When you're a new mom, activities that used to be easy become daunting in a whole new way as you sort out the logistics of taking a baby along. By the time you work around nap schedules, pack everything (and we mean everything) and leave the house, it can feel like it would have been easier to just stay home. But you won't regret the effort, says actress and new mom Alexa PenaVega.
"Don't be afraid to just go," she tells Motherly. "Getting out of the door is always the hardest part because once you've passed that hurdle of just getting your stuff together, there's not much more to be afraid of."
The Spy Kids star's love of nature is no small secret: She and husband Carlos PenaVega named their son Ocean and introduced him to his namesake when he was just 2 weeks old. In the time since, millions of people have followed along on Instagram as the PenaVega family boats, fishes and explores the Hawaiian island they call home.
That doesn't mean it's always easy. Now that Ocean is off and running on his own, PenaVega says it's more important than ever to have confidence she's taking him on safe, kid-friendly adventures. When planning an outing, PenaVega says she's all for keeping it as simple as possible. She says to think grab-and-go snacks and mom-approved destinations that eliminate the guesswork that can hold some parents back.
"Half the battle is educating yourself on what's out there," she says, suggesting moms check out TakeMeFishing.org for more tips. "After that, you're like, 'Oh I've got this.'"
Even though Ocean is too young to remember their outings, PenaVega is confident he's benefitting from them. "Allowing Ocean to be in the outdoor environment gets him accustomed to it. That way he's not afraid to run around, he's not afraid to get his toes in the sand or get a little wet," she shares.
And studies back her up: Spending time in nature has been shown to build confidence, boost creativity, promote responsibility and reduce stress among children. Even though she knows the benefits of nature, PenaVega isn't immune to the temptations of screen time—something she admits to being "guilty" of falling back on occasionally. But PenaVega says it motivates her to remember that getting outdoors with her son is a win-win in ways that another episode of a cartoon cannot replicate.
"It boosts my energy. I think that being indoors, as much as you may love your home, it can be really draining," she says. "It also burns a lot of energy for the kids, so let them run around so they go inside and can take a long nap!"