Is bouldering the cure for lonely new parents?
Gym climbing can contribute to the new parents’ mental wellbeing while building physical strength and social relationships, all without needing childcare. Is there anything better than this?
4 min read
A friend of mine was sharing with me her difficulties to find social support in as a new mother living in Sydney. Having moved in recently and with no close family around, she doesn’t have a close circle of women in a similar stage of life to share experience and feelings. In fact, she applied to become member of several “mothers groups” with no success: after paying an application fee, she still is in the waiting list because the group is “full” at the moment.
In the other hand, I see the baby boom in the current Blue Mountains climbing scene. The stars aligned and a big part of our Australian crushing women are joining the experience of having a baby. I see photos every now and then of some of them training together and getting out for a day of climbing at any of the local crags. No application fee, no waiting list. Just a group of women who’s bond went further than their passion for climbing and now share the fact that they are all raising a child.
Now, when I think of these totally opposed scenarios, there is a question I need to understand: why is it important for many parents to meet other mums and dads in the same stage?
No doubt about this, becoming a parent is a huge life changing event. Adjusting to the arrival of the new member can be physically and mentally challenging, especially during the first weeks while the mother’s body is still recovering and the sleep deprivation kicks in.
In line with this, more and more cases of post-natal depression and anxiety are being diagnosed in the last years. The adaptation to the new scenario can be difficult, and the cultural expectations can add significant pressure to parents that are not really finding happiness after birth.
Meeting other peers in a similar situation can have a healing effect on the parents’ mindset, especially when they don’t have a close family and friends circle who are available to help out during the adjusting process. Through these meetings, they can get out of the house, reach others for understanding and support and learn from other’s stories and experiences.
So what can lonely mums (and dads) learn from our Blue Mountains rock stars?
The climbing mums from the Blue Mountains community are organising days out together to get some nature exposure, exercise and share ideas and thoughts from their new routines.
City dwellers can find in bouldering gyms a similar scenario that could potentially be the best antidote for getting through the bumps and loneliness of raising a baby in a city without the grandparents’ support. Why?
You can boulder without having to organise childcare. If you are bouldering by yourself, you can leave the pram/seat in a safe spot while you take 20-30 seconds to climb the problem. If you are bouldering with more people, you can take turns so always somebody is watching the baby.
It’s an awesome way to exercise your body. Bouldering requires the engagement of pretty much all your body. This is why it’s a great way to work on overall fitness and strength. It can be practiced in low intensity sessions to then build up towards high intensity - it is always up to you to set your limits.
It’s easy to meet new people. Bouldering is a social sport. Because it doesn’t need any ropes and the exercise intervals are intense and short, there is a lot of time spent on the floor recovering from each attempt. This is a great time to start conversations with other climbers and perhaps develop new social bonds.
You work on your mental skills and capacities. Everybody knows that practising bouldering and climbing require and develop a great deal of mental skills. There is no point of having the strongest muscles when one gets paralysed from fear or does not know how to read the boulder problem. Bouldering contributes to the development of mental skills like strategy, focus, coordination, fear management and many more. And it gives a huge boost of self-confidence and self-esteem when you reach the top of the “project” that you’ve been working on for the last little while.
If these are not enough benefits, you tell me which sport or activity offers a better chance to build physical, mental and social skill all at once and without having to leave your baby somewhere else. If you have a friend who has recently had a kid, go share this with them!