we live here in Utah where the temps in the summer are regularly in the triple digits (that's 100+ folks) which means that spending time in and on the water is a must.
We got our first paddle board for Stephens birthday a few months ago. He had been hinting at getting a board for so long after he had been exposed to them by some family in Laguna, CA. I finally buckled and bought him one after his excessive pestering. I have to admit, I thought they were pretty silly when I first saw one and didn't have much interest in ever trying one...boy was I wrong. You could probably now consider me "obsessed".
We are lucky to have a few local places to go to enjoy the water, and usually spend about 3-4 evenings a week on the water paddling. Yes, that's a lot of paddling, but our little guy loves it! Paddle boarding with a baby sounds intimidating at first, and yes, we were a little skeptical at his ability to sit still on the boards with us. It really has been SO easy with him, and he really seems to just enjoy hanging out on the board watching what's around. For any parent thinking about getting into paddle boarding with a little one, it really can be SO worth it, and much less scary than you'd think.
No, our little guy doesn't sit "still" on the boards, he likes to wiggle, crawl, and even reach for the water. He likes to move around, just like any other one year old, but he does so in a way that really shows his situational awareness. We have been so impressed as he seems to just know what he's supposed to do. It's as if he realizes the kind of situation he's in when on the water and knows he has to be calm and listen to mom and dad, and we are so grateful for that. I think kids know and can sense a lot more than we give them credit for.
Of course, with all our paddling we've experienced some "hiccups" (that's a nice way of putting it :)). On our last paddling trip to Causey Reservoir (Our favorite Utah paddling spot!!) our little guy took a dive into the water head first.
My first instinct was to dive in after him, but of course I wasn't wearing my lifejacket (I'm way too cool to wear it ALL the time). Carver wears a "swim school" lifejacket that goes on like a leotard. We thought it would be convenient and not too bulky for him, but this thing literally floats him on his face. NOT COOL! (I don't want to rag on the jacket, maybe I just don't know how to use it properly?) Guys, it's REALLY difficult to keep a 20 pound child above water when you're not wearing your lifejacket yourself.
My husband says the "rescue mission" looked like some panicked dance of bobbing up and down in the water, till finally I went under and threw (yes, literally threw) him onto the board.
It was traumatizing... for both of us.
Now, I don't mean to scare you away from paddling with your kiddos. It's not at all an unnecessarily dangerous thing. In fact, in all our time paddle boarding, this was the first time Carver fell off the board.
Our whole fiasco could have been avoided if I hadn't been to proud to wear my jacket while on the water. Yes, I always have it on my board, but when you're in that moment of trying to grab your child, grabbing your lifejacket doesn't even cross your mind. It could also have been eased by me relaxing a little in the water. When I think about it now I kick myself for being so panicked in the water. That anxiety just rubs off on my little guy and makes him more scared than he needs to be. Taking a second to evaluate the situation before acting chaotically could have made it so much less traumatic for him.
Either way, he's totally over it. After about five minutes of cuddles and whimpers, he was back to his normal self hanging out on the paddle board. Because of him falling in, I think his awareness on the boards has grown.
I am convinced that these adventures, though sometimes scary, are teaching our little guy (and us) so much more than he could learn at home or in school. These adventure and the common sense and awareness that he is learning will shape his whole future and the way he look at challenges in front of him.
Getting our kids outside is the best thing we can do for them.
Thanks for reading :)