Paddling as we know isn’t just a fantastic way to keep fit. It also has huge benefits to your mental wellbeing. It’s a great opportunity to socialise while staying socially distanced, and a way to meet new friends too. All these things as a new parent are important to your own physical and mental wellbeing, that of your family, and of your newborn too. So, with that. We enlisted the help of our Women’s Paddling Community to share with you 10 top tips for juggling parenting and paddling. Because becoming a new parent shouldn’t mean you stop the things you love!
Top 10 tips for juggling parenting and paddling
- You’ll have heard it before, but we’ll say it again for the people at the back. Pelvic floor exercises can be a godsend! There are plenty of free online classes on Youtube. Regaining some form of bladder control is always going to be helpful, let’s face it. But a top tip we have is about using reusable period products like period pants to help in the interim! Period pants also double up well as ‘leakage pants’ in the beginning. Cheeky wipes and other brands do a superb range of affordable pants to keep you paddling and moving until that control comes back!
- Let’s talk about breastfeeding. If you’re breastfeeding while parenting and paddling… express, express, express. And don’t beat yourself up if you need to combi feed. “There’s no shame in giving your child a bit of formula if they need it/you need the mental health benefits of a paddle.” Remember life is all about balance. Make sure your own needs are being balanced too. Another member commented that if you’re returning to training, “be prepared for baby not to like the taste of post session milk and plan accordingly!” – Noted!
- If you’re going to leave baby at home while you go for a paddle, leave them with someone you trust! If you’re leaving them in the hands of someone that’s maybe not too confident or experienced, you’ll find yourself worrying and not enjoying the paddling at all. As another member of our community pointed out though, she found all her playing out on the water was great for her partner to take control and build a relationship. “As my boys got older I used to ask if they minded if I went out. They smiled and said that’s fine. When dad is in charge it’s take away. They loved that.”
- Exercise is exercise. You might have been sprint and marathon racing up to a few months before giving birth, but if you don’t feel like it, don’t feel pressured to jump back into what you were doing just because! Maybe it’s time to change up the paddling routine. Or perhaps you want to paddle more for mental wellbeing than fitness. Remember exercise is exercise, and don’t beat yourself up that you’re not the same as before. Enjoy the challenge and the new adventures, and soak up where the new path might take you.
- You could always make paddling time family time while parenting and paddling. We’ve mentioned in previous articles how little nippers life jackets are available from many of the retailers. But even they’re at the stage to go on a paddle with you, you could always make a day of it in other ways. One member of our community said “Just being on the water helps. So if there is somewhere you can go where you can do a short out and back or even just play about in view of baby whilst someone looks after them, say at a beach or lake, then these first steps are fun and still family time. Pre-COVID my husband and I did a short paddle from a mill pond whilst my parents looked after my son on the grass, then we all had a picnic together when we got back. It was a lovely day.”
- “It doesn’t matter if your pelvic floor fails you in a wetsuit.” We liked the honesty here…
- Make use of the freebie yoga, pilates and other fitness videos on youtube. There’s plenty of them, and they can help keep you paddling fit while you can’t physically get out on the water. A lot of these exercises are great complimentary exercises for paddling anyway, so it’s good to get into the habit of mixing it up, even when needs must!
- “Take time don’t stress, don’t beat yourself for not fitting back on your dry trousers…” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
- Planning! Parenting and paddling needs a plan. Think about toilet stops. Plan in actual sessions out, in your diary. The more you can plan these things, the easier they’ll be to maintain some level of consistency. Once you’ve got a routine, things will become second nature. Making time for yourself is much easier when it’s scheduled into the diary.
- A lesson in letting go. This one struck a chord when we had it suggested, as we’re probably all a bit guilty of clinging on when things will be perfectly ok if we let go. This mum in our community said “As a woman it’s really important to learn to let go. Your partner, if you have one to help out, is an adult. They are perfectly capable of looking after a baby and keeping them alive for a few hours. You need to trust them. You need to stop interfering with how they parent, you need time away from the baby. When I left mine and my partner asked when to call, I always replied “call me after you’ve called the ambulance, anything else, I don’t need to know till I’m back.” Sounds harsh, but it works (I really don’t want to know that they’ve cried for an half an hour when I’m 2 hours away!)” This comes back to the leaving your baby with someone you trust, and making sure you take time for yourself too.
Before you go, one last tip for parenting and paddling…
Finally though, after all of that advice, we just wanted to say don’t think you’ll never go paddling again. We know when you have a newborn in your arms you’re not going to be putting yourself first. But, they’re only teeny tiny for such a short space of time. It’s ok to enjoy that time! When they’re a little older, you can think about taking them on small journeys. We have people in the paddling community who have taken their little ones paddling with them in a canoe from 2-3 years of age with the right life jackets. So don’t think that because you can’t get out on the water right this second, that it won’t happen again. Because it will, and our Women’s Paddling Community is testament to that!