Thursday was the big day: Andrew completed his mini toddler triathlon in aid of Sport Relief. I said last week that I would blog about how it went, so here I am!
We set off just before 9am to Newbold Comyn Leisure Centre in Leamington for the aquatic bit. After filling in a form to give us permission to take photos, we got changed and Andrew kept his t-shirt on over his costume so we could take some photos with it on the poolside. He was keen to jump i, so while Granny got into position to take some action shots on her camera, the boys and I got into the pool at the ‘beach’ side, and made our way across to the side wall. Andrew swam with his noodle float all the way across to the other side and back again, encouraged by me a few steps ahead of him, holding Joel who was laughing him on too. Despite an almost detour around the island in the pool, he achieved two full widths of the pool, which is about 20m in total. After that we had our usual fun swimming, and Granny joined us in the water so we could each keep an eye on one boy whilst they were swimming and splashing.
When we’d finished, it was time for a quick refuel and then back home for some rest and lunch. Once we were ready again, we headed out to the Memorial Park in Coventry. Andrew’s task was to ride his bike over there, around the top field in the park, and back home again – approximately 1 mile in total. While we were there, he also completed his run – approximately 500m across the top field. This was the part that he needed the most encouragement for, I think he was getting tired, but I jogged too and cheered him on.
He can’t have been that tired though, because he still had an extra reserve of energy for his usual go on the playground too! This brought a welcome opportunity for Joel to burn some more energy too, as he’d been in the sling for the bike riding and running. We stayed at the park until it started to rain and everyone was getting worn out. Andrew completed his cycle home and then enjoyed a special treat snack and drink whilst chilling out on the sofa.
So there we go: one mini triathlon complete, one very tired but happy athlete having spent the day doing what he loves – burning energy in the pool and the park! And that’s what Sport Relief is all about – getting active, having fun, and raising life-changing cash.
If you’ve enjoyed reading about our 3 year old’s sporting challenge, please consider donating whatever you can to Sport Relief via our Just Giving page. To find out how the money will be spent by Comic Relief, have a look here. Thank you!
Also linking this post up, as usual, with the fab #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog.
This is my fourth and final post about what we got up to on holiday this summer. First I blogged about our day trip to Coombe Mill, then I wrote about our brilliant National Trust days out, and our days at the beach. This week’s post is all about the days we spent closer to home, visiting places that Tom went to as a child, and seeing how they’ve changed (or not!) down the generation.
The weather on the Thursday didn’t look too promising, so we decided to stick close to home and head to Plymouth Hoe for a walk around the sea front and go to the park on the west side of the Hoe area. Part of the fun was getting the boat across the Sound from Mount Batten to the Barbican rather than driving into the city centre. Andrew loved this experience, and was keen to sit on the top deck of the double decker ferry! When we got off the boat, we walked around the Hoe at toddler pace – he jogged and we followed! When we got to the lighthouse at the top, we stopped for a break and had a drink in the cafe, before carrying on to our special destination…. West Hoe Park, home of Gus Honeybun and his train.
Now I had never heard of Gus, a rabbit. Tom explained that he was the mascot for the local ITV broadcasting station back in the 1960s-1990s. There is a little train ride for kids in the park that to this day has Gus riding around on it. Just like his Daddy did years ago, Andrew was thrilled to see this train in action, and was keen to jump on and have go himself (at only 50p each I thought it was a bargain!) Train madness runs in the family.
Also at the park was a bouncy castle, which Andrew had fun on for a while, though we all decided that it was time for a picnic before he got over hungry – he still doesn’t quite get that you have to keep your energy up when running around outside, and if he’s not reminded to eat it all ends in tears, literally! After we’d replenished our energy, it was time for the playground, where both boys had a go on the swings and slides, and Andrew did some climbing.
He’d also spotted another part of the park that had rides and games suitable for toddlers to early teens – a crazy golf course, ride on cars and boats, remote control cars and boats, diggers, trampolines, and panning for ‘gold’. He really wanted to go on the boats, so the grandparents bought him some tokens and I volunteered to go on the boat with him – it was slightly more ‘spinny’ than I normally like, but he thought it was hilarious and his roars of laughter were enough to make me laugh out loud too! After that we explained that he had some more tokens so he could go on something else – he chose a ride on electric car. The sign said that young children should be accompanied by an adult, so Pop was volunteered to ride on with him (I was still recovering from the boat ride and Tom had Joel asleep on his back in the sling). Andrew chose a sports car, so Pop could sit on the spoiler at the back and help with the steering – that was the plan at least, but Andrew refused to let him help, so we watched a hilarious 5 minutes of Andrew pretty much singlehandedly driving a car around the track and Pop looking petrified!!
