How do new parents maintain their hobbies and social lives postpartum? That's the question Kamloops, B.C., mother Andrea Heath was trying to answer when she decided to start a baby-friendly hiking community.
Seven months ago, Heath had Caden, her son and first child. A former hiking guide, she struggled to find a way to enjoy nature or socialize with her peers the way she did before Caden arrived.
"I knew there's gotta be other moms hanging out at their house, maybe wanting to do the same but not knowing where to start," Heath said.
She created Wild and Tiny YKA, a Facebook group for Kamloops and area moms who want to stay active outside with their "littles."
It isn't just for moms — fathers, grandparents and other caregivers are encouraged to join. Heath said the hikes they do are well-suited for active pregnant women too.
They're even happy to bring well-behaved dogs along for a trek.
"I personally love to be outdoors," Heath said. "It's always more fun when you have people to go outside with."
'Don't put pressure on yourself'
Since the group was created four months ago, 100 people have joined, and, on average, seven people show up to organize hikes with their infants in tow.
Group hikes typically last about an hour, but depending on how far away the starting point is and how difficult the terrain is, it can go longer.
Heath classifies the hikes as easy to moderate, but encourages parents of all skill levels to come out and try it at least once.
"Come at it with no expectations. Don't put pressure on yourself."
"Being outside is just something so special," Heath said. "It just really grounds everything. It really makes you hone in on the present and focus in on the beauty and the magic that is nature."
Heath said it can be lonely after having a child.
"Coming from a very social lifestyle prior to baby, it's definitely a shock to the system," she said. "Having a baby takes a lot out of you mentally and physically."
Wild and Tiny YKA member Mandy Ross takes her son Theo with her on hikes with the group.
"It's great to meet other parents who are hiking," she said. Ross wants to expose her son to nature and the outdoor lifestyle at an early age.
They don't just hike silently through the woods — the moms talk about child rearing and personal struggles and achievements as new parents.
"I think the most common topic that arises is naps and sleep habits," Heath said.
As winter approaches in B.C.'s Interior, Heath is hoping to turn the hiking group into something more — she'd like to get parents up to Sun Peaks for group ski trips in the coming months.