After a record-breaking winter of relentless snow, I am looking forward to sunshine and splashing around with my family. Since a summer home isn't in the cards for us and we don't have a pool, we rely on a neighborhood pool. After a few summers with kids under my belt I've figured out my pool priorities, and ours has become a true home away from home. Here are a few tips for choosing the right pool for your family.
1. Do the math. If you're lucky enough to have access to a free public pool then this isn't an issue, but if not then you're looking at a family season pass or day passes. Is a membership the best deal for your family? If you aren't certain that you'll go often then you might be better off paying the day rate. New in town? Maybe you want to test the proverbial waters and hold off on committing to one spot. Ask about perks. If members get reduced rates for swim lessons or birthday parties and you're contemplating either then a membership could pay for itself.
2. Look into the safety situation. Don't be sheepish about asking how many lifeguards are on duty per shift, and ask friends and neighbors for their impressions. If you keep hearing that a pool can get too crowded or stressful then it probably won't be the best spot for relaxing with family.
3. Figure out what features make sense for your family. A zero-depth splash pad is great for toddlers but boring for a teenager, and you don't want your preschooler begging to go down daredevil slides. Finding the right fit means that your kids will be eager to go back and you won't be sweating bullets on every visit.
4. Ask the right questions to rule out any deal-breakers. Is outside food permitted? Floatation devices? Swim diapers? If their rules don't align with your needs and priorities then look elsewhere.
5. Make sure that the schedule works for you. Some neighborhood pools have limited day hours to accommodate local day camps. Are you dreaming of an early morning lap swim or a twilight dip? Confirm that their hours jive with yours.
What do you look for in a neighborhood pool?
(Image credits: Roni Shapira Ben-Yoseph)