Having survived that ride, the next one he wanted to try was the diggers, and with a bit of help rom Daddy, he successfully scooped some gravel around the pit. After that he wanted to go back on the car track, so Grandad then had a turn with him, and then I was volunteered to go on one with him to use the last token we had. It was fun, if a little scary! But soon he was getting very tired, and had a rather loud tantrum at the fact that we wouldn’t let him slide down the final hole of the crazy golf course where other people were trying to play! So we encouraged him into the buggy for a ride in it to the boat, and he fell asleep as soon as we got home.
A couple of days later on the Saturday, our final day on holiday, the weather was also decidedly wet, and as we hadn’t been swimming yet all week, we knew this would be a good plan. Last year we’d enjoyed a good swim in the brand new Plymouth Life Centre, which has a 50m swimming pool, leisure pool and diving pool (Tom Daley’s home territory!), so we went there again. Unfortunately so had everyone else, understandably as it was a wet Saturday in holiday season, and the leisure pool was full with a waiting list for another hour or so. Instead we went into the main pool, which they had roped off into various sections – some for swimming lengths and some for families with kids to play in.
Both boys loved it, despite it not being the warmest of pools that they have swum in! Andrew had fun jumping in from the side repeatedly, and Joel was happy to kick around on his tummy whilst being passed between various family members. The boys’ uncle and aunts joined us too, so we were quite a party, and that meant that the adults could take it in turns to go and have a ‘proper’ swim, which I took full advantage of as I don’t get to go swimming for myself much these days and I miss it. There weren’t as many toys and floats as in the leisure pool, and Andrew kept asking if he could have some, but there were enough of us to distract him and keep things fun without the toys. Joel particularly liked it when I swam underwater and popped up in front of him suddenly – he jumped but laughed, several times!
The swimming pool is located in a large park called Central Park, and there is also a large playground with all sorts of climbing frames, swings, slides, water features, bouncers etc., which we had to go and try out too. Joel napped for this part of the morning, but Andrew was so excited with all the different things to do in the park. There was a notice board explaining that the playground had been designed to reflect the different continents in different sections of the equipment. I’d not seen this kind of plan behind a park before.
And that was the end of our summer holiday. We had a lot of fun, got up to lots of activities, and we’re already looking forward to going back next year and having some more adventures!
Linking up our adventures with the lovely Country Kids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog
Last weekend we were treated to a long weekend away courtesy of my parents as my birthday gift (it was a special number of birthday after all 😉 ) The destination was Germany, to visit mmy friend who I’ve known since we were paired up for the exchange that our schools organised when we were 14. We now both have families, and we don’t manage to write to each other as often as we once did, but we are still in touch and so are our families, who have visited each other on a few occasions in the past, including for each of our weddings.
Part of the present was for my parents to come with us for extra pairs of hands – I can’t imagine flying on our own with energetic 9 month old and 2 year old boys! So on Thursday, off we all travelled on our Germany adventure. We flew into Cologne/Bonn airport and hired a car to drive to our first location – a sleepy village in the Westerwald, home to my friend and her in-laws, about half way between Cologne and Frankfurt am Main. The area is beautiful, full of trees (Wald = forest), rolling hills and quaint villages. We stayed in the neighbouring village called Friedewald, in the old castle – yes that’s right, actually in the castle, which has been done up fairly recently (in the life span of the building at least) into a hotel. This was the perfect setting for us all.
On Friday (my birthday) we decided to go swimming because my friend, knowing how much we love it, recommended a pool that had very recently opened up in the nearest town – Loewenbad, Hachenburg. The weather was warm, muggy, overcast and occasionally drizzly, so we decided that swimming would be a great activity, especially as there was an outdoor pool as well as an indoor one at the complex. Plus we always take the opportunity to go swimming when we have extra pairs of hands because it can be quite a handful with both the boys, even with two of us adults.
