by Michelle Donaghey
Shimmering water, clear as a bell- that is heaven to dive into when the temperature is high. Whether it be the local park or a backyard, summertime is the time for these man-made water holes. Shimmering water, clear as a bell- that is heaven to dive into when the temperature is high. Whether it be the local park or a backyard, summertime is the time for these man-made water holes.Phone first and ask questions! Planning to visit a local pool? The rule is always phone-first. While the pool may have their hours listed, often they do not list when there swim lesson times are which coincide with their hours. Before your day is ruined because you went when lessons were going on, call. Besides, you can find out if they have lockers to rent or for free and much admission is. Also ask if water toys and or life preservers or water wings are accepted- some pools allow them while others may not.
At the pool
It’s a good idea to leave the purse in the car hidden from view. Buy a small money holder that hangs around your neck that you can put change in. Pin your car key into your bathing suit and mark your towel with your name with a laundry marker- your towel may be unusual to you, but at the pool, three other people may have the same towel. And don’t forget the sunblock! Diving boards are tempting to kids of all ages, but it is best for only kids who are good swimmers to use them. It also may be tempting for you to teach your kids to dive, but it is best left to the professionals. If you really want them to learn, find out about lessons. Children are not developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday according to the A.A.P. which also notes that whenever infants or toddlers are around water, an adult should be within arm’s length, providing "touch supervision." "Never leave children alone in or near a pool, even for a moment," says the A.A.P.
Everybody in the family from little tikes to grandma can have a good time at a water parks. Offering thrill-seekers exciting rides, little ones big water shooters, slides and ships and seniors lazy rivers, water parks are a popular destination in the summertime. What to pack But while it may be tempting to just put on and wear your bathing suit all day and evening, it’s a good idea to bring along a change of clothing along with the towels when visiting a water park. Leave the big purses, bags and beach toys at home. If you wear glasses and absolutely need them to see, get an elastic holder specially made to hold them on your head tightly though on most attractions you will need to hold them. Don’t wear bathing suits that have zippers or buckles as "they can scratch the fiberglass and could possibly cut you" says Chris Landgrave of Deep River Waterpark. Leave water wings at home and ask for life jackets if you feel your child needs them. "You should also bring sweatshirts or something you can put on your little ones- they tend to get cold when they get out of the water," Debbie Childress of Splash Down Dunes. Don’t forget the sunscreen even if the day is not sunny. "Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can pierce the clouds and reflect off the water," says Robin Innes, Director of Public Relations for Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio. Before you hit the slides and rapids and lazy rivers, take everything you are not going to need and lock it up in one of the park’s lockers. If you have long hair or any of your children do, it is best to secure it with a elastic band. Clips, barrettes and combs look good, but are easily lost on many water park attractions! Wear booties or swim shoes. Flip flops are OK, but they can have a tendency to get lost in the water and can be trip hazards in wet areas. Riding the rapids, catching the wave pool Parents and children can do most of the attractions at water parks together. "Riding a family-sized raft through a twisting course is a great memory maker," notes Innes who adds that families should have a central meeting place chosen in case they lose track of each other. A good age when children can do a park alone is 13. Parks have rules that children cannot leave without an adult and all parks have assistance when necessary to help find a child. "They are usually located within a few minutes and for some reason, small children when lost often feel they need to head for the car. Front gate people are told not to let any small child walk out unattended," assures Childress. Don’t force a child to ride down a slide unless he or she really wants to. "If the child is tall enough (44 inches or taller at Indiana Beach), let the child decide- do not force them," advises Tom Spackman of Indiana Beach. "Some kids are tall enough, they are just not brave enough. Like yourself, they will know if they want to go or not,"adds Childress. When all else fails, ask questions of park personnel that work a particular attraction says Innes who says "they can tell you which ride is fastest and which one may have surprise curves."
Michelle Donaghey is a freelance writer and mother of two boys, Chris and Patrick, who are her inspiration. She lives in Bremen, Indiana just south of South Bend, home of Notre Dame. When she isn’t writing, Michelle can be found in her perennial flower garden or working on small home improvement projects. Michelle has written for parenting publications including Metro Kids, Atlanta Parent,Dallas Child, Great Lakes Family, Family Times and Space Coast Parent and websites including iparenting.com.
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