Mother Crushers

Adventures in Climbing and Parenthood

To start off, I LOVE climbing. I was lucky enough to start climbing at a young age. My parents noticed my passion and skill and signed me up for a climbing team. Passion turned to love, and I was hooked. As I got older, I kept climbing and eventually started coaching competitive climbing. Twenty years and many adventures later, I am just as, if not more enchanted.

Over the years, I have worn many different “hats” as a climber. I’ve been a competitive climber, at the gym six days a week with a strict training regimen, a six pack, and bloody toes. I have been an outdoor climber living in a van and climbing all the time (I literally mean all the time…even in the winter with a broken ankle). I’ve been a gym rat constantly on the wall “hanging” out with friends. In fact, the local climbing gym is where I met my amazing husband who shares my passion for climbing. Now, I am a climber mom of two amazing children, Koa – three, and Cedar – one and a half. I love getting to share my love of climbing with my kids. Yet, as with all good things, adjustments must be made. Children change everything. I know, that was a revelation for the history books. Here are 12 things to watch out for that might make you a white knuckled, true blue climber mom.  

12 Ways to Tell If You’re a Climbing Mom

1: You have climbed in a full body harness.

If you are as lucky as me, you know how incredibly comfortable a full body harness is at the best of times, but so much more so when you are pregnant. For everyone not laughing, let me tell you…they are not comfortable at all. But, don’t let that stop you from rocking that bump and being a crushing mama. You are amazing and tough and deserve to do what you love as much as you want. Fortunately, I did get to climb through all my pregnancy, and here is my best tip: always down climb, otherwise, you have to hang like an awkward piñata in that full body harness.

2: Your kid is a gym rat.

My kids have always been in the gym, almost since birth. The first time I took my daughter to the gym, she was about 2 weeks old. Some kids try to run before they can walk, she started climbing before she could walk. It has been 3 years and she still loves it. My youngest is right on her tail. Both of my kids have a passion for the wall and ask to go to the gym almost as much as they ask for juice. I highly recommend taking advantage of the facilities. The gym is a great place to teach kids about pushing themselves, failing, getting up again and again to achieve a goal. I love that my kids are gym rats, and don’t worry, chalk always washes off.

3: Your climbing bag contains more diapers, toys, and snacks than actual climbing gear.

This is just the truth of having kids. It’s better to be prepared than suffer the consequences of having left the fruit snacks at home. Baby jumper, Pack N’ Play, six changes of clothes (for baby and you), coloring book, and a stuffy are now going to be a part of your climbing gear. Don’t worry about taking up three to five cubbies, just rock it and get a couple of big bags. 

4: Your cardio consists of running after your child, so they don’t run under another climber.

We all know how much kids like to sit still and do what they are told. It’s important to introduce kids to gym rules and etiquette and teach them appropriate behavior and common courtesy, but my kids are still young, so most of my gym time is spent chasing them around. I do know some amazing kids who can hang out independently when their parents are climbing so there is hope, ladies. As for now, I’ll just keep chasing them and call it my cardio.

5: You use your baby for training.

As a mom you are always holding your baby, so why not use them for weight training. You don’t have to use a hangboard, try a leg or core workout. Nothing gets you fit like using a child for a workout, a bonus is your child will love it.

6: You make every attempt on the wall count because attempts are few and far between.

Now that I am a mom I don’t get to the gym as much as I would like. The time I do get to climb is precious. I try to make every climb count and give it my all on every attempt. I may not climb as hard as I did before I had kids, but I appreciate it so much more now that I’m a mom.   

7: Your focus on the wall isn’t always about the next move or even sending the climb.

Most of the time it’s listening to make sure your child isn’t getting into trouble. Adding kids to my climbing introduced a whole new level of focus. One thing I have always loved about climbing is the mental focus it takes to push yourself. I love the challenge of climbing when my kids are at the gym because it requires me to work harder to stay in the moment and send.

8: You get more excited when your kid gets to the top than sending your latest project.

I consider myself a lifetime climber and I’m passionate about sharing climbing with others. I think it’s fantastic that my kids love climbing now, but it’s okay if they don’t tomorrow. I take them to the gym and it’s up to their little toddler fancies if they want to climb. I am lucky that my three-year-old loves to climb, she takes pre-school classes and that has become her favorite part of the week. My one-and-a-half-year-old finally fits in a harness and likes to explore on the ropes. The more fun they are having, the more excited I become. Make sure your child is having fun, and you may end up with a lifetime climber.

9: You will not get to climb with your husband as much as you want.

My husband has always been my favorite climbing partner. Now that we have kids it is rare that we get to climb together though, someone has to watch them roll in the chalk. Even if we are not climbing at the same time it is still nice get to go to the gym with the family.

10: You always bring an extra crash pad on climbing trips for nap time.

If you choose to brave a climbing trip with a child, don’t forget the extra crash pad for naps. I love taking my kids outdoors and teaching them to love and respect nature. Climbing trips with a child are not as intimidating as they first seem. You will have to bring a lot of extra things but get the big bags out and get out there. Don’t forget, you can use a crash pad as a child carrier.

11: You’ll pay extra for a hotel on climbing trips because camping in the cold with a child is predictably terrible.

Now, I do love to camp and have taken my kids camping but with optimal sending temps being in the 30’s it’s not worth attempting to sleep in a tent under the stars, with sniffles and tears. Still, climbing trips are one of my favorite ways to spend time with the family. So, don’t be scared to take the kids out and make some memories.

12: You will always have a climbing family to help with the kids

The best part of being a climber is the community. I grew up in Texas and had some great friends whom I call family in that climbing community. When my husband and I moved to Ohio last year I was worried that I would be missing that part of the climbing experience. Once we started visiting Vertical Adventures, I was happy to learn it doesn’t matter where you go, the climbing community is always welcoming. It’s so nice to know there will always be someone to cheer, spot, belay, or play with your kids. For me, it has been the community that has made me a lifetime climber.

– Raili moved from Dallas, Texas to Blacklick, Ohio a little over a year ago with her husband, daughter, and son. She has been a climbing coach for 7 years and currently coaches for Team Vertical, the youth competitive team here at Vertical Adventures.