Swimming lesson hacks for parents of small people

When it comes to swimming lessons, we have been rolling with the punches for a while now. I can’t lie, it’s not my highlight of the week for sure…BUT I’m sticking with it for the clear benefits I’ve seen in just one school year of regular swimming lessons.

With the mouse, the swim involves Mum getting in too, which granted can be a pain in the butt when you washed and straightened your hair the night before, but I will actually miss it when it draws to a close in July and she steps into the independent lessons section. After all, how often do we have each other’s full attention without an electronic device in sight to take a photo, send a tweet, read a message, reply to an email or zone out to an animated character (yes, only the last one is down to her). In this day an age, that thirty minutes up to our necks in water make it a pretty unique and focused place to be together.

With Tig’s after school swimming lesson, the Mouse is usually in tow, cheering her sister on from the poolside cafe, where the temperature and humidity have been known to be the equivalent of the Amazon rainforest. Thirty minutes have never felt so long (apart from the day we forgot our kit and had to dash home to get the bag – oh no that day, thirty minutes went by in a blink believe me).

We have got it down to a fine art, the jiggery pokery that is a swimming lesson for small people and all that goes with it, so here are a few hacks to help you on your merry way. Please feel free to return the favour by offering me any advice to make me breeze this chapter of parenting a little better; there is always room to earn a new swimming achievement badge.

  1. Delicates bag for shampoo. I think they’re designed for washing little socks, frilly pants etc, but those holey delicate laundry bags make a perfect holder for all your shower gel, shampoo, conditioner etc. Holding a slippery tot doesn’t lend itself well to being able to juggle three different bottles. Think of it like a big tea bag – the water flows right through. Handy.Delicates Wash Bag (26x36cm)
  2. An extra towel in the bag. When it comes to towels (T), apply the winning formula #T=n+1 where n= number of wet bods. That’s the maths, and the answer is a nice dry towel to snuggle your tot up in while the cold soggy one goes on the floor to stand on. You can never have too many towels, but you can have too few. The limiting factor here is the carry-in weight limit…
  3. Oversized kit bag. Use a kit bag way bigger than you need. Sure on the way in, a nicely wrapped towel and cossie doesn’t take too much space, but a way home screwed up wet mess does. As does an interim set of clothes x 2 + shoes. Go big, go bold…you’ll be glad as you go home.
  4. Rock a Onesie. Well, maybe not you – you might die of heat exhaustion in all that synthetic fleece on poolside. No, I’m talking the kiddies. If you have an evening swim lesson this one is perfect – pop the child in their cozzie and onesie at home, to avoid the changing room struggle altogether. On the way home, a onesie over PJs or just a birthday suit is a get out of here quick technique that won’t fail to evict you all from the premises in record speed.
  5. Travel light. You may be tempted to pack a long haul flight worthy entertainment bag for your mini pool side spectator, however keeping it minimal will pay dividends when in transit to the change rooms  (whilst defying the laws of science with your core body temperature all time high). Water. Book. Tablet. Done.
  6. Dress for the tropics. You may have been exchanging remarks about the unseasonable chill in the air on the school run, but when it comes to swimming lesson attire, think Club Tropicana every time. Lose as many layers as possible, leave the parka in the car and make a dash for to the doors. While you’re there, think the same for the tots as they are going to be hot and cranky too all the time they are not in the water.
  7. Switch to flip flops. Most pools expect you to remove outer shoes on poolside so it’s probably a no brainer to think twice about your knee high lace up boots. Flip flop it all the way so you can hop in out, on and off as you need to.
  8. Surfs Up Dude. When the mouse started her 30 minute lessons we’d get in for a splash around ten minutes before. Often, five minutes into the lesson her lips would be blue and she’d be shivering and asking to get out. Even skipping the pre-play, her tiny zero fat body just couldn’t stick the duration of the lesson. We invested in a wet suit from Jo Jo Maman Bebe and have never looked back – best £25 we ever spent. She’s still got plenty of room in her age one surf gear, and it’ll get well used at the good old British Seaside on holiday this year too. 
  9. All in one kids body wash shampoo. There are loads of amazing all in one kids shampoos, conditioners, body washes to make your ‘shower them without getting wet’ situation all the easier. If you’re showering down also you can whack a decent grown up all in one shampoo / conditioner in but as I’ve learnt you might blind your kids so sometimes it makes sense to use their anti sting stuff too. (*No toddlers were harmed during the writing of this post). For the record, my favourite is the Vosene kids after swim hair and body wash as it helps remove residual chlorine from skin as well as being a brand I know and trust for my kids crazy hair. The detangler is well worth chucking in too. I have witnessed some epic parenting whereby multiple kids are showered, hair washed and in PJs post swim by a dry Mum – that’s the dream but for now I’m just happy to get out in one piece. A clean kiddo is a bonus. Sometimes, it’s just easier to throw them in the bath Daddies run at home…
  10. Spare towel in the car. Did I mention I left my kit bag at home once. Worst day of my life. Since then I swear by having a spare towel in the boot (The cozzie was under the onesie, obvs) and I reckon it’s a pretty handy item for all eventualities as it could double up as a blanket, mop, coat, picnic rug, err, spare clothing item…).
  11. Keep bag packed. The real ball ache with a post school lesson is the hellish dash from school to the kitchen then back out the door in far too tight a timeframe for my liking. Keeping your swim gear packed up is one less thing to worry about, and frankly a sure fire way of not forgetting your cozzie / pants / shampoo / goggles / enter essential item here. Sacrifice a bottle of shampoo and a second hair brush, and forget about them for the greater good of stressed Mum kind.

So there you have it, easing the pain hopefully – we’re in it together, us poolside parents.


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