We were very impressed when we arrived, there was something for everyone. There was a plain indoor pool where I could swim some lengths, as well as a gorgeous little padding pool with lovely warm water, just right for Joel. Andrew spotted the water slide outside, so he, Daddy and Grandad went outside to the slide and happily plunged into the cooling water. The little swimmer was slightly shocked by the temperature of the water as he came off the end of the slide, but was soon happy to do it again, and again, and again….! The outdoor pool was amazing: a plain pool as well as the slide and another bit for kids with a seal squirting water and even an outdoor heated paddling pool for babies which Joel enjoyed. The pool was set in a grassy area so there was plenty of space to play outside, sunbathe and eat a picnic if you wanted on a sunny day – the entrance fee was valid for a whole day, and was very reasonable considering you could spend a good day there. We had a birthday lunch planned back at the village, so just spent an hour or so there, going between the various parts of the pool between us. I haven’t been to an outdoor pool for a long time, and I was so glad that we all got to enjoy this outdoor swimming while the weather was warm enough.
Then on Saturday we headed about an hour and a half north to Hemer, the town where my friend’s parents still live, where I stayed for the original school trips before she moved south when she got married. It had been 10 years since I was last there, and the town has undergone quite a lot of regeneration. On Saturday late morning, just after we got there, we walked the short distance down into the town centre and the boys had fun on the new playground in the pedestrian zone. There is a blue ‘band’ with water in that runs down a slope around the playground; this was perfect for walking through and cooling off our hot feet, and both boys loved it. We spent the afternoon in the garden, and my friend’s sisters and their families came for Kaffee und Kuchen (German equivalent of afternoon tea). The kids had great fun playing with the various water toys, which included two water slides, a paddling pool, and some water shooters. We all got very wet once the toddlers realised that it was fun to get the parents and grandparents soaking as well as themselves. But we didn’t mind, it was so good to cool off in the heat.
On Sunday morning we headed across the town to a new attraction, the Sauerland Park. This was perfect for kids of all ages as well as their parents and grandparents for a fun family day out. We started off on the adventure playground, which is called “Zwergengold” (Dwarves’ Gold). It is made to look like a little dwarf town, set in the woods, and gives the impression of a little touch of magic about it. Andrew enjoyed this, and we all had a go on the twin log swing! Then we walked to the viewing tower, and those of us who weren’t afraid of heights or trying to get a tired baby to sleep without distractions climbed to the top to get an impressive view across the town and the Sauerland. Again Andrew was very impressed with this. Next we found an exercise area with outdoor gym equipment. We all had a go on a few things, and the trampolines were a big hit with young and old alike.
A walk further down the hill brought us to a sandy play area with water features. Next to it was a cafe so we bought some nice cool drinks and the adults sat and had a rest while Andrew played in the sand and Joel was just waking up from his nap. Andrew also spotted a carousel with various vehicles on it a bit further down the hill near the entrance/exit, so after playing in the sand we headed down there and he chose which vehicle he wanted to sit on – of course it was the fire engine! (Well actually he wanted to go on the tractor but another little boy had beat him to it!) Soon it was time to leave and get home for lunch with the extended family again so we could make our flight in the afternoon. As we walked to the exit there was a big paddling pool being filled with water, so we took our shoes off and had a quick splash through it on our way out – Andrew was particularly interested by the little boy who was riding his bike through the pool!
All in all we had an amazing time and thoroughly enjoyed our time in Germany. The weather was warm and mostly sunny which meant we had plenty of opportunity to get outside with the boys and the family we went to visit.
Next weekend we’re off to Devon to see Grandma and Pop – handy having the boys’ other grandparents living near the seaside – so I’m sure I’ll be back with more outdoor tales after that 🙂
Linking up with the amazing Country Kids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog
I’m trying to make sure that Joel goes swimming as often as possible. As I myself was a little water baby and have loved swimming for as long as I can remember, it means a lot to me to take my own babies swimming and get them confident in water. When Andrew was Joel’s age, we went swimming once a week together, sometimes more often. I know that second (and third/fourth etc.) children will never get the same experience as the first, and generally I accept that because I can see the good points of being the second as well as the bad. But if there’s one thing that gets to me, it’s not being able to take both boys swimming on my own.
We go as often as we can as a family as well as with grandparents whenever we’re with them, which seems to have worked out at once every 2-3 weeks since Joel was 8 weeks old. So I was particularly happy when the boys naps/feeds/meals conspired in our favour on Sunday afternoon and meant that we had a time to go swimming. Plus it was drizzling so we thought swimming was better than going for a walk anyway.
