“Let’s find a sea cave!” exclaimed my 13-year-old son, inviting us to adventure with him.
The water was cold. The kind of cold that makes your legs and feet burn, then ache and then go numb. And though the protected waters of the bay kept the waves small, I was sure a big one would surprise us and soak everyone with its freezing, salty surge. Besides, sea caves made my husband and I a little bit nervous. That rush and pull of the water in and out of the holes in the rock is unpredictable, even at low tide. But William called, urging us off the sand and out of our literal and figurative comfort zones. So we joined him, all six of us, wading out into the deeper water, moaning, howling and laughing at the cold.
We didn’t have to go too deep or far out before we found a sandy little cove with a big, beautiful cave. “I see one! I see one!” the kids called, with so much excitement and joy in their voices. Years and years of pounding waves had worn a hole in the rocks. The walls were wet and dripping and the floor was covered with small, smooth stones, empty crab shells and old fish bones. We waded ashore and climbed inside the cave. We looked around in awe. Sea caves, no matter how big or small, feel mysterious and almost magical. They stimulate our imagination and we can’t help thinking about pirates and buried treasure when we’re in them. Finding one is always a special treat. The cold water rushing in and out around our ankles however, kept us grounded in reality, and reminded us we didn’t want to get caught in the cave when the tide rose.
When we climbed back out onto the sandy cove, the tide had indeed risen, so we waded back out into the cold water. As we navigated the slippery rocks and deeper spots on our way back to the beach, there were moments of worry. Worry of getting fully soaked and much colder, but also worry that big wave might come and tumble us around. We’re all strong swimmers, but still, being out in the water means we’re not in control, and that can feel scary. That feeling is heightened when the water is cold and uncomfortable and when we’re at a new beach that we don’t know well.
“I’m so glad I went in!” I told the kids happily as we neared the shore. I’m always up for adventures, unless it involves cold water. Then the kids have to really convince me to join them.
“I told you it would be awesome!” William said triumphantly. The grin on his face said it all. His dream of getting the whole family out in the water, exploring and discovering, had come true. We’d all remember the thrill of this adventure for a long time to come.
Sometimes we parents hesitate to try new things with our kids because we’re caught up in the reality of parenting. We know very well the extra work, stress, and discomfort that can come when we get outside our regular routine and schedule. What we need to remember, though, is that the joy and connection that comes out of those adventures is worth it. It is worth the mud, the mess, the missed naps, the cold water, the nervous moments and even the work and clean up that will probably come afterward. It’ s worth it for us and for them. We work through the hard stuff, and the more often we do the better we all get at it. Chasing joy, adventure and connection with our kids doesn’t come without cost. Nothing in life worth doing does. What better way to teach our children this life lesson than by living it out with them side by side and heart to heart.
Ideas for getting outside your comfort zone with your family (please note: adjust according to COVID-19 guidelines):
- Hike a new trail – nothing says adventure like being outside in a new place. Finding trails that have some exciting element like great boulders for climbing, a waterfall, or a creek to wade across makes it extra fun and adventurous!
- Learn a new skill together – whether its first aid or growing a garden, learning to do something new is a great adventure. Brainstorm together some things you’d all like to learn to do and then take a class, find a friend to teach you, or check out books from the library to learn from together.
- Visit a completely new city or town and spend the day getting to know it – you’ll all be explorers together and that creates instant bonds. Remember, it doesn’t have to be far from home, just some place new to all of you.
- Sign up and train together for a physical activity that will push you beyond where you are now – make it a whole family event where you grow together. It can be a fun run, a 5K, a cycling race, an obstacle course, or some other kind of event that gets you outside your comfort zone as a family.
- Go tent camping – few things get families outside their comfort zone like camping. Learning to pitch a tent, cook over a campfire, and maybe even peeing in the woods will stretch everyone while building the best kinds of memories.
Greta Eskridge lives in sunny Southern California with her artist husband, Aaron, and their 4 kids. Her first book, Adventuring Together: How to Create Connections and Make Lasting Memories With Your Kids, released July 2020 with Thomas Nelson. She’d love to connect with you on her blog at www.gretaeskridge.com or on her Instagram feed. You’ll find her there @maandpamodern.