Young family climbing

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 Mancclimb 13 Feb 2022

Hi all.

I'm wondering if anyone who has had a new addition to the family builds climbing into their routines. My son is now 15 months and I get to climb once a week. My climbing performance has dipped and I'd like to build up the amount of climbing I do but not to the detriment of my family.

On a side note, I'm in Manchester if anybody feels they know a way we could all climb together.


 mrjonathanr 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

The Depot has the space, cafe etc to be fairly family friendly.


Kids can be fickle beasts (I've got 4, eldest is 5 1/2 yo). Main thing is to keep it fun, be prepared to give up after half an hour or keep going all day, you never can tell.  Structured climbing for young kids is a bit pointless, my eldest is just about getting to the point she's happy on a top rope, roughly following a route - autobelays next. 

For any serious climbing I'd go on my own outside of family hours. It's hard to make time for yourself, I still feel guilty going away for a day or weekend climbing, but my missus is very supportive and we're better as a family if I get out regularly. 

 HeMa 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

It was a lot easier when they still took long naps and didn’t even crawl. Once they start moving things get harder. We had a good change that other people whom we climbed with anyway also had similar aged groups, so we took all that the parental leave had to offer, meaning, we would meet at crags (mainly boulders) and climbed with one of us looking at the toddlers.

so Groupin up with other parents certainly helps… and works both indoors and outdoors (roped stuff works, but remember that you might need to bail mid lead if your kid gets an epic tantrum etc… so to get most bang for bucks I would say that bouldering is the most effective way… and bailing os fast).

now that our kids are older, roped climbing starts to be on the horizon… but two closed aged kids are often fighting… so again pooling with other families helps. Bouldering works without others, unless spotting is needed.

 Cake 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

Over the first year of my first child's life, over of my friends claimed I had climbed more since she was born. I don't think it was true, but I certainly became more driven because my time was at a premium. I've certainly maintained psyche in the 11 years since, but have to try hard at the training I do to to maintain and improve fitness.

Here's what you should do now:

Buy a finger board and use it once or twice a week and make gains. Don't use it when you have had only two hours sleep as you may injured yourself. 

Here are some other ideas:

Look for ways to make training more efficient, like the finger board, for example. Half an hour even once a week makes a huge difference! I don't do indoor routes really any more, because half of the time you're belaying. Get on a circuit board instead and work your weaknesses. Read literature about how to train. Etc....

 heleno 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

You don't say whether your partner climbs? Either way it's difficult - if you both climb, one person's climbing time can feel like it's at the expense of the other's. If not, your desire to climb can be incomprehensible to your partner. 

We used to have a babysitter every Weds at 6pm till late (local teenagers so not too expensive).

In summer we'd take this opportunity to climb outside till it got dark. In winter to the wall. Also allowed us to have child-free time together.  At weekends we'd climb with other people or together at child friendly crags. 

We were incredibly bloody-minded about continuing climbing with kids in tow, but it seems to have paid off. Now in their 20s, they are both committed climbers, and have introduced their partners to climbing 🙂

In reply to Mancclimb:

I’m in Manchester too and tend to get out once they’re in bed for the night can usually get a couple of hours session in which is plenty for me with the added bonus that the walls get noticeably quieter towards closing. 
I have been blessed with a kid who is usually fast asleep by 7.30 at the latest though so am lucky like that. 

 GDes 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

Go on holiday to Font. 

 CMcBain 13 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

Me and my partner both climb obsessively and have two, soon to be three kids (oldest is almost 5). We've both managed to continue to improve in climbing over the past few years, I don't think kids have hindered that really, if anything full-time work is probably more of a hinderance.

We take a week each year where we can have a climbing trip without kids (I looked after kids when she went to Skye and she looked after kids when I went to Caithness). We do similar on a weekly basis where each person gets a kid free day per week to go climbing, and a kid free evening. I'm fortunate to work a condensed week which gives an extra day at the weekend as a family day.

Generally for both of us the child free time is where we train and spend time on goals/projects and how we've likely managed to continue improving. We do often take the kids climbing during the week and on other holidays but the focus is on them having a good time rather than us getting more climbing time. I think this works best for everyone. 

I think the other thing that has helped both of us navigating climbing and parenthood is having quite specific goals. When you have a goal you can analyse what you need to do to achieve that goal and then make your limited training time quite specific. I mainly boulder over winter so all my training is focused on that currently, over summer I train to climb routes when better conditions arrive in autumn.

It's like walking a tight rope in reality. Sometimes I sacrifice family time to get more climbing time in and sometimes it flips round and I'm happy to sacrifice some climbing time to do more family things.

 Qwerty2019 14 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

Used to see a couple with a young baby at our local wall.  They had it sorted and having a young baby didnt seem to get in the way at all.

Choose the times when its maybe not quite so busy.  Go as a pair.  One climbs the other one holds baby.  Then swap and repeat.  Honestly didnt make a jot of difference to anyone else climbing.  The baby was on a soft mat all of the time and seemed very content.

They were probably the most proactive parents i have seen at the wall.  Others bring the kiddies but dont quite seem to be able to climb together, rather one sits and looks after the kid while the other one climbs alone.

 sxrxg 14 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

Things that have helped me keep enjoying climbing: 

- Built a home board, allows short session when kids are in bed or before work etc. If you can't build a board then a fingerboard could also allow short sessions to be fitted in. 

- Bouldering is significantly easier than climbing. Pick crags based upon the weather (wind direction, etc) not just where you want to go and what you want to get on. Having a fun session with a warm family is better than everyone else not enjoying things at the crag you want to visit. 

- Snacks, snacks , snacks, and toys for the kids. Even if they don't like climbing there is exploring, den building, etc. Just being out in nature and generally being children. As a last resort downloaded programs on the phone snuggeled under a down jacket sat on a pad can sometimes give you some time to climb. 

- If you can agree a single session a week with your partner then try and stick to this as your time... if your routine changes it will be hard to win this back! 

- Accept that some days out will just be fun time in the countryside and climbing will take a backseat. Other days you will manage to get a full session as they will sleep/be content playing, etc. Once you accept this going out with the kids climbing becomes way more fun. 

- Some walls are significantly better for children than others... a good example is The Boulder Hut, more than one kids area for different ages, slides so they can get off the top of the climbs, table football/slide hockey tables for when not climbing, seats and tables right by the kids area making it easy to keep and eye on them. 

- Finally accept changes and just deal with them. What you can do with your child/children now and what you can do in 6 months will be totally different. i.e. when they are really little and in a carrier crags with a walk in weren't too much trouble. Then when they want to walk short walks become the norm again, then once they can ride a bike other options become avialable.... 

 stubbed 14 Feb 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

I think you might find it more difficult when they are primary school age and their social lives become quite complex (depending on how many hobbies they want to have). Mine would climb, cycle with us as a family, but prefer sports where they play with friends other than me - e.g. hockey, riding, sailing.

In the Summer they love outdoor climbing but they also have Cubs, Brownies, birthday parties, whatever. Basically you don't know until they start something whether they will want to share your hobby. I don't want to limit them to the things that I enjoy so I try to keep everything optional and try to be open minded to things they want to try.

My climbing dropped significantly after I had children due to working away and really prioritising my limited spare time as family time.

OP Mancclimb 13 Mar 2022
In reply to Mancclimb:

Thanks for all the replies. Very interesting to hear the different views. All duly noted. Happy climbing everybody!

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