Now Joel is desperate to crawl. He can see his big brother (an advantage of being a second child) and clearly wants to follow him. So he has figured out how to go backwards and turn around on the spot and generally he lies on his front flapping his arms and legs A LOT! If I put him down on the floor on his back, he immediately rolls onto his tummy and starts his attempts to move (and conquer the world 🙂 ) Watch this video if you want to see some attempts to crawl on land, including leg kicks and arm flaps that would serve him well in a swimming pool, especially towards the end of the video.
We’ve been joking recently that he looks like he’s swimming on land, so it’s lovely to watch how he reacts in water when he’s on his tummy (again he doesn’t really like being on his back, just like on land). He does the same crawling action, flapping his arms and legs, which of course looks so good in water – baby crawl! In fact he looked more like an adult swimmer than his big brother who, as usual, was busy flitting between playing with different toys and being upright in the water a lot of the time rather than just swimming back and forth on his front.
Although it’s been a few weeks since our last swim, I was so pleased that both boys took to the water just like ducks, happy to splash and play in the pool. I think the most important point about swimming at this age is just to have fun and get used to the water, which we seem to be achieving, so that makes me happy too. Hopefully it won’t be long before we go again, probably the weekend after next, and Joel can show us some more baby crawl action!
When I started writing up our holiday, the blog post soon got too long. So here’s the second instalment about what we did in the second half of the week….
If you find yourself on holiday in the Northern Lake District with children, here are some ideas for activities that a family will enjoy, including places that are fun and allow children to let off steam in wet weather. I thought I’d also link up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill.
Again we awoke to the pitter patter of raindrops as well as little feet. But rain never stops play in the Lake District – it couldn’t, you’d never go anywhere if it did! We hung around at home for a bit longer than usual, waiting for hungry babies to feed and hoping the rain might ease off a little. It didn’t, so we headed to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Bowness. This was perfect for Andrew, and even his baby brother and cousin had a good crane of the neck out from the sling and buggy! He was fascinated by all the models of characters from her books, and we even got to walk round Peter Rabbit’s garden as the rain eased off. There was an activity trail too, which was a bit old for our kids, but would be great for school-age children.
After a browse of the gift shop and a souvenir present from Granny and Grandad, we drove back up along Windermere to Brockhole visitor centre where we ate our picnic in the sheltered picnic area – so very British 🙂 Apart from the indoor bit of the centre which has a nice cafe and tells you all about the Lake District’s history and geography, there is quite an extensive parkland on the shore of Windermere, with an adventure playground for kids, paths for walking for all ages, and a treetop trail (a bit like Go Ape) for adults.
Nap-time today was spent in the car, starting on the journey home and ending after a while sat on the drive with Daddy in the passenger seat having a nap too. Our evening meal was out at Keswick’s bargain curry house during happy hour. Andrew charmed the socks off the waiters, and impressed them with his appetite and love of spicy food – when ordering a kids portion of medium-heat chicken curry for him, I was warned that the spice would be too much, but he wolfed it down.
As this was forecast to be the best day for weather all week, we decided to venture further afield to Ravenglass and ride on a steam train at the Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway. According to their website, it is “Lakeland’s oldest, friendliest and longest most scenic railway”, a narrow gauge one with fully functioning miniature steam trains. Andrew is into trains, particularly Thomas the Tank Engine, big time at the moment, so he was so excited to watch them at the station and then ride on one himself; on the return leg the train of carriages was pulled by a blue engine just like Thomas!
When we arrived at the other end of the line, we had a quick picnic on the rather windy area of grass behind the station, and then went on a walk down to a little church down by the river in the valley. Before we boarded to ride back to Ravenglass, Andrew and the babies got some badges for having a go at the activity pack that was given to children on the train. I added ‘on a narrow gauge steam train’ to my (mental) list of places where I’ve fed a baby!
As we drove home, the boys slept and the sunshine decided to come out properly, giving us lovely blue-sky views across the mountains in the distance, including Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England (which we climbed together as a family on a hot sunny day when I was a child on holiday in the Lake District).
