Taking a Preschooler Swimming in 34 Steps or Less

Alexandra Kuykendall essentials

There’s nothing like hot summer days to want us all to get to some water. Whether the pool or the lake, water and the preschooler, means a little work on the adult’s behalf. Here are a few steps for the mom of the preschooler this summer as she prepares to head to the pool.

  1. Decide it is too dang hot to NOT be at the pool.
  2. Have an internal debate regarding what point in the day you will let your preschooler know swimming is in her near future.
  3. Decide it best to wait and spring the news on her just as you leave the house, so you aren’t asked every 3.4 seconds if it’s time to go yet.
  4. In a moment of heat-induced tantrum on her part and discipline panic on yours, tell your preschooler you were going to take her to the pool, but now you’re not so sure.
  5. Console her wailing and promise her you’re really going to go to the pool. Consistency in messaging just slid way down the parenting priority list.
  6. Amidst her wailing, decide to hit the pool sooner rather than later. You can better disguise your tears of frustration in the water.
  7. Pack. Grab swimming suits, towels and sunscreen. Add snacks, drinks and sunglasses for both of you. Include a life jacket, pool toys and a noodle for her, a magazine for you, just in case you can do SOMETHING other than supervise once there. Then add more snacks. Because you can never have enough snacks.
  8. Open the car door and remember that “sauna” might be another word for your vehicle.
  9. Strap sweating child into her hot car seat while she is kicking and screaming, practically laying on top of her to get her buckled in. (How can she contort her body like that anyway? And when did she get so strong?)
  10. Before pulling out of the driveway, blast the “air conditioning” that is actually hot air blowing on both of you as you send an emergency text to anyone you know within a 20 mile radius of the pool to beg them to meet you for a quick dip.
  11. Realize you forgot your bag with everything needed for the pool in the house.
  12. Remember every horrible story you’ve heard of a child being left in a hot car.
  13. Notice your girl is beginning to calm down in direct proportion to the air conditioning beginning to work.
  14. Consider leaving without the bag. Its contents are optional, right?
  15. Remember you live in a country where public nudity is illegal. You need your swimsuits.
  16. Reluctantly unbuckle the child that is finally calming down to carry her in the house with you to get the bag.
  17. Find your pool bag on the kitchen counter. Right where you left it.
  18. Grab a Popsicle from the freezer for preschooler to eat while driving — because it’s difficult to eat and scream at the same time. Besides, the pool will wash off any sticky mess that’s created by the melting-sugar otherwise known as a “Popsicle.”
  19. Buckle her back in to the hot car seat, but do not, I repeat do not, hand over the Popsicle until she is buckled. It is your golden bribery ticket. It has no value to you once you’ve handed it over.
  20. Check your phone to see if anyone accepted your invitation to join.
  21. Before pulling out of the driveway, tell yourself you are a good mom.
  22. Repeat the good mom message over and over as you drive.
  23. Pull into the pool parking lot, look in the rearview mirror to realize your preschooler has fallen asleep with the half-eaten Popsicle melting in her lap.
  24. Consider not going in and driving around town in your finally cool car.
  25. Decide you will never be forgiven if you turn around now. Shudder at the imagined tantrum that would go down if she wakes up at home.
  26. Pick up the sticky, sweaty mess that is your child, while carrying half your house in pool bags and walk toward the pool.
  27. Change clothes in a curtained stall while your companion loudly describes everything she is noticing about your naked body to the rest of the locker room.
  28. Consider never leaving the curtained stall.
  29. Attempt to apply sunscreen to all of your child’s exposed skin while she tries her best to re-enact the body contortions from earlier car seat maneuvers.
  30. Take all of your bags, floaties and child to the pool deck to find a spot that has shade, is close to the kiddie pool, and not too far from the bathroom or the snack bar. Because you can never have enough snacks.
  31. Get in the pool up to your waist and decide it’s too cold to go any further. The pool water is apparently brought in from Alaska’s melting glaciers.
  32. Try explaining to your daughter that you don’t want her to splash you even though you are already up to your waist in water.
  33. Tell her you are going in no further. How can it be so hot out and the water still feel so cold? And since when did you get so old and grumpy?
  34. Take a deep breath. You made it. Dunk your head under the iceberg water and determine to play with your girl.

Alexandra Kuykendall
As a mom to four girls, ages 3 to 12, Alexandra Kuykendall’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She writes to capture the places where motherhood meets everyday life to remember the small, yet significant moments in the midst of the blur. She is the author of The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir , a contributor to this year’s Be you, Bravely, An Experiment in Courage and acts as the Specialty Content Editor for MOPS International. A city girl at heart, she makes her home in the shadow of downtown Denver. You can read more of Alex’s everyday thoughts and connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.

What additional step would you add to this list?