swimming woggle

Mum or Dad, who should take the baby swimming?

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When N started at Water Babies, there wasn’t really any question of who would take him swimming.  Largely because I was the one who had time off work and did everything with him, but also because the OH didn’t really feel that strongly about swimming lessons for babies and isn’t keen on swimming himself.  Even on holidays, he’ll paddle but won’t really swim.

In our first swimming class, it mostly comprised our NCT class plus a couple of other mums and babies.  Occasionally a dad would do the class to help out occasionally, but mostly it was mum time.  Always good for the socialising aspect, but not so great when there’s 10 of you plus a baby in a tiny changing area changing while the previous class might be lagging behind and the next class might have arrived early.

We changed day, and again it was mostly mums, I suppose because it was a week day…most baby and toddler classes fall on a week day because it’s presumed that they’re not at school (and maybe that more parents stay at home with them), plus it means it would free up weekend lessons for older children for whom that’s the only possible time with the school week.

But now, having gone back to work full time, we swim on a Saturday.  Luckily there were spaces on that day, as there must be a lot of demand for weekend classes, so we’re in a lesson with a very different composition of parents.

Because it’s a weekend, there’re a lot more dads in the pool with the children.  Some classes have grandparents taking their grandchildren swimming, but our class is pretty much 50:50 dads to mums.

It does make for a very different class and one to definitely think about in terms of how differently the dads interact with the toddlers while in the water.  Here are my observations and thoughts:

  • On the plus side, there’s a lot more space in the changing room, even if the dad swims but the mum changes the toddler
  • Another plus, chances are you’ve got an extra person coming along so they can take lots of photos.  It’s only ever me, hence why my swimming posts are severely lacking in photos!
  • The downside is the social side, however friendly, there’s only so much chit chat you do on the side of the pool while you wait with both adults in swimming costumes…funny situation in my opinion, compared to the chit chat you can get in the changing room itself.  Obviously we’re there for the swimming, but the chatting is good too!
  • In the pool, the dads do have a tendency to be wilder with their children.  A couple of the dads will ‘chuck’ their toddlers around before the lesson starts, and the kids love it.  One of the new mums also does this with her son practicing flips, but I reckon N would be petrified if I did that with him (he still hates going underwater).  I wonder what it would have been like if his dad had come to swimming lessons with him, whether they’d have continued their horseplay from out of the water?

While N does love kicking, splashing and jumping in, we’ve never really done ‘fun’ mucking around stuff, it’s always been ‘swimming’ activities because we’ve not done a holiday to spend lots of pool time.  Maybe that’s something we need to do so he can get used to the fun mad side of swimming as well as the safety and learning to actually swim.

swimming woggle
Swimming the woggle tunnel

Who takes your children swimming (those going in the water with their little ones)?  What do you do help them have fun in the water as well as learning to swim?

(On an aside though, he did swim a full 10 metres just with a woggle this week, he’s quite a straight swimmer which is good – no point using up extra energy – and without really doing much with his arms, he motors quite fast for someone so little!)

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  1. My hubby did all the classes with my son initially. My boy was terrified of getting his head, ears or eyes wet so the OH used to throw him around between instructions. But when you mention fun….. After 9 months of swimming lessons, my sons anxiety of getting wet seemed to be getting worse, so we stopped doing the lessons. Instead, we took him to the local kids pool at the leisure centre and on holiday, and just let him play in the water. He enjoyed it so much, he learned to jump in, dive under water and get his whole head wet all on his own in his own time. Now we have started a new swimming lesson where he goes in without any parent and he is top of the class already. So I think perhaps having fun in the water without being taught can be just as useful. #PoCoLo

    1. Thanks for your comment. Definitely interesting and if they dislike lessons it’s hard. N had a year of water wobbles, and we continued, but it was hard work. We had to do different activities and even now he hates going underwater, but loves the rest of it. Luckily there’s lots of singing and games so it’s still fun. We don’t go on holiday really so little chance of finding time to go swimming on ‘fun’ occasions, so he doesn’t really get that alternative chance, but must try and find the time during school holidays so he gets the mix.

      Glad your son’s loving it now.

  2. I went back to work full time with both my boys, so they didn’t have proper swimming lessons until nursery took them aged three… I’ve been taking the wee girl since she was seven months, and it’s predominantly mums. I’m fairly confident in the water, but their dad is definitely more fun! #PoCoLo

    1. Dad’s don’t have to do so much of the boring responsible stuff if they’re out working longer hours, so I do think that translates to the pool. Whereas the mums take them swimming to learn, rather than have fun! I’m the same as you, pretty confident and don’t mind the water, but I’d rather do the learning stuff and not the mucking about – I’m the one ‘paying’ for it as well so that makes a difference too.

  3. I think swimming is such an important skill to learn, i hated my toddler swim class so we are looking for another one locally

    thanks for linking up with #PoCoLo

    1. It’s so hard to find a class that’s either got spaces, or that’s appropriate in level/size/location and day. I’m just hoping we keep up Water Babies until he’s 4/school, then stay at the same pool but start in their normal children’s classes, and hope there’s space in the one that’s his appropriate level. Hope you find one that works for you

  4. Hi Emma, my other half takes our little lad swimming, mainly because I work. They love it! Hate to sound stereotypical but he is much braver then I am about it all, the times i have been I was a bit of a wimp, worried about water in his eyes etc. I went the other week with them and was pleasantly shocked to see my little lad go down a (I thought massive!) slide. Think I could do with taking a leave from his book 🙂 xx

    1. I agree. I think generally men are much more rough and tumble with the kids. I know N hates going underwater, so I’d never throw him about intentionally tipping him under but maybe he does need to know that the play aspect of swimming involves going under. When we have to put them swimming through our legs (have you ever tried getting a toddler far enough under the water to do that-nightmare!), he does it once, then moans and tells me ‘no more mummy, that’s enough’. There’s no way I want to upset him more at the start of a lesson where otherwise he’ll be fine!)

  5. I did all of of the swimming lessons with Monkey at our local pool. Sadly the pool has been closed since last December and I’ve been really bad at sorting out alternatives. I’m not great in the water and didn’t want Monkey to have my fears. Hopefully he’ll be able to have lessons in the big pool in January, but again it’ll be me taking him.

    1. Sometimes swimming lessons can be really inconvenient and a problem with the pool can put the children out a bit. It’s great for parents who aren’t so keen on water to help their children to get over the fear. One of my NCT friends is much better now in the water since taking her daughter.
      Hope you get to sort Monkey’s lessons out come January.

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