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The Constant Struggle of the Adventure Parent.

There seems to be this notion in the whitewater community that when you settle down and start a family, all exciting life and travel ends.
It is true that I feel like there are two people inside me constantly battling for my time, on one hand I always want to travel and explore new places, and the other is a primal instinct to raise and teach every day skills to your tiny humans.
Now before you go and call some mental health institution, and report me for a split personality disorder, let me explain.

First off, I love being a dad!
There is nothing better than coming home after work and seeing your kids face light up and come running to you, it really is the best feeling in the world.
(Besides eating Haribo gummy bears, those things are amazing!)
My wife Martha and I have 3 beautiful little boys, and it is never a dull moment in our house, evenings are always spent wrestling or coming up with some new game to play or puzzle to solve.
Sean is 5 going on 13, Seth is 3 and has no self preservation mode, and little Evan is 6 months old and already dying to be big enough to follow his brothers around the house.
I am very blessed to have a wonderful wife who enjoys the outdoors and values the recreational and mental benefits it brings.
And while she may not enjoy tackling a class V river, we both enjoy taking our little men on hikes and day trips in our family raft.

The problem lies with the amount of time that I spend by myself developing my own skills, and pursuing my favorite rivers and destinations that are outside of my family unit.
How much time is okay to dedicate to yourself? How many days per week, month, or year are acceptable for a healthy family unit?
It is not that I have decided to shirk my responsibilities, or just decide that I’m not going to be responsible on some days, it’s that I truly believe that having time in the outdoors recharges you on a deep physiological level and you home determined to give 100%.
While the best option would be to travel and paddle with your family alongside, for most people in the normal world that just isn’t feasible.
Unless you have a job in the outdoor industry or a .com business that allows you to work remotely, this model just doesn’t work for the other 90% of outdoor enthusiasts.
The majority of the paddling community are resigned to be weekend warriors, and they often have a partner who is not as passionate about kayaking as themselves.

So what is acceptable? How to you explain to your 5 year old that a river trip will make me more engaged parent?
It’s really all about scheduling, and I can only speak for myself and my family, every family unit is different, but time allotment is how this all works.
In the winter and spring months, where free flow is the best I find myself paddling more during the week than on the weekends.
Weekends fill up quickly with activities and it’s easier to knock off work a few hours early to get a solo lap on my favorite local run.
With the advances in weather forecasting, I can plan out days that are going to be best for rain events and what afternoons will be most likely.

And while this is all well and good in theory, I know myself and the fact that I need a parameter for a guideline.
My monthly limit is 18-20 hours, this comes out to be one full weekend, two Saturday day trips, or 4-5 evenings during the month.
In the summer, recreational release schedules make things easier, you can plan your trips weeks and months in advance.
Most of the camping next to the releases in the southeast are family friendly, with parents using their best judgement. (DON”T BE THAT PERSON THAT CAMPS WITH THEIR KIDS AT GAULEY FEST GENERAL CAMPING)

These are my thoughts, now I’m interested in hearing yours. Send me an email at and let me know what works for your family!