Linking up with Megs today for another edition of Tips and Tricks Tuesday! Check her out by clicking the button above. :)
This week I'm talking about swimming with kids. As I stated earlier, my Aunt has a huge, gorgeous pool. We spend a ton of time out there each summer. My Aunt is also a former lifeguard and Water Babies instructor. A lot of these tips come straight from her. She is a fantastic swim instructor. Her kids were jumping in the deep end of the pool, unassisted, and swimming to the shallow end before they were 5. She knows what she's talking about! :)
Most important rule of swimming with kids: When they fall or slip in to the water, be excited about it! Praise them for being so brave and grown up. Rory wears a life jacket in the pool but still slips sometimes. She likes to stand on the steps and play in the shallow water but it's slippery. She'll do a little "face plant" into the water every so often. We make a huge deal about how cool she is for swimming. What you are trying to do is eliminate the "fear" of water. She needs to know it's okay to get her face/head wet and that she will be fine when it happens.
Be prepared with lots of sunscreen, swimmy diapers, towels, extra clothes and regular diapers. Snacks, juice cups, bottles, whatever your kids eat...bring that too. Swimming makes even babies more hungry. Trace loves the water and needs a snack each day when we are done.
Invest in a good life jacket. Don't mess around with those swimming suits that are also life jackets or arm floaties. DEFINITELY don't go with a ring with leg holes. Kids can get stuck in the leg holes when a tube flips and not be able to swim out. A life jacket serves all your purposes. Rory's arms are free to flail about while she is still safe. Trace doesn't wear anything right now, as he can't stand on his own or play by himself. (haha) Next year he will also wear a life jacket.
Rory will graduate from a life jacket to a swim bubble next year. A bubble is a belt with a inflated "bubble" on the back. It keeps her from sinking but still allows her to go under, swim about, etc. My youngest cousin Kaari wore her bubble from age 3 until 5. She swam normally, it just added an extra layer of protection.
Don't expect your kids to want to stay in the water very long the first time. They need to get used to it.
Don't go expecting a lot of time to swim yourself. Be content with wading around in the shallow end, holding at least one baby at all times.
If possible, take someone with you! Dave and I typically go together. My sister, my aunt, my older cousin have all gone in with us to help. One adult to each baby is important, of course. I've taken older dance students out with me as well. They float and play with Rory while I take care of Trace. Easy. And who doesn't want to go swimming?!
Take breaks and relax out of the water too. I take some toys for Trace and a coloring book for Rory each time. After some swimming, we like to sit up on the deck and play. After a little while, they are ready for more swimming!
Over prepare. Pack more than you will need just to be safe. Don't expect much from the kids except to have a good time and begin to get used to water.