I remember being in 4th grade when our family purchased a swimming pool. I have so many fond memories of playing mermaid and dolphin trainer in that pool. We would even hold Olympic events like water gymnastics and relay races, which of course my big brother always seemed to win. When my brother and I left the “nest,” my parents decided to sell their pool and add some beautiful landscaping, along with a waterfall to fill the open space in their backyard. I will admit though, once I became a mom, I missed our family pool – especially for the sake of my kids. I am happy to report, however, that our kids have had plenty of water-play experience nonetheless. If you are a family without a pool, don’t fret, you can still get outdoors and splash away with your little ones this summer.
One of the most important parts of motherhood is finding your “tribe” – a group of fellow parents with kids close in age - this could be family and/or friends. It is because of my mom friends, that my kids have access to swimming pools each summer. My brother and sister-in-law have a beautiful pool and are kind enough to open it to us all summer long. We also live in a townhouse community and have the availability to utilize our community pool as well, which is a great option. In fact, as residents, we are allowed to invite a certain number of guests with us each summer. I would even consider the YMCA in the future, as their pool is indoors. Chat with your “tribe” and see who has a pool and if they are willing to open it up to your family for a pool day. Offer to supply the poolside food and beverages as a ‘thank you.’ That’s a win-win for everyone.
Creativity is key when you are looking for ways to get your little ones splashing through the summer. As mentioned earlier, we live in a townhouse community, therefore we do not have yard space for even a water table in our backyard. We learned last summer that the kids absolutely love when we wash our vehicles in the driveway, so we put them in their swimwear and let them “help” wash the cars, then sprinkle them with water – they love it! We have spent plenty of days at my parents, and although they do not have a pool anymore, the kids really enjoy playing in their waterfall. They have set up a water table, a blow-up pool and even squirt guns, so there are always plenty of options. On special occasions, my aunt will even bring over water balloons and the kids go wild (and even some adults too)! I remember last summer; my mom filled a clear storage tote up with water and my son and daughter thought it was the best thing ever. I also learned that day to always pack a swim diaper and wet bag in my diaper bag because it’s usually the days you do not plan for the kids to be in the water, they end up soaked.
There are also plenty of local options to explore when it comes to kid’s water play. As a Pittsburgh native, I have plenty of friends who love our Children’s Museum because they have a whole floor in the museum dedicated to water fun. Not too far from us is a wonderful children’s theme park called ‘Idlewild & SoakZone’ that includes a children’s water park which has made our summer bucket list. Facebook can also be a useful tool; I just recently saw an advertisement for a nearby splash park in a neighboring town, I had no idea was there. Another great option is checking out your closest city for events in the summer. Pittsburgh has 3 rivers, so they always have water fountain shows when you go out to eat near the rivers – our kids always enjoy them!
My final recommendation is visiting a local beach, river or lake. We do not live near a beach but love taking the kids on vacation to the Outer Banks, which is a beautiful family-friendly environment. I have plenty of friends who take their little ones boating on the local rivers, I am hopeful to take our family on a boat in the next few years. I have also been told that a nice day-trip to Lake Erie can be an inexpensive way to enjoy the beach for a shorter period of time.
I hope these ideas inspire you to get out this summer and get your whole family splashing! I would have never known about all of our water play options, had we not been without a pool of our own. I am grateful that we have found ways to cool off in the summer heat while having a blast and making memories to cherish for years to come.