Climbing with a toddler – Three takes


Take 1:
About five weeks back, on a Sunday afternoon my husband and I dared to try to climb in the our “home” gym. We decided to top rope with our two year old daughter. Just the two of us. No other adult to help watch her while one of us climbed and the other belayed.

Our “home” gym is Planet Granite in Sunnyvale – which gets crazy crowded depending on the time of the day. On this day, the gym was fairly crowded at 3pm. But we were feeling brave (foolhardy you say?) and decided to give it a try anyway.

We decided to try the “reason and activity” approach. While roping up, we told my daughter not to run around, not to get into other people’s stuff, not to go bother everyone else etc… But of course, this two year old decided to do exactly what we asked her not to do and started running around right away. Luckily, I had a notebook and a couple of crayons in my purse. We gave her these and told her that Mamma and Papa are going to be climbing. You need to watch us climb and then draw us climbing.

That worked! For our second and third climbs, we moved to an area called the “Ice Box” which has one “wall” which are really shutters opening to the outside where she could un, along with a few other older kids.

All in all, we got three climbs each, and it was fun. It was slow, a little scary, but we did it.

Take 2:

So two weekends after our first but successful trial climbing in the gym, we decided to try it again. We packed up and left from home at 11.30am on a Sunday.

Even as we were entering the gym, things weren’t going well. This two year old decided to repeatedly ask for milk – like a broken down tape or a scratched CD (remember those?). We gave in and gave her the milk cup. Then she wanted more. Then when we were roping up, she saw some other kid’s toys there in the gym and wanted to play with them. The said kid or the parent wasn’t around and so we told her no, and instead gave her the toys which we had got from home.

I was able to do my one warm up after which my daughter had a full blown tantrum. Yikes! And I got so upset that not only could I not climb, I was on the verge of a tantrum myself (not pretty!). Of course, we just packed up and left.

This is what I learnt from a post-mortem analysis of this unsuccessful attempt: Timing, parental mental state and indoor- outdoor space need to be considered. Let me explain.

The first time we went, it was at 3pm – my two year old had finished her nap and was well fed. The second time, at 11.30, she was sleepy but too excited to sleep in the gym. The first time parents were in an awesome mood, but the second time I was hungry and not very patient. Also, the second time we went, it was raining outside – and we didn’t have access to the indoor/outdoor space near the Icebox area. So for future attempts, we came up with these three Rules:

Rule1: Make sure we don’t climb during nap times. A well rested, well fed kid is important if we want to climb
Best times to climb for us – around 10.00AM or around 2.30PM on weekends.

Rule 2: Parents need to be well rested and well fed to deal with cranky tantrum throwing two year olds.

Rule 3: Try to climb in an indoor / outdoor area where if she needs to run to burn energy, she can do so and not put and others in danger.

Take 3:
After the botched second take, we have actually climbed in the gym twice, one a solid 2.5 hour session , and the next time a fast one hour session but each of us did about 6 climbs. Both these times we were successful – we followed our three self imposed rules.

Why did I write such a long post? I hope if there are some parents out there who are despairing if it is even possible to climb with toddlers, I want to give them hope that maybe they can. They will need to experiment , and give it a few sessions until a scheme which works for them falls into place.

Climb on!

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