Cheap Dates: Swimming!

Peter Kirk, Bellevue, Renton pools

Peter Kirk, Bellevue, Renton pools

It’s summer time! (Well, some days it is – yesterday during my son’s swim lesson it was 55 degrees and pouring rain… but better weather is coming, right?) So it’s time to check out your local swimming pool!

Here are some great games to play in the water with your child and some recommended local pools (for those of my readers who live on the Eastside of Seattle).

Some games to play in the water:

Motor boat: In a shallow pool, you can have your child sit on the bottom of the pool and kick their legs. In a deeper pool, you can hold your child, or have her put her back to the wall and hang on with her hands, then kick her legs. As she kicks, chant:”Motor boat, motor boat, go so slow. Motor boat, motor boat, go so fast. Motor boat, motor boat, run out of gas.”

Bubble, bubble, pop. Sing “All the fish are swimming in the water” (click here for video and lyrics)  When you’re singing about fish swimming, move your child around in the water, when you sing about ducks paddling, paddle your hands, then frogs jump and children splash. When you get to the part about “bubble, bubble splash”, raise your child in the air as you sing bubble… then splash down on the word splash.

Trot, Trot: Sing Trot Trot to Boston, bouncing your child on the trotting part, and splashing down on “watch out baby or you might fall IN.”

Practice blowing bubbles in the water. Bring something that floats (rubber duck, ball, etc.), throw it, chase it, catch it floating in the water and throw it again. Bring a plastic cup or watering can in the pool with you, scoop and pour.

Why swim?

Well, first and foremost, water safety is an essential skill to teach your child! We can’t count on swim lessons to “drown proof” a child, but certainly the more familiar they are with water, the better!

Second, research shows the following benefits for swimming for kids: swimmers outperform non-swimmers in balance, movement, grasping skills, higher IQ’s, strengthened all their muscles, were more self-confident, etc.

Finally, its fun. Most kids love playing in the water! It’s also fun and engaging for the parent – at a playground I may sit on the sidelines and check out Facebook on my phone, but at the pool, I have to be fully aware of and involved with my child – it’s good for me to give him my full focus. And, my kids always sleep better at naptimes and at night on days when they were in the pool.

Some great local pools:

Peter Kirk Pool – in downtown Kirkland. Outdoor pool, open only in the summertime. Check their schedule here. They’ve got a big pool, of course, but I love them for the wading pool – it’s shallow enough for my short 3 year old to walk in, but nice and big so plenty of kids can play. $4 per person.

Bellevue Aquatic Center. It’s indoors, so not as much fun in the summer. BUT it’s the best pool for babies and young toddlers, because they have the Warm Springs pool, which is kept at 91 degrees – not quite the temperature of a warm bath, but almost! The ramp and stairs into the pool are great shallow places for toddlers to explore (just make sure you stay out of the way of people coming in!), there’s a shallow end of the pool and a 5′ deep end of the pool. It’s used as a therapy pool so there are usually elderly people and people who are in rehab for a physical injury there as well as parents and babies. Check the schedule here. Fee is around $6.75 per person.

Henry Moses Aquatic Center in Renton. We’re planning to try this one soon! It’s a little more Theme Park like, with big slides and a lazy river. They say it has a toddler play area. Costs are $4 for Renton kids 1-4, $8 for non-resident toddlers; adults are $8 resident, $14 non-resident.

Do you have a favorite local pool? Or favorite game to play in the pool with little ones?

[Note: this post is part of a series called “Cheap Dates with Toddlers” about fun, cheap activities that kids age one to five (and their parents) can enjoy. Many include recommendations that are specific to Seattle/the Eastside, but hopefully most of the core ideas apply to all parents everywhere….]

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