How Nature Pulled Me Out of a Mom Funk

Becoming a mom has been the most incredible adventure of my life; I’m creating memories every day with my family, giving my daughter beautiful childhood experiences – and raising her close to nature.

How did I get here? Why did I choose this lifestyle? There was no type of miracle or 24-day fix challenge. It was my passion for the outdoors that made this journey look easy.

When you do something that makes you happy – you change, you share experiences, and you inspire those around you.

I escaped the isolation and loneliness of motherhood. A touchy subject – it’s very emotional for every mama, and I’m not one to tell you what to do… every journey is different. But maybe my story will encourage you to take the first step… getting out of the house, and taking that first hike with your children.

I still remember those first few hours of motherhood and returning home from the hospital feeling like my whole world was flipped around. After spending four days in the hospital,  I took a deep breath and said, ‘finally home, phew, we made it.’

When my husband returned to work, I quickly got overwhelmed with emotions. In my mind, I thought we would both be home raising the baby… and well I guess I forgot that somebody had to provide for the family, but in that moment, my ‘mom brain’ was f*d up.

I went from crying because I wasn’t sure I could take care of my baby. Not only that, but I was missing my freedom. AND I wished my mom was there.

Having a c-section limited my movement around the house, and prevented me from going down the stairs to get laundry done; my mental health challenged me in every direction. I lived on healthy green smoothies to provide healthy milk for my daughter, and I forgot the taste of real food. On Mother’s Day, I had brunch with my husband and as I sipped on my mimosa – I realized how great it felt to get outside and to take in the fresh air.

The fresh air was therapeutic. I went home, wrapped up my baby on my back, and walked around in the house. She loved snuggling on my back – in my culture, it’s nurturing to wear babies with towels. When my husband visited South African for the first time, he saw women walking with 20 liter buckets on their heads. They were carrying babies on their backs with towels. Those women walked over 10k every day to fetch water. In South Africa, it was a lifestyle.

I got myself a pair of running shoes and was on my way to figuring out a new healthy lifestyle. I needed to have adult conversations. I looked at ‘mom’ groups on Facebook every day. I had ten moms interested and excited to meet me for a coffee and walk a mile in the local park… but the results were disappointing; only one mama showed up. But the one who showed up became a fast friend. We were both from out of town; we exchanged numbers; and we started hanging out every other day. On weekends we invited our husbands. Now I have a friend I can talk to, and my daughter has a BFF.

Motherhood became a title. I love this journey, and now I embrace motherhood. Getting outside to take in fresh air and to meet people was the first step. I learned with this friendship that I had to show up and be reliable – if you want friends, you have to get out there and find them… when you are a mom, friends don’t fall on your lap. Some mamas prefer the internet; they are present on social media but not physically. And that’s okay – it works for them.

The outdoors saved my life. I started hiking with a mission. My mission was to lose the baby weight, get healthier, introduce my daughter to the outside and to meet people. I was burned out from trying to develop fake relationships. I attended many playdates and the small talk was such a turn-off for me. It didn’t help my situation at all, and I didn’t fit in. For a second, I thought I can’t do this mom thing anymore, NOT for me. I thought this is an American thing. Motherhood is hard. It’s so hard, and no one tells you how hard it is. No book will help you get out of the funk. You have to take baby steps with your baby.

Being home and looking at the four walls was breaking my spirit and not healthy for my daughter. We found joy when we were hiking and getting lost in the woods.

During this journey, I familiarized myself with the trail maps, Safe Hiking Tips, used poles while carrying my baby, and gradually worked up to trails with hills or uneven terrain. Hiking outdoors has many perks: lovely views, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature.

Being a stay at home mom involves unloading and loading the dishwasher twice a day and cleaning regularly. So I made the outdoors priorities.

I am inspired by families who spend most of their time outside exploring and raising their children on the roads. Whether they choose to ‘Unschool’, ‘Wildschool’, or ‘home school’, I’m here for the education. The outdoors have saved me from depression. It’s a free exercise for the whole family. Together with my daughter, I have a second chance in life to do all the things my parents couldn’t afford.

I want to challenge all the mamas out there this month to find their rhythm. What makes you happy? So often, moms don’t make a list when prioritizing their self-care and creating goals for themselves. You deserve to dream and have hobbies. For the past six years, my life has involved my daughter. This year I’m putting my dream first. I signed up for a 50k marathon in Utah… I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m going. We are not sure when it will be safe to travel internationally again as a family, but I have signed up for a Kilimanjaro trip in 2022, which means I have to start training now! Even if things get worse in the world, I have nothing to lose; this mama will be happy and healthy, and I will continue my journey embracing the outdoors. Create a lifestyle that you won’t need a vacation from because nature never closes… I’m literally crying as I’m writing this last part.

Dineo is a full-time mom and writer who was born in South Africa but now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and their daughter. For the past 6years, she has been an ambassador for Hike it Baby, a non-profit organization that connects families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. As part of this, Dineo spends much of her time outdoors, once hiking 21 miles in 8 hours and she is keen that her daughter spends as much time outside as is possible. Dineo’s other passion is for writing children's pictures and she currently has 5 books in circulation. Adventure Day, Sunset Hike, Spring hike, Summer Camping, and Christmas from both worlds, these books features diverse characters and are dedicated to nature and were created to inspire children to get out into the fresh air. They both contain exciting and diverse characters that children love. In her free time, Dineo loves reading nature books to her daughter, cooking, and baking. She enjoys running, camping and hiking whenever the opportunity arises and her ambition is to be able to travel the world, volunteering her time to help the needy and using the experiences she gains to write even more children’s books.


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