How to be Married, Have Kids and Still Surf Everyday


Tom Curran writes: There is a certain breed of man who gives up his surf sessions when he gets married and has kids. Don’t be this man. It is eminently possible to be gainfully employed, to have two children, to have a wife, and to surf everyday. I speak as a father of a two-year-old son and a newborn daughter engaged in a loving marriage, and also as a self-employed person who juggles several jobs at once. But mostly, I speak as a surfer who gets in the water every day.


4 years ago

Not much to the article, unfortunately.

The big question for me is to the surfer MOMs out there. How do you do it? I know plenty of reliable surf dads who balance things, but we don't often hear from the surfing mommas.

How long did you have to be out of the water with that whole "being preggo" thing?
Was it difficult to find time to surf with a new born?
Did you have a surfer poppa in your life? Land-based hubby? Doing it alone? How did that impact your water time?

As a single gal with few people who rely on me and a flexible work schedule, I occasionally take for granted how much water time I get. There's a little twinge of fear in the back of my mind every time a friend has a baby where I think: "Ugh, if I had a baby I'd have to be out of the water for who knows how long. What if it doesn't want to surf when it's old enough?"

Yeah, my priorities are pretty whack. ;)

Would love to hear from any stokereport surf moms about what they do to balance water/life.

4 years ago

Tracy, your priorities and concerns seem reasonable. I think it's safe to say,if dudes were relied upon to have babies, we'd all be extinct by now. Surfing would be left to the porpoise abusing dolphins.

4 years ago

I would agree its much easier as a guy since we don't have to bear children. However, most moms I know would say its absolutely worth it to carry and bear a child. There's something very special about being a mother and that's something us guys will never know.

On a more practical note, I don't think it's realistic to expect that you will surf every day after having kids - especially if you have a surfing spouse. I was the guy who gave up surfing for a few years after having my first child (and other factors) and I will say firsthand IT WAS A HUGE MISTAKE! For most of us surfing is deeply connected to our well being: physically, emotionally, and some would say spiritually. If you give it up completely you are going to be deeply impacted - and negatively. Think of a good session and the stoke you get. Now think of the exact opposite happening. That's what happens when you choose to ignore your passion.

At the end of the day its about balance. If you really love your spouse and your kids and they love you, it won't be hard to get in the water. It might not happen every day - but it will happen. I'm still dreaming of living on the beach someday so surfing every day is that much easier!

4 years ago

Just get one of these, add a bowl of food and water and no need for a babysitter!

4 years ago

Really, that's it? Make sure your spouse gets your surf addiction and then make it a priority? Lame.

@tracey, honestly, I don't know how you can do it w/out giving up some surf time, but I'm fortunate that I can still get wet 5-6 days/week, and, there happens to be a lot of truth in the one-line piece of advice above--make it known it's a priority and make sure they truly get it. Outside that, you have to be flexible, accept your windows when they're open (i.e., you're not always going to be able to surf on the best tide), and be willing to sacrifice (i.e., surf at the ass-crack o'dawn, surf when it's blowing b/c that's your window, let them do their thing even though it's going off).

Having a kid is pretty rad. And now, I at least have one true "local" in the family. :)

4 years ago

@sticker, yeah my "surf before work" lifestyle means I've got the bad tide/blowing winds thing down. I'm on Greacen's surf schedule and he's got two kiddos. At least I'll have some realistic expectations of _when_ to surf when/if the situation arises.

In my limited experience interacting with women with kiddos, it sounds like they tend to do more of the personal time sacrificing (wether willingly or due to it being the social norm). Call me selfish but if I can find a way to keep things a little more even stevens, that would be great. I doubt I'd surf every day even with the most accommodating/flexible/understanding house husband. I don't surf every day now.

The being preggers and not surfing still prompts a little fear spike.

It's all hypothetical. I only offered the topic up since that article consisted entirely of "be a dude with a cool wife"

Also hypothetical, does anyone make a wetsuit with a built in BabyBjörn?
I figure I can keep snacks and beer in it.

Still waiting for a surf mom perspective. C'mon mommas, it's okay to out yourself. I have lots of respect for your work life balances! I want to know how you get to be that awesome.

