Summer is right around the corner! Here in Texas, the spring season only lasts about a minute before the hot summer temps begin. Swimming lessons are underway, and we’re shopping for new swimsuits. My kids are itching to get into a pool as soon as possible, but I think we’ll need to wait another month, at least. We don’t have our own pool, but we have access to a great neighborhood pool right down the street.
My challenge this year will be keeping all 3 of my kiddos pool-safe. My oldest two (ages 8 and 5) are able to swim, but I wouldn’t call them strong swimmers. I still need to be very close to them. My youngest is just 1, and will need my full attention this summer. So how do I successfully and safely take my kids swimming this summer while my husband is at work?
Here’s my plan to enjoy swimming this summer while keeping my kids safe. Your plan might be more strict, or less, depending on the your kids’ age, experience and strength as a swimmer.
- Rules. There will be a lot of rules. For example:
- They cannot get in until I am in. As soon as one kid has sunscreen on, they want to take off and jump in, but nope – they must wait until everyone is ready, and then we’ll go in together.
- The littlest guy (one year old) will be wearing a life vest at ALL times, whether we’re in or out of the pool. I can’t chance that I might become distracted (as much as I’m determined not to be), and he could take off and fall into the pool. I also can’t take the chance that when we’re in the water, one of his sisters might suddenly need me. He needs to be float-able at all times!
- Oldest kids (ages 8 and 5) may not go into the deep end (that means anything past where they’re feet cannot touch…so, the 4 feet mark). When I have another adult there, we can go into the deeper water with them, but not while I’m solo with the baby.
- I need to stay off my cell phone, and no drinking! So often I see parents kicking back with several beers. I understand the temptation to chill by the pool in this way, but our kids need our full attention, and quickest reaction time should anything happen.
- Life jackets or puddle jumpers. Although my older two kids can swim, I will always have our life vests in our bag of pool stuff. Sometimes the community pool gets very busy, and in that case, I’ll make them wear their vests. Kids can get very reckless sometimes, and jump on top of other kids, or run around the pool and fall in, etc. So even the best swimmers are at risk when the pool is really busy.
- Another Adult. I will always try to plan our pool time with another adult. We can meet a friend there, or invite a grandparent. It’s helpful to have another pair of eyes and hands on the kids.
- Floating toys. We have a couple of noodles, small inner tubes and kick boards that I throw in the water. It’s great to have float-able things around in case the kids feel like they need to grab onto something. (Check out this article on cool pool safety gadgets!)
- Swimming lessons. I’ve enrolled the kids in a week of swimming lessons at the beginning of the summer. I think while they’re still learning, a refresher course from last year is a good idea.
- Breaks. We always take our breaks at the same time – potty, snacks, etc. If one gets out, we all get out.
- No “quick seconds”. I never EVER take for granted that stepping away for “just a quick second” could be all it takes for something bad to happen.
- Sunscreen. And lots of it. This is an important part of water safety, too. We all grew tired last year of lathering on the sunscreen, so this year my girls have agreed to wear rash guards (swim tops with long sleeves). We’ll still need sunscreen, but at least we don’t have to do it on their arms, backs, neck, etc… Check out this article about preventing sunburn.
- Education. There are a lot of articles this time of year about water safety. It’s a good idea to refresh yourself about how to manage things, and what to do in the event your child swallows too much water, etc. Here’s a great article published by the Kid Safety Network that you may find very useful: http://www.kidssafetynetwork.com/what-every-parent-needs-to-know-about-water-safety/
- Here’s a link to some great rules for families with backyard swimming pools, brought to you by healthychildren.org.
Check out this cute game for kids to learn about pool safety, from poolsafely.gov!
So tell me, what are your swimming pool safety tips? We would love to hear how you manage this activity with your kids.