When my sister was pregnant with her first child she was full of excited plans, making lists of how she would spend her maternity leave, and all the things she would do and accomplish during her 9 months ‘off’ work.
In those amazing pre-child moments, you are completely naive to the realities of what life will be like when your gorgeous little baby arrives, and it is a lovely time to experience.
I had 4 children of my own and 2 step-children by this point, so I knew that her dreams may not be her reality but I certainly did not want to burst her bubble when she would excitedly tell me everything she was going to do (including baby sign language) I just smiled and said ‘that will be great’ and joined in with her enthusiasm.
This one story has been told a million times before. It is the good old ‘swimming post’. Every blogger will have one, and they are hilarious. The dreams versus the reality of taking your wonderful offspring into a public swimming pool.
Out of all my sisters excited plans, going swimming for the first time with her baby was top of her list. There she would be, scrolling through all the search engines checking at what age it was safe for her to take her baby on his first aqua adventure.
Her plan was to take him swimming once a week to our local pool and wanted me to join her with my youngest who was now a toddler. I didn’t want to dampen her spirit by saying I would rather watch ‘show me show me’ on a 48 hour loop than commit to taking my toddler swimming once a week, but she seemed so happy and hopeful that I just agreed that this would be a fantastic idea.
By the time her new baby had all his injections and was allowed to go swimming my youngest was about 18 months old. We picked a day to go, and so it started that her dream scenario of idyllic swimming with her baby slowly got shattered piece by piece, and a big fat dose of the reality behind swimming with babies came into play. (And I felt guilty because I knew it was coming)
Dream vs Reality
The dream: Let’s go swimming about 10am in between breakfast and lunch so baby should be alert and happy to play.
The reality: The baby has been up all night with disturbed sleep and has decided to go into a deep slumber about 9.15am. To rouse and wake the baby she tries to change his bum, which during the night instantly turns him into a screaming grump, but try this during the day when she actually wants him to wake up he does not stir one bit and stays peacefully asleep.
The dream: She puts his swim nappy on under the all-in-one swim suit before she goes so she can get straight into the pool with no messing around. A great idea and I also do this with my toddler.
The reality: The baby has been screaming all the way to the pool car park and when we arrive the swim nappy is full to the brim with pee and poo (those things don’t hold much) she has to change him completely and even wipe the excess poo from his swim suit! The toddler has also decided that she needs to have a poo in her swim nappy so we are in the changing room which is freezing cold, full of mothers and other screaming children trying to deal with poomageddon.
We haven’t even got near the waters edge and to be honest I have had enough already! I feel stressed and look like a beached whale in my swimsuit. Both babies are crying their heads off and I’m getting a migraine. (My sister is holding on to the hope that once we are in the pool it will be a lovely therapeutic experience for them) The reflection staring back in the mirror, which I swore I wouldn’t look at, has already decided it won’t be for me!
The dream: We all walk into the pool with smiles on our faces looking forward to what is to come with two excited children eager to get splashing.
The reality: Baby is still screaming because he’s tired after his sleepless night and my toddler has run towards a rubber ring someone had left on the side of the pool and slipped right over on her bum and now she is crying her head off!
It’s nearly 11.30 by now.
The dream: Once we enter the water the children will be over joyed and quickly start having fun.
The reality: We enter the pool pretty much feeling the most stressed you can be as the crying continues. The baby-floating device we bought didn’t say that you needed a University degree to work out how to get the legs through the tiny holes and it takes two of us trying to wrestle with the screaming baby just to get him in.
The dream: We all float around for half and hour while the children enjoy the water and feel smug that we are mums that ‘do fun things with our kids’.
The reality: The baby stopped screaming for about 5 minutes but now starts again and my toddler is getting fed up because it’s 12 o clock and she is getting hungry. Screaming at the top of her lungs ‘Get out mummy!’
The dream: We all exit the pool in a calm orderly fashion with two happy children feeling creatively fulfilled.
The reality: We get out exhausted and with continuing crying because now both baby and toddler are cold and hungry and we enter the family changing room. Her baby decides it’s time to do another poo, and we take a look around us and through the crying, damp cold children and slight feeling that one of us may have wet ourselves – it’s hard to tell in wet swimming costumes! We look at each other and just burst out laughing.
We agree this therapeutic swim session that was going to be a weekly feature can maybe wait until they are at least 4 years old and can be bribed with sweets!
I am glad that I did not tell my sister that the reality of taking small children swimming can actually be a bit cr*p because I would have denied her those happy thoughts and hopes.
Now our children are older we go swimming all the time (well at least twice a year) and the kids all love it. (Although I still feel like a beached whale)
How about you? Do you hide the truth from your pregnant friends about some aspects of having children or are you honest about what they may face?
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