It’s swimming pool season again! Here’s an old post from last year- learn from my experience and prepare yourself for a positive swimming pool experience with your toddler by following these 5 tips! (Just don’t take them too seriously…and make sure and check out my new favorite sunscreen at the end!)
I often think back fondly on my days of lounging by the pool before my children were born. I would lazily drift between my chaise lounge and the edge of the pool, fruity drink in one hand, provocative novel in the other. I even enjoyed taking each of my daughters to the pool when they were infants, at least before they could move freely. We’d plop down in two inches of water and stay in the same spot for at least twenty minutes! Then we’d move back to the lounge chair to feast on Puffs. Good times. Going to the public swimming pool with a toddler, however, is not my idea of a good time.
But I had an epiphany last week; I took my toddler to the swimming pool and actually had a fantastic time. Being the benevolent blogger that I am, I’m going to share my strategies with you so you can reap the benefits of my research. Here goes:
- Step One: Arrive as soon as the pool opens, so you are able to snag a comfy lounge chair and prime real estate: it is crucial that you have a place to land when you are out of the pool, and a regular chair or beach towel area in the grass is not recommended when there are lounge chairs available. Other factors to consider: do you prefer sun vs shade? What do you consider optimal distance from the sandbox/concession area/restrooms? If you arrive early, you can have your pick of all of these necessary features!
- Step Two: Bring lots of appealing snacks, both for you and your child. If you are lucky, you can keep her engaged for five to thirty minutes by snacking on her favorite foods while you bask in the sun and catch up on your tan! Make sure you bring enough chocolate chip Annie’s bunny crackers for you to join in, lest you succumb to the dreaded “food envy”.
- Step Three: Also bring some water toys. The key to having fun at the pool with your toddler is to remain inert for as many consecutive minutes as possible. Perhaps I should have titled this, The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Having Fun at the Pool With Your Toddler. Which do you prefer? Sitting in a few inches of water while little Johnny plays happily with all the kitchen measuring cups, plastic dinos, and sand toys you brought, or racing after him as he dashes from end to end of the pool like a puppy on crack? I thought so.
- Step Four: (Now this is the most crucial part of the plan, so pay attention) Your toddler must become so upset that he or she cries hysterically until they fall asleep on top of you. How it happens is really not important. Perhaps an evil preschooler whacks her on the head with a sand shovel. Maybe somebody else’s bumbling, discourteous child slams into him at the landing of the toddler waterslide, where your hapless child has been loitering, unawares. Or maybe you are desperate enough to promise him an ice cream cone and then back out at the last minute. (How I stumbled upon this gem of a pool tactic was most regrettable, and involved my daughter losing her balance, toppling over, and becoming partially submerged for one eighth of a second. Long enough to cause the aforementioned sob-fest.) You are, of course prepared for this, having secured a comfortable seat in your desired sunny/shady spot, with all your favorite snacks within grabbing distance.
- Step Five: Be prepared to relax and enjoy yourself for a bit. I mean, who would come to the pool with their toddler expecting to enjoy themselves? But your traumatized child is sleeping peacefully on your chest, while you stretch your pasty white legs into the sunlight, soaking up rays with the gratitude of a prisoner on parole. Have a beverage nearby, some snacks of course, and perhaps a magazine or your iPhone, so you can take cute self-portraits of you and Sleeping Beauty and post them on Facebook, so all your other mom friends can be jealous. Should you come unprepared, you can always people-watch. Some fun folks to look for: Boob-Job Grandma, (not to be confused with Excessive Plastic Surgery Grandma. She’s a different character.) People of Wal-Mart Swimmers, and the Overly Careful Family, clad head to toe in UV-resistant swimwear and lifejackets. There will almost certainly be somebody wearing a two-piece bathing suit who will make you feel better about your own body, but heed my advice and keep your eyes away from the Paleo- Triathlon Moms rocking their string bikinis. Nobody needs to see that.
Another important tip for pool-time success with your little ones is sunscreen application. I mean, obviously, having a sunburned two-year-old is no good. And sunscreen application itself can be a total pain. But I’ve also found that it’s been harder than expected to find a good sunscreen for the kids. My youngest had been using baby sunscreens for the past two years, and this year- on the first day it was nice enough to spend an hour at the park- I slapped some of her big sister’s facestick on her cheeks and nose, and sprayed her with the big kid sunscreen. This was a poor choice- the next day she had broken out on both her face and her arms.
Coincidentally, that same week I received some sunscreen samples from Block Island Organics, and I absolutely loved them. Not only do their sunscreens contain only zinc and titanium– the formula recommended by our pediatrician after my toddler’s breakout– but they are so easy to apply. They are lightweight, not overly thick or greasy, and absorb quickly. It was a breeze rubbing it into my toddler’s skin before our next outing, and I loved how they felt on my skin, too! If you are looking for a sunscreen that you can feel good about– from ethics to quality formulas to effectiveness- I highly recommend you check out Block Island Organics. Make sure to try the zinc-only Baby Sunscreen! And great news- for anyone who decides to buy one (or more) of their products in the next week, Block Island Organics will give you a 20% discount! Just enter the discount code “stephanie” when prompted at checkout.
