Pool Safety Starts With Swim Lessons

Today I’m sharing a guest post from Kaitlin Gardner of An Apple Per Day. As a fellow former college swimmer, we both love the water and want to pass that on to our kids. At the same time, we want our family to be safe in and around the water. Kaitlin shares the “why” as well as how to get started with swim lessons. (I’m taking notes!)
Pool Safety Starts With Swim Lessons

When we started a family, I had a long list of things I wanted to teach my kids. One of them was being comfortable around the water. I knew they would eventually hang out with their friends at the community pool, and we might go on beach vacations. I wanted them to be safe, and for me that meant swim lessons.

The importance of lessons. I read an article that said one of the biggest causes of death among young children was from drowning. The article also stated that formal swim lessons could reduce the risk of a child fatality by as much as 88 percent. That really convinced me that lessons were in our future. I read some other resources with more information, and here they are:

How soon can lessons start? It is suggested that a child is not ready for formal swim lessons until they are around 3 to 4 years old. By that age, they will have developed sufficiently to be able to participate, and will have enough attention to hear and retain what is being shared. But the process of swim lessons can start as early as 6 months, where a child is able to get in on Mommy and Me classes. While those groups don’t actually teach swimming skills, they are a wonderful orientation to get a child comfortable. Later when they are signed up for a group swim lesson, it’s not their first introduction to the water.

Where are lessons held? Typically you can find a swim lesson schedule at places like the YWCA or YMCA. There are also swim schools in most localities. A simple way to find lessons is just as simple as doing a Google search for “kid swim lessons” and add your locality.

Are lessons a summer thing? What if my child is developmentally ready now, but it’s now fall and heading closer to winter? I thought about this one, and then realized there was a real logic to signing my kids up in the fall for swim lessons. First, what do kids want to do in the summer? They have just gotten out of a year of school, and anything that is labeled “lesson” will make them wrinkle their nose. In the fall, kids are back in the habit of school, will pay attention better and be able to concentrate during lessons. So I signed my kids up in the fall, and it worked out great.

Mommy or the instructor? I used to swim competitively in college, which is where I got the love of water that I want to pass on to my kids. But just because I can swim well doesn’t make me a swim instructor. I don’t know the formal methods used to properly instruct a child on swimming safety, learning strokes, and the other things needed. Also, I have enough power struggles with my hard headed boys – I don’t want to try to get their attention for something as important as learning to swim.

Formal lessons mean a lifetime skill. It was amazing to see how quickly my boys grew in confidence around the water after they had swim lessons. Part of it was the instructor. He was very professional so every lesson had a purpose, and there was no wasted effort. I would have rolled my eyes at trying to corral a rambunctious group of youngsters, but he had no problem keeping them in line. Now they have a skill that they’ll never lose, that will benefit them all through their lives.

As I sit and watch the kids play in the community pool, I just have to smile at how comfortable they look. Lessons paid off, and they now practice safe habits around the water.

Kaitlin Gardner started An Apple Per Day to explore her passion for a green living lifestyle, and healthy family living. She and her husband have just moved to rural Pennsylvania, where they enjoy exploring the countryside to discover interesting and out of the way places. She is also learning how to paint watercolors.

DIY Halloween Trick or Treat Bag

DIY Trick or Treat Tote

With Halloween two weeks away, I’m finally starting to get in the spirit of the season. Which is an improvement on last year when I made Monica’s dinosaur costume only a few days before the big day. And yes, this year’s costume is still a work in process. However, I found the time to sew her this perfect little trick or treat bag.

DIY Trick or Treat Bag

Last year, we only carried her to a few neighbors’ houses. This year, we’ll walk to a few houses as a family. And since Monica loves acting like the big kids and adults, she obviously needed her own trick or treat bag. I don’t plan on letting her eat any of the candy, but she already enjoys carrying her bag and putting things in and taking them out.

I can’t say exactly how long it took me to sew this tote since I didn’t do it all in one sitting and was taking pictures along the way. If you’re an adept crafter, you can probably whip one up during nap time. If not, you have two weeks!

