I realize this is hardly the time for a how-to post on packing for the pool. Most kids in our neighborhood just started back to school this week. But we’ll still be hitting the pool a lot this month, and we just returned from an amazing week at my parents’ lake cottage, so I’ve (finally) got my pool bag packing perfected.
Inevitably, on those first warm days of the summer my attempts to pack for the pool always fall slightly short. I’ll forget a change of dry clothes, or the favorite toy, or my sunglasses. With a preschooler, toddler, and baby in tow, any trip to the pool should be celebrated as a major accomplishment regardless of these slight failings, because we. got. out. the. door. But, to avoid such mishaps next summer, I’m documenting the routine I’ve found this summer stashing all sorts of goodies into one great big pool bag.
The Bag. I’ve been using a pink cotton bag I picked up for our honeymoon for the past 9 summers, and now that I’m packing for five instead of one, it was high time for an upgrade. I chose the Everlane Beach Tote for three reasons: It’s lightweight; The screen printed bottom (mine is black) is water repellant; It is huge. Oh, and one more thing – it has an interior zipper pocket for stashing my phone and sunglasses so they won’t get smashed. The tote doesn’t scream beach bag, so I like that I can use it for packing or toting library books during the other half of the year when it is bitterly cold in Indiana.
The Towels. I wrote about this already, but I switched out our big terry cloth towels for Turkish towels. It is shocking how little space they take up in our new bag, but what I love most is how fast they dry! You’re always guaranteed a warm, dry, super absorbent towel this way. Plus, they can stand in for a cute coverup if you need one.
Toys. The older my kids get, the fewer toys they need as they start swimming and jumping in instead. The more you pack, the more you have to keep track of. I think we’re down to about 1-2 toys per kid. BUT, when our kids couldn’t swim much, a few well-picked toys are certainly essentials. For a baby, get a baby swim ring (Theo borrowed this adorable one from his cousin, Ruby). For toddlers, a small bucket and watering can will keep them busy for hours. Our kids love to hold and play with these small torpedoes and dive rings in the shallow water. One of our library’s prizes last summer were little squirt animals, which are also a big hit. Now that my daughter is a little bigger, she really loved borrowing some dolls from her little friends at the pool. I wasn’t quite ready to dive into Barbies and Princesses with her yet, so I picked this little doll for her and she held it close all last week.
Floaties. I have this vivid childhood memory of my mom blowing up our wing floaties and then using great effort to pull and push them up our skinny little arms, while the plastic squeaked the whole way. Whoever invented Puddle Jumpers is a genius. They’re super easy to put on, although they do take up a bit more room when you’re packing. The band across the chest helps keep kids heads out of the water. If you’re new to the pool-with-toddlers game, these should be your first purchase.
Sunscreen. For sure. We’ve been loving the spray version, which is so much simpler with antsy kids who just want to get in the water. I also highly recommend grabbing a stick sunscreen to coat their little faces. I keep that in the little zipper compartment of the beach tote or in our diaper bag.
Food. Kids get super hungry when swimming, so I try to use the pool as an opportunity to get them to scarf down some healthy snacks that they might balk at at home. Then I always throw in a few fun treats since those little bodies are burning a ton of calories.
Swim diapers, Dry diapers, + Dry clothes. We keep a pack of swim diapers in our trunk, and I try to always remember to bring dry (normal) diapers, underwear and clothes for the car ride home. And then give yourself a pat on the back, because getting to the water with little kids is a workout! But the sunshine and exercise is good for everyone. Here’s to soaking in the rest of summer time!
p.s. I just re-read this post, A Season for Perseverance, from two years ago, and it’s still ringing true for me as I watch lots of mamas sending their kids to school and mine are still at home. If you’re in the same boat, I hope it encourages you.