After having her second baby, Sarah began to let her own ‘me time’ slide. Until her husband suggested jumping back in the ocean for some wave slidin’ instead. Now she’s forging a new identity, one wave at a time.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Country on which this adventure takes place who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants, for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

The All Female Surf School

There isn’t a lot the ocean can’t fix. A quick dip can wash away the day and give you a fresh outlook on the tasks at hand. Since becoming a mum of two, life has become pretty chaotic.

I find few moments to catch my breath, let alone get that ‘me time’ everyone talks about. So when my husband suggested signing up for an all-female surf school to get dedicated ocean time every weekend, I knew I had to do it; despite being nervous that the kids would get up to all sorts of mischief and that my post-baby bod would not be up to the task.



The Salty Girls’ five-week surf clinic is based in Cabarita and Hastings Point in the Northern Rivers, NSW. There are ten ladies and two coaches, one of which is Belén Alvarez-Kimble, founder of Salty Girls Surf School.



Many of the women in the group are mums just like me getting back to surfing, others are beginners, and some want that confidence boost from having a coach and other surfing ladies around.

The hour-and-a-half sessions pass quickly with a warm up, a brief on surf conditions and then plenty of time catching waves.

Belén cultivates a culture of lifting each other up and celebrating every wave. She can often be heard cheering, for not just her students, but also other surfers who are out there giving it their all.

Salty Girls can provide equipment or you can bring your own – I’ve been allocated Beyoncé, a 9ft yellow foamy.

When sleep deprivation hits and you can’t even put your shoes on the right feet, it’s nice to switch off and let someone else pack the gear and check the conditions – you just rock up with your swimmers and sunscreen ready to go.


The Surfing Mums' Club – How One Mum is Finding Her Surfing Legs Again, Sarah Tayler, mum helping kid to surf

Surfing Isn’t Just for the Dads

Belén is a retired pro-surfer and mum who started Salty Girls Surf School after moving here from Hawaii 15 years ago.

‘I wasn’t sure what to do after pro surfing, there were no online courses like there are today, and I didn’t have a backup career. There were a lot of women in the post-baby phase where I lived in Cabarita, just sitting on the beach while the men surfed because there was no real place for them,’ Belén explains.

‘I grew up in California. Surfing there as a teen, women felt they belonged in the water and it was pretty supportive, so I created an all-female surf school to give women in Cabarita the same thing. Give them a place they belong.’

Overcoming Mum Guilt and Post-Partum Body Changes

I can totally relate to the women Belén saw on the beach. After being physically limited for such a long time during pregnancy and then post-partum recovery it’s really easy to get into the mindset that sports and outdoor activities aren’t for you.

But in the long term, you don’t want to be the mum that sits on the beach holding the baby watching everyone else have fun.


You have to take small steps and rewire your brain that you aren’t just a baby-making machine, it’s possible for you to swim in the ocean, go for a walk on the beach, and slowly build back up to doing exciting activities you love while someone else holds the baby.

‘The best thing for mums who want to get back on the water is to focus on your fitness,’ says Belén. ‘It’s easy to get hurt coming back because you still have so much relaxin in your body from pregnancy and breastfeeding. Be gentle on your body, it has been through a lot.’

On our very first day, Belén told us that we have to be ok with not being as good at surfing as we were pre-kids.

That it’ll take a while to be able to surf like we used to. But I don’t really think it sunk in, and I had mixed feelings my first few sessions.



I loved being back in the water but I felt clumsy and uncoordinated. My timing was off and I didn’t feel like myself.

As I get ready to start my second term of the Salty Girls clinic, I’m not really getting any better on my board, but I’m learning to go easy on myself and just enjoy my time; the surfing will come eventually.

‘Going from a surfer to a mum who surfs is really hard physically, emotionally, and mentally,’ says Belén.

‘You have to get used to a whole new body, it took a long time for me to get back to catching waves of any consequence. A long time to not feel guilty for going surfing and leaving my son. It was hard to turn off and stop wondering if he was ok and just focus on myself for a bit.’

Phew, it’s not just me then! Joining the Salty Girls’ clinic definitely helped ease the mum guilt a little bit. There are mums there with older kids who they didn’t spend every waking hour with – and they seem like perfectly well-adjusted humans – so perhaps me taking the time out for a surf isn’t going to ruin my kids’ lives after all. Despite what the Insta Mumfluencers would have me believe.



During the clinic, Belén reminds us all that if surfing was your mental health outlet pre-kids, it’s important to get back to that and form a support network around yourself.

‘Surf with like-minded women and find your tribe. It’s not always easy to go back to surfing with the same people, especially if they don’t have kids,’ Belén explains.

A Different Kind of Mother’s Group

Tribe, you say? As well as meeting up with Salty Girls’ surf mums outside of our clinic, I joined my local Surfing Mums group to see if I could rustle up some new surf pals.



A great opportunity to get out of the house and meet like-minded parents – who prefer to talk about brands of surf wax than brands of baby formula – Surfing Mums is the perfect antidote to sitting through Baby Rhyme Time and listening to Deborah preach about the nutritional benefits of her homemade purees.

Founded by two mums in Byron Bay, Surfing Mums now have meet-ups all over Australia. Each group meets up at the same time every week, the group coordinators check the conditions and set the specific location for their group. Parents pair up and take turns minding each other’s kids while they surf. The one-on-one swap system ensures the kids are all well looked after.



Ana Manero is the President of Surfing Mums and encourages parents of all levels to join.

‘I wasn’t much of a surfer before having Julieta,’ Ana tells me. ‘Surfing Mums gave me the opportunity to learn a new skill and become part of a fabulous community, bringing together families from all walks of life in our common passion for healthy, ocean-based lifestyles. We have mums who have been part of the organisation for close to 15 years – their kids are now adults – but they’re still around. As we say, the waves are just the beginning.’

Among the chaos of life with small children, getting out of the house can seem an insurmountable task.

‘For me, making Surfing Mums catch-ups a priority was really helpful,’ says Ana. ‘I didn’t go around in circles deciding whether or not I should go the next day, I just packed our bag and got in the car. The first years are very hard. But all those hours together, all those special moments – the kids will never forget that. You’re building a bond that will last a lifetime.’



Whichever way you decide to tackle getting out on the water. Don’t feel like you have to do it alone. There are lots of other mums (and dads, too!) desperate to make some surfing buddies and talk about wave forecasts rather than nappy changes.

With amazing companies like Surfing Mums and Salty Girls, it takes very little brain power to create your own surfing village and make space in your life to hit the waves. Your body, your mental health, and eventually your surf-loving offspring will thank you for it.


Feature photo by @saltygirlssurfschool