We spent two days this week at an indoor waterpark with my 4, 6, and 8 year olds. For the majority of the time, it was Hubs and me with the kids, so we at least had 2 on 3. For several hours when we first got there, it was just me, so I had to figure out how to keep the kids happy and safe. I thought I’d pass along tips for spending a day a waterpark with young children. Even though my number one tip would be to have at least one adult for every child you have with you, I know that’s not usually realistic.
Designate a meeting spot and know who to ask for help
An easy meeting spot can be wherever you put your things down- but that could be hard to find for young kids. Pick a landmark that is easy to spot instead. With each attraction we went on, I’d tell my kids where to wait when they were done in the cases where we couldn’t all go together. Like “get out of the water at the bottom of the slide but wait right there and watch for the rest of us to come down.” Also show them what the helpers look like- point out the lifeguards and show them what employee uniforms look like.
Expect to get wet
I know this seems like a no-brainer. You’re at a waterpark, you’re going to get wet. But I saw lots of moms of little ones who looked unhappy as their shorts or pants were dripping wet- bottoms that didn’t look like they were ever intended for the water. Maybe they thought that their little ones would only want to go on the smaller water attractions and they’d be able to watch from the sidelines. But unless you are okay with losing sight of your child, you’re probably going to have to venture in with them. And even if all your child wants to do is go into a shallow wading pool, there is always the chance they could slip and need your help. So wear a bathing suit and don’t worry- all the other moms are too busy watching their own kids to care what you look like in yours.
Ask about height restrictions and age appropriateness
My boys had to be measured and wear a colored wristband according to their height, which showed which attractions they could do on their own, which they needed a parent with them, and which they couldn’t do no matter what. Check out brochures and signs for information on what attractions are appropriate. I liked to ask the lifeguards at the bottom of the slides- if I asked right after they helped someone at the bottom, there was usually a little bit of time until the next people would come down. They helped clarify what the height restrictions were for that slide and were good for tips like “Your youngest can ride with you. If you put your legs under his arms, that will help keep him up in the tube in front of you.” No need to wait in a line only to find out at the top that the kids couldn’t go.
Wear life jackets
Unless your kids are really amazing swimmers, life jackets can help with your peace of mind. While there were certain attractions where the depth of the water was not a concern, there were other areas where it was. And even with my oldest who can swim rather well, I didn’t want to imagine any sort of scenario where he could get knocked into deep water and panic because he wasn’t expecting it. And even though there were plenty of lifeguards on duty, they can’t see everything, especially in an area where there are lots of kids splashing around.