One of the challenges of having a large brood of young children is that it’s simply too dangerous to take them all to the pool at the same time. Even with two sets of parental eyes, we cannot safely keep them all afloat without both of us being stressed out and exhausted when it’s over.
This year, however, our kids began a campaign to be taken to the beach. And this is the first year an idea like that has seemed appealing… with the small hitch that we have no intention of taking seven chronic drowners to the ocean. We like our kids and wish to keep them. So we made the kids a deal: learn to swim (just the oldest four need to do this) and we’ll go to the beach by the end of summer.
The problem with this deal, of course, is that we have to actually take them to the pool for them to improve their swimming. (Please note: they’ve had swim lessons. But practice is what they need most.) So we have a New Plan for this summer. I don’t know if it will work yet. But I thought I would share it with you in case some of you are also looking for a solution to the Swim Issue.
We’ve decided to Divide and Conquer. We’re committing to several pool nights a week. But we’re only taking a few kids at a time. This gives some quality time with a smaller number of people, plus it keeps lifeguard duty actually doable without the need of sedation afterward.
This was the first lucky crew to get to go:
The poor sad little group left behind received pudding with sprinkles for their troubles. They suffer so…
An hour later, Andrew returned home with the swimmers. They were all happy and wet and Andrew didn’t appear to have any post-traumatic stress disorder. He reassured me that Ian still remembered most of what he learned last year and will be fine. He just needs practice. Willa never left the second step. So with her life jacket on, she was pretty safe, too.
He did notice that Ian missed having his brothers to play with. The problem with taking a contingency of boys is that they’re our “best” swimmers. That would be easier lifeguarding, whereas the parent stuck with three girls would be run ragged. Our goal for this week is to take everybody in pairs of stronger swimmer and weaker swimmer. Once we’ve seen them all in the water, we’ll try and make up groups of three that will be manageable and fun with just one parent on duty.
It’s worth a shot.
This is different for us, dividing up. It’s not ideal in some ways, but in other ways, we do get some good quality time with the kids. And we’re committing ourselves to quite a few evenings at home, which is always nice.
I’m sure it will still be a bit stressful at times. I suspect I will suffer some PTSD from all the swimsuit wearing that’s required of me. But it’s a small price to pay to help my people learn how to swim. And the promise of a beach trip dangling in front of me doesn’t hurt either!
How do all of you make the trip to the pool? Whether you’ve got one kid or twelve, I’m sure you’ve got some tips for how to make it fun and safe for everybody. (If you go to the pool by yourself, feel free to tell me, but don’t rub it in. It would make me cry. A day by the pool alone is the stuff of my dreams, people.)