I am a paddle geek, I paddle anything that is open, a SUP, a canoe, ocean outrigger, a surfski, anything where I am not stuck, or when I “feel” stuck. But, I am a mother of 2 young kids, and my husband works offshore so he is gone for 6 months of the year. So if I want to paddle during these times I have to take my children with me. I live on the beach, 20 m in fact. It would be insane for me not to take the children on the water there. It is more difficult for me to take them to the nearest soft play (1 hour by car), and also more traumatic.
Here are 10 tips that help me paddle with my kids.
1. Be selective. I live on the Atlantic coast so I have to be very selective with the choice of equipment and the days that I take my kids. I normally stop all operations about November till about March. No one wants a cold and traumatised kid. It might stop them loving the sea forever.
2. Keep expectations and goals low. If you get 20 minutes in the water, that is better than 20 minutes in the house.
3. Buoyancy aid, PFD or what ever you call them. I put them on my kids, and I wear one if I think you need too (I don’t when I can stand in the water)…
4. Take a paddle for yourself and a paddle for your child. If your children are like mine they will want to take your paddle from you…any resistance will result in the normal “scene”.
5. Don’t punch about your weight. If you aren’t happy or comfortable, don’t go.
6. Make it fun. Play pirates, or mermaids. You have to really get into role play.
7.If they fall in, grab them, and put them back on the board!ski!canoe. Don’t make a fuss. Laugh it off. (Though secretly inside you are freaking out).
8. Allow the children to be involved in the paddle. Asking a 3 year old to fetch something for the session will make them feel involved. (Clearly this doesn’t work for a 2 year old!).
9. Dress appropriately. You need to wear clothes that will allow you to jump into the water if it goes a bit a wry
10. Don’t give up, if the 1st time is traumatic, have another go. Keep on going, and going. It’ll get easier!