Going To The Pool With Kids Is Its Own Special Kind Of Hell

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When I was a kid, summer was the absolute best! Now that I’m a parent, I have decidedly mixed feelings about the season and much of the dilemma centers around the pool. In fact, going to the pool with kids seems like it’s own special kind of hell. 

I really want to love taking my kids to the pool, but – I don’t. Here’s why. 

Body issues.

Let’s assume for a minute that I can get past any general body insecurity producing three children has gifted me (a big if). There are still some other body “issues” that make the pool a hassle.  

Shaving – I just can’t let it go (or let it grow…)

Parenthood has undoubtedly lowered my standards of appearance (I submit as evidence my daily stay at home mom “uniform” of unwashed hair and yoga pants). Still, some standards remain.

I am not comfortable going to the pool if I haven’t shaved. At best, I can manage every-other-day-ness without feeling totally insecure. I know some women are all “embrace your natural state,” but that phase hasn’t hit for me yet, and truthfully, I hope it never does (and so does my husband).

This means attempting to shower and shave while my three young kids are home. This results in a rushed hatchet-job and racing back downstairs, probably bleeding, to see who fought whom or who broke what during my absence. Truly delightful.

Finding a suitable suit for the “mom bod”

What remains of my abdominals has left me rather squishy in the middle. When you add in my hernia, which makes me look perpetually four-months-pregnant, decisions have to be made.

Do I stick with my traditional two-pieces and spend the day feeling awkward and embarrassed?

Do I move to a one-piece, which due to its abdominal clinginess, will elicit a barrage of “Congratulations! I didn’t know you were expecting again!” from my well-meaning neighbors?

Does this sensible tankini I’ve found provide enough coverage when I bend down 400,000 times or will I be giving this poor teenage lifeguard way more than he bargained for with this summer job?

While I’ve never been a big fan of cold weather, to winter’s credit, it never makes me wrestle with these kinds of apparel questions.

Then there’s the packing of every item we’ve ever owned.

By now, i’m used to serving as the family pack-mule, but pool outings take this to the next level. Based on the amount of stuff we bring, it looks like we’re going to the pool to live forever.

Dressing everyone in bathing suits, sunscreen, swim diapers, etc. takes 42 years. Once it’s done and we finally arrive, we are staying for as long as I can possibly tolerate it. That means, in  addition to all the pool supplies, we also need to pack water bottles, snacks, and lunches.

My children are exceedingly helpful in this endeavor. When I ask them to carry even a small portion of their own crap, their reaction suggests I’m violating child labor laws.

“I need to go potty!”

Once we finally get our entire circus into the water, inevitably, someone needs to pee. While my kids can handle the bathroom independently at home, the pool is a different story. Clingy swimsuits present a challenge that often requires my assistance.

If we’re lucky, a friend is there and willing to keep an eye on my other kids while I help the inconvenient pee-er. If not, this means everyone has to get out and follow me into the Ladies’ Room (bonus inconvenience: I have all boys).

After that, we get everyone back into the water and —

*whistle blows*

–apparently it’s break time. Now we all need to get out so we can resume this delightful sideshow again in fifteen minutes. The toddler is exceedingly compliant and happy to exit the pool again and definitely does not begin a very public tantrum (he definitely does).

Of course, restroom drama seems like a dream compared to having a kid in a swim diaper. I don’t care what the manufacturer says: I don’t trust those things. I’ve never been much of a gambler, but I feel like we’re playing Poop Russian Roulette every time my swim-diapered child enters the pool. I fear it’s only a matter of time before we’re reenacting that infamous scene from Caddyshack.

And the most daunting of all — trying to keep everyone safe

None of my kids are confident swimmers. I have a “meh” swimmer, a barely-doggy-paddler, and a toddler who can neither swim nor even stand reliably on the steps. Even with everyone in puddle-jumpers, the whole thing feels like playing with fire.

Pool safety is no joke. Aside from car accidents, drowning is the is the leading cause of accidental death in children 14 and under. I can barely remember my own name and birthdate most days, but I can tell you that drowning statistics are at the forefront of my mind every time we visit the pool (I’m super fun at parties).

With this in mind, the pool is no longer a place to relax. Instead, while my children are having the time of their lives, I’m fantasizing about installing my head on a 360-degree-swivel, along with a few extra functioning eyeballs. After all, I’m only one person and supervising my circus on land is tricky enough.

I don’t often long for the teenage years, but when we are doing our pool shenanigans, I find myself awaiting the day my biggest poolside problems are preventing my boys from acting like complete jackasses in an attempt to impress the girls.

I may hate the pool, but that’s where you’ll find me.

Going to pool may fill me with dread, but we will still be there day after day this summer. Why?

Because my kids love it and they deserve the same carefree, poolside summers I enjoyed as a child. Eventually, they’ll all swim confidently, and one day, their mom is the last person they’ll want to be seen with at the pool.

When that day comes, well, let’s just say I’ll be eager to honor their wishes.

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