Swimming: recipe and method

I have just about recovered from swimming on Sunday morning. Well, this is a lie, I had recovered from swimming on Sunday morning by Monday night at the timely appearance of a sickness bug in our house and my daughter method acting bulimia for two days. Picking preloved pasta from the carpet, my hair and essentially off most things and individuals in the house has been fairly traumatic. But still possibly less so than swimming.

So Sunday morning arrives, Mr Mother Fudger appears asleep when the children wake. I use the word appears as I guess he’s keeping his eyes shut, facing the wall and hoping I will be the one to break. I do.

Following the morning milk, CBeebies and breakfast routine we have going on in our house I encourage the children to be as noisy as possible to wake Mr MF. Then I march round the house collecting the swimming essentials. Now for those of you who haven’t been swimming with a baby – or two – I hope this helps:




At least one adult per baby (if you can stretch funds, include an au pair, nanny, grandparents, strangers willing to help)

Swimming costumes and swim nappies

Swimming toys which MUST include “sea spaghetti” (this 20ft-long float will be of interest for approximately 37 second during the “swim” at which point you’ll either commit to carrying it around the pool or risk theft by leaving it at the side. Inevitable purchase of a colour every other family has to increase ownership confusion)

57 towels (you will need every single one)

Snacks and drinks (swimming makes my toddler insanely hungry immediately)

Pretty much duplicates of most things in your life

£1 for the locker

33 plastic bags (you will need these and feel smug in front of other adults when you say “oh yes, wet towels/costumes/toys – I have some bags”)


1. Rally the troops. This MAY include a tantrum from the toddler or adult, a last minute wee from the toddler or the realisation you have no money between you so will also have to make a trip to the cash point en route.

2. Ensure everyone is dressed. Despite the daily battle to get your toddler dressed, the sheer delight of seeing their swimming costume will mean an easy win. Result. However, beware, this stage could mean toddler in swimming costume only, putting on wellies claiming this means the mission is complete.

3. Undress toddler when she says she needs a wee. Redress.

4. Put family in the car with the insane amount of bags for swim trip. Expect this stage to take the usual 45 minutes for leaving the house.

NB: Adults despite baltic conditions outside, you will not be able to take coats. Remember the size of the locker is likely to be half the size you need. You will not have room and just have to freeze. Sacrifices and all that.

5. Get to swimming pool and see toddler hyperventilate at gigantic inflatable snowman bouncy castle there for winter.

6. Get inside, pay, take out any other family for the family-sized changing room. ESSENTIAL. Undress everyone, put on swim nappies. This procedure may involve a baby screaming as to why you’ve taken them to a place where the different lighting must cause their eyes to bleed mixed with their inability to understand why you’ve stripped them of their warm clothes.

7. Get to locker and realise cashpoint hadn’t issued £1 (obviously) but crap drawer in car might have one. Might. NB: Adults too at this point are semi naked.

8. Get to pool to realise everyone in your entire neighbourhood also decided to go swimming.

9. Watch the toddler go insane with glee, while the baby clings to you with sheer horror at the experience. Add a good hearty amount of the baby shaking to confirm your fears that he isn’t keen.

10. Move around the pool to “have fun”. Encourage the children to “swim” and “kick” while you see junior Rebecca Adlingtons and Tom Daleys do it so skilfully you want to dunk them. But don’t.

11. Watch the clock until you can legitimately leave.

12. Freeze immediately once out of the pool and once you’ve battled getting most of your life out of the locker realise there are no family changing cubicles free. Have mini argument with husband/wife/partner/home help that there is no way you can do this unless you have said changing room.

13. Nearly break your legs when running to the one you spot has become free.

14. Take what feels like four hours to dry and dress everyone. Feel smug again about the essentials you took that the support adult mocked you for bringing. “Mumma want a snack please” “Yes darling, I have one for you”. “Mumma dropped towel” “Don’t worry, plenty more here”.

15. Get into car. Spot inflatable snowman again and see pure joy from face of child.

16. Realise drive to car park to see snowman possibly would’ve made children happier than swimming.

17. Explain to support adult their lay in is going to mean a serious afternoon nap.


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