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  • John Good

Watersports for the whole family

My wife and I have three boys. At the minute Dylan is 9, Jake is 7 and Josh has just turned 1. We all love the water. Watersports are a great way for the whole family to get active and have some fun together. Whether you’re kayaking, paddle boarding, or swimming, there are plenty of activities that will accommodate people of all ages and abilities. Here are some tips from our experience on how to make the most of your time on the water with whoever you call family.


1. Different types of families


Thinking of the family members

A family is not just defined by blood relations. It can be a group of friends or a couple who are closely bonded. There are all sorts of families in the world and each one is unique. A family consists of people who care for each other and are there for each other in good times and bad. Whether you would describe yourself as a traditional family, a blended family, a single-parent family or something else, there are many ways to make water sports work for you.



When thinking about jumping in the water, family structures might need to think about a few different dynamics. For instance, In modern marriages, it is not uncommon for both parents to work. With a little bit of creativity, however, water sports can fit into even the busiest of schedules. If you have school-age children, consider taking advantage of weekends and holidays. If you have younger children, take advantage of evenings and early mornings when the crowds are smaller and the temperatures are cooler.


Firstly, What will get different members excited about being on the water?

Do they love nature? Are they adrenaline junkies? Do they love new experiences? Work hard to try and understand what motivates the different members of the family and what they excited about trying.

It may well be difficult to find something that suits everyone. Extended families might find that a good system would be to rotate who gets to choose the activity each time. Many sports can be enjoyed by multiple family members at the same time but some like canoeing and kayaking need large pieces of equipment to be carted around by more than one member of the family group.

Another idea might be to have a few activities in mind for a particular day and do a vote. This way everyone has a say and you can please the majority and help most people participate.



Secondly, What is their level of comfort in the water?

Some people are natural swimmers while others may need a bit more convincing. It’s important to consider this so you can find the right activity for them. If someone is not confident in the water, activities such as stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking can be a great way to get them used to being in and around the water before you commit to more immersive sports.

We have always tried to get our children into swimming lessons but have found that extended periods of time in the water, particularly on family holidays, has always accelerated their development.

Thirdly, What is their level of fitness?

This is important to consider as some activities will require more physical exertion than others. If someone is not very active, then you might want to avoid anything too strenuous. Conversely, if someone is very fit, then you might want to find an activity that will challenge them.

As children grow, their fitness level changes. This is due to a number of factors, including the amount of exercise they get, the type of food they eat, and their natural inclination towards activity or inactivity. As a parent, it's important to be aware of these changes and adapt your child's activities accordingly. You may notice for instance that your once-active child is now quite happy to lounge around watching TV all day. In this case, you might want to look for ways to get them moving again, such as enrolling them in a sport or taking them on regular swims or bike rides.

The increase in funding for sports has meant that there are now more opportunities than ever before to get involved in water sports. There are also a number of organisations, such as the British Canoeing Association, that can provide you with information on where to go and what to do. My friend has two daughters for instance and they love to go canoeing together. They started when the girls were quite young and they’ve never looked back. The whole family enjoys it and it’s a great way to spend time together.



Single parent families

There are many different types of single-parent families and each has its own challenges and opportunities.

One thing that all single-parent families have in common is that they need to find ways to get active and have some fun together. Whether you’re kayaking, paddle boarding, or swimming, there are many forms of activities that will accommodate people of all ages and abilities.

One thing to think about if you are a single parent is money. Some water sports can be expensive, especially if you need to buy equipment. However, there are many ways to save money. For example, you could look for second-hand equipment or find free activities in your area.

Local councils often offer cheap swimming sessions during the school holidays and there are often complimentary kayaking and paddle boarding sessions too. Check out your local leisure centre or pool for more details.

This year we made the Watersports Library free of charge so that everyone could access it. We helped over 700 people access equipment in 2022 and hopefully we can continue to do so into the future. We believe in borrowing and sharing. You can borrow and share with us, or alternatively, you can do it through friends or neighbours. If you live near the coast, there is a good chance someone will know someone else who might be up for lending you some gear.


Another thing to think about is time. As a single parent, you might not have as much time as you would like. However, there are many ways to fit water sports into your busy schedule. For example, you could go for a swim during your lunch break or take the kids paddle boarding on the weekend.

