Living Arrows 35/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

Last Monday it was a hot one, so once BattleDad was finished work calls we went for our usual afternoon swim. And this time I brought my phone with me (which is waterproof) to capture some pictures and video of BattleKid swimming. I have to say he does get some admiring looks for his fearlessness.

My living arrows picture of BattleKid jumping into the pool My living arrows picture of BattleKid jumping into the pool My living arrows picture of BattleKid jumping into the pool

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Living Arrows 23/52

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth

Kahlil Gibran

Last week BattleDad was in Paris again for work, so in between getting things ready at our new home, we spent most afternoons in the pool as temperatures reached 30 degrees most days. BattleKid has no fear at all and enjoys going under the water, all thanks to his WaterBabies lessons.

We’ve yet to try out the pool on our site but if it’s anything like my parents, I can see us spending alot of time over the summer in it.

Living Arrows 23 Living Arrows 23 Living Arrows 23

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Our Waterbabies Journey so far – A Review

Before I continue with this post about our Waterbabies journey and review, I’d like to say that it is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Waterbabies. All opinions are my own from our experience of attending Waterbabies classes.

As I’ve written in a recent post about teaching BattleKid to swim, as soon as I fell pregnant I knew I wanted to help teach our son to swim from a young age. But I had no idea you could start lessons when they were babies, real babies. As I perused some of my baby magazines I came across an advert at the back for Waterbabies. I had never heard of them before but the ad caught my eye and I started to look into them as I approached my due date.

However, things went on the back burner due to my slow recovery from BattleKid’s birth. As we approached 4 months after birth, I felt like I was ready to start doing more with BattleKid and felt in better physical health, so I looked into Waterbabies classes near us but unfortunately there weren’t any close to our house. I decided to enrol in Waterbabies classes at the Village Hotel, Cardiff, and we started our Waterbabies journey in May 2014. I am a good swimmer and it is my wish that BattleKid follows in my footsteps so being able to start him in the pool at a really young age was brilliant, music to my ears.

We joined the other mums in the pool that first Friday afternoon and got the shock of our lives when our teacher Lauren took our babies for a swim before helping them do their first underwater swim. We had all thought we would build up to doing one by the end of the 10 week course but no, from day one under they went. And BattleKid was not fazed at all.

Waterbabies do this so they can work with a babies natural reflexes so the sooner you start the quicker they get used to it. It’s advised to start before they are 6 months old as their natural underwater reflexes start to fade after this age.

our waterbabies journey
6 weeks into our Waterbabies journey.

We did our first 10 week course and jumped straight into an intensive 5-day summer course as I wanted to try do as many courses as I could while I was on maternity leave. We returned to Lauren on Friday afternoons but a class ahead of those we had started with. We did 3 courses before moving venue and day to accommodate my return to work. We started course 4 on a Sunday morning at 10.45am and although we enjoyed it, the time was less than ideal as the venue is 45 minutes from our house and BattleDad often leaves at 5pm on a Sunday to travel for work, so it meant we had little or no time together on a Sunday before he had to leave.

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During our underwater shoot with Waterbabies

I rang the office before the rebooking deadline and asked if we could join a Saturday class but no space was available so from March 2015 we took a break from lessons, and our Waterbabies journey, and I took BattleKid to our local pool as often as I could.  He enjoyed the pool on holiday that year but towards the end of the summer I decided it was time to return to Waterbabies.

waterbabies journey
Waterbaby on tour in May 2015

We started Chapter 5 in our Waterbabies journey on a Sunday morning but at 8.45am, meaning we would have more time with BattleDad in the day. Although it means no lie in for mum of a Sunday it is a small price to pay to teach our boy to swim. We have just finished Chapter 8 and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve shared with BattleKid on an ongoing basis.

Waterbabies classes are held in warm pools so that babies and young children do not get cold. If the water is below a certain temperature for any reason the teacher will not allow the class to go ahead. Safety is paramount at Waterbabies classes. We have never been in a group with more than 10 parent and child pairs, and the two main venues we have attended (the Village Hotel, Cardiff and Llanhennock Lodge, Caerleon) have some space for spectators.

All the teachers we have had have been very friendly and welcoming, from Lauren at the Village Hotel to Marianne at Dyffryn High School, to Emma and Ally at Llanhennock Lodge. Lessons last 30 minutes and are well organised and structured with large indicator cards and toys to aid with each part of the lesson. BattleKid’s current favourites are Mr. Fishy (as we have named him), and Dada’s car (the dive rings). He also really enjoys the horsey (woggle) and happily sings the horsey song.

At the time of writing our current course cost £165 and in my opinion is the best money I’ve ever spent on BattleKid. I did look into alternatives while researching Waterbabies but although many other lessons are cheaper, their structure seemed to take twice as long as Waterbabies to reach certain goals so they didn’t actually work out cheaper in the long run.

Waterbabies classes are well structured as I’ve mentioned and follow a natural progression, and are taught by highly trained, friendly teachers who have gone through rigorous training to reach the high level required to be a Waterbabies teacher. Our teachers have never put anyone under pressure to do anything they didn’t want to do, baby or parent, and are understanding of nervous parents or babies going through a plateau (as happened to BattleKid recently).

All the accessories used during lessons are colourful and high quality and appeal to young children. Each lessons whizzes by for us and before we know it our half hour is up and it’s time to get dressed and go home.

BattleKid and I are now halfway through our Waterbabies journey and the difference in him is incredible. He is confident around the water and always eager to get in. He is learning safe entry into the pool and is learning to climb out. His kicking is strong at the surface of the water but non-existent below it, but he’ll get there. Arms are hit and miss and sometimes he’ll do them, other times he won’t.

