How to Manage a Pool with Two Kids
Sporting their tiny neon swim suits and colorful puddle jumpers, they now each grabbed a hand to toddle out to the pool their little faces beaming and their bodies bouncing with excitement. I on the other hand was loaded down with two overflowing bags and a mind full of water worries. Water safety is no joke and keeping an eye on two newly mobile toddlers in a pool is physically and mentally exhausting.
Why was I doing this to myself?
As I laid our stuff on a blanket in the grass in the 90 degree heat and followed their energy into the pool this is absolutely what I wondered. Then their giggles filled the air as they splashed into the pool, their smiles shone from ear to ear, the cool water touched my feet and I remembered, this is why. Despite everything, this is kind of awesome.
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As a Stay at Home Mama of twins, I have spent much of my summers for the past five years trying to figure out how to manage going to the pool with two. Whether you have twins or just two kids that are close in age, this is a complicated issue. You want to spend time splashing in the pool because it's fun and summer is hot. However, you want to be safe.
Water safety is one of the few areas in which I think helicopter parenting has a place. Drowning is still one of the leading causes of accidental death and that should never be taken lightly.
When my twins were infants, the answer to "how do you take two babies to the pool?" was simple, I didn't. My husband and I did infant/parent swim lessons and took the kids to the pool on the weekend together, but until they were able to walk comfortably, I didn't attempt a pool on my own. From then on, things changed.
If you have one good solid walker you are good to go.
Here are my six tips for making the pool manageable with two:
These are a wonderful thing. If you have one near you, take advantage! The same can be said of splash pads.
When our twins first started walking, but were still a little unsteady my main strategy was to keep a hand on one and the eyes on the other.
This is not a perfect solution, but while holding the hand of one I could tell if they fell. If they did I would pick them up while moving towards the other. If you have an older one, hold or walk with the little one and keep your eyes on the bigger one. In my case, I held onto the one that was still more unsteady.
Once your child is old enough for a puddle jumper you are golden. These seriously changed my life. They are NOT lifesaving devices, but they do help your child stay afloat on their own.
There is a fair amount of controversy about these and I know that my twins' swim school is against them, but I will tell you two things - 1) if it weren't for puddle jumpers my kids would have spent easily 3/4 less time in the pool and would be far less comfortable in water. 2) Although they took swim lessons, it wasn't until we spent their four year old summer in the pool several times a week (with puddle jumpers) that they decided to teach themselves to swim. Then we took them off and started practicing more and they learned to swim.
PS. This is not a sponsored post for puddle jumpers...I just really, really like them.
If you have a baby, I have seen several baby floats you so you can bring the baby into the water with you and not have to hold them the whole time. This would help you keep an eye on your baby and toddler at the same time. A few thoughts on these though -
One, they are not reliable about keeping your baby afloat so you need to have your eyes or hands on them at all hands.
Two, know your baby. If they want you to hold them all the time out of the water this is not likely to change once you are in the water. If your baby is more independent this might work for them.
And three - once they are moving around well on their own, all containment devices will become hated by your once content child. Respect that they want to move more and avoid the frustration for both of you.
I feel like I say this with every post about going somewhere, but you must have rules and expectations. Have firm pool rules and even though it sucks, leave if they break the rules. You should only have to do this once to get it in their heads and the tears are worth the safety of future visits.
My rules are that they:
*Must wait for a grown up to say okay before they get in the pool.
*They must walk by the pool at all times.
*No pushing or pulling on other people while they are in the water (obviously I frown upon this in general, but there is serious drowning risk if they do it in the pool)
This sucks. I know. The constant alert and attention gets stressful and gets in the way of reading a book or chatting with friends. I'm not saying don't chat, I'm just saying know where they are at all times. If you are planning to spend a long portion of time at the pool, even a couple of hours - plan breaks.
Bring some snacks or a little game to play and pull everyone out of the water for a bit. This gives you a brief mental break. For a few moments they will be in the same place and you won't have to do the constant scanning. Then take a deep breath and do it all again.
The first will make you more confident. Not that you want your child to need first aid or CPR but knowing you can help them in case of an emergency should help you feel more prepared. It is also good to educate yourself (as scary as it is) on what drowning looks like. I know it surprised me. (The American Red Cross is a great place to find courses if you live in the US)
And swim lessons! Taking them to the pool, and the beach, and all other water play is fantastic, however the goal is for them to learn to swim. If you have a way of working with each child one on one, great! If you don't, swim lessons are a great way to help them gain safety skills and swimming skills that will make trips to the pool better for both of you.
At the end of the day, do what you are comfortable with right now. If it makes you to nervous, then don't. It's not really worth it if this isn't fun, right? From two on, my kids were independent enough in a wading pool or with puddle jumpers in the big pool that it is no longer an anxious experience for me. It is fun and they love water.
If you already subscribe to the Newsletter, grab your suit and head to the pool! Or read some more:
5 Things to Bring to the Splash Pad : READ POST
5 Swimming Games for Pre-Swimmers : READ POST
How to Introduce an Infant to Water : READ POST
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