It's also well worth planning ahead. Checking the conditions and making a reservation for some equipment will pay off in the long run and help you make the most of your time on the water.

2. Try out different water sports

Swimming

Swimming in a social group is a great way to get active and meet new people. There are many different types of swimming group for mums, dads, and children.

Swimming is a great workout and it’s also a lot of fun. If you’re not a confident swimmer, there are plenty of classes that can help you build up your skills.

Siblings can also help each other out. My younger son is always keen to help me with my swimming and he’s getting better than me!


Kayaking

Kayaking is an easy and low-impact sport that is perfect for many people. These are solitary or tandem, kayaks are paddle-powered boats that come in a variety of sizes.

There are many different types of kayaks, such as sit-on-top kayaks, which are great for beginners, and inflatable kayaks, which are perfect for those who want to explore more remote areas.

Kayaking with family members is a great way to spend time together and it’s also a great workout. There are even kayaks made for smaller kids in which they can sit in the front of, if you become interested.


Paddleboarding

Paddleboarding is a great way for the whole family to get active and have some fun together. It’s easy to learn and it’s a great workout, so you can all feel good about yourselves after a paddleboarding session! Plus, it’s perfect for exploring rivers, lakes, and the sea. If you happen to be a single parent family, the water sports library have a range of larger boards more than one person can enjoy at a time.


Jet skiing

Jet skiing is a popular watersport that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It involves riding a jet ski, which is a small, fast boat, across the water. Jet skiing is a great workout and it’s also a lot of fun.

However, jet skiing can be quite expensive and it can be difficult to learn with children. It’s also not very environmentally friendly and can damage aquatic ecosystems.


Surfing

Surfing is an enduring watersport. It has really kicked of particularly in western countries where the swells wrap around the coast. With fantastic surfing opportunities throughout the country, this sport is also accessible. There are many surf schools and surf clubs around the coast offering lessons. After you try a few out, you can hit the waves instantly. Surfing is suitable for most family structures as surfboards can be made available in all shapes and sizes. In Dorset, Bournemouth or Boscombe piers might be a good place to begin. More intermediate and advances surfers might prefer the rocky reefs around Kimmeridge.


Snorkelling

Snorkelling is an exciting activity for all family members. It's easy and you'll learn without having lots of experience. The only necessary skills for swimming are to change your breathing with a mask and scuba suit. Based on where you are, reefs are accessible by beach. Alternately, you can go boat trips to deeper reefs and even permanent reef platforms.



Yachting

Yachting seems to be a great traditional family outing if you can afford it. The variety of yacht styles includes sailing boats or motorships which range from very small to very large superyachts. Beyond meeting millionaire guests when boarding a super yacht, there are many options available for taking off on water. Typically you book a one-day excursion or even a trip for a few days to see the harbour and its various ports. You could relax at the dock, take advantage of scuba diving or fishing at sea, or explore several anchorages. Many companies can even assist in the sailing of the ship, according to the conditions.


Kitesurfing

Kitesurfing is a thrilling water sport that combines the excitement of surfing with the fun of kite flying. Picking the right location is important when it comes to kitesurfing. You’ll need a large open area with steady winds and few obstacles. Popular kitesurfing spots include beaches, lakes, and rivers. There are plenty of places to being trying it over at Sandbanks in Poole.


3. Planning ahead


Reserve in advance

If you’re looking to get out on the water and enjoy some activities, it’s important to reserve your equipment in advance. This will ensure that you have everything you need and that you can spend more time enjoying yourself and less time waiting in line. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your reservation.



First, try to reserve your equipment as far in advance as possible. This will give you the best chance of getting the items you want and avoiding any rush. Second, be sure to confirm your reservation a few days before you plan to use it. This will ensure that everything is still available and that there haven’t been any changes. Finally, be sure to pick up your equipment on time so that you can enjoy your experience to the fullest.


In short

Water sports can be a great way for the whole family to have fun and get some exercise. Whether you’re paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing, snorkelling, or yachting, there are plenty of activities that everyone can enjoy. Be sure to reserve your equipment in advance so that you can spend more time enjoying yourself on the water and less time waiting in line!

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