Top 5 Tips for Pool Time with the Kids
By Pam Moore
Taking your kids to the pool on a hot day sounds refreshing…until you take a mental inventory of what you need to do before you actually get to the pool. But, a trip to the pool with kids in tow doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
Plan ahead to ensure you and your kids keep your cool at the pool this summer, and follow these simple tips:
Benjamin Franklin said the only things you can be sure of are death and taxes. But, I’d argue that the short list of life’s certainties includes kids needing sun protection at the pool.
While putting sunblock on a squirming kid can be as much fun as bathing a cat, there are ways to make it easier.
- Apply it when the child is naked, or as close to it as possible. That makes it much easier to get sun protection right up to and underneath the edges of the swimsuit’s material.
- Make it fun. Invite kids to receive a complimentary (and compulsory) massage and a facial. Offer them a soothing spa experience as you rub the sunblock into their bodies and faces.
- Let kids know you will not leave the house before putting sunblock on them to keep them motivated.
According to the experts, sunblock takes at least fifteen minutes to fully absorb, so it will be much more effective if you apply it before you get to the pool, especially since your kids will probably want to get wet as soon as they arrive.
Just don’t forget to toss the bottle in your bag after you’ve applied it. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises you reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming.
Think about what you really need at the pool. The water toys, the boogie board, and the beach ball are nice to have but they aren’t necessities. If your kids are old enough to be responsible for their own accoutrement, that’s one thing. But if you’re in charge of schlepping everything, it’s another thing entirely.
Ask yourself if the enjoyment your kids get out of these extras is worth the hassle of having to carry them and negotiating the disagreements that will inevitably erupt, regarding whose turn it is to use them.
Left to their own devices, kids will make their own fun. Marco Polo, anyone?
It’s hard enough to slather sunblock on the kids and herd them to the car without collecting all the stuff you need to take with you on your pool expedition.
Prepare as much as you can the night before to avoid the stressful situation of running through the house, grabbing items, and throwing them into your pool bag like a Supermarket Sweep contestant, while your little ones are interrupting your train of thought to tell you they’re hungry and ask if you’re finally leaving.
- Pack towels.
- Prepare lunches and snacks.
- Fill water bottles.
- Gather floaties, noodles, kickboards, goggles, water toys, earplugs, and anything else you’d use in the water. Consider storing these items together in a container you can easily tote from your garage to your car to the pool.
- Toss a Ziploc baggie in your purse to protect your phone from unexpected splashes, while also keeping the screen visible.
- Have kids wear cover-ups and sun hats to the pool to avoid packing extra stuff
If your kids are old enough, have them pack their own bags.
Be realistic about your kids’ ability to swim and follow instructions, and develop a strategy accordingly.
If you’re hitting the pool with a toddler and an infant, think about how you will react when (not if) your toddler darts away from you. Will you have the baby in a carrier or a stroller? Is there a safe place to leave your baby when you swim with your toddler?
If you have more than one child of any age, and especially if there’s one in the bunch who tends to wander off or not follow directions, consider bringing a sitter or a mother’s helper. There’s no shame in asking for help.
According to the CDC, drowning is the leading cause of accidental death in children between the ages of one and four.
Furthermore, drowning doesn’t look like it does in the movies. A person who is drowning is not physically able to wave their arms and shout for help because their body automatically prioritizes breathing over speaking.
According to On Scene, the Journal of the US Coast Guard Search and Rescue, signs of drowning include:
- The victim’s mouth alternately sinking below the water’s surface and resurfacing.
- Moving the arms laterally and then pressing them back down against the body.
- Being vertical in the water, without kicking at all.
The movements a person makes while drowning are physiological, instinctive reactions that may last for up to a minute before the person is fully submerged underwater.
Being aware of the signs of drowning is just one way to prevent drowning. Other actions you can take include staying close and never taking your eyes off your kids. While having your child wear a flotation device may put your mind at ease, it is not a replacement for being in arm’s reach of the child who does not know how to swim. You also can create a buddy system if you’re taking older kids of similar swimming abilities.
No one said getting your kids to the pool would be easy—but it doesn’t have to be anxiety-provoking, either. A little strategizing goes a long way. Follow these tips to ensure a successful pool experience this summer.
And don’t be surprised if your kids decide to curl up in the shade and munch on snacks the whole time.
About the Author:
Pam Moore is a running coach, freelance writer, and a speaker, living in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and two young kids. The author of “There’s No Room For Fear in a Burley Trailer,” she dreams of completing her To Do list, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, and sleeping in. Follow her adventures at her blog, Whatevs…. , or connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.