There are lots of ways to learn parenting skills. Books, seminars, Youtube, and friends are all good resources. Or, of course, there's trial by error, which is the way I do almost everything. After some reflection, I discovered that I learned that parenting and paddleboarding have a lot in common.
Paddleboarding is one of our family obsessions, obviously, because we have a paddleboard business in Wisconsin & have paddle/yoga retreats to Costa Rica. What does this have to do with parenting? There are five main steps to conquering the art of paddleboarding. When reflected upon, each step can be applied in a metaphorical sense to parenting.
I. Consistency is Key
Consistency breeds strength of body and character. Paddleboarding is no easy task. It requires constant effort until you “get the hang of it.” At first, it is hard to balance or even turn your head from left to right. But, as the old saying goes, “if at first you don't succeed, try again.” The same is true with parenthood. It is extremely important to show your children consistency, be it with household rules, personal morals and ethics, manners, or character. A good parent is reliable and dependable – a consistent, stable fixture.
Your paddleboard will capsize if you cannot maintain balance. Hopefully the worst that will happen is that you fall and get wet. We learn from our mistakes and, having already made them, can avoid doing the same in the future. Parents have a lot to balance. I learned that it's okay if, as a parent, I drop a couple of things during my balancing act. It happens. As long as the important stuff gets done, the little things will come together.
III. Just Do It
Sometimes, you need to just do it. Plain and simple. Reading articles or watching Youtubes just don’t cut it. There is no physical substitute for paddling, meaning if you want to paddleboard then you have no choice but to paddle. The same goes for parenting. Books, friends advice, & Youtube only give you a shallow understanding of what it means to be a parent. Experience and the journey become your teacher. There is no alternative; you're in it for life, so start paddling.
IV. Remember Why You are Doing This
Every action you preform has a reason behind it. When I first started paddleboarding, I sometimes wondered “Why am I doing this?” Then I remembered why – to enjoy nature & get fit at the same time. You are not racing anyone, you are not competing, there is no timer or app telling you how great (or not great) you are. When you feel stressed about parenting, remember not to compare yourself to others or that will lead you down an unhappy path. Being a “good” parent, like being a good paddleboarder, is neither a race nor a destination. It is a journey to be enjoyed.
V. SLOW DOWN
The biggest lesson I learned with both paddling & parenthood that the rush & glorification of being busy is an illusion. When you are a parent or a paddler you learn the rhythms of life and the paddle. Enjoy every second, breathe, & be present to what is around you...and when you feel like everything is going too fast around you just SLOW DOWN!