Summer is just around the corner, school is almost out, and that means some serious splash pad time for our family. My kids love the water (who am I kidding- I do too!) and having twin two year old’s means that going to the pool by myself is sometimes a logistical nightmare. Splash pads are the perfect option- we can all play around in the water, and they are usually contained enough that I can corral everyone without the fear of someone drowning, running off, or a number of other things that could potentially happen.
Here are some general observations and guidelines to follow when taking your kids to a Splash Pad this summer:
1) If you bring toys- be ok with sharing them. We always take a bag of things to play with in the water- cups, serving spoons, rubber duckies, etc. They are fun for my girls to play around with, they foster some creative play, and they are just plain fun. They are NOT priceless items that I can’t live without or family heirlooms that shouldn’t be touched. When other kids come up and ask to play with something we welcome it! It helps my kids learn how to share (you’d think the twins would be masters at this skill since there are TWO of them, but that is definitely not the case), and it also helps them navigate meeting new kids their age. And it is a shame when we lose something or accidentally lose something (it just means that I need to go back to the movie theater and get another gallon soda X-men cup to replace the stash). The other day we were at a local indoor pool and another girl had a toy with her (that she wasn’t even using, mind you) and my daughter politely asked her if she could use it for a bit. The parent said yes, but then rolled her eyes and shrugged her shoulders as if to say- I GUESS you can. If you really don’t want anyone using the toy, put it away, or just tell my daughter no, but no need for the non-verbals.
2) Follow the rules. Don’t get me wrong- I am not a complete by-the-books person. BUT I do know that rules are there for a reason. Don’t let your kids run around like maniacs- the only result will be a younger than 3 year old being taken out when they least expect it. Don’t set up camp in every square inch of shade that is available. I love summer. I love the heat. But a little shade is kinda nice too- especially for those with really little ones. Don’t leave your mess for others to clean up for you- that is nobody’s job but your own.
3) Play! Enjoy the time with your kids. Sure, you can talk with the other adults there, but engage in the activities with your kids. Splash with them. Laugh with them. Imagine with them. It’s FUN! You have my permission to put a time limit on this- my kids have more energy than a whole room full of kindergarteners- so I can’t keep up the whole time, but don’t tune yourself out the whole time.
4) Expand your boundaries. There are several splash pads within the city of Madison, and several more in the outlying communities. Mix it up. Explore other areas. Each one is different, and there are some that are better for some ages than others. You can find a list of locations here.
5) Choose a time wisely. There are definite peaks of times where the Splash pads tend to get a bit busier than others. I find that if you go right before lunch/around lunch time is good, or if you go at the beginning or end of typical nap time it is also not as crowded. There are some that are open a bit later than others, and sometimes that last hour can also be not as busy.
Enjoy the summer- the warm weather is (finally) here!