If you have read my previous posts, you most likely already know that I am a mother of a [beautiful] three year-old daughter, Audrey, and my second child is a 100-pound black lab, Turner. If you are just tuning in, welcome, you will be reading about my family and an outdoor lifestyle frequently. I have always been naturally drawn to the outdoors and only hope to instill that same affection in my daughter.

Recently, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to quit the 9-5 and become a stay-at-home mom. This was terrifying to me; don’t get me wrong, I adore my child and am grateful to have the opportunity to spend more time with her, but the “stay- at- home” phrase terrified me. How do you teach, encourage, engage, and entertain a three year-old, all day every day? I have found my answer to be creativity and Mother Nature.

We’re still working on a routine, but our typical day includes a trip to the gym (some social interaction for Audrey at day care, and some mommy time for me!), a long walk with the dog, and playtime at the park.  We check out different flowers, leaves, and bugs on our walks and talk about our surroundings (she actually walks or rides a bike the entire time, she doesn’t even ride in the stroller if it is presented as an option).

I have decided to take a bit further and combine educational activities with movement and exercise. On the weekends, my husband and I love to take Audrey to discover new parks or beaches. We also love to stand up paddleboard (SUP). Currently, our favorite family friendly beach location is Doheny State Park, Baby beach. It’s calm water, easy for the kiddo to play in and we can SUP in the small bay with Audrey on the board (PFD and wet suit always on) OR we trade off staying on the beach with Audrey while the other SUPs the harbor loop. How does this apply to education for Audrey? Well, Audrey loves to sit on the board out in the water and discuss all kinds of life that lives in the water. We talk about how the sand feels between her toes, and count the seashells we find on the beach (or rocks, same objective). How much more fun is it to learn counting by lining up seashells on the beach than sitting inside working on an activity sheet?

I’m not a certified educator, but I am a mom trying to live a healthy lifestyle and raise a healthy, confident child. We love being outside, and if I have said it once, I’ll say it again, SoCal’s temperate climate is perfect for outdoor activities! I plan on taking Audrey out on bike rides, pulling her in the trailer, and stopping to discover new parks; discussing how honeybees are beneficial towards making beautiful flowers and delicious honey or learning her ABC’s and spelling by using street signs as well as the plants, trees, and animals surrounding us.

One of my favorite activities is when the whole family walks to the soccer fields near our house and we run sprints together. I’m sure there is a learning opportunity for counting, spelling, science, or even art, but I absolutely LOVE spending the quality time with my family. We probably look like crazy people; our sprints turn into a game of tag or “AHHH! MONSTERS” and tag turns into passing out on the grass, but I love it.

No, with kiddos tagging along your outdoor time may not always include training for a marathon (mine hates the stroller). Overall, adjust your expectations for excise and focus on the activities outside. Ultimately we’re all trying to live a healthier life, the only way to teach a new generation those values is to lead by example.  Think outside the box and you will find it’s easy to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, while enjoying what matters most: being with those you love.

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Before my daughter was born, and when she was younger (a little bump on a log) my husband and I enjoyed getting out to paddle board at Baby Beach in Dana Point.  We had one board and took turns paddling or hanging out on a blanket in the grass with our daughter.  Since Audrey turned three we haven’t gone out as often due to the logistics of taking turns and hanging with the kiddo.  I think we have a solution now.  Last week my husband bought me a new paddle board for the 10th Anniversary of our first date!  Now he can put Audrey on his board and we can all paddle together as a family.  We are going to get Audrey a toddler wetsuit and canoe seat pad to sit on (with a PFD on – of course) and head out this weekend for our first paddle.  We are thinking that the back bay will be a perfect first paddle.  It’s isn’t too crowded, has close parking, clean restrooms and plenty of wildlife and boat viewing opportunities to keep Audrey entertained…it’s also close to home so it will be easy to bail out if things don’t go well.  This has me thinking about SUP events for the year.

Standup for the Cure – May 5th

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This is a good event for beginner paddlers as it is all in the protected water of the Back Bay or Newport Harbor (which has a no-wake policy) so there should be few waves to deal with.  The cost is a pretty reasonable $35 and options are for a short paddle to a 6k paddle.

 

Rainbow Sandals Gerry Lopez, Battle of the Paddle- September 28th

 

This event isn’t until September 28th, and that’s a good thing.  It will take months of pretty serious training and open water paddling time to get ready for the amateur races offered here.  The 2012 races made the Guinness Book of World Records as the “largest ever SUP race” with over 400 participants in the Open race.

One option is a quick 4 mile loop at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, the other is an epic down and back to the San Clemente pier!  If you’re not racing, but are still in the mood to soak up some aloha vibes, join in on the annual world record attempt for most SUPs on one wave and enjoy the only time of year you can Stand-up paddle surf north of Thor’s Hammer at Doheny State Beach.  There are board demos, swag and plenty of vendors to enjoy while waiting for the paddlers to come in.

I am very excited to get out on the water more this summer.  While getting into SUP isn’t cheap, the family time on the water for virtually free (after the initial buy-in) is totally worth the investment.

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