What I’ve Learned is a series on MC that celebrates the small victories in parenthood.Â Every day I feel like I get better at being a mom and this series is where I share little things I’m mastering.
I feel like at least once a week I am posting pictures of Bean in some kind of water, but you try having an active toddler on your hands in Orlando in the summer.Â Unless we wanted to sit inside all day, we have to be around some kind of water so stay cool.Â The funny thing is that the most random places have water attractions here as a way to keep the masses cool.Â Last weekend we went to the zoo and they had a splash pad in the middle of the park just to keep people from sweating to death.Â What a great idea!
Being around water all the time is new to me, having just moved to Florida from Connecticut.Â It felt like every time we played in water, I was forgetting something vital.Â But lately, we’ve had some great adventures and I’ve remembered to bring all the right things with me!Â I’m also getting more comfortable and not feeling like Bean is going to drown every time his toe makes a splash.
Here are the things I’ve learned about playing in water with a toddler:
Use lots of sunscreen, but don’t kill yourself trying to keep the kid covered. When we first moved here, Bean’s lily white skin had never been out in the sun before and so I kept him continuously covered.Â And with good reason!Â Exposing his delicate skin right out of the gate like that would have really been dangerous.Â I used one of those bathing suit/wet suit t-shirts that have SPF of 50 in them.Â What a brilliant concept!Â I’d put on Bean’s sunscreen and then put his little shirt on him and I was sure that he wasn’t going to get sunburned on his body.Â Then I’d plot a big, wide brimmed hat on his head and strap that into place and I knew his face and neck wouldn’t burn.
And I still use this get-up when I know we’ll be out in the direct sunshine for an extended period of time, like at the beach.Â Bean has fair skin and so I want to make sure he doesn’t get sunburned.Â But, I am learning to relax a little bit when we’re in different circumstances.Â The splash pad that we play at is in the shade and so I’ll let Bean play there without his t-shirt and hat.Â And if we’re out for just a little while, I’ll skip the whole outfit ensemble.Â But what I NEVER skip is the baby sunscreen.Â I use Water Babies by Coppertone with SPF 50.
Use breaks to evaluate the situation with your tot. When we’re out in the sun and water for a long time, it’s hard to know how Bean is doing because he’s going 90 miles an hour the whole time.Â So, about ever 15 or 20 minutes, I pull him out of the water and bring him over to the side to have a little break.Â I give him his sippy cup with water because staying hydrated is super important when it’s hot outside and sometimes we just take a little stroll around for a minute.Â This lets Bean calm down for a little bit and gives me an idea of how tired he is, how much sun he is getting, and how much time we have left at the park.Â If Bean’s little cheeks don’t cool down after a few minutes of a break, then I know that it’s not just the heat turning him pink, but that he might be getting too much sun.Â If he is really fussy during a break, then I know that he’s getting tired and I can start preparing for us to leave soon.
Skip the water shoes. I have these adorable foam water shoes for Bean to wear when we go to the splash pad.Â When we first went, I would make him wear the shoes because I didn’t want him running around in dirty water.Â But those shoes get really slippery when he’s in the water, especially when he’s still kind of wobbly on this feet.Â So, I decided to nix the shoes.Â I’d rather clean him when he gets home than have him slipping and falling.Â Bean still wears the shoes to and from the water park, but I take them off before he gets wet and slippery.
I’ve seen different style water shoes that have the rubber grips on the bottom of them and those seem to be the best of both worlds really, but I can’t find them in Bean’s size.
I give him his space. This one is harder because when your child is around water, you need to be vigilant all the time.Â Even in places like splash pads where they won’t necessarily be submerged in the water.Â It still only takes one good face full of water for a child to get choked.Â But I still try to be vigilant from a distance when the situation allows.Â Letting Bean explore and experience on his own is what gives him the confidence and security to be curious.Â It gives him a sense of control and let’s him exercise decision-making and reasoning skills all on his own.Â Also, when other kids are around, giving him the room to roam lets him interact with other children by himself, which is a great way for him to learn things that only his peers could teach him.
Of course, I’m never far away when he needs a helping hand…
Pack just what you need! Packing for a day of water fun can be tricky and every time I find something else I should bring or should leave at home.Â Here is the list of things in my water bag right now:
A towel – I find it’s easier if I use a child-sized bath towel instead of a beach towel for Bean right now.Â They are smaller and easier to pack and they are the perfect size for him.Â The hooded kind are nice because when it’s on his head, he can walk around and not drop his towel through the water.
A sippy cup with water and an extra water bottle – I avoid juice on water days because the sugar can actually dehydrate Bean even more.Â I stick with straight water and lots of it!Â I usually have a sippy cup full and then two extra water bottles in my bag for refills throughout the day.Â It’s helpful to freeze those two water bottles so that they are still cold when you use them later in the heat.Â I bring one frozen and one ice cold water bottle.
A change of clothes for Bean – I used to just towel Bean off and change his diaper before putting him in his car seat and that’s really fine.Â But I was finding that one the drive home, Bean was falling asleep and if I already had him in dry clothes, I could put him straight into his crib when we got home for a little snooze instead of having to wake him up to change his clothes.
A mesh bag – I actually have the plastic water bag for water trips.Â These are great because you don’t have to worry that your bag is getting wet as you dump everything in there after your trip.
Sunscreen – Remember to apply it at home 30 minutes before you leave the house so that it has time to set in before your child gets in the water.Â Take it from a fair-skinned redhead.Â Don’t skip this step!Â But bring your sunscreen with you and reapply often.Â I reapply to the face, neck, and shoulders every time Bean takes a break and then I do a good once-over at least every 30 or 45 minutes, just to make sure he’s always protected.
A plastic grocery bag – I keep a plastic grocery bag in my water bag to throw Bean’s wet bathing suit into after he has changed clothes.Â It makes it easier when I get home to have all the wet things in one place.
Water days are our favorites around here.Â And each time we go, I feel like I get better and more prepared for them.Â Which is great because the more prepared I am, the more fun Bean has!