Changing Rooms

In which our reluctant hero is thrown in at the deep end once more.

This week I’ve mostly been on holiday again. No, not to that place. The other one. The one where giant pets dance around and mime to cd’s of children on helium apparently “singing.” The one where the lead Funstar presenter has a strange form of tourettes that makes her say “boys and girls” every four seconds in a semi-scally drone. Hashtag “grating.”

I’ve already written about holibobs, so am not going to with this post which is instead about something that we do on holiday but rarely do when back home. Swimming. Like a family of elephants going on holiday, we also always take our trunks.

Swimming is an essential life skill that we should make more effort to teach our children. They have nailed the basics, love the water and manage to avoid sinking if we remember their armbands. Our eldest can manage a width or so of the little pool at a crawl. Our youngest prefers to splash. Lots. So much that we could hire him out as a minimum wage wave machine, like the one at Rhyl Sun Centre when we were kids which was also powered by a small child. No wonder it closed down.

Yes, teaching little people to swim is important. It’s just that, asides from the occasional milestone and a few minutes of fun before the chlorine destroys your retinas, it is all a bit of a pain.

Remembering the tonne of equipment, changing, showering, getting in, getting straight out as the toilet was needed after all, getting in again, wrestling an over excited splashtopus, apologising to everyone who got splashed, slide refusals, not being big enough to go on the slide yet tantrums, getting out tantrums, second shower with added shampoo complications… You get the drift.

But there’s a part of the process that makes the above look like child’s play. Getting dressed after the swim.

Yesterday, I again managed to draw the short straw (I’ve never seen any straws, but am assured that they do exist and that mine was definitely the shortest) and was put in charge of our soggy two year old.

The first challenge is to get your stuff from the locker to a cubicle without losing your child or any of the stuff. A tricky opener, made considerably easier if one of the nearby cubicles is free and family sized, which they never are – think towels on sun loungers. So it’s off to find a “normal” sized cabin, inside which you would struggle to swing a cat, had you been daft enough to have taken your cat swimming too. Never work with children and animals.

Once inside, you’ll find almost as much water on the floor as in the toddler pool. If there’s a hook, it’ll be too small to hang your bag on, forcing you to spread the dry clothes across the bench. A bench so small that it will struggle to seat a toddler’s bottom. At this point you’ll also regret not having hidden the post swim snacks better.

It’s hard to track the movements of your little person in such a confined space and at some point you will be convinced that they have escaped. They may well have done as it is obligatory for them to play with the door latch at all times. Cross your fingers that you’ve still got your trunks or swimming costume on if this happens.

Clothes and armbands removed, there will be no free floor space left. Fortunately, your two year old will provide an instant solution to the problem by kicking the wet kit through the gap into the adjoining cubicle.

Towels next. I find it better to quickly wrap both you and your child up, otherwise you risk yet another over animated conversation about your privates starting. And nobody wants to hear about that.

The next dilemma is who to get dressed first. I favour the grown-up as, tempting as it is, I’m slightly less likely to run off as soon as my shoes are on. A towel with a hood for your little person is a good distraction as you can buy enough time to dress while they pretend to be a ghost.

There should now be space on the bench and drying should be straightforward. Should. Sadly, the narrow bench will make it almost impossible to put a nappy on. Under ones will always roll onto the tiled floor – oops. Thankfully the less painful problem with a two year old is that they fill the bench and it’s the nappy that rolls off instead.

Nappies are amazing aren’t they? They barely retain the smallest amount of fluid produced overnight, but drop one on a changing room floor and it will suck a minor flood up in seconds. A dry floor is useful, but the nappy is useless. My top tip is to take three. One for the floor, the one that the tabs always rip off, and a spare for the child.

Thankfully, it’s downhill from here. Finish dressing, open the door, knock on the next cubicle to ask for your swimming costumes and armbands back, pack everything up and head to the cafe for a Panda Shandy and a Highland Toffee Bar. More sink than swim, but you did it. Well done.

If it took less than half an hour, award yourself a “star of the day” badge. Or a 10 metres swimming certificate, if you managed to swim as far as that. Go on. You’ve earned it you champion. Probably.



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