How do I feel about taking my kids to the pool?

It’s complicated.

I love being in the water, but with a 5-year-old who calls herself a penguin and a 3-year-old who’s less excited about swimming, it’s a lot of work, man.

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On a recent Sunday afternoon, my husband and I decided to divide and conquer at a trip to the North Clackamas Aquatic Center for their Big Surf! recreational swim time. The huge indoor Aquatic Center boasts a lap pool, wave pool, hot tub overlooking the wave pool (mental note for when the kids are older), two slides, a toddler area with splash buckets and water jets, an additional kiddie pool with a small slide, and a rock wall.

My husband and our 5-year-old daughter, Adela, immediately headed over to the wave pool for some serious swimming. My 3-year-old son, Cruz, and I stuck to the much more low-key toddler section. He was content to have me bounce him around and explore the area as we got splashed from dump buckets and passing kids.

We ran into a snag when he wanted to go investigate the kiddie pool with seal slide, which for reasons unknown was not heated. So I stayed submerged in the toddler area and watched as he started making a game of going back and forth between the pools. (“Remember to walk!” I said a bazillion times.) Another mom whose son was doing a similar thing sat down by me and remarked that I had the right idea since the other pool was so cold.

When my daughter and husband came back from the wave pool, Adela convinced her little brother to go down the seal slide, and they happily slipped and slid together. (“Remember to walk!”)

My husband often takes Adela on the big water slides at the Mount Scott pool, but North Clackamas Aquatic Center permits only one rider at a time on their pink and yellow slides and that person must be 48 inches or taller. She wasn’t tall enough, so my husband took a few turns down the slides by himself. (Adela was not disappointed about skipping the water slides, but keep that height requirement in mind if you have a kid who’s desperate to shoot out of a big slide.)

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As we were heading back to the locker room, Cruz slipped in a puddle. (“Are you okay? That’s why I keep saying to walk!”) He was fine. The North Clackamas Aquatic Center does offer family changing rooms, which are clutch when taking kids to the pool solo. Since we had two grown-ups, we each took a kid to our respective locker rooms. Things to keep in mind: lockers cost $1, the showers aren’t private, and soap and shampoo are not provided (both of which I forgot.)

On the plus side, the lobby Surf’s Up Café serves up food including snacks, salads, sandwiches, pizza, ice cream and kids’ favorites like PB&J and chicken nuggets. This is super smart because I know my kids are always starving after a trip to the pool.

All in all, we had a great trip. The center was hopping, but because the space was so big it never felt overcrowded. They had features to please my fearless swimmer, but even my tentative splasher had plenty of fun.

Denise Castañon
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