To make up for the disproportionate amount of sun the day before, we had nothing but rain, rain and more rain! Granny and Grandad were happy to walk with Andrew into the town in the morning, and go to the park all togged up as well as dry off in a cafe afterwards. I needed to keep moving with Joel in the sling (with rain cover) so that he would go to sleep, so Tom and I had a pleasant, if damp, walk along the Keswick Railway Footpath. We got half-way along this disused railway which runs between Keswick and Threlkeld, an ancient settlement which became a mining area in the 20th century; we turned back after a 45 minute walk from Keswick because I knew Joel would want to feed in a little while.
The beer connoisseurs in the family fancied a lunchtime pint, so we headed up the road to the local pub less than a minute’s walk away and had a warming lunch. Nap-time at home was followed by playing with toys and games in the living room, watching the rain through the window. The day finished with us listening to the howling gale outside, rattling the old sash windows as we fell asleep.
With the promise of better weather, we made the short journey to Whinlatter Forest Park, where we played on the adventure playground and went for a walk through the woods and down, round, and back up the hill. It had been so windy the night before that there were bits of tree everywhere: branches that had fallen off, one which had to be chopped off just before we walked past because it was was hanging off precariously, and even a whole tree that had come down across the path, which we had to climb over with two buggies and two sleeping babies (one in a buggy and one in a sling attached to me) – that was quite an adventure in itself! The Forestry Commission, who manage the park, were out and about clearing up and sorting out all the damage to trees.
Having walked up an appetite, we had a lovely homemade cake in the cafe, which unfortunately had no power, we think due to a tree falling through cables, so they could only do tea and coffee by boiling water on the gas hob rather than with the electric coffee machine. We headed home for lunch, packing and naps. Later in the afternoon, we nipped over to the park, where Andrew got the hang of swinging his legs with the rhythm of the swing, copying Daddy’s movements on the swing next to him. For our final evening we had a pub dinner just up the road, a great night to end a lovely holiday.
Places to visit on twitter
The World of Beatrix Potter Arrtraction: @BeatrixPotter
Last week we had our annual spring holiday in the Lake District. It’s very handy for us that my parents have a holiday home up there, which they let out for much of the year, but also take weeks for themselves and family. This time the four of us went up with my parents and my brother and family – 6 adults and 3 kids – good job the house sleeps 10. It is situated in Keswick, which is in the northern Lakes on the northern shore of Derwent Water.
There are plenty of activities for the whole family in and around Keswick and further afield. As we had 2 babies with us who are feeding quite a lot still, we couldn’t easily be on the go for too long at a time, so we did a mixture of very local outings and some which required more travel, of course with frequent feeding stops throughout the day. I kept a mini diary of what we did, and here it is written up in (hopefully) intelligible form along with photos. If you find yourself on holiday in the northern Lake District with children, here are some ideas for activities that a family will enjoy, including places that are fun and allow children to let off steam in wet weather. I thought I’d also link up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.
Having travelled to my parents’ home in Coventry on the Thursday evening, we set off up north after breakfast. We had one of the easiest journeys up there that we’ve ever had. We stopped twice at services for toilet/food/drink; the second stop was at the Tebay services on the M6 – this is like no other service station that I have ever visited. Secretly I was quite pleased when Joel started whinging for food not far from it, because I knew that Andrew would be in his element in the soft-play area, which would help him let off some steam during an otherwise sedentary day in the car.
On this occasion I spent most of the stop in the car, as that seems to be the most reliable place to get Joel to feed. But Tom sampled the deliciousness of the cafe, which prepares fresh snacks and meals using lots of local produce – I’ve tasted it before and was very impressed, not like your average bacteria in a bun or cardboard sandwiches at services! The highlight of my trip there this time was the family changing room, which was clean and easily fitted the four of us, with a spacious change table for Joel, a little person’s toilet and wash basin for Andrew and an adult-sized toilet and wash basin too; this kind of thing makes such a difference when you’re travelling long distances with little ones.
When we arrived in Keswick, Andrew set about exploring the house, which we think he vaguely remembered from last year. Despite having slept quite a bit in the car, the boys were tired come dinner time, so a quick bath and into bed was the next step. Tom and I then went for a short wander through the town for a leg stretch and fresh air whilst Granny and Grandad babysat. It felt very weird to be on our own without the kids.
