Swimming is one of the skills that I see as super important for every child to learn. With Freya, my eldest, I was taking part in mother and baby lessons as soon as we could but with the other two learning to swim was much more of a family activity.
Getting active on a regular basis can add years to your life and swimming in a pool can be a fun for all ages. I admittedly used to find going swimming quite daunting but over the years I have learnt a few useful hints and tips to get the most out of your swimming experiences as a family. Here they are:
Let’s start with the basics of what you need to bring. As long as your local swimming pool has unisex or family changing, then I try to keep our belongings in one bag. I actually have a small cabin bag that I love to use for swimming. You could also buy special swim bags that are waterproof, however I like to take a plastic carrier bag for our wet clothing. In terms of the actual packing, think about the things you will need first; costumes, goggles, floats. Then will come the towels and followed by dry clothes. That will help with the changing after the swim session.
What To Pack
- For five people I pack three towels and a small one for the floor. That’s one for each child and a floor towel to keep dry tootsies dry!
- Swimming costumes for everybody. For children it is important that you pick a costume that can easily be removed for toilet trips. Simply Swim have some stylish and practical swimming costume options for the entire family.
- Float aids (arm bands or float jacket etc) for the children who need them. We have three amazing float jackets that have totally transformed our swimming experience.
- Goggles. I was always a little rejecting of goggles but they help to improve water confidence.
- Don’t forget any swim nappies for younger children (pack a spare one or two as well), and the normal nappy for afterwards.
- A few very small toys like a rubber duck or a small ball.
- Deodorant and hairbrush.
- Really importantly a plastic carrier bag or nappy sack to pop wet costumes in after.
- Loose coins. Ring up your local swimming pool or leisure centre beforehand to find out what their lockers accept.
- A couple of non-crumb snacks and a drink. Swimming turns even adults into grumpy hungry monsters.
Before The Swim – Changing Rooms
I find that putting costumes on before you leave the house reduces the faff in the changing room, this obviously isn’t a great idea for younger children who may need a toilet trip. Make sure to keep the towels accessible, if you have a really young child then take a towel to put by the pool. Keep your dry clothes at the bottom so wet dripping hands/costumes don’t get them wet afterwards. Take children to the loo even if they say they don’t need to go. A bit of bribery always works wonders for my three. If you are swimming with your partner, delegate children out and one of you head to the lockers whilst the other looks after the children.
During The Swim
We have a lovely local pool that has a little toddler pool with elephant slides, big flume type slides, a wave pool, a lazy river and a warmer teaching pool which is great. I do think that you need to do some research before you go to a pool because if the water is too cold or the kids can’t touch the bottom then they don’t always get the most enjoyment out of the trip. Once again as a family we tend to delegate a child or children per adult so we always have our eyes on someone. This has been a really useful trick for us as we are outnumbered by children. It’s less stressful.
After The Swim
This is where chaos can set in. Swimming makes you hungry. Exhaustion and hunger do not mix well in children, so focus on getting them dry and dressed first. Get their costumes off and in a plastic bag as soon as possible, dry them and dress them. Put their shoes on ASAP so they don’t get wet feet again. Then load them up with the snacks you’ve packed (I like crisps or fruit as they make less mess than biscuits) and you should be able to get yourself dressed relatively stress free.
I really enjoy swimming as a family. Not only is it great for getting active but just hearing the girls laughing, squealing and splashing about makes my heart melt. What is your favourite thing about swimming as a family? I’d love to know.
Disclosure: I was recently commissioned by Simply Swim to give my thoughts on the benefits of swimming as a family.