How to: SAFE Summer Fun in the Water

Safe Summer Fun in the Water:

Summer’s a great time to sign the kids up for swimming lessons, not only because it’s fun… but because it’s the safe thing to do. And let’s face it, many of our kids spend enough time poolside in June, July and August to grow gills. So it seemed a timely topic to learn more about. How can we make playing in the water this summer both fun and safe? I asked “Coach Ruthie” of Little Fishes Swim School in St. Louis, Missouri for some pointers and here’s what I took away. These tips are important for parents/kids of all ages but seemed particularly important for parents of preschool aged children and younger.

And for our local Saint Louis, Missouri moms, My Mommy Manual is hosting a playdate for parents and their babies/toddlers from 6 months of age on up at the Little Fishes Swim School this week. It’s FREE for members of our local playgroup. Interested? Join here and then RSVP on the group’s Meetup calendar. It’s indoors in 90 degree salt water and your kids are sure to have a blast.

1) Supervise Children near water:

It is sooooo important that we as parents understand that multi-tasking and the pool do NOT go hand in hand. In today’s fast-paced world, it can get easy to think doing three things at once isn’t too much at all. Wrong. Not when we are talking about water and kids, If the kids are swimming as a group at the pool or lake and there are multiple adults around, it’s easy to think someone else is on “duty”. Instead of assuming, actually talk about which adult is responsible for watching the kids. Take turns/shifts, or better yet, if you are having a party, actually hire a lifeguard to supervise the kids through area businesses like so you can keep your focus on hosting knowing the kids are safe.

2) Invest in a US Coast Guard-approved life vest.

Should supervision lapse, only a real life vest will keep a child from submerging. Air-filled or foam flotation aids are NOT appropriate substitutes. I know… the kids love their arm floaty things. My little guys are just about 18 months old and love their little boats. And then there are noodles, puddle jumpers… the list of fun water options is long and grows each summer it seems. These are are fun and fine for water play, but the important thing to remember is they are no replacement for a potentially life saving vest. And even a vest is no substitute for adult supervision. 

3)    Enroll your child in swim lessons:
Parents are taking lessons with their kids as early as 6 months of age and this is a good thing. The National Institutes of Health says that providing very young children with swimming lessons appears to have a protective effect in keeping them safe and preventing drowning.

Things to look for in a class are 1) small groups or even one on one lessons 2) warm water ( 90 degrees) and salt water is a plus for sensitive skin and lungs  3) indoor classes are a plus as then weather/sun/sunscreen become non-issues – and as a bonus, you can take them all year long. 4) And finally, look to see what level of training or certification the instructors have.

I hope these tips inspire you to take water play seriously in terms of keeping your family safe as you have a BLAST splashing and swimming this summer.

Watch Zen Mommy share her water safety tips with our TV viewers (after the Cars 2 segment on Great Day St. Louis) and St. Louis Moms, don’t forget to sign up for our free Meetup on June 22 at Little Fishes Swim School!


Suzanne Tucker, aka Zen Mommy

In addition to mommy-ing to two magical girls and twins born in 2010, Suzanne co-owns a holistic health center with her husband Shawn in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Educator of Infant Massage and health education teacher. Suzanne is the Co-creator of My Mommy Manual and the online parenting course, Yoga Parenting.

How to Have Some Virtual, Kid-Friendly Fun

As you well know, I’ve been very interested about how we guide our children to be good online citizens. Even though I spend countless hours engaging with people on Twitter and Facebook and here, I haven’t really figured it out how to parent the next gen digital native, which is why I’m very slowly and carefully introducing them to the online world.

One of our regular guests, Youthologist Vanessa Van Petten had some great advice in our interview on internet safety. That is, treat the online world just like the real world! Duh! Ease your kids into online participation, giving them more and more freedom and responsibility as they get older. Now that my kids are 8 and 6, I take them to the playground and let them play relatively freely, but I don’t leave them there!!!

Likewise, I’m starting to let them play on ONE safe site:

The reason I picked BABV is because I had the chance to hear from the people responsible for their digital operations and it was comforting to hear that every chat is monitored and every questionable incident gets investigated. They take this issue very seriously and are committed to working with online moms to ensure the safety of our kids. Not only that but the site content, totally in line with the Build-A-Bear brand, is all about “edutainment.” They’ve built in lessons on good cyber citizenship into the games and incentives in BABV. Is that how Club Penguin and Webkinz are too? Don’t know since I’ve never spent anytime there so if so, clue me in.

You can buy 15 Bearville Outfitters Credits here.

One of the things that piqued my interest while visiting at our friends at Build-A-Bear last week was their virtual summer camp, Camp Happy Heart. I even asked for more information from my new friend, Shannon. If you are looking for good, clean online fun that you could supervise with your kids as Vanessa recommended, here’s a great option! It starts on Friday, to coincide with the release of their ice cream bear collection (see fun pics below).

From Shannon:
Beginning July 2, Build-A-Bearville will host the third annual Camp Happy Heart, the largest summer camp in the virtual world.  Last year, over 400,000 campers participated in the online activities at  This year, Camp Happy Heart is expecting even more campers to its exciting camp program. Campers can play special online games and quests including:
·         Marshmallow roasting
·         Jump rope
·         Bear-2-Bear Tug-A-Hug

Guests will enjoy exploring Camp Happy Heart which is lead by a counselor bear from the Ice Cream Bear Collection. Once registered to join the camp, individuals will be put on a team and given daily tasks to complete in order to earn team points. Guests can also write their own camp- themed story featuring their favorite Ice Cream Bear. At the end of camp, each participant will receive a team poster for their virtual Cub Condo and the winning team will receive a 2010 Camp Happy Heart trophy, interactive camp fire and camp bed for their Cub Condo house.

So I’ve been enjoying observing how my kids explore the ‘ville! Yes, my daughter and I have been shopping in Furbulous Fashion District and I, er, I mean Zia Adventure has been helping them furnish their Cub Condos. Okay, it’s a little surreal but at least on BABV, they can actually afford bunk beds.

I’d love your thoughts on this virtual kid world. Where do you go with your kids? What sites do you recommend?

3 Month V.I.B. Subscription at®