Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Swimming with Non-swimmers

One of the perks of living in an apartment is having unlimited use of a swimming pool that I neither have to clean or pay for.  Chemicals, ph balance, and vacuuming are far from my mind as I enjoy a dip in the cool water whenever I feel like it, within the parameters of nap times and lunch.
So naturally I've passed on my love of water to my two little ones.  Big Boy, not quite 3 years old, is a natural in the water.  He's like a fish, with his innate ability to glide underwater, as exhibited by skipping a level in swim lessons this year.  And Baby Girl, 7 months old, is currently trying to crawl on the water in her enthusiasm.  She can certainly splash and kick with her brother.
Our favorite part of the day is finishing up dinner, leaving the dishes in the sink, and dashing out the door to the pool.  It provides a distraction amidst the bewitching part of the day, when every one's getting tired and yet it's still hours before baths and bed.  It's become just a great technique for keeping the kids happy that I've even ventured to take the two of them by myself on evening when my husband has to work.  And I've found that with a little preparation and a watchful eye, it can be done, even enjoyed.  Here are just a few things that I've picked up along the way:
  • Since both of my children are non-swimmers, we have one very important ground rule: No One Gets In The Pool Before Mama.  I'm always the first in and the last out.  Even if Big Boy wants to run ahead and jump in, knowing full well that he can at least tread water, he knows that such action will immediately get him pulled from the water and into time out.
  • Floatation devices are my friend.  Both of my children have, and use, some sort of personal floatation device.  They go with us to the pool every time, no exceptions.  For Baby Girl, I have a Baby Spring Float.  It's easy to store in the off season and really holds her up out of the water.  For Big Boy, I have a life jacket that we picked up at Costco in the beginning of the summer.
  • While Big Boy is learning to swim, he loves to dive, flip and swim underwater.  So often times he'll want to take his life jacket off.  I love seeing my son learn to swim and encourage it as much as I can.  So while Baby Girl is in her "floatie," Big Boy is more than welcome to swim without his life jacket.  When she gets fussy and wants to be out for awhile, the life jacket must immediately go on, or he gets out of the pool.  It's that simple. And with my son's love for the water, he always chooses to use his life jacket.
  • Leaving the pool can often be a difficult transition time.  Baths come next and inevitably, so does bed time.  Who would want to leave the pool when faced with that?  However, we've found a technique that works, most of the time.  Big Boy does better with transitions when he's told to say "Good-bye."  So each time, we say "good-bye" to our good friend, the pool.  Sometimes we even incorporate a "Good-bye Song" that he learned in his gymnastics class.  
  • There are always other ideas that come along: using the umbrella stroller, carrying a beach bag for towels and baby toys, filling a sippy for Baby Girl before we leave, and making sure to use the potty at home so I don't have to juggle two and a water hazard.  We're always refining our technique.  But for now, we've got a pretty good system down.
So what Works for You?

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