Game plan: How to manage multiple kids at a water park?

I bagged taking all three kids by myself to Lake Lanier’s water park today. I panicked after I saw how many different slides there were.

You would think lots to do would be a good thing but for one parent trying to keep three different aged kids entertained and safe, it just makes it a nightmare.

We were going to go with a friend, but I didn’t feel like I could ask her to watch the baby while I went off with the big kids.

I also thought about asking my favorite babysitter along. I could leave her and the baby in the shallow end of the wave pool and go ride the slides with the two big kids. But then I got worried about being so far away from the baby. And it’s not like you can carry a cell phone.

If Michael was with me I think that split would work fine but I just don’t think I can take all three alone and keep them safe and entertained.

How do you handle taking multiple kids to the water park? Do you go with friends and have different adults supervise little groups – so like one mom could stay with the smaller kids while another takes the big guys on a slide? What are your water park strategies? Which parks do you like the best?

81 comments Add your comment

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 4th, 2010
9:53 am

Sorry this didn’t pop up earlier. I had a technical glitch.

JJ

June 4th, 2010
10:14 am

Oh Theresa, just wrap your kids up in bubble wrap and keep them inside. I swear you freak out over the silliest things. Your kids will be afraid to do anything if you keep this fear up. You really need to just let go and relax. There are some things that are out of your control.

My neighbor is so like you when it comes to her 2 year old granddaughter. She is constantly saying to that kid “No, don’t go there, don’t do that you’re going to get hurt, etc” She constantly hovers over that kid. I keep telling her “let her get hurt one time, and she will learn”.

How will your kids learn to solve problems on their own if you are constantly controlled by your fears?

Take the kids to the freaking water park and let them have a good time. Take one of your babysitters with you, and enjoy this time while your kids are little. One day you willl look back and go “Damn, we never had any fun”. And your kids will be terrified to do anything by themselves. Is that what you want?

Katie

June 4th, 2010
10:17 am

We went last year with 2 kids and both parents and it was hard to keep up with them! I feel your pain :)

Becky

June 4th, 2010
10:23 am

Theresa, you are so much like my Mother was..We were never allowed to go near the water, cause we didn’t know how to swim and so forth and so on..Like JJ said, take them to the water park and have fun..Aren’t Walsh & Rose old enough to know that when you tell them, stay within this far of me, that they better do it? My two will be 8 at the end of this month and I take them to the lake every year at least once alone..I make it clear to them that they have to stay “this close” to me and that’s it..

Again, like JJ said, one day you and yor kids are going to look back and say, wonder why we never did this and this..Then one of them is gonna pop up and say, oh yeah, Mom was scared for us to do that..Not a good thing for the kids to remember (on some things)..If neither of them can swim, make sure that they have water wings or floats..

Denise

June 4th, 2010
10:24 am

I have 2 kids – age 4 & 9 – and I would now go to a water park without my husband.

Denise

June 4th, 2010
10:25 am

sorry about the typo. I meant that I would not go to a water park without my husband. It would be too hard keeping up with everyone.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 4th, 2010
10:31 am

I would easily go to a pool at this point but the water park had like 6 or more different slides. So what I envision in my mind is them getting so excited and running to the slides. The 3 year old can’t do most, if any, of the slides I wouldn’t think so you need to have an adult with her and adult with them. We are going to a pool today alone. I feel totally fine about the pool but the multiple slides would be tough alone

TechMom

June 4th, 2010
10:35 am

Go! Take the babysitter but go. Your kids need to learn a little independence even if that just means walking up to the top of the water slide without you while you wait at the bottom with the baby. There are life guards- no is going to drown. Have a meeting spot so if you do get separated, they’ll know where to find you and tell them to find a life guard if necessary.

I am definitely not the overprotective parent. My mom worries enough for everyone in our family. Drove me nuts growing up. My 15 year old son is in Nicaragua for 2 weeks right now and do I miss him? Yes! But is he having a great time and learning to be independent? I hope so- I haven’t talked to him since the day after he arrived on Monday. Give your kids to live and grow T.

TechMom

June 4th, 2010
10:36 am

*Give your kids room to live and grow T.

