Congratulations! You’re the parent of a beautiful baby.
Commiserations: your surfing has been cut by at least 50%
If you’re still surfing by the time you have children chances are you don’t do it to look cool, keep fit or impress the opposite sex. You surf for happiness and survival, without surfing you become a miserable, empty shell of your former self.
So if your surfing sessions are suddenly replaced by soiled nappies, sleepless nights and family diplomacy, how can you survive? After 3 years of frustrating fatherhood I have developed a few tactics to achieve surfing survival. I hope these help you through the early years, until the time comes when your child can surf safely beside you.
The splash and dash
Remember how you used to surf for three hours, then chill and chat with your mates, then go back in for another session until the sun sets and your arms drop off? Those days are gone my friend.
If you see a window of opportunity, don’t hesitate. Throw all your gear in the car, and I mean all of it, you can decide what suit or board you need on the way. Don’t go to that secret spot with a 20 minute walk to the beach. Go to the nearest, most consistent spot with parking nearby. Change without looking at the waves, then run to the beach and dive straight in. Spend the next hour and a half (two hours tops) grabbing every wave you can, if there’s a lull relax and regenerate, don’t get frustrated. Then jog back to the car and drive full speed home.
Pre-parenthood I’d set aside at least 4 hours for any surf session, with a splash and dash I can get a satisfying surf and be back home in less than 3 hours.
I’m talking about dark dawnies! Getting up before the sun rises, so that your toes are in the water as the birds begin to sing. Proper hardcore dawnies, not half-hearted student dawnies.
If you’re not responsible for the morning movements of your offspring, then get a surf in before work. Or at the weekends you can get down the beach for first light, have a great surf and still be home by late morning. Then you still have the whole day to play with your family.
Beware, you will need stimulants by the afternoon – even more than usual. An early night is highly recommended before and after dawny.
If you train your beautiful baby well, the afternoon siesta usually allows you a couple of hours to sleep or get jobs done. However if you skip lunch, you have a three hour slot to slip off for a splash and dash.
So get your car loaded, put a banana in the glove box (for lunch) and as soon as your partner and child sit down for the midday food fiasco, make a break. If you plan well, and have your splash and dash technique perfected; a soul soothing surf session can be had and you won’t be missed.
As you return coated in salt, wearing a surfer’s smile, your child will be waking to you happily whistling ‘good vibrations’.
This tactic requires persuasive powers and a high level of diplomacy. But if skillfully deployed you can negotiate anything from a quick splash to a week long surf trip with your homies.
For example, your partner wants to spend your child’s first Christmas with the in-laws. A potential nightmare, just the thought makes you suicidal. But here’s where you play the trade-off card. If a family occupation on Christmas Day is unavoidable, negotiate a seize fire surf on Boxing Day. Not only do you get a guilt free surf but it makes a day of suffering worthwhile.
Occasionally a larger prize can be bartered. For example: he wants to go on a stag weekend, or she wants to go on a shopping trip with the girls. “Of course” you say, IF I can go surfing for the same amount of time. It’s all about balance and timing.
I personally would never do anything like this, but ‘a friend of mine’ told me about the sneaky surf. It should only be applied in extreme cases, such as sunny, six feet and offshore days.
Here’s the scenario. You have sole responsibility for your child and expected to be spending quality time together. But you’ve been receiving a steady stream of texts all morning from friends letting you know it’s going off. Now’s the time to phone a designated friend (or the adoring granny), who can keep a secret.
Make up any excuse or just tell the truth, chances are the non-surfing friend will understand. Or if it’s a granny, they don’t need an excuse to spend time with your little bundle of joy. Once a temporary babysitter has been secured, abandon the baby, bury the guilt and drive as fast as you can to the beach. Then get wet and get back before your significant other has noticed.
Family day at the beach
For a more honest and open option there’s always the family day at the beach. For this you need a rain free day, ideally a friend or relative and a large car.
Instead of rushing around like a lunatic, here’s a chance to enjoy quality time with your loved ones in your favourite environment. First, check the weather forecast, remember it’s not just you that’s got to enjoy sitting in the sand. If it’s blowing a gale, cold or likely to rain, game over. Otherwise pack everything you need for a day trip plus a ball, bucket and spade in to the car. Then strap your boards to the roof, because there won’t be room inside. If there’s still time left in the day, drive to the beach.
Don’t go diving in to the sea the minute you’ve unloaded. The rules are: you must spend at least half an hour of quality time with the family before you get lost at sea. This is where the friend or relative comes in handy. If your partner is prone to flapping when things go wrong or fed up of talking to a gurgling poo-plant; then the friend or family member will provide essential stress relief whilst you’re catching guilt-edged waves.
At a glance this idea appears to be your best option, and it can turn out well. But beware, if poorly managed it can be more trouble than it’s worth.
Surfing survival summary
If you are a new parent, a surfer and anything like me, the thought of missing out on quality surf is physical and mental torture. That’s why I wanted to share these surfing survival tips with you, to help you get natures nourishment when you need it most.
Unless you’re a pro-surfer, an unemployed beach bum or a very selfish onanist, chances are your surf time will decline post-parenthood. To ensure early years survival, use these surf survival tactics and develop your own when required. Good luck.