After the car journey the day before, we all decided that staying very local was the order of the day. A leisurely get up, involving Andrew going in to Granny and Grandad’s bed to play with the iPad and listen to music, was followed by a relaxing breakfast. We then headed down to the lake, which is about 15 minutes walk from the house. The land around Derwent Water is managed by the National Trust, and in particular we like the area called Friar’s Cragg, a rocky outcrop where you get some stunning views of the lake and surrounding hills. We were not disappointed by the views there on that day.
We also stopped to look at the ducks on the pebbly beach where the rowing boats are available for hire, and Andrew had great fun running after them. He kept shouting “ducks running away” as he followed them around, as if he was surprised by this cause and effect! As the weather was fairly warm and bright, we stopped for a coffee and cake at a lovely cafe overlooking the lake and even sat outside.
In the afternoon we went back home for lunch and then Andrew napped and the rest of us rested. Later on we nipped back into the town to have a mooch around the market which sells all sorts of things from food to crafts to old books to clothes. Amazingly all three children were in a good mood and not feeding/sleeping at the same time just before dinner, so Grandad got his camera out and we had a family photo shoot with some cute results.
We woke up to pouring rain, the kind that soaks you through in just the seconds that it takes you to run to the car to pack it up! So to get our fill of exercise and fun we headed to Penrith leisure centre for a family swim. The small pool was perfect for the little ones, and the adults took it in turns to swim some lengths – I did a quick 30 lengths which was great as I don’t get much chance to swim properly these days. Whenever we’re with family we take advantage of the extra pairs of hands and get as much swimming in as possible so that Joel’s experience is as close as possible to Andrew’s at this age – we used to go once a week but I can’t take them both on my own now.
On the drive back we stopped at Reghed Centre – what’s that? In their words: “Well, we are a number of things really, but the four things we pride ourselves in is being a destination for family, food, the outdoors and arts & culture.” It’s actually run by the same people that run Tebay services (Westmorland Ltd). The two things we went for were lunch – a yummy freshly cooked selection of mains and lighter bites (I’d definitely recommend the flatbreads) – and soft play – Andrew adores this at the moment he’s just like a Duracell bunny going up and down and round the play area again and again.
Worn out, we headed home, and after quite a late nap to recharge the bunny’s batteries, we nipped over to the park opposite the house as it had stopped raining by then.
To be continued in another post…..(this one got too long!)
Places to visit on twitter
Tebay services and Rheged: @tebayservices
The National Trust: @nationaltrust
Penrith Leisure Centre: @Penrithleisure
I’m linking up with Country Kids over at Coombe Mill’s blog.
At Christmas we went swimming as a family of four and Joel enjoyed his first swim at just 8 weeks old. One of the main ways in which I’m aware that he is getting a different experience in life as a second child compared to Andrew is that he’s not getting to go swimming every week like Andrew did from the same age. Of course I know that this is inevitable and in many ways they cannot have the same experience as each other, but this doesn’t stop me trying to make things as similar as possible for them both when it comes to fun and important things like learning to swim.
So I’ve taken every opportunity possible to get to the swimming pool with them both. This has mainly been on Saturday afternoons after Andrew wakes up from his nap and the four of us head down the road to our handily very local pool. There are only two time slots a week that we can make it when the pool is open to general public swimming rather than lessons – Saturday and Sunday afternoons from about 4pm to 6pm – and annoyingly on the morning that Tom has off work each week there are lessons on all morning. But our efforts have been hampered somewhat since the new year as two weeks in a row our local pool let us down: once there was a gala on at another pool in the city so our local pool was crowded and although they were limiting numbers, they didn’t have a time limit on sessions, so after a half hour wait with no sign of being the next to get in, we gave up and went home, trying to explain to a disappointed toddler why we couldn’t go swimming that day; the following week was the week of heavy snow and the boiler at the pool was broken, so the water was cooler than normal – Andrew and I braved a quick dip but it wasn’t suitable for Joel, who stayed in the warm poolside cafe with Daddy. Our efforts to go swimming have also been hampered by illness once, and we’re put off going too often by the price – you don’t get much change from a tenner for the four of us, and that’s even with both kids being free still until the age of 3 years. I used to be a member as this worked out cheaper if I went just twice a week to get my money’s worth, but for the time being I don’t often have chance to get swimming on my own.
