I went to a pool party for the kids in the neighborhood last summer where I suspect the Mom thought she had planned the perfect party. She was a “helicopter Mom,” and hovered over the kids the whole time, directing, orchestrating and controlling. That’s not my idea of a perfect kids party. It can be a lot more simple.
Just let them enjoy the water. If you combine kids and a pool, you have the basic elements for a wonderful birthday party. They will make up games, splash around, and have a great time all on their own. They might need the occasional bit of direction to start a new game, such as “There’s a shark in the water – don’t let him catch you.” But for the most part, kids are very imaginative in the pool. I remember some of the games we devised when I was young, and they were complicated and fun. We created fantasy worlds, had team games, and all without someone telling us how the game needed to be played. Just let the kids have their own fun, and the entertainment takes care of itself.
Figure out safety. With kids in the water, the safety issue needs to be addressed. One very elegant solution I heard about – the parents hired one of the lifeguards from the community pool. The kids were used to paying attention to him, because he could pull them out of the water. It kept the parents from having to try to perform the monitor function, and eliminated the need for hovering Moms to be fluttering around the kids. Be sure to check with the parent of each child who will be there, and make sure they can swim.
Take care of the party basics. What does a party need? A location, refreshments, and sending out some invitations. There are some great resources to help develop a checklist for a kid birthday pool party, like this planning article, some great ideas for pool games for the kids, and even options for great food to serve at the pool. Once all items are accounted for, the fun can begin.
Refreshments. With kids, burgers are always a safe bet, so maybe have the husband fire up the back yard grill. Just remember to plan for a lot of food – the kids will work up an appetite in the water. Have a table stocked with chips and drinks, and they’ll be happy. Think about having a designated meal time, so everyone will be out of the water together, and have games like badminton or Frisbees that the kids can play in the back yard until they can go back in the water.
Host the parents. Invite the parents to stay for the party, and most of them will. Have a shady area with tables, where the adults can sit and visit, or watch the kids play. Make sure everyone has been introduced, and just be a sociable hostess, to make sure people feel comfortable and welcome.
Sunscreen? Before the kids jump in the pool, make sure they’re all covered with sunscreen. Some of the parents might be willing to help with this task. Set up a table with a lot of sunscreen on it, and about every hour, get the kids to hop out and have the sunscreen applied again. You want the kids to have fun, not have a painful sunburn the next morning.
When your child’s friend comes up as he leaves and says “Thanks for having me – this was the most fun ever,” that’s a signal that you’ve thrown a party that the kids thought was perfect.
Kaitlin Gardner writes for AnApplePerDay.com. She currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking and enjoy nature. She has just started her first book about living an eco-friendly, healthy, natural lifestyle.
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