First Things First: Essentials
In addition to constant supervision, children under the age of seven or eight will need plenty of verbal reminders about the rules; be sure to get their attention before they get into the pool and discuss the rules. For kids in the 8–12 year old range, my favorite trick is to use a white board displayed near the pool. Again, keep it short and sweet (and adjust as it pertains to your pool or property):
- No running
- No food or beverages in or around the pool
- One person on the diving board at a time
Next, be sure to have a first-aid kit within a step or two from the pool. Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, but/sting spray, and tweezers (splinters!) should do the trick. Don’t forget to bring a cell or cordless phone near the pool at all times, but away from the splash zone.
Finally, have plenty of towels and sunscreen outside within reach to minimize trips inside, for you and/or dripping children. Consider a pop-up shade covering where kids can spread out a towel and find some relief from the sun.
Now, For the Fun Stuff
When you are planning a pool party, don’t forget the main attraction: the pool. Depending on the age of your guests, water-based games can be a great source of fun, and for many of them, it might be a rare treat to play in a backyard pool. A couple of tried and true favorites are Marco Polo and Fish-out-of-Water. My kids always loved what we called The Jump Game. I’d sit next to the pool and say, “silliest jump” or “most creative jump,” and each would then take his or her turn jumping off the dive rock. Other favorite directions for this game are “smallest splash,” “biggest splash,” and “best dive.”
Healthy food and drinks will give kids time to rest once in awhile. Be sure to have plenty of cold water available and encourage kids to take water breaks. Water bottles or a large ice-water container with plastic cups and a Sharpie to write each child’s name on it keeps it organized. Plan a menu that kids can help themselves to as they get hungry, so that your focus can remain on the pool. Here are just a few ideas:
- Melon tank: Cut a watermelon in half lengthwise and remove the watermelon with a melon-baller. Refill the empty halves with the melon balls and set a container of toothpicks next to it.
- Nacho bar: Have a crock pot of warm nacho cheese sauce and a bowl of chips on an outdoor patio table. Set out toppings like diced ham, tomatoes and sour cream that kids can dish up themselves.
- Build-a-Sandwich: A tray of sliced bread or rolls, meats, cheeses and condiments are perfect for picky eaters.
Music, Music, Music!
It’s not a party without music. If you have outdoor speakers, have your guests’ favorite music cued up to play continuously. If you have an outdoor stereo or boom box, keep a stack of CDs next to it so that kids can choose what they would like to hear.
Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.