Water Play

September 19, 2022, Tiffany Newman

This summer, like many summers lately, has been a hot one! With these hot summers comes the need to find ways to cool off. Our family loves to play in the water, and I am not saying going to a lake or stream/river somewhere (which are also great options), I am talking about playing in the backyard. Now, because I have two young children who I must keep very close eyes on when playing near any water, it is much easier for me to give them a hose in the backyard and let them play with it. I found this to be the easiest way to keep them cool and allow them to play outside at home. We do not have any big or exciting items we can have them play in the water with, but I picked up a few things that have worked well for us.

Toddler playing in a water table in the backyard

I found a water table this summer while out going to garage sales (yes, I absolutely love going to garage sales and finding some of the best kid’s toys and items there). I was so excited about this because I knew they played with similar items at school and had been wanting to get one for the kids but did not want to pay the price for them brand new. So, of course, I picked it up and cleaned it off when I got home.   It was a hit from the very beginning. Carson loved helping me clean it out too, and playing in the water at the same time. Once I cleaned it, we filled it with water and let the kids play in it. It was an instant hit, and they spent hours outside playing in it and with the hose. This allowed me to sit back and relax, knowing that they were not in the water playing or in danger of drowning, but they were still having fun.

Carson and Caleb playing on a red slide into a small pool in their backyardI also picked up a very small swimming pool. This pool was maybe $12 on Amazon and can only fit one to two small children in it. The pool is not deep by any means, but it does hold some water. The kids love filling it up and just splashing around in it. Recently I took one of their small slides (that I also got at a garage sale) and set the slide in the pool. We take the hose and spray the slide down with water, and then they can slide down it and into the pool. Carson loves this, and he goes up and down that thing so many times. It is such a great way to get energy out of him. Caleb also enjoys it, but because he is not walking yet and is still very young, I am always holding on to him and helping him down. He mainly likes to just play with the hose and try and climb up the slide. Caleb also enjoys crawling in and out of the pool.

If you do not have access to a backyard or hoses, several places around the Albany/Corvallis area are great for young kids and families. We recently started going to the ‘Cool Pool’ and love it. The hours are a little challenging at times, but we go and spend 30 minutes to an hour playing in the pool and cooling off. This place is perfect for little kids because they have very shallow areas where young children can crawl around a play safely (with parental supervision, of course). They also have life vests available, or you can bring your own. It is completely outside, so sunscreen is highly recommended, and it can still be warm there. The ‘Cool Pool’ also is not too expensive and therefore is a great place when money is tight and you want to cool off your kiddos and get energy out of them. Highly recommend.

Young child facing away sitting in the Albany Cool Pool

One thing we have also started doing this summer is getting both kids into swimming lessons. I wanted to do this early with Carson but didn’t do it for some reason when he was an infant. Now, we have both Carson and Caleb in swimming lessons at the YMCA. They go twice a week and love it. We just moved Carson up to the next level, where he swims with swim instructors instead of us, and this has been a slight challenge, but I am hoping he will get used to it soon and be okay with not having us in the water. Caleb is in the class with other kids under two years old and swims with my husband or me. He is getting an introduction to water safety and just being in the water. He enjoys it most of the time. We are trying to get him to kick his legs and blow bubbles in the water. Most of the time, he just wants to put a toy in his mouth and look around. He has also learned not to suck in water when his head goes under water which is such a good thing. So, we will continue swim lessons so they may feel a little more comfortable in the water next summer and know what to do in certain situations. But, with any water play, whether in a pool, lake, or even just with water tables and hoses, always keep a close eye on children when they are playing in or near them and always make sure safety precautions, such as life vests, are used.