Michelle

June 4th, 2010
10:42 am

T-take the babysitter and GO! You guys can switch after an hour or so (then she can enjoy the slides too!) I can see that it would be difficult with the age differences.

I would think that if the other two are within seeing distance, I would be ok with that! I have been letting my little guy have a little more independence. As long as I can see him (and vice versa), I can get to him quickly if needed. I can also watch and make sure he is making good decisions, like not running, cutting in line, being respectful of other people’s space, etc.

I think taking the babysitter is a great alternative to letting them run off on their own!

Monique

June 4th, 2010
10:51 am

Why not leave the little one at home being entertained by the great babysitter?

A Dad

June 4th, 2010
10:51 am

We’ve had White Water season passes the last couple of years and my wife takes the kids (two of them). They don’t usually go to the big stuff since they are little anyway; they play in the kiddie area and there are some slides there. They enjoy it!

Lori

June 4th, 2010
11:00 am

I’m with Monique. Why take the baby at all? A toddler maybe, but a baby? The older kids will probably appreciate a day out with Mom where the baby isn’t the center of her world that day!

I’ve done the park thing with little kids and big kids. If you are alone with the kids, then everyone has to sacrifice. The big kids can spend a little time in the splash pool for the tikes and you can sacrifice and hold the baby while the big kids ride some stuff. Otherwise, take a friend (I usually go with my sister) and we take turns with the little and big ones.

BB

June 4th, 2010
11:10 am

I have no idea since there is no info about how old the older kids are. Or the baby. Need the info.

CDD

June 4th, 2010
11:11 am

I wouldn’t go at all. Nor with all 4 of mine. There are just too many people at water parks for comfort for me. I might go if, like others suggested, I could leave my youngest at home (she’s 2) but then I’d have to pay a babysitter unless grandma was available. But I don’t think it would be a fun time for us. Not right now anyway, but maybe when they get a little older.

the truth

June 4th, 2010
11:17 am

And we wonder why todays kids ( teenagers ) grow up with no life skills. It is the result of helicopter parents who feel they have to hover over their kids at all times to “make sure they are safe”. Heaven help you the first day they go to school on their own.

HB

June 4th, 2010
11:21 am

I agree with others here. Either leave the toddler home with the sitter or take the sitter with you. Why are you so concerned about being across the park from the sitter and toddler in the baby pool? I mean we’re not talking about a little baby, here. Isn’t she like 3? If you don’t think your sitter can handle one 3-year-old for maybe an hour before you check back in, then you either worry too much or she’s not very good at her job. If you really are that worried about it, can you stay with the toddler and send the sitter on the slides with the big kids (you should plan on doing that at times anyway so your sitter can have a little fun too)? I don’t really understand the multiple slides issue. You can’t all go as a group on one slide at a time?

Back in high school, I went to the water park regularly with families of three or more kids. I traded off with the mom sometimes taking big kids on slides, sometimes keeping younger ones in the kiddie pool. Then there were a couple of spots for everyone — lazy river was entertaining enough for tired big kids for a lap or two and there was a big, but not scary, slide you could go down in single or double intertubes that kids as young as 3 enjoyed. We had so much fun!

CPT

June 4th, 2010
11:24 am

I told my kids (ages 4 and 6) that I would take them to a water park as soon as they learned to swim. Now they are really motiviated to learn!

The Cynical White Boy

June 4th, 2010
11:33 am

It’s refreshing to see anyone – ANYONE – who is still concerned about “supervising” the children they bring into this world.

You need look no further than the local store, or movie, or restaurant, or tourist attraction, to see children running around like little monsters with no respect for themselves or anyone else.

It’s a mystery of God’s creation that he allows us to create children physically when we can still be children mentally and emotionally.

Allie

June 4th, 2010
11:37 am

Theresa, it seems that your stressing & worrying over some activities sucks the fun out of them, and not just for you but for all involved. Have you thought about how all your fretting and worrying is affecting the kids? And isn’t your “baby” a toddler? Aren’t there plenty of toddler friendly areas for her to play in?

