White Water Rafting - it IS for girls! Mums bucket list

Today begins another mini-series on Space In Your Case. We’ve been so busy writing about travel with the family – and even a few posts on getting away as a couple – that we haven’t paused yet to think about the need for mums to have some downtime of their own. Mums are sometimes the hardest-working members of the family, and we often don’t look after themselves, let alone take time out to recharge our batteries. So when Helen was offered the opportunity to go white water rafting with some school mums, she jumped at the chance. Here’s what she had to say:

Olympic White Water Rafting

Believe you can do it, and you can - white water rafting at the Lee Valley Olympic Park

The training alone scared the living daylights out of me: Make sure your lifejacket is really tight, we don’t want it to slide over your head when we’re pulling you out of the water; don’t let go of the end of the paddle – those things can knock your teeth out; if we capsize, and you go under the boat… You get the idea. But I’d been the first to sign up when a friend – let’s call her Adventurous Mum – had first voiced the idea, so I couldn’t wimp out.

The swim test left me breathless, as we leaped into a swirling current, canyoned down the rapids, and dragged ourselves to safety further down. Men with buoyancy aids yelled instructions from the side and proffered ropes to haul us in, but there was no need; we all managed a safe return – and wanted to go again.

I forgot all about school, work, emails, and what on earth I was going to cook for dinner, and started to relish the prospect of what was to come. I almost lost my nerve when the boat ahead of us tipped over, sending all 8 occupants downstream without a paddle. My heart raced as we travelled up the conveyor belt to the top of the course, and I smiled my best plea to our raft leaders not to dunk me in.

And then we were off on a helter-skelter tumble through the foam, practising the techniques of paddling, leaning, and hanging on for dear life. “Yes!!!! I yelled” when we got to the bottom. “Can we go again?” And go again we did, increasing the stakes on each run until we were able to manage this:

The thrill of white water rafting at the Lee Valley Olympic park is a fabulous break from the norm

As we climbed out of our raft, legs wobbling with adrenaline, it was all I could do not to turn round and jump back in for another session. It had been much less terrifying than I’d imagined, way more exhilarating, and certainly a huge break from the norm. When I saw these pictures, I was immensely impressed with myself for what we had learned to do – it really doesn’t feel that full-on when you’re in the mix of it all –  and buzzing with energy.

On the drive home we decided, as a group of mums, that we needed a bucket list. Shouldn’t every mum have a chance to do something out of the ordinary once in a while? Continuing in our Olympic theme we quickly added cycling at the velodrome to our list; I toyed with learning to high dive; and we committed to a picnic on Primrose Hill. The list is growing and plans are afoot to make this a termly boost to our well-being.

What do you think? What would you add to a mums bucket list of activities to take a well-earned break?

Helen went white water rafting at the Lee Valley rafting centre, where the UK Olympics were held. The cost was £50 per person for full training and a one and a half hour rafting session. Children have to be over the age of fourteen to join a rafting group. 

Image copyright Lee Valley Rafting Centre