So, what’s it like being a surfer-mum?
How do we juggle the tides, swells and fickle surf conditions with the demands of a family and a job? After all, motherhood can be an all-consuming and selfless role, while surfing is a selfish and time consuming pursuit. But taking time out to play in the waves can also be the perfect antidote to the pressures of parenting. It allows you to re-connect with yourself and nature, while boosting your fitness and mental wellbeing. Which also makes for happier and healthier mums.
Finding time to surf hasn’t always been easy…
As an ocean addict and single mum, finding time to surf hasn’t always been easy. With three children in tow (now 6, 9 and 11 years old), a business to run and a freelance career, it can be challenging enough keeping my head above the waves of life. Yet I have managed to find ways to keep surfing at the heart of our family lifestyle. And if I can, so can you.
I wasn’t an experienced surfer before I gave birth to my first child, and my ocean confidence and fitness plummeted in the early years of child rearing. I had a mini mal that I took out on the smallest surf days, but windows of opportunity were slim between breastfeeding and becoming pregnant with baby number two. Bursting out of my wetsuit, with a toddler hanging off my every move, I practically threw in the towel on surfing a decade ago.
Even when the kids were little, the beach was still my sanctuary.
Come hell or high weather, it was by the sea that I spent my days with two tots and a dog. I’d dip them in the shore break and rockpools, watch them eat sand and face plant, and walk miles along the shoreline with them on my back and shoulders. By day the beach was our playground and by night I kept up a freelancing career. But every day as I watched the surfers, I still had an overwhelming urge to get out there and ride the waves.
So I made a choice to make time to surf. I booked the kids into creche for two hours every Friday morning, and dedicated that time to hitting the waves – no matter what the conditions were like. In the ocean I rediscovered my freedom and my sense of self, and became physically and mentally stronger.
However, the fact remained that I was still a terrible surfer. It can be a frustrating sport if you don’t have any know-how or any surfing friends. The green waves out back felt like a territory out of reach. And although I loved beach days with my boys, at times the children felt like a barrier between me and the waves. I spent hour after hour, day after day, luring them down sand dunes with wetsuits, picnics and foam boards, playing with them in and beside the sea, wishing I could paddle out.
As time passed I surfed more and more. We travelled through France, Spain and Portugal in search of waves, and I started to paddle out in manageable conditions at new breaks. I’ve now raised three blonde-haired beach bums on the saltwater lifestyle and travelled from Europe to Sri Lanka and Central America.
Along the way surfing has shaped and changed my life… the people in it, where I live, the places I’ve travelled, my job and my family. Aware that I’m much older and never going to shred, I’ve let go of my self consciousness and try to enjoy every moment of freedom in the sea: the mindfulness, the exercise, the weightlessness, the lack of control and the connection with nature.
Now my youngest son has started school, I’m able to grab solo surfs between the school run and work. I’ve got an incredible crew of surfing friends – many of them mums, so we can swap childcare and waves. And I spend much of my free time on the beach and in the ocean with my three boys. Looking back, I would’ve done anything to know the inspiring surfer mums I’ve met along the way, at the start of my surfing journey. They are supportive and incredible friends who have fired my passion for the waves and made me believe I could do it.
Which is why, at Family Surf Co. we’ve launched our Mums’ Family Surfing Breaks to help inspire and ignite other mums’ love for surfing. We know that your confidence can nose-dive, your fitness takes a hit and the selfish pursuit of surfing isn’t an easy one to justify when you’ve got a family to prioritise. But taking up surfing might also be one of the best things you can do for you and your family.
Top tips for juggling parenting and surfing
Dedicate a couple of hours a week for surfing – and get in the sea whatever the conditions are like (as long as it’s safe). Put the kids in creche, put it in the diary with your partner – just make it a routine and stick to it.
Join our Family Surfing Community to connect with other surfing mums so you can tag team surfs while one stays on the beach with the kids.
Be a beach bum
Spend as much time as you can on the beach with the children; it’ll make you all feel great and with any luck they’ll get the bug for surfing and beach life, too.
Try and make your job as flexible as you can so you can skip out when the tides and conditions are right, while the kids are in school or nursery. Freelancing and flexi hours make all the difference.
Keep surf fit
Yoga, running, swimming, online workouts at home… do whatever it takes to stay fit between surfs, so that you have the strength and skill to feel surf stoked whenever you have time to get in the water.