Family Life

6 Tips for Taking Your Children to the Pool by Yourself

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

When we lived in Texas, our apartment complex had a pool, but I don’t think in the three years we lived there, I EVER took Ella swimming by myself.

kids in pool

Even with one child, swimming for kids seemed like a two-adult situation.

But last summer, I realized that another Arizona summer would probably do me in if I didn’t buckle down and start taking the girls on my own.

Especially because swimming for kids – at least my kids – is their number one summer activity.

kids swimming

And if you don’t take advantage of the hundreds of pool days that Arizona offers, what’s even the point of living here?

Plus, I love that it wears my girls out so that they sleep like rocks.

With school out and the temperature crossing 100 every day now, I’m gearing up for our 2-3 pool trips per week.

Last summer, I picked up some good tricks for making our pool trips low-stress for all of us and I was surprised that when October rolled around and it started being too chilly to swim comfortably, I was SAD to see the summer end.

And as the temperatures started rising last month, I was thrilled to feel excitement about our pool visits coming back.

kids in pool

Here are some tricks I’ve picked up for making a pool trip realistic and fun, especially when you’re flying solo:

  1. Have the right swim gear. This was the game changer for me. We bought those little arm floaties for the bigger girls a few years ago and that gives so much independence swimming for kids. Even Ella, who is a strong swimmer, will sometimes slip them on after a while just to give herself a rest. Tally is too small for those this year, so we got a Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy, which I discovered a few years ago when we lived with my parents and they had several of them. It’s the #1 selling baby float in the U.S. and the large circumference and the inner spring make it really stable. Plus, the removable canopy offers extra sun protection which is really important when it’s 115 degrees outside and the sun is beating down. Without these products, there’s no way I could juggle three other children at the pool on my own AND keep my baby happy.
  2. Invest in a few pool toys. I don’t want to drag a chest of toys with us every time, but last summer we bought some diving toys and goggles for all the girls and that’s upped the swimming fun factor quite a bit. I’m not wild about pool activities like Marco  Polo at this point in my children’s life, so having some toys for them keeps it fun without me having to play endless games.
  3. Consider rash guards. One of my least favorite parts of going to the pool on my own is putting sunscreen on everyone. All my girls have rash guards and it cuts down significantly on how much sunscreen they need, since their shoulders, backs, chests, and arms all have good coverage. It definitely makes it a LOT easier.
  4. Take Snacks. I’ve mentioned before that I am a NOT a good snack mom (every day! why so many snacks?!) but last year, I realized that if I was going to go to the effort of taking everyone to the pool, I darn well didn’t want to come home 30 minutes later because everyone was wasting away from (possibly imaginary) hunger. Now I specifically try to remember to buy snacks that won’t melt or go bad in the heat and everyone (me included!) enjoys some snacks. And let’s be honest, the snacks might be the best part of swimming for kids.
  5. Recognize that this is not a day at a resort pool. Swimming with kids is a whole different ball game and I just had to adjust my mindset. This wasn’t going to be relaxing with a magazine or book – it’s basically being in full-on mom mode monitoring pool safety for kids for an hour or two. But when I see it as quality time with my children, a time when I can’t really look at my phone for several hours, and I can just enjoy being outdoors? It’s pretty magical.
  6. The pool trip isn’t over until it is OVER. My girls know that the price of going to the pool so often is that everyone has to help clean up when we get home. All the swim suits get laid out to dry, towels go in the dryer, arm floaties and Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy are hung up in the garage for the next time, and any empty water bottles or snack bags get put away or thrown away. That way, when we go a few days later, everything is clean and ready to go and my house isn’t destroyed all the time by soggy swim gear.

Any other tips about making swimming fun when you’re the only adult with all your children? I’d love to hear!

pool activities

And if you have a little one, I highly recommend the Baby Spring Float Sun Canopy – they’ve made swimming for kids so much easier for our family!

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22 Comments

  • Reply Chelsea June 1, 2018 at 6:21 am

    This isn’t specifically for pool gear, but we finally got a rolling wagon last year for soccer season and then pool season was an added bonus. Instead of having to load up a ton of bags in my shoulders, I leave the wagon set up in the back of the van and just pick the whole thing up and out and pull it on into the pool. Now I’m not so stingy about what everyone is allowed to bring to the pool (floaties, noodles, a few buckets, water bottles, snacks…) because it doesn’t increase my shoulder discomfort. Ha ha!

  • Reply Christine June 1, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I only have one kid and find this stressful! Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply Elisabeth June 1, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I’d love to hear what snacks you bring to the pool I’ve been dragging my feet about taking my 3 non-swimmers to the pool on my own. But I’ve got to do it’s too survive this endless AZ summer.