Go, have fun, take the sitter or a friend, and if (God forbid) something happens, cross that bridge when you come to it. But for the love of all that is holy, learn to relax or you’ll never enjoy anything that involves leaving the house with the kids!

jake

June 4th, 2010
11:41 am

south park has a great song about water parks, very true. It’s a shame white water and such became so trashy.

TDB

June 4th, 2010
11:47 am

The “baby” is 3 years old and should be fine with a sitter in the kiddie pool. the older kids are in elementary school, I think, and depending on the size of water park ( i have never been tothe one at lanier) should be able to go and slide without mom, if they stay together. as someone else said, there are lifeguards at each slide. the bigger kids could even check in with mom after each slide.

I think there are way too many ‘helicopter” parents. I have read stories where parents were even calling about jobs for their college graduates. For goodness sakes, teach your children a little independence.

Devildog

June 4th, 2010
11:54 am

Keep toddlers away from toddler areas. They crap in their diapers, some gets loose and e-coli quickly follows. Swimming’s version of buffets. Don’t you read your own paper? Check it out in the Archives.

Better advice: Don’t go until they’re older. They all begin to look alike in huge crowds at water parks and you might not see that your’s is the one that’s drowning.

Rob

June 4th, 2010
11:54 am

Jsut relax a bit and allow the older kids some independence. As far as the person who would take their kids when they learn to swim?????? They are 4 and 6 and ahve not learned yet? Please take them asap and get them lessons or soemthing…they need to learn to swim. I love the looks on some moms faces when my 5 year old runs to the deep end and dives in and swims underwater back to the ladder. She’s known how to swim since she was 2.
Have a great weekend yall!

Didn't Drown

June 4th, 2010
11:55 am

So, you “got worried about being so far away from the baby. And it’s not like you can carry a cell phone.” Oh…..my…..God! How did our mothers do it 40 something years ago without take-along babysitters and cell phones! How did we all survive? Oh, yeah – and our “waterpark” was the ocean!

Angela

June 4th, 2010
11:58 am

there is a great blog that most everyone will benefit from reading, whether you agree or not..
http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

I’m relatively young, and was allowed to be quite independent growing up. I am now alive, well educated, and financially secure. I had a few broken bones and multiple cuts and bruises, but all is well.

go have fun before you regret it.

JATL

June 4th, 2010
12:06 pm

OK -Theresa, you need to get a grip!!!! You thought about taking the babysitter along, but then decided you would worry about leaving the baby with her!?!?!?! WTF?! Don’t you leave the baby with her anyway? Good lord -as I’ve stated in the past, I had an extremely overprotective mother, but she wasn’t this bad. SO -you and the kids are bored at home today when you could be having a great time. Right now my nanny has my 19m old and my 4 year old at the neighborhood pool. There are two lifeguards plus her plus the 19m old’s coast guard approved flotation device. I’M NOT WORRIED -they’re having a great time! Guess what -I would take those two to White Water by myself too and play in the kids area, the wave pool and the little hooch -just telling my 4 year old that we couldn’t do the slides with baby brother along until Daddy was with us. I would CERTAINLY have no issues leaving the baby with the nanny or sitter if we took her.

Here are two things we’re doing this summer that will probably make your hair fall out from fear, but guess what -they’re NORMAL and FUN, and I thank God that since my mother isn’t here anymore to give us adults-only weekends and getaways now and then, that we can afford to take our nanny to the beach:

1) We’re going camping by a BIG lake in late June with another family. There could be BEARS and cell phones don’t work and we’ll all probably get mosquito bites. The kids could go running off any time into THE LAKE! There will be open fire at night! But -we’ll be watching them-but not smothering them. Sleeping in the woods and playing in nature is a good thing.

2) We’re headed to the beach for a week in July. The nanny is going, and I’m SO freaking excited to be able to have some beach and pool time that doesn’t involve chasing children for hours. I’m excited about that too -but to have a couple of mornings or afternoons and some nights out -it will be a true vacation for all of us! And guess what -the nanny is allowed to take the kids to the beach OR the pool -whichever one we’re not at during the times we designate as “our” time.

