too for that matter. We set up her little tent/sunshade (see below) on the beach to give her a non-sandy place to stay, but mainly the sand with the crawly baby was stressful, so we took it in turns to pop to the beach to swim. We had a buggy with giant wheels that we pushed 5km along the beach one day. (Awesome holiday, though).
  • 8 months – Yurting. She liked the denlike vibe of the yurt and grass outside to crawl on. We’d zip our daughter into her little portable tent indoors – (a LittleLife Arc 2 carry cot – best second-hand item I ever bought!).
  • The holiday was quite hard work just because we took quite a lot of gear with us in our car, (like, a doorway bouncer so we could hang her in a tree while we packed the car!), and we had to be vigilant that she didn’t touch the woodburners. Yes, repacking the car was a big big drag. But it was really really fun nonetheless.
  • 10 months – Camping road trip for two and a half weeks! Tents and a transit van. She could crawl and we slept in 3-man tent with a large porch. We put her tent in the porch and slept like kings in the zipup area. Transit van was a godsend – (we were moving our stuff from the UK to Germany), so this made camping loads easier (because all our kit was in crates in the van, so we never had to sleep with rucksacks by our feet).
  • Netherlands and Germany both yielded incredible campsites courtesy of the Cool Camping guides, and since it was September the sites were quiet and we also got to stay in some brilliant teepees for a bargain price.
  • Our crawly baby (she could walk with a walking-frame-toy) loved camping; loved crawling in the grass and eating her meals on an ikea high chair in weird locations (my dad did a photo series); loved having her bath under the stars watching the geese and the airoplanes in the sky.
  • Nearly 2 years – Cycling holidays. (Our daughter developed carsickness so this seemed like a better option). We went on two here in Germany last summer. Not ones where we toured! Just daytrips from a base. One was in a converted barn here near Berlin, and the other in a cottage in Rugen with friends.
  • For the former, we found the accommo, which was just a one-room with a little stove and a shower room) on AirBnB and lucked out because the owner picked up our tonnage of baby equipment (we even took a paddling pool!!) and drove it out there – we couldn’t have managed it all on the train. It was pretty heavenly (apart from the mosquitoes) and she was very tolerant of the bike seat after initial resistance, and even nodded off in it sometimes.
  • Rugen was really cyclefriendly so that was awesome too.
  • Now 2 and a half years – I’m not sure how tolerant she’d be of a bike seat for hours on end right now – we cycled for one day in Turkey at Christmas and she was fine for just that long, but generally she really really wants to walk everywhere. I think she’d like a car seat even less!
  • My guess is that she’d love an outdoor holiday now though. Being in nature definitely melts all of our moods and blisses us out. Probably just stay here with the newborn this year and enjoy the balcony, and Berlin’s parks.

The story of this animation

We were camping in a yurt in Dorset, and our daughter was 8 months old. She was crawling. The grass in front of the yurt was dreamy, and I was trying to capture what her grass-level world must be like, down with the insects and birds.

This proves two unlikely things. 1) That you can have an outdoor holiday with an 8-month-old baby. 2) That it’s worth taking an iPad on a camping holiday, just so you can sit in the doorway of your yurt while your family naps, and draw.

* * *

Got any suggestions what we should do next? We haven’t been to any festivals with our daughter – have you been with your kids? If you’re an outdoor person, could you keep that up when you had children? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Click on the pale grey dot with a plus sign under the blogpost to open the comment thread and join the discussion.

– – –

Read more about Parenting on Illustrated Guide to Life: