The dream of every climber is probably to engage also their little offsprings in the fun. We talked with Fibi from the UK, whose children are all in the climbing game and are even achieving outstanding results in comps. The children are training four to six days a week and recently even formed a squad with Louis Parkinson as their trainer. But how do they tackle their family life with climbing? That’s the question we were eager to know!
Fibi, I presume with four climbing children it is always busy and buzzing with you. Am I right? Everyone healthy and happy?
Oh yes, thanks! We arrived back home yesterday from being a few weeks in Fontainebleu. Everyone is missing being there, but it is nice to be back home as well.
I admire that all of your children are climbing. How comes? Did you just went into a climbing gym and let them have a go?
Well, as climbing parents we always have been in and around climbing walls indoors as well as outdoors. When Layla was a toddler she always went with us. She had her first attempt outdoors in Arco, in her little harness with a sling attached to my husband’s harness. This way we knew that she was able to come down again and we could sort her out. Safety comes always first :) – and she really liked it a lot. So she was able to climb but did not yet walk.
Having had this experience we also always took the other children with us and they also started to climb on in a very early age.
Also we had a small climbing wall at home with which the children could play along.
Furthermore, the climbing was always a hit, because they could have picnics high up or similar.
As parents we had to learn that there is no formal route or a special training for our children. It was just playing around but if you look at it, you will see that they climbed a lot and did the most amazing moves just because they wanted to do it.
The children are doing competitions at the moment. How are they doing?
The older two love to be on comps, the little two do not find a lot of comps where they are allowed to compete. But when they go, all the children are happy about their results. Especially Mia is very happy that she became 3rd in a comp for under 16s. Layla competed on a world cup style competition for under 14s and became 3rd.
In general Mia is always first, something she is very proud of. Except once when she planned to be third and succeeded.
Layla is struggling a bit as she is in a field of around 8 girls; all of them with the same ability, which means that often it is not about climbing but about mental strength. She is more of a quiet type, someone who does not want to show of. Yet, sometimes if you look at the scores you see that she is in the winning field and even first. This is what counts.
Lea would love to do more comps, but she has to wait a little longer. This is not easy for her, especially as the competitions she is allowed to join are set for taller children and she just cannot reach the holds.
Each of our children wishes there were competitions with height instead of age categories.
How often are you doing competitions? It must be difficult to organise the driving!
We tend to do around one every or every other month. The organisation is not so difficult as we as parents are sharing the children. Often I stay at home with the little ones. Otherwise they would get bored. Anyway, the children love travelling and meeting new people. So going to comps is quite easy.
Is there a competition within the family?
Oh yes, way too much! We tend to have 2 pairs. Layla and Mia are one team, Laurin and Lea the other one. In each team is a strong and a technical climber. This means that there is always one who is dominating and this leads to loads of tears and crying.
Nevertheless, the children know that during training and competitions they have to work as a team and not against each other. When they feel that the other one is struggling they are marvellous.
What about motivation? Is everyone always at 100?
Oh well, we are nearly everyday bouldering or training. So sure there are days or even phases where the children (or at least one of them) are not in a climbing mood. But let it be the next day or a new phase and they are on a high level again, sometimes even more motivated than they used to be. I do not put any pressure on them. Fun comes first. I had to find out that especially in growing phases they tend to do less. If I would push them during that time, I would destroy the fun and they would not speed off again as happily and full on as they do when the phase is over.
All in all for us as parents, climbing is a life style. It offers a great friendly community for the children to grow up in and to find friends of all ages and from all walks of life. It is about learning to push yourself and to find your own limits and goals. To stay healthy, active and happy. All of this would not be happening if they were pushed into to it.
With every comp, with every hard coached training, we ask them before if they really want to do it. If their answer is ‘yes’, they have to stick to it and be 150% motivated. If they say they don’t want to or there are other issues, we don’t force them. In such cases we tell them that they don’t have to and should concentrate on other things.
We are very lucky to have Louis Parkinson as their amazing coach who encourages them in the same manner. For him it is all about fun, ability and motivation.
What about other activities? Is everything just about climbing? Or is there somethig else they are doing?
Play play play! All the children love to swim and the girls love to do aerial circus skills. Furthermore, all 4 love to engage themselves with music. Especially Laurin is always making music, from the moment he wakes up until the moment when he falls asleep.
During wintertimes we like to go skiing. This winter we will be in the alps for 5 weeks. The children are home educated, which means that we take the school with us wherever we go. This allows us to go travelling and to use walls and other places when no one else does.
What will you do next? Any plans so far?
Bouldering and climbing holiday :) We will take our tent to the Chassezac, the Estrel area and then back to Font again. This is going to be a good mixture of climbing, bouldering, adventure and fun. Chassezac has amazing caves that wait to be explored. It is great that the children are able to climb and learn to know their rope work better. One is for sure, we can do loads of fun stuff there.
Thank you Fibi for this interview and letting us get a glimpse of what it is like to have a climbing family! If you want to you find out more about Fibi and her ravens check out their instagram page.