Seriously -you need to quit the helicopter routine. As I said yesterday -you’ll harm your kids more than help them.

shaggy

June 4th, 2010
12:09 pm

I enjoy adventure, but getting in e-coli, baby/kid – poop/pee water is not for me. Go ahead and flame away to convince me that your little angel would never do that, or that you staple orifices shut for a trip to the water park. I don’t care. Might as well take them to a storm sewer for a slide, except there would be less excreting going on in the storm sewer.

JATL

June 4th, 2010
12:13 pm

@TechMom -Kudos to you sending your son to Nicaragua on a summer trip! That’s an experience he’ll look back on his whole life, and he will learn from it too!

Elliot Garcia

June 4th, 2010
12:15 pm

stick with 2 kids….one for each parent

JATL

June 4th, 2010
12:16 pm

@TWG -also, listen to the others commenting about how your worry and fear affects your kids. My mother and her siblings were always CRAZY worriers -AND they had sometimes crippling anxiety over everything. Seriously -anxiety so bad they had to take anti-anxiety drugs all the time. This came from their mother who saw death and fear at every corner. In turn -THEIR kids (including me) have all, at times, been somewhat wild and reckless (read yesterday’s comments) because the thing we really wanted most was freedom -and to NOT be like our mothers or fathers with the crippling anxiety and worry. Really think about the lessons you’re teaching the kids.

Mike Luckovich Sucks

June 4th, 2010
12:19 pm

south park has a great song about water parks, very true. It’s a shame white water and such became so trashy.

Hello, exactly!

It’s a PITA! RESPECT MA AUTHORITA

———————————————————————————————————————————-
Mike Luckovich is a no-talent hack. And his “artwork” sucks.

JJ

June 4th, 2010
12:24 pm

If you think older kids don’t pee in the pools, you are sadly mistaken…..

I was at a BIG LAKE this weekend, with numerous kids, aged 2 – 11. Our cabin was right on the water, literally 10 feet from the steps of the porch. The older kids were jumping off the boat dock into GASP 10 feet deep water……guess what, they were having a blast. Not one parent was overly concerned. We were all looking out for the kids!!!! they were having a blast, and making memories.

This will kill Theresa – but I took all the kids on a “midnight walk” around the campsite. Guess what, we didn’t see any bears, snakes, etc. and no one got hurt. They absolutely LOVED walking in the woods in the dark. Of course we had a flashlight, but I was holding it. We told ghost stories while we walked and I was trying to scare them by making noises and going “What was that”???. It was such fun. Even the 2 year old was laughing ang giggling.

Photius

June 4th, 2010
12:36 pm

I think Theresa is flat out nuts. Good grief. Time to beging injesting a Valium, honey.

the truth

June 4th, 2010
12:42 pm

Don’t go to the water park because you might get E – coli. WTF. Besides you might get in a car wreck ( more likely that e coli ) on the way. Might as well just stay home. But then a tree might fall on your house from the afternoon thunderstorms. ETC. ETC. …. Get a friggin grip.

time to let go

June 4th, 2010
12:54 pm

Good grief! Your older two are certainly old enough to not run off, or to be perfectly safe going down water slides by themselves. Since when is a 3 year old a baby? Apparently, none of these poor children are ever going to be allowed even an iota of independence. You don’t do you children any favors by treating them like infants.

catlady

June 4th, 2010
12:56 pm

Theresa, I don’t see this as a “no go” for you by yourself IF YOUR CHILDREN ARE UNDER YOUR CONTROL. That is, that they will do what you tell them. (ie,” Walsh wants to go on this one, so Rose and I will wait at the bottom. You can go with him, or come to the bottom with us. Then we will go to the slide you want to try.” But establish the rules ahead of time, and stick with them!

And if one of them does not recognize your authority, you gather them all up and leave, and the next time that child does NOT go. Lesson will be learned quickly, if it still needs to be taught. Then you can teach them that they can all have fun, WITHIN YOUR PARAMETERS. As they get older, you give them each a little more space. This could be a wonderful learning experience for everyone, as they are motivated to “keep mom happy.” But you absolutely have to make it a pout-free, whine-free zone for everyone.

