Like many of you, this was a year of simplifying for my family. We carefully waded through piles of our unused belongings and made our goal living with less. Our oldest son (who is the king of hoarding lids to Go-Go Squeezes and every holiday card he has ever received) even told us that he liked having more empty space. So it made sense that this Christmas, we turn our focus from giving our children toys and more toys to providing them with gifts of experiences. It really made us think.
How do we decide which activities are the most important? Our kids change their minds about their interests every week, and most activities last much longer than that!
Megan Bachman with Oklahoma Swim Academy told us, “The first children’s activities that most parents sign up for are things like soccer, t-ball, or dance. Of all the activities that a child can participate in, only learning to swim can be life-saving; it is the one children’s activity that cannot wait.” This really impacted me, because as much as I want them growing up learning how to lose gracefully and work together with a team, how can I not put the most emphasis on safety? We are around water a lot. We have a family lake house we visit often in the summer, and throughout the spring and fall sometimes as well. We have a neighborhood pool and friends with pools, and my kids are really the happiest around the water.
Megan also said, “Many families do not enroll in swim lessons until 3, 4, or even 5 years old. If your child is mobile, they can find water and be in danger. As much as we trust ourselves to constantly supervise our children, everyone can relate to those panic moments of ‘I thought he was with you?!’
This hit me hard, because while my 8 and 6-year-olds can swim independently, I trust them more to be safe around water. My 3-year-old is impulsive and thinks he is invincible and he hasn’t had swimming lessons yet! At Oklahoma Swim Academy, he could have been taking lessons since he started crawling!
As a former lifeguard, I have always relied on my past training to keep my kids safe around the water, but I realized that there was another side of the equation. With swimming lessons, they could be educated on water safety as well as learning the movements that could save their lives!
My boys are still interested in basketball and tennis, and we still gave them a pretty neat vacation as part of their Christmas gift, but we also prioritized swimming lessons. Giving them the gift of water safety while they’re also having fun and burning energy is unbeatable.
“The American Association of Pediatrics recommends learning to swim as early as 1 year old and delaying swim lessons is simply not worth the risk. Drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death ages 1-4 and as parents we must add every layer of protection possible to keep our kids safe.” -Megan Bachman