Mumventure is a concept I started talking and writing about eighteen months ago, before the pandemic turned our lives upside down. Personally, it’s close to my heart but professionally too, as it has also fuelled my outdoor photography brand.
What is a mumventure?
By definition, a mumventure is an exciting or unusual experience that a mummy has in the great outdoors after leaving the kiddies safe and sound at school, or with their daddy or grandparents for a few hours on the weekend. It’s a chance for her to get out of her comfort zone, see what she’s capable of and learn new things about herself. It can work wonders after the baby years when you emerge a little dazed and confused from it all. It can help to rediscover and re-establish one’s identity and purpose.
There are a zillion different versions of a mumventure, and it’s not about scaling the highest peak or jetting off to a far land (although it can be if you have the capacity to do so!) but is geared to finding inspiration and challenges close to home, to fit around family life. It is about popping out for an hour on a Saturday morning to swim in the sea, go paddle boarding with a friend, hike along a canal with a map in hand, run a scenic 5 or 10K, cycle somewhere to somewhere you’ve never been before, or simply discover and savour a new footpath.
A mumventure doesn’t happen every day, or every week because we’re trying our best to be attentive and giving mummies, at the forefront of family life. A mumventure is likely to be few and far between. It might happen once a month, or once every three months, but when it does happen, it’s stimulating, rewarding and restoring.
I once lay on a forest floor after I’d dropped the children at school, looking up at the towering trees, appreciating the sound of the tweeting birds, labelled it #forestbathing and called it a #mumventure.
Yep, it can literally be that simple.
There are few reasons I’m reigniting the mumventure. ONE, we’re all hoping that there is an end in sight to the pandemic and opportunities to roam and explore will begin once again. TWO, I’ve been thinking profoundly about my photography business since relocating to Kent, trying to pinpoint the themes that make it unique. THREE, the writer and adventurer Alastair Humphreys keeps popping up on my Instagram feed and, if it hadn’t been for him telling me it was an important concept, I’d probably have forgotten all about it.
That’s the thing, it’s all very well someone like your mum or best friend encouraging your bright ideas but when someone worldly and accomplished tells you to go for it, it’s hugely encouraging and motivating.
Alastair has conquered the world but what I particularly relate to is his concept of microadventures; that is, an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective. It’s an attainable approach which is attainable with family life. It means I can be a mummy and still have adventures. That’s why I like it so much.
“I love what you’re doing,” Alastair wrote to me, “particularly your emphasis on mums reclaiming their own identity. I think this is vital and so often neglected. Keep banging the drum for mumventures.”
So I am.
“Keep banging the drum for mumventures.”Alastair Humphreys
The mumventure has been a difficult (perhaps near impossible!) thing for us mummies to pursue in the last year and has not been top on the list of priorities. For the last year, we’ve all lived a topsy-turvy existence of family life, snatching fragments of time for ourselves whenever we could. When I relocated with my family in January, in the midst of lockdown#2, the concept of the mumventure started to materialise once again. I put my trainers on and pounded the countryside paths in exploratory mode. Discovering a woodland trail through a patch of anemones or a new beach brought adventure back into my life again. It reminded me of what I was really passionate about.
My latest mumventure
Last week I had my most significant mumventure for a long while. Moving towards the Kent coast has stirred a real calling towards the sea. The English Channel has eased the transition from the special place I lived for ten years because it reminds me of all I’ve gained. Family. Space. Opportunities. When I have mourned certain losses from my previous life, the sea has provided consolation and solace. I’ve felt compelled to explore and exploit this arm of the inclement Atlantic Ocean and so, when my alarm went off at five-thirty one morning, I yanked on my wetsuit and drove to the beach with Emmet*.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting up to pursue a mumventure doesn’t seem like an inviting prospect when it’s dark and cold outside. -1°C to be exact. Moreover, I felt mentally weary after my youngest child had woken up in the night with pins and needles and I’d had to rub her back to sleep. Sloth told me to roll over and bank another couple of hours rest but Vigor nudged me to drag myself out for there were plenty of opportunities in life to lie in bed. There were not as many chances to float around in the sea as the glorious sun emerged from the French horizon.
As dawn approached St Margaret’s Bay, I met two other ladies from the Spartans swimming group. Hardened swimmers who declared Spring by shedding their wetsuits and wading in. They dunked their heads in the frigid sea and began athletically lapping the bay. Whilst I admired their fortitude, I wasn’t tempted to compete. For me, a newbie, just entering the ocean is a triumph. The wetsuit was definitely staying on for now.
I took a minute to stand on the threshold of that new untouched day, as the flare of the sun burned on the skyline and appreciate the magnitude of the moment. I acknowledged the sheer scale of all I’d achieved in the last few months. Packing. Sorting. Leaving. Arriving. Settling. It had been hard, but it had been one of life’s noteworthy experiences. It had made me feel new sentiments, dream up fresh ideas and explore a different version of myself. Gentle waves caressed the pebbles, creating that gravelly lullaby which instantly relaxes and reassures. Tentatively, I walked into the ocean, hobbling over the pebbles in my swimming shoes, the icy water creeping up my calves, knees, hips and chest. I opened the neck of the wetsuit to allow a startling but reviving trickle of nippy water to touch my skin and then I swam. Stroked. Kicked. Breathed. Bobbed. The brutal cold anguished my toes and pained my fingers, but I persevered. Light crept up the chalky cliffs, warming the earth. A gleeful gull soared into my view and I looked up at the sky, noticing every wispy cloud. I felt the sway of the current and I allowed it to rock and roll around me. I wasn’t going to race against it today. This wasn’t meant to be a battle. During those fifteen minutes in that wild water, I felt alone but safe. Distant but close. Cold but alive.
I arrived back home as the children trailed downstairs from their slumber, dopey and bleary-eyed. “I’ve just been in the sea!” I announced, seeing their mouths drop in surprise.
Sometimes an adventure is something you to do make your day a little bit different than the one before.