4 years ago

I was really worried about this before my son was born a few years ago but I surf pretty much the same as before, (most, but not every day).
My wife and I have a deal that if I get my son cleaned up, changed and dressed I can go for dawn patrol.
We make a lot of these deals. We trade surfing and playing with our son on the beach on the weekends. Our son loves playing at the beach so it's pretty great.
Recently I got to surf Mexico for a week. My wife got to surf Hawaii for a week. Each without the kid.
So it's possible for sure. Even with both parents working full time.
I think work & weather gets in the way more than having a kid. We'll see how it is with two of them though. ;)

Wave Glider
4 years ago

A long, long, time ago, I can still remember when, we three planed to make a day at the beach. My wife and son were planning the day, looking foreword to having some fun, I would be surfing, and they would be on the beach. But then the weather changed for the worse, and clouds dampened the once sunny day. And all she said was, "if you go surfing, I won't be here when you get back."

So I tried to reason with her, but she wouldn't have anything to do with it. I said that I work hard all week, and this is my only time to enjoy what I love doing. She agreed that I should have an interest, but that it should be only 'family' oriented, and with her side of the family only.

So I called her on it, but she stood firm by her conviction that if I went surfing, she would be gone. She then became upset, and loaded our 2 year old into the car and went to her parents. I got my board and gear, hitched out to the Bo', and as she warned me, she was gone when I got back.

That day ended my marriage, my job too, since I worked for her father, and left me with no choice but to move to Hawaii. And within 6 months I was in the Islands ; - ) ; - (

The moral of this sad, maybe meant to be part of my life is that you can be a couple and family, have your own interests, but if you don't share them with your partner, or at least include them in your interests, it's not going to work. However, and having said that, I always tried to share my interests, and if they didn't know how, I would always offer to teach them, as I would expect they should me if there were something they did that I didn't have their knowledge of. If they weren't interested, then don't take it away from your partner, unless it's something that harms the family structure.

Enough preaching, share what's yours, and it will come back.

4 years ago

I've been quite successful in this area. Being married, a father of two (8yo daughter, 6yo son), and living in Sacramento...I still find a way to make it to SFOB, LM, or Salmon Creek 2-3 days/week (it's the gas $ that hurts). I fortunately got all my family involved in surfing and boating at very early ages, so they understand how fun it is. The only reason I'm able to pull this off:

1) Having a good paying job
2) Job with flexible hours
3) Understanding my 2 main passions (surfing, boating) & being willing to not spend too much free time doing others
4) Take the family surfing at least 2-3 times/month, and sacrifice my surf day to make sure they all have fun

If I were to take even 1 of these enabling steps away, it would be much, much harder to be able to surf as much as i can, while being 100 miles away from the nearest drop.

It's also a combination of planning ahead and selecting days where I will get the most bang for my "gas-buck". If conditions aren't that good for a few days, I make sure to get my other duties, Honey-do's, and kid-do's taken care of during my downtime. That way, no one has the need to keep me from surfing due to other priorities.

...and if it weren't for StokeReport and Surfline's cameras and forcasts, I wouldn't even attempt this.

4 years ago

@die, really good points, particularly #2, understanding your passions & giving up others... The only thing I do is surf... I don't go to the gym, I don't golf, etc.

4 years ago

@sticker; thanks. The funny thing is, I used to golf and hunt a lot in the winter before I started surfing. Once I caught the surf bug, I've swung clubs only 5 times in the last 7 years. I still hunt though, but no where near as much.

I always smirk when my coworkers and friends are shocked that I surf all throughout winter. I'm glad they are afraid; less crowds. heh...

4 years ago

A couple quick notes:

It's going to have to fit into a 'window', both you/your family's schedule, and what's happening in the water. Which means missing some good days and getting out on some pretty mediocre ones.

In the SF area surfing is still pretty fringe. If you live in Santa Cruz, for example, it's a hell of a lot easier for the whole family to learn and participate in surfing.

Be willing to prioritize, make sacrificies (although they don't seem too bad when you have the bug), and develop a support network. For example, if you have a friend that is keeping an eye on the waves, that can help plan an upcoming session. If you get to the beach and you are already beat, you are kidding yourself. Balance in all things.

