I’ve wanted to sign up for Mommy and Me swim classes for a while, but I’ve put it off because I wasn’t sure my child was ready (or perhaps, I wasn’t sure I was ready for my child to start swimming). My husband gave me a gift certificate at a local swim school for Christmas. I was so excited and so nervous!
Our daughter recently turned two. She’s starting to play more in the bathtub and often scares me with how comfortable she is in water. I have no idea how to teach her to hold her breath or to make sure she actually does it. After all, toddler whims are hard to predict and control.
Last week, we went to sign up for our classes in person. The school offers a variety of classes, and even has Mommy and Me classes for her age group several times a week. (Wow!)
With scheduling out of the way, the school representative took us on a tour and told me a little more of what to expect. A large glass wall separates the waiting area and the pool, so parents can watch the lessons and siblings can have some free range to play with various toys.
With bright colors, character animals, and a blow dry area where kids sit on surf boards, the whole place portrays a playful, fun vibe. Everything looked clean and new, plus the pool had a large instructor to child ration. At that time, there were more instructors than kids in the pool. Moreover, the instructors were all attentive to the children, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
With our class scheduled and a facility tour, I felt a lot less apprehensive about our upcoming class. Now, I was looking forward to it! We would be in a small group with no more than six kids. Most importantly, my tot would learn how to maneuver in water, and I would feel more confident as I work with her to learn water safety.
Fast forward a few days, and it was time for our first class. I wrestled my tot into her bathing suit, packed a bag of towels and extra clothes, and hustled us into the car.
Our First Swim Class
She was whinny. Understandable since we’d been running around for several days, but she had also talked a lot about our visit to the pool and swimming over the past few days, so I crossed my fingers that she’d get excited once we got there.
And she did! I checked us in while she ran around saying hello to every child in her vicinity and checked on the fish tanks. We’d miraculously arrived early, so I gave her a few minutes to do what she wanted before corralling her into a changing room to put on her swim diaper.
When we were called in for class, she did a great job of holding my hand and walking with me between her and the pool. She excitedly followed me down the steps and into the warm, 4-foot pool. We took our place next to the other moms and kids on the ledge (they have a bench that runs along the side of the pool thats about 1 foot deep). Four other mommy and me couples joined us that morning. We were the only newbies, but everyone was very welcoming.
Class stared with a group song, and the instructor welcomed each kid with an Elmo puppet. Most of the kids giggled. My kid doesn’t giggle with anything new, so she just stared. But she didn’t cry. Great, I thought! She doesn’t hate it, and she’s intrigued.
Next, the kiddos sat on our lap and practiced kicking their feet. I have to give my little one credit because throughout the class, she did a great job of watching and mirroring what the other kids were doing. Then, moms held the kids on our shoulders (belly down), and had them kick around the pool to get some floating toys.
Then, we did the same thing with arms. She practiced moving her arms on my lap, then I held her belly as she moved her arms and legs to grab floating toys. At this point, there was an actual smile! From a serious kid like my little one, this was high praise!
Overall, the class was packed with learning exercises. I’m impressed we crammed that much into a 30 minute toddler class!
We dumped water on their heads to get them used to being submerged (which my little one bore stoically as she hates getting water dumped on her head when we wash her hair). One girl was even excited dumping water on her own head. I dared to dream that my little one would be comfortable enough in water to do that!
One exercise I really liked taught kids how to crawl out of the pool if they were to fall in. We took them to the wall and had them crawl out. I was impressed at how well my tot did climbing out of the pool. The kids sat on the ledge, facing us with their legs in the water. We sang a version of Humpty Dumpty and rocked them into the pool. Then, we showed them how to turn and craw back out. Wow! What a fun way to teach this basic (and very relevant) water survival skill!
We also practiced dips, where moms would take their kids and dip them under the water. Because it was our first class, my tot and I did a dry dip as I’m not confident in her ability to hold her breath. But the other kiddos who had been to this class before did a full dip (excitedly).
The instructor took the time to give me a few pointers on how we can practice holding our breath.
- Have her hum or make the letter M noise. When she’s going “mmmmm,” she can’t breathe in. My little one eagerly hummed throughout the exercise.
- Tell her to do chipmunk cheeks. Take a breath and puff our your cheeks as you hold your breath.
- Practice blowing bubbles in the bathtub. If she’s blowing bubbles, she can’t breathe in.
We didn’t have a chance to really work on all of these techniques in class, as it was all rather fast paced. But the school offers a variety of family swims that we may utilize to practice and show Dad everything she’s learning.
Overall, the class gave me a lot of tips and techniques to practice with my toddler. My little one really listened and worked through each exercise. I was impressed by her focus and how well she paid attention given the newness and distractions. Moreover, I feel confident in my ability to take her in a pool and work with her even at such a young age.
