It’s hot. Oh, so hot.
The bastard birds and brilliant 4.30am sunlight have woken up everyone at the arsecrack of dawn and you have a sweaty little interloper in your bed acting like a violent hot water bottle.
Tired, grumpy and perspiring, today is not the day for adventures. Waaaah too much boob sweat. Today is the day for making the most of the garden, won’t that be fun kids! Let’s get out the paddling pool!
Of course, first you must venture into the garage, fending off spiders (I found a false widow in the sink the other day, it’s taken a lot of willpower not to burn the house down) and god knows what else (rats. There’s a rat in there. Or was, hopefully no more. But that’s a different story), to retrieve the paddling pool and pump. At this point you’ll probably become a bit annoyed that you didn’t clean it off very well last year, but no matter. You can just hose it down.
Next, you need to blow up the pool.
Easy peasy. Or should be, unless you realise it has a puncture, or maybe (like us) you have lost the end caps and basically despite having no storage space at all, you’ve been storing a useless bit of rubber for a year.
Amidst the whinging of disappointed, overtired and overheating children, you decide to ‘pop out’ to buy a new paddling pool and end up paying a ridiculous sum for a huge one because the one you wanted has sold out at Argos, because EVERYONE is buying paddling pools, because of course they are.
Never mind. Unperturbed you take the monster pool home, and providing you have the right attachments, pump it up. Gosh, it’s definitely bigger than the old one.
It’s important to select the most even part of the garden to site the pool (no mean feat here). Of course it also needs to be somewhere the hose can also reach, so you may have to compromise with a slightly sloping pool (which is fine until a toddler tries to walk in it). By this step you will most definitely have the interest of your children who will be standing next to you, dribbling placatory ice lollies everywhere, whining that they want to get in.
Next you just need to spend the next sixteen hours (or so) filling that sucker up.
Of course, it’s way, way too cold, even for the kids, so once filled you must spend another hour of your life hauling buckets of hot water from the kitchen to take the edge off.
Once you’ve done this though, it’s ready! Hurrah! A lovely cool, clean paddling pool that the whole family can enjoy. Time to swimsuit up, and get the kids in, bringing with them grass and suncream and general toddler muck.
Despite not being generally involved (unless you have a family sized pool and don’t mind the floating scum) it’s not a relaxing passive-parenting activity; you have to be ON HIGH ALERT and supervise the whole time. Watch them, like a hawk. You can’t chill out with a book or nip to the loo and leave them there, because they will drown each other. By the third time you stop one from trying to push the other over, you may start to wish you’d not bothered.
The ‘fun’ of a paddling pool can last all day, or five minutes, depending on their mood.
Once the fun is over, you are left with the decision of emptying and deflating, or leaving it overnight.
Now the emptying and deflating is obviously much better for the lawn, and of course means a fresh grass and mud-free paddling experience the next day should the weather gods smile again. It’s probably less likely to result in illness relating to fetid-paddling-pool-water-ingestion. However, it takes bloody ages and honestly who can be bothered for what might or might not even be five minutes of peace.
Being the lazy sods we are, we choose to leave it up, and instead net out the big pieces of crud and suicidal slugs until either it’s so grim the kids refuse to get in, it looks like toxic waste, or the inevitable slow leak deems it alarmingly unsafe. Whichever is sooner.
A word to the wise: Do not allow Play Doh or milkshake next to the paddling pool.
Maybe we should have bought a cover too, but they were sold out too (apparently a fitted sheet works? Too late for us I’m afraid…)*.
Anyway however you play it, at some point in late summer when the kids have absolutely lost all interest, you realise you probably won’t get much more use out it, and so you let it down and pack it away properly (terribly, it will never ever go back in the box I’m telling you that now) for you of next year to worry about, even though it would probably be more realistic just to chuck it away and buy a new one, because that’s what will happen anyway.
Have a lovely summer all!
You can read my top tips for surviving a heatwave with toddlers here!