When the schools close their doors for the summer, our backyard gates open up. Take these last few days to prepare your patio for the fun-seeking, towel-snapping, sticky-faced (but loveable!) throngs.
Summer is a celebration of all things outdoors. Picnics and parties, pools and patios are at the center of the activities. A little planning and diligence go a long way in keeping your outdoor areas organized, clean and safe for kids. Here are 5 things you can do this weekend to get ready for the rush.
Even home pools should have the dreaded “Pool Rules” sign. While most pool owners know to go the distance with installing proper fencing, locked gates, and even alarmed pool covers and installing non-slick surfaces, most don’t think about signs. Check for details on what insurers and the law in your state require in terms of signage around your pool. Signs need to address things like diving warnings, unsupervised swimming, occupant capacity and more, including the kid-dreaded “NO RUNNING” rule. Posting signs and making sure guests understand them do not automatically make everyone safer or protect you or them from harm, but it is a requirement for responsible pool ownership.
Make a snack shack
The slip-slap of little wet feet pitter pattering around the patio is one of the best sounds of summer. It can turn into one of the worst if that sound is inside the house. Keep snacks and drinks somewhere outside, secure from (non-human) critters. Outdoor kitchens are perfect for stocking with kid-friendly foods, and it will cut down on the constant running back and forth to the fridge for drinks or yet-another-snack.
Make the pre-rinse fun
Set up an easy on/off hose or fun “car wash” sprinkler by the pool. A little rinsing before jumping into the pool with help keep the pool water cleaner and the filters in better shape. Tell the kids to rinse off any grass, mud, and snack crumbs in their hair and on their hands, feet and backsides. As the kids get older and bigger, adding an outdoor shower might be worth the effort.
Establish a towel routine
Experienced pool owners are groaning at the thought of another summer of wet towels in piles, draped over the fence or rotting away on the backs of the Adirondack chairs. The typical day of a towel goes the way of a Greek tragedy: Clean, fluffy and full of potential one minute and a moldy pile of mush the next. Kids tend to drop wet towels and run to the next fun activity. Getting them to respect the drying and cleaning process is a challenge. Clever and well-placed accessories like towel stands, drying racks and towel bins can help fight the mildew. A towel stand is a coat-rack like post that sports hooks for the towels. An every day (but sturdy) laundry drying rack can come in handy, too. A discreetly-placed, retractable clothes line is also a big help. Establish a hard rule that no towels end up on the ground. Once the day is done, towels go into a towel bin that can be carried (or dragged, more likely) to the laundry room. Older children can be tasked with starting the load at the end of day and putting them in the dryer before bed. Younger kids can fold them each morning.
Liven up the toy collection
Older kids can safely handle toys in the pool, but often grow quite bored with the same old ones. New games and toys come out every year. Floating table tennis, mermaid fins, waterproof cameras, underwater flashlights and more can entertain the teen and tween swimmer this summer. It’s worth a new look if you haven’t shopped around in a while. Be sure to clear the pool of all toys once the swimming is done. The materials need a break from the chlorine and a cleared, covered pool is the safest option for when it is not in use.
Take a day or two to prep
Spending time in the warm weather is what we look forward to all winter long. By taking a few days to open up the outdoor kitchen, spiff up the patio and prep the pool, you will be able to welcome the rush when school is over. Your kids and their friends, your family and neighbors and any surprise guests (there are always a few when you have a pool) will appreciate it.