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How My Kayaking Business Prepared Me For Motherhood

Created by Sydney By Kayak

Monday, 20th November 2023
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I have clear memories of my mother working from home and taking us to work, often doing more than one job at a time, as I was growing up. She was a hard worker and wanted to provide for her young family. I believe, if I have anyone to thank for my drive and determination in growing my business, its definitely my mum.
From a young age, I wanted to run my own business, but like most people going through school, I had no idea what it was that I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was 24 years old and working in a corporate office in Sydney, that I realised I had gone down the wrong path after leaving my studies. I was chasing money and enjoying a few too many wines on the weekend. This was not my happy place.
When I started my business, I had no idea how hard or life changing it would be. A bit like having a baby. There are many similarities to starting a business and having a baby, and in the long run, I think growing my kayaking business definitely helped prepare me for motherhood. Here are just a few similarities 😉
Getting up at crazy times in the night
Lets start with the obvious. My business is running Sunrise Kayak and Coffee tours on Sydney Harbour. I have to get up at crazy early times, like 3.15am, so I can get to Lavender Bay boat ramp, unload our kayak vans and run kayak tours on Sydney Harbour. Do you know who else wakes up at 3.15am? Our kids.. and 2am and 6am.. and you get the picture. I managed the early mornings before kids, during pregnancy and now, so I do feel fully prepared for the early mornings.
Incredible amounts of daily washing
People said to me during my first pregnancy “you’ll be washing clothes EVERY DAY when the baby arrives!” They clearly don’t run a kayaking business. I used to change my outfit at least three times a day (this was before having a baby). This was mainly because I often ran three kayak tours per day (pre-kids), or I was running around the park in 30+ degrees doing Personal Training. I also had a stack of kayaking towels and Kayak Netball bibs that seemed to multiply in the laundry basket. Really, a few items of baby clothes get lost in my kayaking washing.
Being out in public with white marks on your clothes
This brings me to my next point of going out in public, only to find you’ve been a victim of silent baby vomit. Yes, this has happened to me a few times, but hey, I’m a kayaking mum. I turned up to my wedding venue viewing after a kayak tour and had salty water marks all down one arm from carrying the kayaks on my shoulder. The salt water had run down into my armpit, and I was wearing a black rashie. No baby puke has ever been more noticeable than my salty kayak water marks. Ever! (..and I’m pretty sure they’ve tried!)
Bath and bedtime routine
Both my kayaks and my babies have a bath and bedtime routine, and nobody knows the routines better than mum. After every tour, I have a rigorous and exact routine on how I like to wash, dry and load my kayaks. Everything from making sure the foot pedals get an extra rinse and all sand is out of the kayaks, to how the kayaks are placed on the back step of the kayak van for optimal draining and drying. I really love it when people offer to help as it does cut down the pack-up time, significantly. I do hear myself being quite pedantic about how it is done, though. Same goes for putting my kids to bed. Everything from bath time, story time and lights, music and love. You can write it down and show someone else the ropes, but in both cases, it’ll never be the same as mum doing it. I’ve come to learn that that’s OK. As long as both babies are looked after with optimal love and care, in my rare absence, that’s all I can ask for.
Only wanting the best for your baby
Every single day that you run your own business, you become more and more invested in it. Not a single day goes by that you’re not thinking about how to improve it, how to maintain your 5 star reviews, how to keep your customers coffees hot, your seats dry and your paddlers and team happy. I dream about my work (and have nightmares about getting bad reviews). I eat, sleep and breath my kayaking business. It is and always will be my first baby. Like most younger siblings, our little Levi and baby Isla (our actual babies) love to come down to the harbour to watch mummy and daddy on the water, waiting for the day they’re big enough and comfortable enough to join us for a paddle.

Taking sick days or time off
When you run your own business, like having a baby, you can’t just take a sick day. People think you can because its your business, but really, its much harder than just calling your boss and saying “I’m sick, I’m not coming in”. I’m lucky now because we have an incredible team, who work together to get everything down, but it is still hard to switch off. Being sick when you run your own business is hard. I discovered that being sick and having a baby is equally as challenging, unfortunately. They still need feeding, cuddling and playing with. I still have to be patient and present, responding to their needs, even though I just want to curl up on the couch with a bowl of chocolate ice-cream and Netflix. No sick days for mums, and no sick days for those of us growing a business.
Getting invites to nights out with friends
During my second year of business, it was evident to my friends that I was more often than not, in bed by 9pm. This was waaaay before having a baby. Getting up at 3.15am to be responsible for people on Sydney Harbour is a huge deal and requires me to be well rested and not hung over. The nature of my business means I work when everyone else doesn’t. Early mornings, evenings, weekends and holidays. Since having kids, I think I have received even less social invites than before. I think people just assume I no longer have a life and will simply say no to everything. Luckily for me, I have an amazing husband, who can both kayak and look after our kids, so we can rotate the responsibilities.  
Unconditional love and sheer pride
I am so proud of all of our babies. I look at what we have done and what we have created over the years. The long nights of brainstorming, breastfeeding, worrying about the weather, planning and executing different ideas (some that worked and some that didn’t), the various kayaks, vans, websites and booking systems I have had to You Tube in order to stay in the game. Not to mention the “You Tubing “how to make baby food” and “how to get my baby to sleep through the night”
I have so much love and pride for our business (my husband) and our kids. I love them all so much! When I’m having a tough day in my business or a rough night with our kids, I just think of the joy they all bring me and it melts my heart. Growing our business from scratch taught me a lot about commitment and determination. Couple that with everything my mother taught me, and the support I have from my husband, and I feel confident I’m on the road to happiness. I’m no longer chasing money and spending too much on wine. My life is filled with kayaking, adventure, love and gorgeous baby smiles. The stuff dreams are made of!
To all the mums and business owners out there, who are putting in the hard yards, you are amazing! Keep doing what you are doing because you are creating something truly incredible for yourself and your family.
Yours in health,
One very busy, yet content, kayaking mum x x