4. Distraction Reminders
I ask my kids to keep me accountable. They know either myself or my husband should be watching them at all times. We have told them that if we aren’t watching them, they need to get our attention and help us because as humans we get distracted naturally. I try to stay involved in their activity and also tried to keep my phone away, but I was still distracted with other kids, food, talking, you name it…life is full of distractions. I changed my tactic and downloaded a reminder app, and I set reminders for every minute. I turn my phone into airplane mode and then use the app. Every minute it alerts me and I have the notification say “Kids Breathing”, so I confirm my kids are ok and then clear the notification. Obviously, my goal is constant supervision, but sometimes my brain starts to wander to something I am thinking about and the notification checks me back in.
There are tons of campaigns about designating a “water watcher” with a specific tag indicating you have the responsibility of watching the water. I think these are great tools, and we also need to make sure the water watcher is not distracted. Alerts can keep you focused as long as you stay off your phone for all other purposes. I put my phone in airplane mode, but you can still have the tendency to look at. Be aware of your distractions both internal and external. If the phone is a distraction all together, maybe alerts aren’t for you. Find what works to keep you focused and stick with it for the entire swim time.
5. Designate Breaks
We swim for a designated time, usually 30 minutes, but it varies depending on where we are and the activity taking place. Regardless, we always have breaks. I need these breaks more than my kids. They would swim endlessly for hours if I let them, but they need to rest and so do I. As a lifeguard, we would rotate every 20-30 minutes with the premise being to give our minds a break and so we could stay fresh. The same thing applies to parental supervision. I need to use the restroom, I need to do other things, I need a break too! So, we give time warnings and take swim breaks. Sometimes the breaks are also unscheduled, if I have to make an emergency restroom visit or answer the door, everyone gets out, every time!
6. Limited Trust
This may sound harsh, but I don’t trust other people to watch my kids in the pool. It is me or my husband, that is it. If they are swimming at Grandma’s they have to wear a lifejacket. If they are going in the water at the beach on a board with their cousin, they have to wear a lifejacket. I see so many events where trust was placed in another person, watch my kids while I go do XYZ, or grandpa took them to the pool, or a neighbor invited them over. I may love these people, and they may love my children, but I don’t trust them, nor do I want them to have to own that responsibility if something were to happen to one of my kids in their care. It just isn’t worth it. Do my kids whine, yep. Do I care, nope! They know the other option is they just don’t go. Same goes for school pool parties and camps with water activities, it just isn’t worth it for me. Same goes for lifeguarded swimming areas. I know I am my kids’ primary source of supervision and the lifeguard(s) are there for back up and emergencies. I do not rely on them for basic supervision. I only have 2 children and I can supervise them much more closely than a lifeguard who has divided attention between 25 or more people.
7. Lifejackets are Cool
Culturally we seem to have a negative attitude towards lifejackets. I don’t think there is anything wrong with lifejackets, in fact, there are so many games and activities you can do with them. We just need to make them cool again. If there are a bunch of kids I’m watching, I’d rather have everyone be in a lifejacket. It can be a cousin lifejacket pool party. Having everyone in one makes it much “cooler” and doesn’t embarrass the littler kids or weaker swimmers. When I ran camps, even the counselors would wear them, be cool like them! Having rolling log challenges in the lifejackets, water balloon tossing contests, have relays to pass rings from your toes..the games are endless, and the safety is higher with everyone in a lifejacket. Now there are times that my kids will even say they would rather just be in a lifejacket. Awesome.