Over the past couple of days, my tot has showed off her new skills to Dad and grandparents. She kicks her legs, moves her arms, and points to her swimsuit. It’s clear that she enjoyed swimming, and we’re looking forward to our next class!
Our Second Swim Class
“I’m excited!” My tot exclaimed, clapping her hands as I ushered her to the changing rooms. Be still my heart! My little one rarely says when she’s feeling happy, so I know that she was really, really looking forward to our second swim class.
Oddly, we were the only ones at this class and actually ended up having a private class with the instructor. It was really great because of the one-on-one attention, so the instructor could correct our form and position us better for different exercises. For example, when we practice falling into the pool, it’s important for me to hold my tot’s waist, not her hands as she’s more likely to slip from my grip.
Plus, our solo class meant that our instructor could explain in more detail why they teach certain things. For instance, we do an exercise where we roll the kids from their bellies to their backs to help them learn to float on their back should they accidentally fall into a body of water.
We did a lot of the same exercises as last week, but we did do a few different ones, which was nice because class didn’t feel monotonous for me. The instructor even brought a little water slide out, and she helped my little one sit on top and slide down to the water where I caught her. It was really fun, and my girl loved it!
Overall, it was really nice. I have no idea why the other moms and tots didn’t make it to class, but we really enjoyed ourselves, and we’re starting to get the hang of the different exercises and routine.
Our Third Swim Class
So, my toddler just wasn’t into swim class today and, while I feigned enthusiasm for both of us, I was not feeling it today either. I’m not sure why she wasn’t into class today, but maybe she was tired or something.
For me, swim class is hard. It’s a decent amount of work to get my kid ready and out the door some mornings, plus I’m physically participating in the class with her. Mostly though, it’s hard on me emotionally. One of the reasons I’m doing a fun, water safety class with my toddler is because someone I loved drowned. So swim class is a trigger for me, and afterwards I’m just exhausted physically and emotionally. It’s a challenge, but I feel that it’s worth it for a few classes.
On a good note, my toddler did enjoy sitting in a little boat with the other two girls and signing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. And, she really perked up with the instructor said that it was time to play soccer and the girls kicked a ball back and forth in a circle (while we moms held them).
Another really nice thing is that one of the other little girls and my tot have become friends. The other little girl is full of really big smiles, she absolutely adores swim class and her joy is contagious. She runs over and hugs my toddler, which is really cute because my tot isn’t a hugger but she just stands there and lets the girl hug her.
One of the best things about mommy and me classes is that you get out and meet other parents and their kids. It’s really nice for both of us!
Our Fourth and Final Class
Our final class was a little bittersweet. While I was ready to be done for a bit (because once a week was just too much for me), my toddler really, really loves it. So while I felt guilty that we wouldn’t be back for a while, I just kept reminding myself that some of our other mommy and me programs would be starting up again (like story time at the library) and we both really like those too.
My girl was into class this week, which was great to see since she really didn’t care much about it last week. We gave the kids barbells to put their arms over and held them as they kicked to catch a floating fish. I think this was a favorite exercise for both of us!
For those who’ve inquired, yes, I did submerge my little one (for like half a second) and she did very well. We’ve worked on breath control in and out of the pool, and she’s getting better. We would’ve tried to submerge again, but she wasn’t focused enough- too busy watching the other kids and giggling.
Also, my little one actually started dumping water on her own head! Wow! What a difference from a few weeks ago when she hated having water poured on her head. Now, she was saying, “Ready. Go” and dumping it on her head. Bath time is so, so much easier now!
Because it was our last class, the instructor gave my little on a ribbon, which she proudly showed off to everyone that come to our house for the next week and has been displayed on the refrigerator.
Also, to celebrate her achievement and reward her hard work, her dad and I got her a book by one of her favorite authors (Emma Dodd), which we’ve had to read to her almost nonstop. I’m glad she likes it and really proud of everything she accomplished at swim class.
Overall, I highly recommend Mommy and Me Swim Classes! Our instructors were fabulous, and I love how they taught so much life-saving information in a fun, toddler-friendly way. Honestly, if it wasn’t so much of a trigger for me, we may have continued further, but I’m happy to take a break from classes for now.
Whether you are interested in several toddler swim classes or just a couple, I’d recommend it. There are a lot of fun, bonding mommy and me classes, but swim classes truly teach kids a life saving skill. (And it made it so much easier to wash my toddler’s hair.) Plus, I like that we can practice the various exercises we learned at swim class together. Under their instruction, I learned how to hold and maneuver my little one in the water as well as some learning games we can play at the pool this summer.