The summer is officially here and you know what that means: hours spent outside around the pool. For many families this means a few familiar routines: signing kids up for swim camps, packing up of the car with gear and heading to the local community center or swimming complex. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool at home, though, that means you’re likely the most popular house on the block during the summer time.
Your kids undoubtedly love having their friends coming over all the time but as the parent who is suddenly in charge of all of those kids, it is important to have rules (and even more important to enforce those rules).
Rule #1: The More Kids, the More Grown Ups You Need
To keep everybody safe, it is important to make sure there is enough supervision. It’s hard enough to keep track of a group of kids when they are on dry land. When a body of water is involved, it’s best to not even try.
Never try to watch more than three kids under the age of 10 by yourself. This means before the summer swimming season really gets going, you need to send an email or have a conversation with your kids’ friends’ parents about what will and will not fly during summer vacation. The last thing you need is to be paying to hire a babysitter to keep track of someone else’s kids.
Make it another rule that anybody who helps watch over the kids must be certified in CPR and water safety.
The easiest way to deal with this is to either ask everybody to combine resources to hire someone to help you watch the gaggle of kids, OR ask parents to send their own babysitters or nannies over (especially for families with two or more kids) so that the pressure is taken off of you.
Rule #2: Limit Access
Covering the pool when nobody is using it is, of course, important. Covering not only reduces the risk of someone falling in, it keeps pests out. Kids will be kids, though, and all it takes is one to dare another to walk across the cover (or for a game of tag to go “out of bounds”) for an accident to occur.
One option to consider is having a specialty pool fence installed. While you can create makeshift barriers to prevent accidental trip and falls and enforce the “everybody out of the pool” times, we all know that those makeshift barriers are easy to get around. An actual fence, though, is tall (too tall for most kids to climb), sturdy enough to withstand someone tripping into it or bouncing a ball off of it and can be locked to prevent dismantling by particularly stubborn kiddos who are convinced they’re in charge of themselves.
Rule #3: Proper Skills
You may be confident in your own child’s swimming skills but you probably aren’t sure which of your child’s friends are strong swimmers and which are still “minnows”. Make it a rule that anybody who hasn’t passed certain swimming tests has to wear a life jacket whenever they are even near your uncovered pool.
Most local community centers offer swimming lessons and swimming certificates for kids who have mastered certain water skills. It’s okay to require that any kids who are not your own provide proof (or parental confirmation) that they’ve passed those tests before they are allowed in the water without a life jacket.
Remember: you want people to have fun and it’s fun to be popular, but the most important thing is keeping the kids safe at your pool this summer. When safety comes first, fun isn’t too far behind!