Ah, the pool. That liquid turquoise mistress for whom I have such complicated feelings. On the one hand, I love her cool embrace on a hot summer day. What else are you going to do when it’s 94 degrees out and humid enough to make your eyebrows frizz? On the other hand, a date with the pool takes a ridiculous amount of work. Like, HOURS of preparation and LOADS of gear.
First, of course, there are the towels for everybody, plus an extra one or a picnic blanket to sit on. Then there’s the sunscreen – the kids’ kind, my kind, for the face, for the body, spray, stick and lotion. And the pool toys – the inflatables, the dive sticks, the squirt guns, the kick boards, the goggles, the snorkels. Although why I bother is beyond me since my kids usually play with everyone else’s toys BUT ours. Oh, and don’t forget some dry clothes to change into afterwards. I sometimes skip this step, but damp kids + damp car seats = a car that smells like wet dog.
Then, of course, there’s the food. If you don’t want to take out a second mortgage on your house to cover your snack-bar tab, you’d better bring some food from home. (Along with a cooler, water bottles, napkins, forks…) And don’t think you can get by with a bunch of grapes and a bag of pretzels. Oh, no. If your kids are like mine, swimming makes them RAVENOUS. Mine can inhale an entire tube of Pringles, 2 lbs. of fruit, a couple of Go-Gurts, some sandwiches, animal crackers, granola bars, and STILL clamor for chicken fingers and ice cream from the snack bar.
One thing I don’t have to worry about packing for the pool? Reading material. And also, a chair. Every summer I think, THIS may be the year I can SIT and READ like all those carefree parents I see relaxing in their chaise lounges. Hasn’t happened yet. I’m still in the “Stop drinking the pool water! Look before you leap off the side! Don’t splash people in the face! Get off your brother’s back! That’s too far out!” stage.
But the kids love it. And I love that they are having fun and getting good exercise. And it’s not exactly AWFUL to splash around in refreshingly cool water on a hot day, even if you ARE essentially standing around in your underwear in public. But, man, dragging all that gear home again afterward – now water-logged and laden with crumbs – and then washing and drying it and getting everyone bathed, only to repeat the process the very next day? Kinda makes me want to hurl myself into the deep end.
TIP O’ THE DAY: I got this one from watching another mom. Instead of lugging all your kids’ toys to the pool and trying desperately to keep track of them, swing by the lost & found on your way in, grab some stuff that catches the kids’ eye, then return it all on your way out. Brilliant!