Halloween tote supplies

Halloween tote fabric and felt

4 pieces of orange fabric, cut 13 inches wide x 14 inches long
4 strips of green fabric, cut 1.75 inches wide x 13.73 inches long (this was the total width of my green fabric cut into four equal strips)
1 sheet of black felt (I only used about half)
Thread (orange, green, and/or black depending on if you want things to coordinate or contrast)

Scissors/rotary cutter
Cutting mat
Sewing machine
Serger – optional
Iron and ironing board

green straps

We’ll start bymaking the straps first. Pin two strips of green fabric together with the right sides of the fabric touching. Repeat for the second pair of green strips.

sewing the straps

Sew the pieces of fabric together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Repeat.

turning the straps right side out

Turn the straps right side out. I pin a safety pin to one side of the strap, pushing it through the opening, and pulling it out the other side.

finishing the strap

Press the straps with the iron. Finish the straps by sewing down the sides (1/8 inch seam allowance).

pin the straps to the right side of the tote

Pin the strap to the right side of one of the tote panels. Make sure the loop of the strap is facing down. I pinned mine to the panel that would ultimately be the lining of my tote. Repeat with the second strap and panel.

stitch the strap to the side panel

Stitch the strap to the side panel, about a 3/8 inch seam allowance. You’ll be sewing the bag together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, so you want to be sure the straps are sewn within that allowance. Set these panels aside.

BOO felt letters

Cut the letters “BOO” out of the felt. Each letter was about 4 inches tall and 3 inches wide.

BOO letters in process

Pin the letters to one of the outside panels. Sew the letters onto the panel. I used orange thread for a little contrast, but you can also use black if you want it to blend in. This might be a good idea of you don’t want any mistakes to stand out.

pin the sides of the tote right side together

It’s now time to assemble the tote! Pin the right sides of the outside panels together. Repeat with the inside panels (make sure the straps are inside and facing down).

Sew the outside panels together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance, leaving the top open. Repeat by sewing together the inside panels. You’ll now have two “bags.”

create the bottom corner

If you want, you can sew the corners to create a boxed bottom. Pull apart the sides at one of the bottom corners so that the side seam is directly on top of the bottom seam and the corner forms a sharp point.

Mark a line perpendicular to the side seam at the point where the corner is 4 inches across (the seam should be at the 2 inch mark).

Sew along the marked line and then trim off the excess fabric, about 1/4 inch above the sew line. If you have a serger, you can serge the edges together. If not, don’t worry since the raw edges will be hidden.

pin the bags right side together

Pin the two bags together, rights sides touching.

pin the bag right sides facing and match the seams

Make sure to match the seams up when pinning them together. You’ll want to start pinning at the seams and then work your way around to make sure everything is even.

Sew the bags together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Leave an opening larger than two inches, or else you’ll have to deal with this once you turn the tote right side out:

turn the bag right side out through the opening

Seriously, I think it took me about 15 minutes to pull everything through that tiny opening. The straps and felt letters were a little bulkier than expected.

leave an opening greater than 2 inches wide

I’d say a 3 inch opening would make things easier.

hand stitch the opening closed

Press the bag with your iron and hand stitch the opening shut using a slip stitch.

If you’re feeling fancy, finish the bag by sewing 1/8 inch in all the way around the top.

Happy Halloween!

DIY Halloween tote

Dressing for a Fall Wedding with Rent the Runway

It’s no secret that I love me some Rent the Runway. Having rented two dresses and written many a blog post featuring their dresses and accessories, Rent the Runway is my “saving money with style” dream come true. I love that a gorgeous dress can be yours for 4 days, starting at $30 (or up to almost $500, if you’re feeling extra schmancy) plus applicable shipping and insurance. Accessories start at $10….a total steal! So when we received a wedding invitation from a fellow Saint Louis University alumni and friend, I thought about how I could create an outfit featuring the signature SLU royal blue. I settled on this blue beauty, which can be rented for $80 plus shipping and insurance.

Why do I love Rent the Runway so much?

The convenience is one of the biggest perks. If the wedding is out of town, I don’t have to worry about packing a dress, let alone two sizes of the same dress. I’ve scheduled my dresses and accessories to arrive the day before the wedding and they’ve always arrived early. And once the festivities are over, all I have to do it put everything back in the pre-addressed return envelope and drop them in the mailbox.

Another perk of RTR is the option of two dress sizes being delivered to you. I tend to shy away from online shopping because I like to try things on in person. However, getting out of the house and trying on dresses can be a challenge with a baby and/or toddler. Fortunately, past renters leave reviews of the dress’s fit on RTR to help you pick out the proper size.

Finally, RTR includes a small insurance policy with each rental. That means I don’t have to worry about spilling wine or salad dressing on my dress. And if Monica drops her dinner on me, RTR’s dry cleaning has that covered too.

I should also add that everything I’ve rented has arrived in perfect condition!

I still haven’t decided what I’m wearing to the wedding. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of time to reserve this dress ;)

*No, this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really like RTR. If you also have a wedding on the calendar and are looking for a lovely dress at a lovely price, you can sign up through my Rent the Runway referral link, and we’ll both get $20 off our next orders. Muchas gracias!

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