How to surf after having kids | Top 10 Tips

Hey there!  I recently, or not so recently, wrote a blog to answer one of my lovely instagram followers questions on how to fit in wakeboarding and surfing after having kids… well I managed to write, edit, add photos and publish the wakeboarding one.  So now I’m just getting around to the surf one.

I don’t live by the coast, any coast, in fact, I’m probably the most land locked you could possibly get in England.  So we have to travel in the UK or abroad to get waves.  And no more surf day trips to the coast.  They will be shelved until the kids can surf.  (sob sob).

Surfing has changed, possibly for the better actually (I’m already in denial). Before kids we would surf at dawn if there was surf, eat, tan, surf, then do it all again all day, every day for the entire surf trip.  It was total shit.  (It was awesome.)

Then we tried to do the same thing with a baby.  Which is totally possible.  (It’s just not possible.)  A baby, or a small child (or multiple), is just not going to allow you to hang/bake on a beach all day long.  We’ve had to modify our holidays quite a bit, but they do work for us at the moment, we’re just on the cusp of having to do more kid focussed trips.  The main one being that we can’t really go somewhere in Europe for the waves in winter, no one wants to sit on a cold windy, rainy beach with small children.  And its not fair to ask anyone to go on a surf holiday and stay in the accommodation all day with nothing but internet and a DVD player to entertain them.  So we’re missing out on winter swell, which sucks.  See summer waves in the photo below…. it just ain’t the same.  Enough said.

Surf trips go like this: if the waves are cookin’, one will surf a dawnie one morning while the other parent gets the kids up and fed and makes the lunches for the day, we take it in turns each day to do this.  Then it’s off to the beach so that the other parent can surf.  We play with the kids, take them surfing, have lunch on the beach and then break the day up with some sightseeing, food shop, movie (we take kids DVD’s everywhere, family favs are Surfs Up, Happy Feet and Moana).  Then we’ll head back to the beach for a second surf while one is on the beach playing with the kids, beach walk, ice cream, rock pooling, sea glass hunting…  and then one will surf while the other parent takes the kids home for dinner and a bath, or get them ready to go out for dinner.  We try to stay where we can surf within walking distance of the accommodation as we do rent a car, but the one surfing needs to be able to walk home.  So it’s quite a juggling act, but its good for now.

And as you can imagine, theres loads of quality time with your partner.  (There is no quality time with your partner while on holiday with your kids.)  Actually we’ve started going away with my folks just so that we can have a date night on holiday.  (Love you guys xx)

The reason I say its better? (Its not better, but every cloud…)  Well my surfing was improving quite nicely, but it took a dip after baby number two, (the second was harder to ‘bounce back’ from).  I recently, (as in February) surfed with my husband on a golden weekend away in England, and surfing on my own has changed my surfing.  My husband taught me how to surf (I know, he did well as teaching your other half anything is just disastrous, actually I’m pretty impressed we’re still together, hun remember that time I got concussed by my NSP board and you couldn’t stop laughing?) and I’d only ever surf well with him around.

But surfing on my own for the past six years has taught me how to work my way into the line up and, if need be, hassle for waves on my own rather than him helping me.  And when we surfed together recently, all this newfound confidence went out the window and I just followed him around like a sick puppy!  So I think our setup is pretty sweet for now, and it also means we get some time to ourselves on holiday, when we’re all together 24/7.

Tips for a family surf trip: 

