Parenting Guru: Swimming Through Dollars

My twin boys first dipped their twenty toes into a swimming pool at six months. I was excited to introduce my boys to the sensation of water beyond the baby bath tub. We enrolled in a parent-and-me class at our local Y and in we all plunged, mom, dad and two babies. It was a lot of hassle but a whole lot of fun.

Then after a year of doing that, we took a break. When the boys turned three, we resumed swim lessons because at that age, kids can take lessons without mom and dad at their side. My husband was the working parent and could not always be counted on to help out with our twins in the water and lord knows, I couldn't have managed two babies in the pool by myself.

From age three to five, my boys continued their weekly lessons. On and on they swam, rocket arms stretched forward. Though my boys always had a blast in the water, their progress was slow. The swim school had a policy of not teaching its swimmers anything from the next level until everything from the previous level had been executed to perfection. Of course, there was always one thing my boys couldn't do perfectly and this kept their progress at bay. Basically, they were left treading water, so to speak.

I'd heard from other parents that swim lessons before age five can add up to a lot of money. I'd heard that it's better to wait and then to put them in week-long swim camps in the summer, where the swimming would be intensified and kids are apt to learn so much faster.

So while I was busy paying monthly fees to the swim facility, my friend bought an above ground pool for 250 DOLLARS and within a few weeks, her 5-year-old boys (twins, like mine) were swimming like fish! Sure, neither her twins nor mine knew how to do proper strokes, but when I think that I must have spent a couple of thousand dollars on swim lessons while she spent $250, I kind of think she got the better deal!

Of course, this doesn't mean my boys' swim lesson were all for naught. They learned about pool safety, they overcame any initial fear of water and they had fun every minute they were in that pool. However, from a strictly financial point of view, I have to say, my friend was wiser.

But that's how it's always been with me. I jump the gun, live in the moment and have to have everything now. Which is why I ended up with so much unnecessary baby gear when I was a new mom. I had to have that fancy, waterproof, designer diaper bag, while my friend made made an ordinary backpack work for her. A few years later, I was left with a closet full of useless diaper bags while my friend didn't have to deal with that sort of clutter. There's value in simplicity.

While there is nothing wrong with giving very young kids swim lessons, it does give me pause to think that I ought to have just invested in an above ground pool.


Akemi Bourgeois is a Yahoo! Parenting Guru and mom to twin boys. They live in the Bay Area. She writes at Chalk and Cheese Chronicles and edits the blog, Mad About Multiples. She is an editor of at Technorati Women. Follow her on Twitter: svtwinmom.

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