Having small children means that trips to the pool are a lot of fun! But it can sometimes be a very stressful experience. So I put this article and checklist together to help everyone better prepare and enjoy this special activity together????
1. Know your limits.
It’s not always practical to think each child will always behave exactly as expected. Is it possible for you to manage everyone if someone needs fed, needs to go to the bathroom, or needs some extra help in the water? If not, then don’t go alone.
As mom’s we want to do it all. We also prefer not to always ask for, or pay for, extra help. However, the pool can be a dangerous place for any little ones that are not properly watched or attended. After my second and third were each born, I never went to the pool without help from a family member, friend, or babysitter. Whether they came along to be that extra set of eyes and hands, or if they kept my baby at home, I knew I couldn’t go to the pool with all my kids alone.
2. Prepare your bag ahead of time.
I always keep a separate pool bag in the closet beside my beach/pool towels. It’s always stocked with sunscreen, band-aids, bug repellent, ziploc bags for wet or dirty items, tissues, a hair brush and hair ties. All I need to add the day of is our sunglasses, hats, a change of dry clothes, a few snacks and water bottles.
3. Pack the toys and gear.
In our garage there is a shelf right by my car that I keep our seasonal gear for the kids. In the summertime that shelf holds the kids swimmies, pool floats, and a toy bag. This bag is filled with sand/water toys. By keeping a separate bag of toys, it saves us from collecting things from around the house, and then needing to clean and return them when finished. It also is fun to have these special toys for our special outings.
Note – I LOVE the puddle jumper swimmies because it elevates their chest helping to keep their little faces out of the water. (affiliate link)
Warning – Be careful of pool rafts! I have a dear friend whose daughter is a strong swimmer. But one time she got trapped under a large pool raft. Everytime she tried to pop up for air she was still under the raft and the lifeguard could not see what was happening. Thankfully, the girl’s father did and ended up jumping in and saving her. So ALWAYS keep an eye on your children and be aware of pool rafts!
4. Get bathing suits on and apply sunscreen ahead of time.
If the drive isn’t far, consider putting on bathing suits and applying sunscreen at home. It allows the sunscreen more time to absorb into the skin before getting wet. You may also have better luck with the kids holding still and not putting up a fight. If your kids are like mine, they just want to jump in the water as soon as possible!
5. Give instructions and an item to carry.
On our way to the pool I always remind my children of what behaviors are appropriate and how I expect our pool trip to run. Safety is a huge concern for me, so I make it clear that if we are not playing in the water safely and following the rules, we will leave IMMEDIATELY!
Our routine from car to pool is this:
- As we get out of the car I give each child something to carry to our chairs. This helps to prevent them from jumping in before we arrive at our spot.
- Next, the kids know the routine:
- Everyone takes off their pool cover-ups and puts them inside our waterproof pool bag. This prevents having wet clothes later.
- All flip flops and sandals (make sure they don’t wear any with a slick or slippery bottoms) go under my chair.
- I help to put their swimmies on.
- Once I give the ok (and not before), they are allowed to go sit on the pool steps or stand in the shallow end while I lay out our towels and prepare our area.
- Once I finish setting up our space, I will give them the thumbs up to go swim. At this point everything has been done and now I can truly just focus on them.
- Next, the kids know the routine:
While I might sound a little strict – planning ahead, being organized, and reviewing our plan with the kids – has saved a lot of time, mishaps and frustration.
Please do not think my children are perfect little robots always following each step exactly, but it’s much easier to reel them back in when there was order to begin with. And having had left the pool abruptly in the past has taught them that it’s much more fun to follow my guidelines in order for us all to have a safe and organized pool day, verses nap time at home!
Please click on my checklist below, and print it out to keep in your closet or pool bag as a great reminder for you, the nanny, grandma, or whoever else may be helping out.