But this week we’ve well and truly had our fill of swimming, as we’ve managed ti go twice in the space of a few days. How? With grandparent help! First Granny and Grandad (my parents) arrived one morning, and when Joel was ready having finished feeding, we piled our swim kits and ourselves into their car and headed to the pool. Andrew was doubly excited! Not only was he going swimming, which he kept repeating “sweemming, sweemming!”, but he was going swimming with Granny and Grandad – it was like Christmas and birthday had come around again. It was so handy to have 2 extra pairs of hands for getting everyone ready and into the pool.
As we got in – or I should say jumped in with excitement in Andrew’s case – Joel wasn’t too happy. I was surprised about this as he’s loved it every other time we’ve been, but he seemed to calm down when Grandad took him for a little while, and then Granny got out for a little while and wrapped him up snuggly in her towel until he seemed much happier. When they got back in again he was fine, and started to enjoy it. I think it may have been some wind, or that he was quite tired or a bit out of sorts from his immunisations the day before, but I’ve given up trying to fathom the mind and logic of babies and toddlers!
Once I had seen that Andrew was having fun with Grandad and Joel had calmed down, I took the opportunity to have a proper swim myself, which I haven’t done since the afternoon before Joel was born in the night, in my attempts to kickstart labour with various methods that are supposed to be effective, including swimming breast stroke. It felt great to be back in the water, and I was quite surprised at how fast I could go and not get too worn out, as I thought I would be unfit after not swimming for a while – I guess my general fitness is kept up by all the walking I do pushing a buggy and wearing a baby on my front, which mounts up to an hour to two hours every day. I’m looking forward to when I’ll have a bit more opportunity to grab a regular swim for myself in the week, either in an evening or at a weekend, when Joel isn’t attached to me for quite so many hours in a day!
After we’d all had enough fun, though Andrew was less easy to convince that he’d had enough than Joel was, Granny got out with Joel and the rest of us followed a little later. A relatively easy change session later and we were good to go. Joel and I went home to feed, and Andrew got a further treat by going to the cafe in the supermarket to get a drink and cake with Granny and Grandad, after which they helpfully did the shopping. That was the end of round one of our swimming adventures for the week. Round two started a few days later when Grandma and Pop (Tom’s parents) turned up a few days later, complete with their swimming kits.
Again getting ready was a doddle compared to when there’s a ratio of 1 adult to 1 child. We then jumped into the pool, some of us more literally than others, and this time Joel was happy straight away, which confirmed my suspicion that the previous occasion’s unhappiness was due to some external factor not the swimming itself. There was splashing, splishing and general fun had by all, particularly by Andrew and his male grandparent as there had been a few days before. He was particularly fascinated by a rocket toy (he loves watching rocket launches on youtube!) that was heavy so sank to the bottom if he dropped it – and Andrew was keen on this too 😉
I too got to have a quick swim myself in the colder, sorry I mean bigger pool. Joel even got a few dunkings this time, and mostly came out of the water looking pretty happy if somewhat bemused, except once when he swallowed some water and didn’t look too pleased. Oh well, it all turned out fine after a few coughs and splutters. The pool seemed even warmer than usual, and its usually pretty warm, so we were able to stay in quite a while with Joel. But eventually it was time to get out, and again convince Andrew it was time to get out. We were soon ready to head home and enjoy a good meal having worked up an appetite swimming.
So that’s a round up of this past week’s swimming activity in our family. We’ve all really enjoyed ourselves, and can’t wait to get back in the pool soon – maybe this weekend if we get chance when we go to my parents’ for a family gathering on the Sunday.
Happy New Year! As much as I love writing, it was lovely to have a good break from it over the past week or so, and spend time relaxing at my parents’ house where Andrew was well entertained and pretty much all I did was feed Joel, chat with family and friends and get as much sleep as possible. This was exactly what I needed after looking after two under 2s for the best part of 6 weeks.
There was one more thing that I did though, and that was take Joel swimming for the first time. At 8 weeks old, I decided that it was definitely time to hit the water with him, given that I went even earlier, at 6 weeks, with Andrew – this is one of a few things that I feel bad about Joel getting a different experience from Andrew due to the fact that he’s a second child and I can’t take both of them on my own. Since Tom wasn’t working and we had a rather wet and miserable morning to ourselves, we headed down to the pool in the centre of Coventry. This took me back to days gone by when I used to spend quite a bit of time training there as a member of the City of Coventry swim club. It hadn’t changed much, although we went in the family splash pool instead of the Olympic pool where I used to train.
