Kids Swimming Lessons

This post is inspired by a question from a lovely reader. You can see some other answers to questions from readers here.

You talk about taking the kids to swimming lessons and was wondering (a) how do you take five kids swimming?? and (b) what tips do you have to make it easier?

This year it is only four kids as my eldest is in secondary school and has a different timetable and doesn’t join us at swimming any more. But before I answer the question, I will give you a bit of background on us and swimming lessons. Firstly, don’t think you HAVE to do them. Don’t read this post and think “I must enrol my kids in swimming lessons” because that certainly isn’t the point of this post.

Up until our fifth baby was born, the kids mainly did swimming lessons in the school holidays. They would do a week intensive where we would go swimming every day. That was working well for us. At the end of 2008, as is our habit, we re-evaulated what activities the kids where doing. School age kids could do up to two activities a week. The older boys were doing jiu jitsu and cricket. At our review they informed me that in Term 1 2009, they wanted to do swimming lessons. My thoughts on this – “Great!!! I will have a new born baby and four other kids to take swimming each week – oh joy!”

We have now been doing weekly swimming lessons every week for the school age kids, the preschooler paddles about and since he was about a year old, the toddler hops in as well. While it is a bit of hard work, over the last couple of years, I have worked out some ways to make it easier for all of us.

I have had success with two different strategies when it comes to swimmng lessons for the kids:

Go later

When we started swim lessons in 2009, we were late to the party in booking in our times. I wanted to have the three school kids in the pool, having their lessons at the same time. The only time available was 5.30pm on a Monday evening. To make this work we used to run swim nights like this:

  • 3.30pm – kid’s home from school and have a piece of fruit
  • 3.45pm – do reading and homework, get changed into swim gear
  • 4.45pm – eat dinner
  • 5.30pm – swimming lessons
  • 6.15pm – healthy snack in the car on the way home

The pool isn’t so crowded either at this time, so it is easier to manage the little ones in the water. Downside is, is that it is very cold and dark in winter. I didn’t change the kids at the pool. I bought them all warm dressing gowns and they just pop those on and we go straight home to shower.

Go early

This term, one of the kids needed to go up a level, which meant to have them all together we needed to swap our times. The only time available was 4pm on a Thursday afternoon. I was very hesitant about how well this would work, because it could be a rush to get us there on time and being towards the end of the week, the kids are more tired.

So far, I am liking this set up a lot:

  • 3.15pm – My turn to do school pick up, drop some other lovely kids home and head straight to the pool. I have an afternoon snack for the kids to eat on the way.
  • 3.45pm – time for a short play before the lessons. Pool is completely deserted at this time!
  • 4.00pm – lessons
  • 4.45pm – home, generally to a ready meal in the slow cooker

Again the pool isn’t too busy at this time. The busy time at our pool seems to be 4.30 – 5.30pm. I am absolutely preferring to have swimming later in the week. It makes the start of the week seem calmer with out it cluttering it up. Downside is the timing is pretty tight. I need to have lots organised before I do school pick up and I need to get the kids to get their swimming gear ready in the morning.

So do you do swimming lessons with your kids and if you do, what do you do to make it easier?

And if you are worried about the “Wait a half hour after eating before you can safely go swimming” rule – it is a myth.