Like peanut butter and jelly, summertime and swimming go hand in hand. Children love nothing more than splashing, jumping and cannon-balling into any amount of water, mud puddles included.
The problem with this love affair, however, is the danger involved and the amount of work it takes as a parent to keep kids safe. We all want to provide sweet childhood fun and memories, but let’s face it swimming can be stressful! As a general rule, I TRY (keyword) not to be a helicopter mom, letting my boys explore the things around them, all within reason. But, water is a different story. It FREAKS me out. The lack of control, and the mere seconds it can take to turn a delightful time in to a tragic one brings out the helicopter in me.
In addition to the safety factor, taking kids to a pool or beach is a lot of work! From dragging endless toys, beach towels, snacks, sunscreen, water bottles, clothes, and…oh yeah, kids, getting to the destination is a full on cardio workout.
So with the last days of school upon us, and pools officially open, I’ve compiled a list of summertime tactics to make your time swimming as safe and painless as possible.
TIPS FOR A SAFE SWIM
Safety Tip #1: Set some rules.
Before heading out, and while you are putting on sunscreen, have kids read and recite back to you general rules about water safety. Last summer, we stuck this on our fridge so we would see it.
Teaching a toddler, or any aged child for that matter, requires repetitiveness, thus the reason why we would read the rules every single time. And you know what? When a rule was broken, we could remind about our discussion and the behavior would stop immediately. Our son knew that if the behavior continued, our time at the pool would end. The general rules were:
- No running
- No diving
- No splashing faces
- Always wear life jackets
- Listen to adults
- Have fun!
You can add or subtract rules that work for the age and behavior of your own children.
Safety Tip #2: Invest in some great life jackets, and require kids who are not proficient swimmers to wear them ALWAYS!
Puddle jumpers are fantastic. They keep both the arms and chest (and therefore head) above water. They are coast guard approved, and generally more comfortable than a traditional life jacket.
Safety Tip #3: Use the “within arms reach” rule.
Drownings and scary situations can happen in seconds, and employing this rule can relieve the fears of both the child and parent. Do not assume children are proficient in swimming at a young age.
Safety Tip #4: Listen for silence.
Children in pools are usually splashing, laughing and squealing. Quiet might indicate something is wrong.
TIPS FOR A FUN SWIM
Fun Tip #1: Leave pool bags packed.
It saves tons of time when trying to get out the door. We have a hook in our garage where we throw the bag as soon as we are home. There’s no searching or scrambling.
Items to include:
- Towel for each person
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- Extra pair of shorts and underwear or diapers for kids that want to be dry on the way home.
- A small pop-up, portable sun shelter is perfect to protect sensitive skinned babies from the harsh summer sun. Target and Amazon carry some for as low as $30. Small and compact is key as it makes it easier to put up and transport.
- Baby wipes
- A small wallet with money for incidentals and extra snacks.
- Gallon-sized plastic bags. Store wet swimsuits in bags until you return home and keep all other items in swim bag dry. Also, a great way to keep phones from being damaged is by storing them in sandwich bags.
- When one kid is tired of swimming, but bored of sitting and watching, bubbles are perfect! They will stick to wet hands, and bring an extended amount of fun for everyone.
- Individually wrapped cutlery (the kind you find at picnics that include a fork, knife, spoon, salt and pepper and napkin) are perfectly sized for a beach bag and always seem to come in handy.
Fun Tip #2: Hire a mommy’s helper for assistance and safety with multiple children.
A mommy’s helper should be old enough to responsibly care for and monitor smaller children. He or she can help tote supplies, take little ones for bathroom breaks and provide another watchful eye when trying to monitor more than one child.
Fun Tip #3: Keep half-full water bottles in the freezer.
Store them on their side so one full side of the bottle is frozen. This keeps the water cool for an extended period of time. Dehydration is another danger of summertime swimming and having access to cold water can be immensely helpful.
Fun Tip #4: Be prepared for snack attacks, especially after sun and water fun.
Along with a water bottle, individually wrapped snacks are a perfect, non-messy way to ward off hunger. Think granola bars, protein bars, pre-sliced apples with peanut butter, cheese sticks.
Fun Tip #5: Sandwich all food and beverage items between frozen sponges wrapped in bags. This strategy will keep items from melting in your swim bag and will take up less space than a traditional freezer pack. The sponges can also double as a way to cool down overheated kids.
Fun Tip #6: Pack baby powder if you’re at the beach or in a sandbox. Peppering dirty, sandy hands with powder can keep the mess at bay.
Fun Tip #7: Freeze aloe vera frozen in ice cube trays. These are a huge relief when overheated or sunburned skin needs cooling down.
There you have it, tips and tricks for a summer full of pool-time fun and adventures. If you have any extra tidbits, we would love to hear from you! Now if only I didn’t have to go swimsuit shopping!