at the Pool
Try to keep pool bag packed so that when your family decides to head to the pool, you can be out the door quickly. Each time you get back from the pool, repack the bag with fresh towels and toys. Mesh bags are great for carrying toys because any water on the toys will drain from the bag. You will only need to add bottles of water and snacks before you go to the pool. You may also want to keep your pool bag stashed in your car for those last minute trips.
Angela Cody has each of her children carry their own towels, snacks and pool toys in a backpack. "It builds a child's self-esteem to be responsible for packing their bags and carrying them and I am not burdened by carrying everything for everyone," says Cody.
Be sure to label all goggles, swim floats and pool toys with your family's name in a permanent marker so that you can easily collect your toys when it is time to leave the pool. If you have a child in diapers, bring several swim diapers with you. You should also see if your pool requires non-potty trained children to wear plastic pants over the swim diapers. Bring some healthy snacks to munch on such as grapes, pineapple chunks or watermelon cubes. Have enough water or juice on hand for your kids to stay hydrated and encourage them to keep drinking.
Protect Your Skin
Be sure to apply waterproof sunscreen to both you and your children's skin when you are outdoors this summer, even when it is cloudy outside. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 thirty minutes before heading outside. You should reapply sunscreen every two hours. Protective clothing, such as hats, sunglasses and cotton clothing should be worn when you are not in the water to provide extra protection.
If your children are not cooperative when you put sunscreen on them, try making up a silly name for it, such as Magic Fairy Lotion or Superman Juice. You can also have him decorate the sunscreen bottle with stickers. Some parents have found that the spray on screen is easier to apply to squirmy kids because you do not have to rub it in. Another way to make sunscreen application more fun is have them help put sunscreen on your back and arms after you apply it to them.
Keep Your Kids Safe in the Water
One of the most important things to remember while at the pool is to make sure that your children are safe. Enroll your children in swim lessons at an early age to help them to teach them to swim. Peter McKenzie, director of aquatics, Great Wolf Lodge Ė Concord, recommends that if your child is not an independent swimmer you should have them wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when in the water. "Water wings and other learn-to-swim devices are not life saving devices," says McKenzie. He also encourages parents to participate with their child in the water and stay within an arms length of her while swimming. "Children can drown in under a minute. Things can happen very quickly in the water," says McKenzie.
Be sure to watch your children at all times when they are in the water and do not rely on lifeguards to supervise your kids. If you are with a group of friends or at a private pool, do not assume that someone else is watching your kids just because there are a lot of people around. You may want to designate at least one person who does not participate in the conversation to watch the kids for a certain period of time and take turns.
Plan for Breaks
If your pool has hourly breaks for adult swim, use that time to encourage your kids to use the restroom or have a quick snack. If the breaks are not mandatory, you may want to consider implementing them for your family as they are a good chance for kids to rest.
Bonnie Adama, mom of two, brings a deck of cards to the pool for her kids to play during lunch or when they need a break. Oftentimes, other kids would join their games. Adama introduces math games with the cards to keep her son's math skills sharp over the break. Toddlers and preschoolers can be amused during breaks with a small bucket of water and a paintbrush. Show them how to paint the pool deck with water and watch them amuse themselves for a long time.
Enjoy your time at the pool with your kids this summer. Instead of sitting on the side of the pool or in a chair, be sure to get in the water and enjoy the fun. Both you and your kids will be glad that you did.