*I received product samples in exchange for an honest review of Block Island Organics Samples, but all opinions are my own.
The crying. That does exhaust them. Well played, Pool Mama, well played.
See this is why I am thankful grandma has the pool. I actually got to escape to go grocery shopping while she watched my girls in the pool the other day. Now that was a slice of heaven for sure, lol!!
Bahahahaha! The crying thing made me laugh! My 2-year-old had her first, full blown temper tantrum a couple of months ago when we took her to the beach one morning. The plan was to run her around so she’d be tired out and nap (because we were hungover from our date night the night before and needed a nap ourselves). That plan backfired and we were left carrying a screaming kid to the car, who cried the whole way home. But she napped. OMG, she napped!!! See? Sometimes temper tantrums aren’t so bad. HA!
How I loved this post. Reading what you write makes me want to re-read it again and again. It feels like I’m having a conversation with you. Of course I might be a little subjective. After all, how many moms have daughters that write as well as you do.
I need the pool now!!You’ve made taking the kids to the pool so fun!
Stephanie, this is so funny! Oh, those paleo mamas in string bikinis…. really, I think there just needs to be a law about not wearing a bikini any more once you have endured childbirth and then we’d all be better off.
Some of my favorite pool memories are of my son, as a baby, sleeping on my chest. Lovely! But this post made me very grateful that my parents live 20 minutes away… and they have a pool!
You’re hilarious! I loved the benevolent-common-let’s-get-real-guide-for-lazy-moms incorporating the inevitable trauma leading the child to fall asleep on your lap. LOVED it. I am not a huge fan of swimming/tanning/noise and everything a public pool entails but I do remember enjoying the pool on occasion. I had to be on vacation. With a book. By myself. Some of your tips actually facilitate recreating that in less than favourable circumstances. Can’t wait to meet you this week, can you imagine???
Oh you make me laugh so hard! So-so-so-so funny. Reminds me of when my son was a toddler. I used to haul around one of those baby pup tents to keep the sun off him if a cabana or shady spot wasn’t to be had. He’s 7 now and I’m still neurotic enough to need to keep one eye on him as he swims, even though he’s a fairly good swimmer. I don’t think I’ll be able to relax with that book again till my kid’s the one perched in the lifeguard stand with the whistle and red floatie thing.
Oh, you are, indeed, the brave one, Stephanie! I try to avoid the pool like the plague. There seems to be no other place that requires more equipment and preparation and seems to give me less gratification (of course, it’s all about me). I am in awe of your ability to relax, even a wee bit. You are my hero. I will even admit that this is a great list of tips. However, I’m also going to admit that they have not made me any less pessimistic about going to the pool. I beseech you for your understanding. 😉
This is some solid advice right here. I especially love the snack one (I made the unfortunate error of forgetting snacks last time we went to the pool….let’s just say we are all still recovering from the trauma)! ;)-Ashley
Thanks for these tips! We are venturing there soon for the first time, so I really appreciated reading this post! 🙂
Thankfully, I’m out of the toddler phase now, but your post brought back some ‘pleasant’ memories!! lol!!
I adore you. This is awesome advice, especially the getting there early to secure a good spot. There’s nothing like being in the gross place in the grass closer to the bugs. Or by that one trashcan where somebody spilled lemonade so that there are 1001 bees hanging out. Good job! And yes. Toys. Essential. And Annie’s snacks.
This is all pretty good advice for going ANYWHERE with a toddler: bring snacks and toys, get yourself a drink, let them tire themselves out, make sure to get any place early and choose your spot wisely. And to think, just like you, I used to think going places with a baby was hard; for a new mom, it seemed like you had to bring so much stuff. Now I realize that going places with a toddler is more about mental preparation rather than just bringing stuff. You have to think very strategically!
This is awesome!!! I am no longer in the toddler stage (In fact 2 of my 3 girls are officially better swimmers than me now), but I remember lounging on the beach with a sleeping toddler on my chest several times. It is indeed blissful – although getting to that point can be tricky!
All great ideas. I don’t have a pool available to go to so am feeling slightly jealous. 🙂 But with 3 kids the pool wouldn’t be that relaxing anyway.
I hate going to the pool, but that mostly stems from my fear of myself in a swimsuit. 🙂 But, I’ve vowed to be better this year, because my oldest is 8 and still not swimming on her own. Time to fix that! And, I guess get a tan for me. I love reading your old posts btw, because I am a more “recent” follower.
Don’t forget that once your little one falls asleep on you…you will realize how badly you have to go to the bathroom.
I’m snickering. Is it okay that I’m snickering? You’ve recommended traumatizing our children for a tan. That’s funny 🙂 and totally something I would attempt!
Hahaha, taking notes for the future…Snacks are the best way to keep toddlers occupied, btw.
Ha! I’m so wishful for #4. My littlest is 2.5 now and a TERROR at the pool! Mostly it’s because he loves it so much but he never wants to get out of the water to eat or leave. That would be fine if I didn’t have three other bigger guys who want to stop to eat. He can’t ever be alone. I even bring a sitter with me if I have all four kids and it’s still a crazy amount of work. Must convince him to fall asleep! 😉
Yes! We went to the pool yesterday… and I swear it took me over an hour to get ready! I especially like #4!