It’s summer! The sun is shining and the pool is beckoning your presence. It is absolutely crucial to teach your child water safety. Thus, you may decide to seek the assistance of experts and enroll your little one in summer swim classes. I highly recommend swimming lessons, but I had no idea what I was in for when I submitted my daughter’s name for the “Mommy and Me” classes at our local pool. Here are some tips to help keep you afloat while your toddler learns some invaluable skills:
1.Purchase a “Mommy” Bathing Suit
This task will require a great deal of time and energy before attending your toddler’s first class. You want something that is modest, yet does not evoke an image of Rose Nylund lounging on the lanai. Conversely, you do not want to don your itty, bitty, string bikini left over from your pre-baby days. If you got it, flaunt it, but not during your child’s swim lessons. Besides the awkwardness of being hit on by the teenaged lifeguard, you will most definitely have a “wardrobe malfunction” when your child places their vice-like grip upon your bathing suit straps.
Try to locate a one-piece, preferably not in the high-cut leg style favored by Kelly Kapowski in the 1990’s. Go for a bright color or interesting print that will allow your toddler to easily locate you in the water. That is the true definition of fashionable meets functional.
2. Get Your Goggles and Earplugs Ready
You will need goggles to observe your toddler’s developing underwater abilities. The earplugs are not to keep water out of your ears. The earplugs serve to save your ear drums from the high-pitched screams and wails that will not only be emitted by your child, but by every child in the class. There is nothing quite like the sound that emerges from a toddler when they are forced to actually put their face in water. Trust me. Invest in earplugs.
3. Do Not Be Above Bribery
I do not normally provide my daughter with sugary sweets. I am fortunate enough that she loves vegetables. However, a carrot does not do anything to dispel the trauma of an initial swim class. Carrots are for bunny rabbits. Lollipops are for your munchkin after swim class. Every time my daughter was submerged into that cold water by her instructor, I whispered, “Lollipop. Lollipop. Lollipop!” in her ear. Then, I murmured “wine, wine, wine” to myself. Bribery works upon burgeoning swimmers, large and small.
4. Embrace Your Inner Cheerleader
During class, it is important to provide your child with encouragement and positive reinforcement. This is best done at top volume. It is the only way your toddler will hear you over the din of their screaming classmates. Channel your inner cheerleader and imagine it is your high school’s homecoming game against your biggest rival. The marching band is making their way across the field, only none of their instruments are in tune. That is the exact pitch you need to use while rooting for your little swimmer.
5. Practice Makes Perfect…or Passing
Toddler swim classes are meant to be completed over a short duration of time, in rapid succession. By the time you get your child reasonably calm with your lollipop chant, the lesson will be all but over. You must take your child home and practice, practice, practice. Not only do toddlers love repetition, you do NOT want to have to repeat the class. In order to pass, you must practice. You will also observe that as your child’s swimming skills increase, their shrieks of utter horror will decrease. It is a win-win.
If you can survive toddler swim classes, you can swim away with the knowledge that your child has learned skills that could possibly save their life. It is totally worth spending thirty minutes in freezing cold water, wearing an ugly bathing suit, and losing your hearing. Once you shampoo the chlorine out of your hair, you can pour yourself a large glass of wine while cheering yourself on a parenting job well done. Go ahead and be nice and loud with your self-praise. You can no longer hear out of your right ear anyway.
About the Author
Brittany Ferrell is a wife, mother, teacher, and author. She has chronicled her struggle to become a parent in her published memoir, “From Dream to Dream Come True: My Journey to Motherhood”. Brittany writes about her fairy tale dream come true of motherhood on her blog, https://amamatale.com/. Her work has also been featured with Creative Child, where she offers parenting tips and tricks. When Brittany is not teaching or writing, she can be found dancing in her kitchen or watching Frozen for the billionth time with her precocious toddler.