Third, avoid built-in time conflicts during peak surf seasons. Try to plan annual family visits or other nonwater vacations and events in the spring and summer. Relatively unbooked time in the fall and early winter pays diviidends in terms of likelihood of good waves.

Stay fit. Even if you're not surfing, you should be actively exercising in a manner that replicates the demands of surfing. Gumby arms and a solid OB swell is a formula for an early exit from the lineup, if you even get there.

4 years ago

My balance is all out of whack, but my wife has seen me when I stopped surfing for a while and got out of shape. It's the only "workout" I can do that I truly enjoy, which means I'll actually stick to it. If it keeps you in shape and healthy then you owe it to your kids to surf. It will keep you around longer for them. Hopefully one of these days I'll get the balance right, but she gets it, & I have to agree that that part of it is really important.

the beard
4 years ago

Being a first time father with a 7 month old boy, I personally find that when it comes to surfing, it currently sits behind my priority as a father. It is certainly a struggle and a hustle compared to life pre baby, but I guess that is why I waited until I was 40 to make this life changing commitment. Many, many years of surfing everyday, whether at home or abroad also works to my advantage. I can't say what it would be like to have discovered surfing in my 20's or 30's and then tried to to tackle parenthood, that is a whole different ballgame.

Having a wife that has endured and for the most part has accepted my selfish disease of being addicted to this whole surfing thing has definitely been a plus and something I find myself being grateful for, as long as I get my share of good waves here and there.Living at the beach is also a huge advantage. Being able to sneak out and just grab a few makes all the difference in the world.

Being a new parent is the ultimate ride. Getting some waves along the way is just the lemon next to the pie.....

Cheers to all those parents out there doing their job, first as a parent, then as a surfer.

Thanks - The Beard

4 years ago

@tracey, don't even know where to start answering your question. it is really telling my life story to answer this. I am a married lesbian with two kids 14, 11. First, it took me a few years to get my wife to take my surfing seriously. And I had to stand up and say it was my passion as well. I was just getting serious about surfing after several "wanna be" occasional surfing years, and I got pregnant. You will see, you can make sacrifices for the kids. I did surf some when they were young, in fact came off the surf to nurse them a few notable times when they were tiny. And my partner shlepped them to the beach for me semi-often to make a family beach day. Once she slipped on the cliffs at the Hook with our infant son in the backpack at while I watched from the surf helplessly!

I waited until my youngest was about three, and started surfing seriously, and have not looked back. Got my kids into surfing early, I am really efficient with my time, I give up sleep, other passions, work less than most people, make few social/work plans that will interfere with surfing, try to make sure my partner can pursue her passions which luckily can happen in the afternoon, definitely have to give up surf for family time, and have to be flexible about that even when its good.

So, yes, the partner does have to "get it", I had to make it one of my biggest priorities, and I have to be flexible and fair, and that has worked really well for me. And I have kept it semi secret in my work life. Too hard to explain why I don't want to "plan" lunch/coffee with colleagues.

4 years ago

Thanks for your perspective, Cali. It's good to hear from a woman's perspective that there is surf after kids.

4 years ago

Nice thread. Here's a brief summary of a long period....

I surfed for years, got married early at 25 and was living in Japan. The distance and cost to get to the beach made surfing a non-starter, which was ok because marriage was new and Japan was pretty damn stimulating. I also had a trip to Bali every 3 months, so that helped. I moved back to LA and surfed almost every day before work. We had no kids, so it was easy and my wife started to truly understand the pact she had made in marrying me. We then moved back to Japan with little to no surfing and then work sent me to NY but we lived too far from the ocean. I went 3 years without consistent surfing and I was a lot less happy. We now had two kids and frankly, that ride was enough for a while. Then, about 7 years ago we moved to SF, I started a new company, and the surfing began again in earnest. Frankly, this site made it easy for me to find some friends to share the stoke with, and I'm now surfing on average 4 days a week and rarely on the weekend.

That's the new pact I've got with my wife. I wake up at the ass crack of dawn and surf any day during the work week. I just need to make sure I don't pass out when the kids are put to sleep. :) My wife understands. She knows I'm a lot happier when I'm in the water, and she supports it. In fact, she knows that she doesn't have to say anything if it gets out of hand because my 10 and 12 year old boys will tell me that they miss me and then perspective is put back into its proper position.

