The question first arose months ago: Daddy – when will we be able to go to the pool? The answer was an amount of time that my sweet five-year-old could hardly grasp. “Never” was essentially what she heard me say. But she hung in there, continuing to ask me this question in the days that followed and eventually – finally – we made it to time periods she appreciated.
Just two more weeks, sweetie.
Just five more days…
And now, we’re here. Temps are up, school is out, and outdoor pool season has begun. Despite the bother of lotions and wet car seats and bare feet scalded on hot asphalt and sidewalks and the boredom of adult swims/“safety breaks” and the challenge of convincing kids that it’s really in their best interest to walk on the pool deck, there’s a lot of fun to be had at the pool.
Pools offer all sorts of dadcraft opportunities starting with “Jump to daddy…trust me!,” “motorboat, motorboat” spins and blowing example bubbles for your toddler. From there it only gets more and more fun…both for your kid and you. Here are some tried-and-true pool favorites to assist.
The Toypedo – I’m not sure what it is about these underwater gliders, but the kids and I love shooting them back and forth. Send them cruising with a wrist motion that’s like throwing a dart and they zip along…again and again and again.
A Ball – “Pool ball” variations abound and I’ve enjoyed many of them, but the reality is that just about any ball will do. Tennis balls, Nerf balls…anything can work for a simple game of toss, monkey-in-the-middle, or – the All-Time Greatest, really – Catching the Ball While Jumping into the Pool. Man, I love that game. The perfect toss that requires the jumper to stretch to their max to make the grab. The catch where your body’s underwater when your hand actually snags the ball above water…good stuff.
Diving Rings/Diving Sticks/Stuff that Sinks – Oldies, but goodies, these. There’s something about taking that big gulp of air, ducking underwater, and trying to snag as many rings/sticks/stuff that sinks (Toypedos or Toypedo Bandits, for instance) that’s enlivening for a kid…and for you.
Tire Floats – Lots of floats are fun, but I think the tire float is tops simply because I love launching my kids in the air to try to land on it. Sometimes they miss, sometimes they hit it off-center and the tube shoots away, sometimes they slip right through the hole in the middle, and sometimes – sometimes – bullseye…they nail the landing.
Bonus: The Puddle Jumper – These floatation devices aren’t necessarily fun in and of themselves, but they effectively keep kids afloat and that’s a necessary component of pool fun. They’re much (much) better than the arm floaties of yesteryear, and they’ve been a great stepping stone to swimming for my kids.
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