My oldest was born in Reno, and in her first 18 months she was in a pool exactly once and it was at a resort casino – how’s that for a stereotype?
When she turned a year and a half in January of 2013, we signed her up for her first swim lessons at an indoor pool and I remember driving there in the snow thinking what an odd time to be swimming.
The timing worked out, though … at the end of March that year, I accepted a job in Phoenix, and we moved back to Arizona (my husband grew up here and I had previously lived here).
Now my oldest is 4 and has a 2-year-old sister. Here in the Valley of the Sun, we find ourselves in the pool much more frequently – at our friends’ houses, pool parties at the rec centers, etc. And so many splash pads, too!
We also have our girls enrolled in swim lessons every summer to help them learn to be safe around the water. Their lessons are four nights a week, so we always have our poolside essentials ready to go.
- Sunscreen: This is a must in the summer, and really should be a year-round habit. Our kiddos get slathered every morning before school and every evening before we head to the pool.
- Swim suits: Sometimes the girls wear traditional swimsuits, sometimes I put them in long-sleeve tops with UV protection.
- Swim diapers: Our oldest is done with diapers. For our youngest, we love the Bumkins swim diapers that can be worn over and over again. Of course, I love that we are not throwing disposables in the landfill. But let’s be honest – I also love the cute patterns and the fact that they look much nicer under a swimsuit.
- Water shoes: The girls need slip-proof water shoes both for walking around the pool before and after lessons, and for water day at school. Closed-toe are the safest (and required for school).
- Towels and cover-ups: To be more efficient during our jam-packed swim-lesson nights, we bring one towel for the parent who goes in the pool and terrycloth robe cover-ups for the girls.
- Sun hats: We don’t need these for swim lessons, but for a long day at the beach or pool – or anytime in the sun – it’s best to have the added protection. I’m always concerned about the parts in my girls’ hair getting too much sun!
- Sunglasses: Sunlight can damage the eyes so, like hats, these are also good to keep handy if you’ll be outside for a while.
- Wet/dry bags: We keep these bags everywhere – the diaper bag, the girls’ backpacks for school – and they get tons of use in the summer. The outer pocket can hold sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses and more, while we use the inside pocket to transport wet clothes home.
- Goggles: While a parent still goes in the pool with our youngest for swim lessons and she rarely likes to get her head wet, our oldest is a little more advanced and she always wants her goggles on to put her face under the water. Little sis usually demands some after lessons are over to be like her sister.
- Water: We’ve held steady over 110 degrees for several days in a row now. I offer both girls water frequently and ask them to drink up and refill their bottles at school so they are hydrated before going out to swim in the heat.