A few weeks ago, I learnt to paddle board. Let me clarify. I went paddle boarding. Whilst paddle boarding, I realised that the skill of learning to paddle board is quite an art (for me, at least, whose sense of balance is not the best!), and it will likely take quite some time to perfect….
As I manoeuvred my board and paddle through the ocean swells, I reflected on the wisdom that lay beneath the waters, of the life lessons, and parenting lessons, that were interwoven into this new skill…

Lesson 1: In order to stay afloat, to actually enjoy the ride and not land head first in the deep blue, we have to keep grounded, firmly! I am extremely grateful to my previous yoga instructor for drilling the skill of grounding feet (actually toes) firmly whilst performing balancing poses, as I think it saved me from quite a few water dunks!
Our children need to be grounded. This is an essential aspect of parenting. The best way we can help our children navigate the rides of life, and all the swells that will inevitably come their way, is to keep them rooted in a sense of family, in a sense of belonging. This is critically important. Our children’s sense of self and all that they believe forms a part of this. It’s the moments we create with them, the fun, the laughter, the tears, the doing ‘real life’ alongside them, that allows their roots to grow.
It’s the family traditions we create, the opportunities of shared enjoyment, the abandoning of the so often irrelevant and trivial ‘priorities’ to pay attention to the interaction with our children. It’s the uncontaminated time we spend with them in their worlds which enables them to feel truly valued and allows their self-esteems to flourish….
Lesson 2: Watch the horizon. When you pay too much attention to the swells that may come your way, it is far more likely that you will falter and lose your balance. It is also highly likely that you won’t steer in the planned direction. When your focus is on an immovable fixed point, it’s far easier to stay connected to your board in an upright position.
It’s easy to lose our focus in parenting (and life for that matter) and waver when we foresee difficult times approaching. When we have clear and unchangeable values, parenting decisions become easier, life decisions become easier. Values guide us, they steer us, they form an integral part of the core of who we are. What are our values? What values do we want to instil in our children? We often just take these for granted, but if we don’t know what our values are, without a doubt we will steer our boards in the wrong direction. By taking time to recognize values such as respect, kindness, integrity, honesty and gratitude and to talk about them often within our homes, we can be guided by them, especially during the more challenging moments. Stay focused on values, stay focussed on goals. If you pay too much attention to the size of the swells, and lose sight of the horizon, you are far more likely to lose your balance in life and fall off the board.
Lesson 3: When the big swells come, it helps to remember that they will pass. A swell, however challenging it may seem at the time, is temporary. Whatever life or parenting swell you may find yourself paddling through at the moment, it will pass. Stay steady, stay focused, dig your paddle into the water and trust that as scary as the moments may seem and as unbalanced as you may feel, you are not in this swell forever.
Lesson 4: You will fall off. It’s going to happen sometimes. Even when you’re experienced and you’ve been riding the waves a long time. It’s life. Sometimes we get side swiped, we take a dive. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you give up on paddle boarding. It also doesn’t define you as a bad paddle boarder. You learn from every tumble you take. You realize it’s part of the experience. You gather yourself, grab your board, and haul yourself back on, then you take your paddle and refocus on the horizon.
No matter how many deep blue dives you’ve taken, your falls in life, your fails in life, your parenting falters, these do not define who you are or the kind of parent you are. Learn, regroup, get back on the board and keep paddling.
Lesson 5: Enjoy the ride- every moment, every breath, every stroke. When you’re in the flow, and you allow yourself a moment to just stop and take in the beauty of what is around, it’s magic. The mist of sea spray caressing your body, the gentle sea breeze encompassing your being, the salty air filling your lungs, the ripple left by the stroke of your paddle alongside your board, the dazzlingly clear turquoise waters encapsulating your board as you move forward…..
Unless we stop, and take a minute to soak it all in, we risk missing the point of the journey in the first place. We are meant to be enjoying life, we are meant to have fun parenting. There are going to be days when we fall off, fall down, wish we could walk away… and as hard as it is, that’s exactly when we need to grab life’s board with both hands, pull ourselves back up, and refocus on the goals. Only when we do this, will we find the opportunities to really enjoy the beauty, the richness and the wonder of life, of parenting, of being human.
May your ride be memorable.
May your ride be enjoyable.
May your ride be filled with rich moments of bonding and connection.
May you remember that swells are temporary, and when you fall, may you grab life’s board with both hands, haul yourself back on, and keep paddling towards the horizon.

With motherly love
Naomi ❤️


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