There are some key life skills you need to pass onto your children. These range from riding a bike to mastering a knife and fork to dutifully bringing you snacks from the fridge. Another important mission is teaching them how to swim and, one-on-one, this is a fun and rewarding experience.
However, things get more tricky when there are two kids and you take them to the baths alone. One adult versus two kids isn’t too bad on dry land, but add in the various perils related to swimming and it’s a different story. With deep water, slippery surfaces and the ever-present fear of the double-headed Hunger Monster rearing its head, you need a handy guide to navigate the potential pitfalls, so here it is – how to take two small children swimming and survive.
Taking Two Small Children Swimming – Preparations
You know that irritating business buzzphrase, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’? Well, it has some value here. In the faint hope of making it through the changing rooms quickly and efficiently in at least one direction, it is worth getting the kids into their swimming attire at home with normal clothes over the top for the journey. When you make it to the baths, it is then a case of stripping off the outdoor clothes and heading straight for the chlorine.
One word of warning; if either of your children is young enough to still be in nappies, do not take the previous piece of advice. Swim nappies hold less than a thimble of urine (approximate measure), meaning you are more than likely to arrive at the leisure centre with a sodden car seat. Source: bitter, bitter experience.
Correct Locker Skills for Taking Two Small Children Swimming
This is another piece of key preparation that will pay dividends. You need to know how to stack the locker properly in order to keep both children as happy as possible post-swim. On top, you need the kids’ towels. This gives them the shortest possible timeframe in which to complain about the cold. Within seconds of splashing around, they can be wrapped up nice and toasty in a big towel, drying off a treat.
Below the towels are the snacks. Swimming turns all children, and a number of adults, into raging beasts of hunger. However much they have eaten that day, as soon as they leave the sanctity of the pool, their stomachs instantly empty and they get The Rage until they can be sated with crisps, chocolate, kale or whatever it is that your brood go for.
Below the snacks are the children’s clothes, separated into individual piles. Once they are dry and have wolfed down double their own bodyweight in snacks, they want to be instantly dressed. Having the clothes ready is a step closer to leaving without a meltdown from any of you.
Your clothes and personal items go at the bottom, screwed up and crushed. Don’t complain; you signed up for this.
In the Pool
Once you are in the pool, the method of survival really depends on the abilities of your children. My eldest can just about swim on her own, but my youngest is only just starting out. This means we loiter in the shallow end whilst Elsa doggy paddles around and I cling onto Seth. It’s a skill to keep an eye on both at the same time, but it’s one that is necessary all the same. Engaging the boy whilst ensuring his sister remains buoyant is a real test of my multitasking abilities.
Elsa spends a lot of the time getting out of the pool to jump in, which means Seth does too because he idolises his big sister. This means I end up morphing into the audio version of one of those safety posters, warning the kids not to run, shout and bomb. Thankfully we’re a number of years away from adding petting into that mix.
Essentially, with young kids, your swimming pool role is to be a human inflatable and buoyancy aid. I don’t think I’ve actually swum in the five years I’ve been a dad.
After the Swim
When you take two small children swimming, speed is of the essence. If you followed the locker advice, this part of the day will still take far longer than you would imagine, but it will be as fast as can be reasonably expected, given the circumstances.
It is impossible to happily change two children at once, so you need to box clever here. Hopefully your eldest at least will be able to dress themselves, although that is no guarantee that they will do so after a swim. There is something about that environment that renders their arms useless when it comes to putting on their own clothes. In this case, setting some kind of ‘can you get yourself changed before I dress your little brother’ style challenge seems appropriate.
If they are too little to dress themselves with any degree of accuracy, appeal to their superiority complex (all of us older siblings have one) and ask them to help dress their brother or sister. That should keep them busy until the other child is ready, at which point you can move onto them. If you have twins, you’re on your own at this point. I’m out of ideas.
Finally, you can dress yourself. With no hint of irony, the children will now complain about how long this takes. The solution – more snacks to keep them occupied.
How to Take Two Small Children Swimming and Survive – Conclusion
So that’s your guide on how to take two small children swimming and survive. To boil it down to a few words – planning and snacks are key to everything that happens. As long as you follow that simple rule, you can’t go wrong.
Have you got any other tips for taking more than one small child to the swimming baths? Share them with us in the comments.