Regardless of the season or the reason for being there, I love the pool. During the steamiest days of summer, there’s nothing more relaxing than lounging with a good book and taking occasional dips to refresh — only when you visit a pool with eight-year-old twin boys, it’s not so relaxing. Why? Two words: Water. Guns.
On normal days, my boys go for anything that shoots or looks like it shoots — think Nerf guns, foraged twig “rifles,” toilet paper roll “pistols,” and marshmallow shooters fashioned out of PVC pipe and foam. But come summer in the world of boys, nothing beats a good water gun.
Sadly, water guns have transformed my previously peaceful pool outings into something resembling an aquatic battleground. Having observed boys (not just mine), the pattern is pretty clear: They either have a water gun, trade for one, or swipe one that’s been discarded. In other words, somehow, some way boys find a weapon, then proceed to sneak-attack unsuspecting siblings, kids, or cute girls who aren’t impressed and want nothing to do with them… until I march over and play General Mom telling them to cease and desist.
So instead of relaxing, I have to be constantly on guard, playing cop to make sure things don’t go too far. I’m starting to wish water guns would be outlawed… and at one pool in our area, they actually were. My feelings have nothing to do with being anti-gun or anti-fun. I just want the chance to chill when I’m at the pool. Is that too much for a mom to ask?
All joking aside, I don’t want water guns outlawed. They’re what used to be known as “good, clean fun” — and water battles allow boys to indulge their inner warriors in a harmless way. That said, too much aggressive water play becomes a nuisance, not just for moms but for other pool-goers. So, I dug up a few creative alternatives for mothers like me who (selfishly) want to relax a little this summer…
1. Diving for treasure
The only thing my boys like more than guns is treasure. Send kids on a “sea hunt” diving for “buried” treasure which can range from sinkable pool toys to actual moola (aka coins)!
2. Swim races
Every kid loves a good challenge. Swim races — whether speed drills or “how long can you swim underwater?” — will keep kids occupied and active for long stints.
3. Noodle fights
Styrofoam pool noodles offer boys a chance to engage in battles, only without the 15-foot spray of water to annoy other swimmers.
A snorkel mask allows kids to swim underwater for longer periods so they become more interested in what’s going on under the surface than what’s happening above.
5. Ping pong ruckus
Divide players into two teams and have them spread out in the pool, touching the walls. Dump a bucket of ping pong balls into the water. Players have to gather the balls and carry them back to their team’s bucket. Whoever gathers the most balls wins!
6. Shark in the water
One player is named “Shark” and dons goggles and flippers. Shark starts in the water and all other players out. Players jump into the pool and try to swim to the edge without getting tipped by the shark. Players are only allowed to stay out of the pool for five seconds at a time. Once someone gets ‘tipped’ by the shark, they become shark.
If all else fails, there’s always the option of putting down your book, climbing out of your cozy lounge chair, jumping into the pool, and participating in water warfare yourself. Just to shut your kids down. Very satisfying and highly recommended… trust me, I’ve done it!