  1. Stay somewhere that you can surf within walking distance of your accommodation.
  2. Watch the wave / weather forecast before you go so you can travel as lightly as possible.  Clothes wise and wetsuit / surfboard wise.  With kids and car seats you don’t want to be taking four surfboards and a million suitcases.
  3. Get in the water.  If its your turn to surf, just go… do not watch the waves for ages (if you know the break that is, otherwise obvs watch it.  Safety first!)  Just run in and spend your hour having fun and taking off on anything.  Big or small.
  4. Teach the kids.  They may not want to surf in the future and thats cool, but while I’m paying for their holidays, they will conform.  (Jokes) Luckily my kids actually beg us to take them surfing and get pissed if they have to wait for one of us to come back in.
  5. Do not attempt to take multiple young children surfing on your own.  One parent to one child ratio.
  6. Appreciate it for what it is.  At this point in time, we cannot go in search of the best, cleanest, warmest waves when the tides are just right (these days will come in time – kids get better so we can go on a Mentawai boat trip. (Thank you please).  You need to just be happy that you are out there.
  7. Surf photos.  Don’t even bother.   You have two little humans to look after on a busy beach with a lot of water.
  8. If you want to get the kids in the water for longer than five minutes and actually enjoy learning to surf, then get them full wetsuits.
  9. Keep fit & flexible.  I train all year round and do yoga every day (I know, total brag alert) but my husband goes into serious training mode when he knows we’ve got a surf trip coming.  He has a training folder with notes and shedules and everything from three months out.  Reason being is that you can get the most from your surf because you’re not surfing as much anymore.
  10. Just go.  Think of all the positives you’ll get from the a holiday with your family and enjoy.  Cheers.

What are your tips from going on a family surf trip?  I love learning new holiday hacks!

How to fly with small children: Travelling Circus

A friend recently mentioned to me that she was flying to New Zealand (or it could have been Australia and I misheard over the kids being kids) which is exciting. They are a family of four, including a newly turned four year old and a newly turned one year old, and it will be the first time they have flown with the kids.

Being a serial vacationist and all, I thought I would look back over my travel blogs and amalgamate them into one big updated travel blog for her, and anyone else who is brave enough to fly with small people.

Where to start… tips for travelling with small children:

Packing: I am OCD when it comes to holiday packing.  I start about a week before we fly.  I get the clothes out and make sure they are washed.  I put together a weeks worth of outfits and thats the cut off as I use washing facilities while away, and I make sure everything matches – this is for each person as well – so that it minimises the luggage.  I’m actually going for a PB on our next trip, we can fly with either two medium suitcases, or a medium case and a surfboard bag – this trip I’m going for a board bag and a cabin suitcase, and no buggy!  Its going to be epic.  A week also allows me time to organise things like sunscreen and nappies which can be pricey abroad, and also travel money (I do not go shopping with the kids because its a pain in the ass, so sometimes I need to have all this planned five days in advance depending on the husbands work schedule).  I could dedicate an entire blog post to just packing.

Car seats: I have travelled with car seats and I have rented them from the car rental companies.  Obviously its easier to rent them but they seem to rapidly be heading north in the expense region.  Flying with them is fine, you just need to wrap them up and use an isofix protector if you want the bars to stay intact.  I’ve had to claim a new car seat before and it was pretty easy.

Sleeping: I never fly with a travel cot, I always order one through the accommodation and check that it comes with sheets…  My kids both use/used grow bags to sleep in at home, so I fly with a grow bag for my youngest so that he’s sleeping in what he’s used to.  If he sleeps well, everyone sleeps well.  And whatever you do, don’t forget their sleeping feely’s/stuffed animals.  Also ask for a mattress protector or take one with you if they are newly nappy free at night.

Plane cot: If you’re flying long haul, you can be put on a list to request a bulkhead seat where a plane cot can be attached to the ‘wall’.  I have never had this luxury due to age and timings, but seeing people fly with them – they look like they make life easier.

Food: If you’re flying long haul then pre order the kids meals.  You can also take their favourite foods/snacks with you as well.

Milk: If your kids/babies/toddlers like milk then you can fill your bottles up before you fly and travel with a cool-bag.  This will be put into a machine and tested at security.  You can also buy milk from a restaurant or cafe in the airport and fill the bottles up then.  Or nicely ask an air hostess once on the plane.  Another friend of mine travels with small bottles/cartons of follow on milk which is sold by the baby formula brands, which I think is a great idea as it doesn’t need to be kept cold.

iPad: Another friend of mine once told me to buy an iPad before we flew to Florida.  We now don’t fly without one, especially on the short haul flights where the seats don’t have personal TV sets attached.  They are also very handy for delays.  Make sure its fully charged and that you’ve downloaded a couple of movies and a few episodes of their favourite programmes.  Travel with the charger handy.  If delayed, find a wifi spot for some kids you tube.