To begin with I took charge of Joel and Tom took charge of Andrew. There is a nice shallow bit in the family pool, which meant I could sit down on the floor of the pool and the water came just to my waist. I then held Joel out in front of me, lying him on his back on my forearms stretched out away from my body. I swooshed him gently from side to side and let him feel the flow of the water around him. He definitely liked it, and gave me some big smiles to prove it; he’s always liked the bath and never cried getting into it, so I was hoping for the same reaction here and that’s what I got! After about 10 minutes, Andrew asked if I could take him swimming, so Daddy and I swapped roles, and Andrew and I made our way into the big bit of the pool so that we could go round and round in the gentle rapids together, which he loved.
Joel lasted another 10 minutes or so, until he was clearly wanting a feed again – it’s hungry work this swimming thing! So I got out with him and my other boys carried on in the pool, or, to be precise, on the children’s slide in the shallow bit of the pool. Apparently Andrew spent most of the next half an hour going up and down that slide continuously! It was a successful trip all round, and I’m glad that Joel has had his first dunking in one of his Mummy’s favourite places to be. We’re going to go at weekends to our local pool, the four of us, so that Joel can experience swimming as a baby as similarly as possible to how Andrew did as a baby.
I said aaaaaages ago (here) that I would write a post with tips for going swimming with a baby – not so much the actual swimming, but more the practicalities of getting into and out of the pool, as I covered the swimming itself in a previous post. But with one thing and another (mainly being pregnant again and having another baby!) I didn’t get round to it. So I thought I’d share some thoughts here on the matter. I have to say that we’re very lucky that we live so near the local pool (those of you who know me well won’t be surprised to know that proximity to a swimming pool was high on the list of what made our flat’s location so attractive that we bought it). This in itself makes going swimming with a baby much easier than if we didn’t live so near, and the pool is very baby- and family-friendly in general, with quite a few big changing cubicles with baby change pull-down tables and chairs to strap them in whilst you’re getting changed yourself. Also, the water in the small pool is always just the right temperature, nice and warm for little bodies (though sometimes I’ve found it a little too warm for me, but then I’m used to the colder water of the big pool!) Obviously you might not be quite so lucky in location, but here are some tips for a fun and hopefully not too stressful swim….
Find a leisure centre with a warm water pool – babies are sensitive to temperature even more than we are, and they are more likely to enjoy it if they are nice and warm.
Make sure there are big changing cubicles, which have a place to put your baby, such as a change table (if they’re not rolling yet), a chair (if they are rolling) or a playpen – you’ll need somewhere to put them whilst you’re changing yourself.
Pack your bag well in advance of when you go, whenever you get a spare 5 minutes, maybe the night before, especially if your baby feeds a lot during the day (like mine both have); that way you can more easily get up and go whenever they are ready.
Wait for a short while after feeding to get in the water, although some baby sick in the pool is inevitable and these days chlorination is tough on germs without being too tough on baby skin, so don’t be too concerned about timings here.
Pack your bag strategically, with things easy to get at – I put costumes and swim nappies at the top, towels in the middle, and clean nappies for afterwards at the bottom. I don’t take my usual change bag but instead have a small bag inside my swim bag that has nappies/wipes etc. which always stays in that bag so I don’t forget to take both a swim bag and a change bag.
Make sure you have a coin for the locker easily accessible, maybe in a side pocket on your bag – juggling a baby, a bag and a purse whilst getting out a coin stood in front of a locker is not an advisable sport!
Don’t forget swim nappies and clean nappies for afterwards – I take 2 of each kind in case of disasters! We have reusable swim nappies, but I take a spare disposable as well in case anything goes wrong before we get in the pool.
Take your baby’s towel through to the poolside so you can put it on them immediately after getting out the pool, otherwise they may well protest at being removed from warm water into colder air.
Don’t worry about having a shower at the pool – I find it much easier to dry off there and then come back home for a proper bath and shower later. If you’re worried about chlorine on the skin (though it’s much milder than once upon a time), you can always have a rinse in a poolside shower before getting changed.
Try to relax as much as possible, even if you find the first few times rather stressful until you get well practised at it, because your baby is likely to pick up on stress and let you know about it, making for a potentially not very fun swim.
Well there you go, my thoughts on making going swimming with a baby fun and enjoyable. If you have any further ideas, why not comment below – I’ve probably forgotten something, and I’d love to hear other people’s tips too.