  • Reply Whitney H June 1, 2018 at 8:06 am

    SO glad to see this post. We are lucky to live in the Great Lakes State and I take my kids to Lake Michigan beaches all summer long. Beautiful sandy beaches, clear water as far as the eye can see…. it’s wonderful. My kids are 7,6 and 4 and people always shake their heads sympathetically in the parking lot when they see me coming with all of them and their gear. I’ve done it since they were tiny and really has gotten easier over the years. Kids that can carry their own towel and water bottles?! SUCH a help.

    I don’t have any magic tips or formulas to make it work other than — JUST DO IT. If you wait around all summer for the perfect “beach day” or “pool day” — you’ll never go. Just keep doing it! Your kids will smile, laugh, splash and have a great time. They won’t remember the days it took 45 minutes to get everyone sunscreened and suited up or the day it took all morning to get lunches and snacks packed. It gets easier and less overwhelming each time you do it.

    Thanks for the encouragement with this post, Janssen. Hmm…. now where did I put our sand pails? 🙂

  • Reply Betsy June 1, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Just wondering how often you wash your swimsuits. This is my first summer with a neighborhood pool and I don’t know much about care of swimsuits.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw June 1, 2018 at 12:53 pm

      I try not to wash them very often since it’s not good for your suits – mainly we just hang them over the edge of the tub to dry.

  • Reply Diana June 1, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    I’ve taken one kid to the lake beach alone…and felt pretty proud of that! Hahaha. Those floats are much cheaper than I expected, my baby is only 3 months so too small for now but maybe by the end of the summer!

  • Reply Merry June 1, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    One tip that I have for mothers with an infant/toddler in the mix: bring a stroller into the pool area. Then you can easily put your small one in the stroller while you’re helping the older ones dry/change. This way you don’t have to worry about them trying to get back into the pool!

  • Reply Elizabeth June 1, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Tell me more about the unmelting snacks please!!

  • Reply Alison S. June 1, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    I just bought a SwimWays baby float for my 6 month old—thanks for the tip! Thankfully, my older two kids are decent swimmers now and we belong to a private, neighborhood pool that doesn’t get very busy so keeping an eye on them is easier than when they were little. I’m grateful for that since I’ll have a baby in tow this summer. I’ve learned to keep a pool bag in the garage ready to go. All wet gear gets dropped near that bag when we get home so it is ready to go next time. Last year we discovered that it really worked for us to take the kids to the pool for a quick swim after dinner a few nights a week. No sunscreen required that late in the day, wore the kids out before bed and no guilt about needing to spend hours at the pool to get our moneys worth since we have a membership. (We use the same philosophy with our zoo membership.)

  • Reply Kate June 2, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    We put on sunscreen as we are changing into swimsuits. We just put it on like we would regular body lotion after bath time so I can feel sure it’s a.) covering EVERYWHERE without getting their suits covered in sunscreen and b.) has had a chance to soak in before they get it wet. My other tip is probably obvious to those without potty trained kids but took me too many summers to figure out. We layer a regular diaper over a swim dipe for the ride to the pool. When we get there I can quickly take off the regular dipe without having to completely undress/expose my kid who just wants to get in the water immediately (or make a stop at the bathroom to switch) AND my car seats are protected 🙂

  • Reply Debra June 3, 2018 at 9:01 am

    My best tip is to invest in beach robes for my kids because they are carrying their own towel that way and they don’t drag all over the ground. Towels are so bulky if you have to carry all of them yourself.

  • Reply Steph June 3, 2018 at 2:40 pm

    Hah! I’ve been working on a summer schedule and thought of you taking your kids to the pool alone (as a way to motivate myself to do the same). One tip I read somewhere else but haven’t implemented is to use microfiber towels instead of beach towels, since they take up a lot less space in with all the gear.

  • Reply IOANNA June 5, 2018 at 12:05 am

    I loved reading this and all of the comments. I would love to take my little boy to the pool this summer as he really loves it! But I am hesitant because, how does the adult go potty? I can’t leave my toddler unattended! Any ideas?

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw June 5, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I always take my stroller so I can just buckle my baby or toddler in and take the stroller into the bathroom with me! But frankly, I’d say I only use the bathroom maybe 1 in 10 pool trips.

  • Reply Nicole June 5, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    We use those thin Turkish style towels so we aren’t dealing with thick beach towels. They take up so much less space, are lighter and dry super fast. I also finally laminated a checklist that stays in my pool bag so I can double check the contents without relying on my brain remembering everything. I really need the get some good pool toys though, our current stash is pretty sad.

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw June 5, 2018 at 6:41 pm

      I need to get some of these! Our towels take up SO MUCH ROOM.

  • Reply Ashley Pullen June 8, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I used the same float for my last two babies, and loved it. It allowed me to relax some. I still haven’t taken my kids swimming alone because I am so afraid of something going wrong.

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