Goodie bags: The kids are allowed hand luggage, so I pack their little backpacks with activity, sticker and story books.  Also a set of kids headphones, snacks, small favourite toys and their cuddly toy.  They are set.

Baby/toddler carrier: Out of all the times I’ve flown with the kids, I’ve only had the buggy brought to the plane on landing once.  Is this an option?  Can you request it to be there?  It has never been there and one time it just magically turned up.  We learnt this the hard way – walking from the plane, standing in immigration lines and waiting at the baggage claim, all while carrying our baby/toddler.  From then on, we always fly with a carrier, that way the baby/toddler stays in one place, is usually quiet because they’re on you, and you have your hands free to keep taking your passport out and putting it away again.

Supplies: I always travel with a spare set of clothes for both kids.  If they spill something or wet themselves with no change of clothing, you’re fucked.  Make sure you have enough nappies on board to last an extra day incase delayed.  Don’t wear white.  Order wine when you can.

Nappies/wet wipes: I take them everywhere with me.  I have checked the supermarkets in Spain, France, Portugal, America (Florida), Dubai and South Africa and the standard packs you can buy from Aldi for £4 (52/56 nappies) cost anywhere between £18 – £25 in said countries.  I’ve also had a packet of baby wet wipes cost £8!!  WTF.  Worth checking before you fly if you’re pushed for space.  I put a couple of packs of nappies in the car seats before I wrap them and duct tape them in bubble wrap and bin liners – glamorous, I know.

Calpol: I used to take calpol with me to quieten the kids down but I’m not sold that it actually works.  I always fly with it though incase they are actually ill, nothing worse than a poorly baby on a flight.

Thick skin: If you have kids you know that they are not aways little angels. What better time to perform to an audience than in a confined aeroplane cabin.  If you baby/toddler/child is screaming, someone will always tut, sigh loudly, glare at you, turn around and look over the seat or give you some advice.  You know your child so you know they’re just bored, tired, agitated or their ears hurt while the planes descending.  Obviously you try to keep your kids on a leash, physically and emotionally, but it doesn’t always go to plan, and the sooner you learn not to care when it all goes tits up, the better.

Holiday: At the end of all the travelling you have a holiday!  Which is not like a pre kids holiday, but its quality family time, which to me, is awesome.  Its definitely getting a bit easier now they kids can walk, eat anything and sleep well.

Happy holidays!

the ocean and i

The ocean and I go way back.  My first encounter was in the south of France when I was eighteen months old.  My folks walked me down to the ocean and apparently I just kept on walking until the water was nearly over my head.  That was it, I was sold.  I needed the ocean in my life.  Like many millions of other who feel they have a connection to the ocean, I have my reasons as to why I love it, and I’m sure you do too… Here are mine:

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1. Calmness.  When ever I pull up to the ocean, no matter what its doing, I get a wave (pun intended) of relief wash over me.  If you get the feeling you’ll know exactly what I mean, if not, its quite hard to describe.  Its like I’m exactly where I need to be.  The calmness sets in and time doesn’t exist.  (I get this feeling when I’m near any body of water which is probably why wakeboarding has stuck with me seeing as I’m landlocked!)

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2. The lifestyle.  I absolutely love waking up not have to worry about clothes or make up.  When I’m on a surf trip, everything is stripped back.  No outfits, no make up, no hair styling.. just glowing skin smelling of sunscreen, salty hair and slightly burnt lips.  Its the simple life and its fabulous.

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3. The beach.  I have always loved the beach, but now I have a new love for it because of my kids.  I’m doing all the fun stuff that my folks used to do with me, like build sandcastles and bury each other.  The beach is a much more valuable place for my kids to play than an indoor play centre.

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4. The ocean.  If there are waves you can surf.  If the conditions are not right you can do anything else, swim, jump over waves, body surf the shore break, paddle board, the list goes on.

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5. My body.  I absolutely love what the ocean does to my body, because I’m using it, it keeps me fit and healthy.  The salt heals everything.  Everything.  Also there are more negative ions around large areas of water which boost our mood and help us stay positive.  (Seriously, google it).

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So if you’re an ocean lover like me, high fives!  If you’re not, get yourself to your nearest body of water, take a moment to just stare in silence and see you can feel it.