You can do what you need if you find balance and are willing to make sacrifices. I can't speak as a woman but I would think that finding a like-minded surfing guy to marry would make your life a lot easier. Amy Waeschle wrote about catching the bug with a surfer guy in her book Chasing Waves. She was a bit obsessive, but I can't imagine how cool it would be to have a surfing spouse. My wife is awesome and I would never change, but if she surfed too, well, that would be heaven on earth I think.

King of Kooks
4 years ago

Not to blow the good vibes but

1. Curren didnt write the linked article.
2 he's on his second marriage
3 "It feels good,” says Curren of his long-standing deal with Rip Curl to be, well, Tom Curren"

Wish someone could pay me to surf and be the King

4 years ago

I'll get you an apple fritter at Java Beach, and a coffee :D

4 years ago

The best way to surf everyday with kids is to live across the street from the beach or be a former world champion and legendary icon of the sport. For the rest of us, its generally 15 bucks an hour for an experienced baby sitter that is competent with young children and diapers.

If I want to surf for "free", I check the weekly forecast and tides on the internet and plan ahead for my opportunities. Its usually better for my family if I cut out from work and be home by dinner (telling the wife is optional as her schedule is not impacted if I surf during the normal work day). These stealth sessions are always the best because mid-day, mid-week are usually less crowded and I'll only do this when its going off. I can usually make up lost time at work by finishing any deliverable I abandoned "from home". Having a flexible white collar job helps.

Similar to the Beard's situation, I recommend waiting until mid-life to have kids (dudes only). I surfed damn near everyday for 24 years before my son was born. Although I admit that it still kills me to miss out on good surf, at least I have a foundation of surf experience that keeps me sharp during those two week surf droughts that are unfortunately part of the bargain when you have a family.

Around my surfing friends, I'm known as the guy that will always paddle out no matter what. After all the preparation it takes to get in the water, keep my wife happy, keep my job, and be emotionally close with my child, I refuse to let 25mph onshore ankle biters get me down once I've made it all the way out to the beach. My brain may know that its not epic, but my soul doesn't care because a bad day of swell can still be fun on a longboard or fish. I'm always super stoked when get back home and my 3 year old gives me a huge hug on the front porch and asks "how was surfing today Poppy?".

4 years ago

Tracey, the first step is to get one of those maternity boards with the large hole ######.

4 years ago

What an amazing outpouring of confession. I did not read the article, as I knew all the comments would be more interesting. Really sorry about the dude who’s marriage hit the dust after surfing in the fog and his wife split and then he had to go to that hell-hole Hawaii.

I started surfing late in life and boom had a few kids so I know the drama well. Now, we only go to the beach as a family to ride bikes or maybe a big fire for some friend’s birthday. Face it. Most days the beach around here sucks unless you are trying to stay on a peak with the tide sucking out at 10 knots. Then it beats the gym fee. What I realized is that the ocean is about groove. Catching the right scenario is what is all about. Summer sessions in the early AM are always better except for the occasional glass-off or when the winds are less than 10. Skipping out of work late on those days for a “board” meeting with two boards on top and picking up a buddy at BART is an art form I once mastered but have now lost.

For the surfer with kids, I actually think that having a spouse that is passionate about something is important because they recognize that you are driven in a positive way. I mean it is not like your are doing a lot of meth and coke and painkillers then hitting the waves. It is a healthy thing. You get exercise and commune with nature and knock on wood; it is actually a lot safer than many other sports.
Recently I realized after getting an ear drilled is that it is not worth the bother some times of the year. Is it really worth it to drive for an hour for mediocre waves or surfing in lousy waves? So one has to get it when you can and score points taking care of the home front when waves are crap. When waves show up, time to go surfing. Do you want to come along? Looks warm and sunny. The kids can play on the beach. Ohhhh. Everyone is busy. OK. See you in about 3 hours. Windows of opportunity.

Perhaps there needs to be a young parent surfer day care thing, where both parents can get a breather and go to the ocean and the kids sit around a sing camp songs. Strange it does not exist yet.

4 years ago

Freebee today:
For free, you can get this and get your kids to sleep while you surf.

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