THE PROBLEM WITH BABY SWIMMING
Catie Wilkins loves taking her baby swimming BUT...
I love and hate my baby's swimming lessons.
I mean, I love them. There's so much that's great about them: my baby loves the water; the swimming instructors are absolutely brilliant; the pool is nearly always lovely and warm; it's fun; the whole lifesaving skills thing.
But oh my god.
First of all, it's tiring. To the point where I have a bunch of mum friends that dropped out because of how ruinously exhausted it made them.
It's a faff. Nothing makes me feel more successful than the bit afterwards where my baby and I are still dripping wet and naked, but the woman next to me (who’s on her second kid) are magically dressed and waving goodbye.
There are no lockers and no responsibility taken for losses. Being a formally provincial and now paranoid Londoner, I wrap my wallet and phone in my baby's outfit and put them by the pool under my towel. (I know I've just told all the robbers where to look).
'I envy the dads because they have a toilet.'
The facilities are kind of crappy. (I mean - there are no lockers for crying out loud). The ‘men's changing room’ is actually a disabled toilet. Which is also the only toilet. And yet I envy the dads because they have a toilet.
But I love how warm the pool is, and l love the instructors, and love my baby laughing as she grows in confidence, so I overlook all these things.
But there is one crazy rule at this place that tips me into angry, jaded bafflement every week: We are not supposed to wear shoes in the changing room.
Sure on the surface it doesn’t sound that bad. But this means that once you’ve abandoned any prams outside, and you have a baby in one arm and a swimming bag in the other, firstly you have to take your shoes off without using your hands.
Secondly, on the way back out, you have to get wet socks, then put your shoes back on without using your hands.
Sure, in summer, no biggie, maybe wear flip flops, but in the cold, I find it so ludicrously and logistically difficult that I always nearly injure us both. And don’t just take my word for it. You know the magic lady I mentioned who gets her kid dressed in two seconds? She thinks it's ridiculous, too.