A love of the outdoors, and a desire to keep her three young children active during the COVID shut downs sparked a challenge that is propelling one Maple Ridge family towards better fitness and a true appreciation of nature.
With so many events cancelled and rec facilities shuttered due to the coronavirus, like so many moms during spring break, MaryAnna Robbins had to get creative in finding ways to occupy her kids.
The result, she decided to take the on a few hikes through local trails.
As the shut downs spread and the duration of the shelter at home efforts expanded, the numbers of family hikes grew – with one each day.
Soon the Robbins reached 20. Then 40. Now… the goal is 100.
“In the early hike days, my five-year-old son said let’s do 100. I thought, ‘oh that might be too many.’ But here we are at [62 as of Thursday, May 14] and we are going for it,” MaryAnna shared.
The hikes are not a big stretch, physically, for Mom. She’s been a competitive runner since she was a young girl.
“The daily hikes have still improved my health, as it allows me to breathe the fresh air improving my overall wellbeing. Just a few minutes in the outdoors can do that,” she said.
But she’s truly impressed with the resilience and stamina of her two older boys Oaklan, age five, and Corenth, three, plus her two-year-old daughter age Nyanna. They’re completing the hikes unassisted, and while most are about an hour and a half long, some have gone as long as three hours (when Dad joins them for weekend outings) and have involved climbing to elevations of 300 metres.
“Our children challenge us because they have positive energy and don’t want to stop. We are so proud of them as they are completing hikes that a lot of children could not do let alone adults,” Mom said, emphasizing that 300m is no easy feat for three young children.
“They are doing amazingly. I honestly cannot believe how well they have done. They look forward to doing it each day and do not see it as a chore or a problem. They have all been very active since they could move and we are seeing their dexterity, endurance, balance, and strength continue to improve each week,” she added, noting the kids love the outdoors, rain or shine, and have been excited to hike.
“Generally speaking yes, it usually happens every morning,” Mom said, noting they do a lot of different hikes in and around Maple Ridge and Mission – admittedly some are repeated.
“A lot of [the hikes] we have just stumbled upon or heard about from friends. Some days we drive and just pull over when we see a hike,” she explained. “It has actually pushed me to step out and find new ones, harder ones, and the off the beaten path hikes.”
A self-proclaimed planner at heart, Robbins said this challenge has pushed her out of that comfort zone a bit.
“Strangely, we have not fully planned all of this out. It depends on weather, how we feel, and I let the children choose their hikes,too, so that they have some choice in completing this goal. It allows them to have a say in where we are going to go,” she said.
Her only stipulation, they must keep to allowed trails.
The family are united in saying the “coolest” hike they’ve tackled, so far at least, has been along a trail near the Bear Mountain Loop in Mission.
Asked if they’re expected to extend the number of hikes beyond their current 100 goal, Robbins said she wasn’t sure “yet.” Depending on lifting of COVID restrictions, they’re actually hoping to spend some serious time at the beach this summer.
“But hiking will still be apart of our weekly activity,” Mom insisted.
“Our family loves the outdoors, but goals like this for our family help teach our children that daily physical activity is an important part of life, health, and wellness,” she added.
”We have seen the results in our children in that they sleep well, eat well and are generally happy by being outdoors and active. It teaches them mental toughness, setting goals and achieving them, perseverance and determination and that even when things get tough we won’t give up (ie. Inclement weather doesn’t stop us). We strongly believe that if you teach your children healthy habits from a young age, it will most likely stick with them for the rest of their life. These aren’t just goals we are setting and achieving together, they are teaching opportunities for a healthy way of life.”
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