For ages he wouldn’t hold onto the side of the pool independently and then one day it clicked and now he is great and is able to monkey to the side as well. He has come a long way in a short space of time and I am so looking forward to pool time on holidays in the future.

What I love about our Waterbabies journey and classes:

  • Teach children to swim safely from babies.
  • Well structured, well organised classes.
  • Progression feels natural.
  • Warm, friendly teachers who are patient as well.
  • Warm pools.
  • Interactive classes with toys to help teach children certain things, most of which are available to buy from the Waterbabies shop.
  • Worth every penny in my opinion.
  • Teaching children an invaluable life skill.

What I don’t like about our Waterbabies journey and classes:

  • Nothing, except I miss Sunday morning lie in.

Our whole experience with Waterbabies from the start has been a positive one. BattleKid and I enjoy our swims and people watching us on holiday are always impressed by his abilities at his age. Our teachers have been nothing but friendly and highly professional, and I am looking forward to the day that BattleKid swims independently. I know it’s not far away given we’re almost halfway through our Waterbabies journey and in the meantime he is learning water safety alongside swimming skills that will be invaluable to him his whole life.

waterbabies journey 3
First holiday as a Waterbaby at 8 months old

So if you are considering taking your baby swimming I highly recommend you get in touch with your local Waterbabies office for information. We’ve loved our Waterbabies journey so far and long may it continue.

Thanks for reading!

Cath x

*I was not asked to write this post.

waterbabies journey 4
One of BattleKid’s underwater pictures taken at the Waterbabies shoot July 2014.

Learn to Swim – Things I Promised my Unborn Son #1

During my pregnancy I made certain promises to my unborn son, promises I intend to honour, and today I’m sharing with you the first in a new mini series on the blog called Things I Promised My Unborn Son. Top of the list was to help him learn to swim. As soon as I knew I was pregnant it was the first thing I knew I would do for and with him.

Swimming was a big part of my childhood and early teenage years. My parents taught us to swim from an early age and it was great that they did as we often spent weekends in the summer at the outdoor public pool in Krugersdorp. So knowing how to swim was more a necessity than anything else. It came into its own when we started school in Ireland after returning from South Africa, as the PE in our school was swimming. And in the summer of ’88 we spent two months in Saudi Arabia and spent a couple of hours almost everyday at the pool. My mum could keep an eye on us but let us be free knowing we could swim. The 10m diving board and it’s 12ft pool were no problem to us. It was a regular game to see who could reach the bottom.

things i promised my unborn son

I was also part of Tallaght Swimming Club, training most mornings and evenings during school terms and 5 mornings a week during the summer. I was no Rebecca Adlington but I loved it and am still described as ‘a fish’ by BattleDad.

So when I fell pregnant, I promised my unborn son I would make sure he would learn to swim and from a very young age. With us enjoying holidays in the sun and with every intention of continuing to do so with him, we wanted to make sure he was confident around water and that he could be around it safely.

While I was in my last trimester I was reading many baby magazines and came across several adverts for baby swimming lessons. I researched the ones closest to us and was well prepared by the time I had BattleKid. I knew I wanted to try Waterbabies with him but I had to wait until I was recovered enough to start. So at 4 months of age we took the plunge together and joined Waterbabies and started our journey of teaching BattleKid to swim. I would have loved to have joined sooner but unfortunately my slow recovery meant I had to wait. But it was worth it. I’ll be doing a full Waterbabies review soon but suffice to say we love it.

We completed our first 10 weeks and jumped straight into a 5-day intensive course for our next one in the summer so we could complete our third before I finished my maternity leave. We had to change day and venue for course number 4 and we’ve changed time again to help it fit in better with our family needs but we’re just finished our seventh course with Waterbabies. BattleKids’ confidence in the water is amazing to watch. He’ll kick his little legs, happily jump in the pool and hold onto the side no problem and all this at 2 years and 4 months of age. We’re working on the arms and climbing out of the pool as well as safe entry into the pool but he loves it. He is not fazed by the water at all.

things i promised my unborn son 1
My 5 month old Waterbaby
things i promised my unborn son 1
First family holiday together at 8 months old.

Helping BattleKid to learn to swim by taking him to Waterbabies really comes into its own when we are abroad. The first time was our first family holiday to Gran Canaria. Poolside onlookers were shocked and horrified on the first day to see us putting an 8 month old baby underwater but by day 3 we were getting smiles and even compliments in languages from German to French to Italian! From then on people stopped to watch our 30 minutes in the pool with smiles and nods replacing the initial looks of horror. It made is chuckle. We imagined the conversations on that first day.

things i promised my unborn son 1
Underwater we go!
things i promised my unborn son 1
Swimming with Mr Spaceship in Gran Canaria at 8 months old

Last year in Lanzarote BattleKid was kicking away and I think this year he’ll have even more fun. I’m hoping we will too and that the pool is a bit warmer than last year although I don’t hold out much hope.

It’s a small sacrifice to give up my lie in on a Sunday to help BattleKid learned to swim but it’s a life skill everyone should have and one I’ve always enjoyed myself. In years to come I want to be able to lounge in the sun, safe in the knowledge that my son knows what he is doing around the pool, and it is up to me to get him to that point. Plus I’ll enjoy racing him in the pool. It’s a day I’m looking forward to.

In the meantime I’ll keep plugging away at our Waterbabies classes, encouraging BattleKid at each stage as he learns to swim and one day soon I’m sure he’ll bring those arms in to join the fun.

Have you taught your children to swim or are you planning to?

Thanks for reading,

Cath x