In Chicago, we’re only at the mid-point of summer break, so there’s still plenty of time to the soak up the sun. Don’t let the back-to-school displays make you think otherwise.
We’re only midway through and I’m cherishing these days.
Summertime in my family means lots of days spent at the pool, lake, and beach.
These type of days require packing a bag.
If you’re packing for more than one, that bag is often stuffed to the brim. Last summer, my beach bag was dragging me way down and I was limping around as if carrying a 30-pound toddler on my hip.
If your lovelies are three and under, c’est la vie. But if your kiddos are out of swim diapers, it doesn’t have to be that way.
I don’t want you to be as late to this party as I was, so I’m sharing with you what I learned this spring. I may have been even later to this party if my girls hadn’t received the perfect presents for their birthdays from friends who happen to be sisters.
The gift was striped straw beach bags and matching towels. (It’s a winning gift, n’est-ce pas?)
The gift inspired me to put the girls in charge of their own pool essentials. Because of this gift, I’m walking upright and on sunshine this summer
I’m loving that the girls are in owning what’s in their bags. It teaches them how to be organized and self-sufficent, which really means I get to spend more time this summer being a ’70s mom.
Pool Bags for Everyone is the Ticket on that ’70s Mom Train
The Bag: I used to pack up this Land’s End tote every time we hit the pool and it was oh so heavy. The extra large bag was critical when the girls were smaller, but now that I’m less of a camel and more of a ’70s mom, the bag is no longer my daily shoulder strain.
Now I use a stylish shoulder tote and the girls have their own striped bags. They are in charge of their pool essentials and my tote is big enough for mine plus some backup items (see below), and a couple two-three towels (no one wants to dry off with a soaking towel – and it’s happened more than once).
Once each child has his or her own bag, there are essential items for each bag. Many of these items can stay in the bag all summer long. This simple organization can mean spending a mere 10 minutes re-loading as opposed to an half an hour of scrambling for the pool essentials.
What this really means is 10 more minutes of sipping my morning coffee while the girls watch a show on their iPads. Once again, ’70s mom on the loose.
9 Items that are Housed in My Girls’ Beach Bags
1. Towel. Each girl has one towel and if it’s a swim-lesson day, two. I taught the girls how to roll their towels to maximize space and how not to put their undies inside – to insure the Olaf print doesn’t land on the pool deck (been there, scarred for life). We store clean towels in a stack on the shelf in our laundry room. But since we swim almost daily, I usually just pull towels from the drier and plop them in their bags.
2. Wallet. This contains their pool pass ID and their fake money for the snack shop (Btw, the pool allowance plan is working like a charm).
Each girl has one bag and I have a few – my wallet, plus a bag for wet suits, one for pool toys, and another for extras (like googles and my oldest’s epi-pen). The girls are growing in independence, but since I’m still the mom, I’m in charge of the snacks and the extras – towel, undies in case they forget, hair ties and band-aides, the game Spot-It, and pool toys. Two summers ago, I bought a three pack of monogrammed multi-sized zipper pouches from Land’s End, but I didn’t see them on the website this year. Instead I can tell you that I’m coveting this one and these – perhaps a splurge once this summer season is over and there’s a sale.
3. Sunscreen – This one is a no brainer, but it’s what you may only expect in the parent’s bag. Nope! Once my girls could at least partially apply sunscreen, I let them have at it. They can do their own arms, legs, and faces easy breezy. Each girl has a bottle of 30 SPF for the body and a stick for the face. I got tired of all of goop on my fingers and thought they were old enough to lend a hand. I watch as they apply and help out for the hard-t0-reach places, such as suit lines. My youngest even puts in on my back – how’s that for winning.
(Btw, did you know that you can use your flexible healthcare spending account for sunscreen? That’s at least $80 a season that’s pre-tax, so why not.)
4. Sunglasses. I like to double check they each have a pair because I can’t stand it when they ask to borrow mine. Of course, as the mommy, I dole mine over and put on my baseball cap, but I prefer it when my eyes aren’t burning from squinting.
5. Goggles. They each have their own, but I keep an extra one in my bag in case a strap snaps. It’s hard to dive to the bottom sans goggles.
6. Brush. Clumpy, chlorine-infused hair is the worst, especially if it dries before a brush hits it. Both girls also have mini bottles from Target to keep shampoo and conditioning spray.
7. H20. Hydration is critical on hot summer days and swimming can be quite a workout. I pack one plastic bottle filled with ice-cold water in each bag. Yes, they still need a reminder or two to drink plenty of water during swim breaks, but having their own bottle helps.
8. Homework, er, Something to read. Sometimes the girls need to take a break from the sun and chillax under the umbrella. Other times one has a swim lesson while the other is waiting. These are the perfect times for Veronica to read from her chapter book or Stella to do some work in her first-grade summer packet. (Keep an extra pencil handy). I have a book for myself too, but for me it’s still wishful thinking to get much reading now. I’m satisfied if I can read a page or two while my husband is paddling with the girls in the pool.
9. Dry Clothes. My girls are not opposed to sitting on a towel for 20 minutes on the expressway, but dry clothes are nice if you plan to stop at the grocery store before home.
Once home, the goal is for everyone to empty their bags of what needs replenishing – towels, swimsuits, and water bottles – and hang the bags on their hooks.
I’m still working on this one. It’s 80 percent me* who unpacks the bags and 100 percent me* who heads to the laundry room, but I’m one step closer to being that ’70s mom and at least my shoulders feel relaxed.
*or my husband. You can absolutely substitute dad for mom in this piece.