So–GO! Give yourself (not to mention your kids) some happy memories of the family having fun together. Your fearfulness could have a very negative impact on the kids, either making them more fearful or more determined to do truly risky stuff to show that they are not scared! When they are 13 or 14, that is NOT a point you want them to be h3ll-bent on proving!

TT

June 4th, 2010
1:01 pm

T – you need to get a life.

You either go full time to work and let a nanny/daycare take care fo the kids or you need to start disciplining your kids.

There is no reason why one person could not watch 2 elementary school kids and a 3 yr old in a water park if kids are well raised and disciplined.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 4th, 2010
1:08 pm

My waterpark strategy was to only have one kid. Easy to keep an eye on, don’t feel like he’s too much to handle, don’t have to pay for help, can do it without the wife (although she’s fun to have there too!), only one entrance fee, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I don’t feel the urge to constantly complain, opine, or nail myself to a cross to show what I martyr I am for the sacrifices I’ve made for my children. Works out pretty well.

My suggestion would be to take them one at a time.

catlady

June 4th, 2010
1:10 pm

BTW, at 9 and 7 your two oldest are good swimmers, right? If not, get them into lessons immediately (and leave while they are taking them, or turn your back) Lillia is old enough to have lessons now, also.

Also btw, how is your mother doing? and your dad? My DIL had a similar situation arise with her grandparents just last week–grandfather refused to deal with grandmother’s sudden severe illness, as it conflicted with what he wanted to do at the time. Still does not want to take care of her when she is released–expects her to take care of his needs, instead! They are having to get help from a social worker to plan for her dismissal, as it does not look like he is competent/willing to take care of her, and is being verbally abusive because he doesn’t want his routine disturbed.

Hope all of yours are on the mend.

FCM

June 4th, 2010
1:13 pm

Ex Lifegaurd….How well do Rose and Walsh swim? If it is reasonably well or excellent than they could go on slides with the sitter as long as they go on the same one as the same time. OR you could take them. What a great opportunity to teach about taking turns.

As for the baby with the sitter or you she is likely to be just fine. If your THAT concerned then offer to pay for the class if she will take the Lifegaurding one. It is a great skill to have anyway.

I can understand the delima with the baby to older kids. I cannot understand why you would say no all together.

You can also make them all wear life vests (mine did at 4 and 6) to on the slides.

You stated the problem yourself “I envision in my mind” You realize that you cancelled a wonderful memory because you became so scared of something that “might” happen. In that case don’t drive you “might” get in a wreck—I was almost in one this morning after all.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 4th, 2010
1:15 pm

Hey catlady — the two oldest are great swimmers and Lilina is working hard at swimming. I worry more about losing them than drowning at the big water park — lanier is big!!

mom is doing really well. saw two more doctors this week and she is doing great. no lasting effects but is taking it seriously. so maybe a good warning to help lower her stress level. she’s pretty healthy other than stress!!!

that is terrible about your grandfather — i think it’s hard for them to accept. I was just talking with my neighbor about some of her older relatives that need to be in at least assisted living and her cousin is having hard time convincing them. it’s tough.

YUKI

June 4th, 2010
1:18 pm

Tiger!! Hee hee! I’m laughing at your response. Having only one child myself, I love it!

Becky

June 4th, 2010
1:20 pm

Like JATL, we took ours to the mnts. last year..Vogel no less right after Meredith Emerson was taken and killed..We slept in a cabin(neither one of us camp), had a big fire outside (at night) and the kids had a great time..Yes, the girl did get her arm burnt with a stick (roasting marshmallows), loaded her up in the car, took her to the drugstore, got meds. and went right back..

And gasp, I took both of them (age 5) to VA. by myself..Never gave it any thought, other than that we were going on vacation.. I’ve driven them to KY. several times without any concerns..Like cataldy said, give your chilren some memories of good times together..

Becky

June 4th, 2010
1:27 pm

Why would you take a nanny or babysitter on a family vacation? Isn’t that what it’s all about? Family time? Guess I missed that one..If I wanted to have time without the kids, I would leave them with a babysitter at home, not take them, then make them stay with the sitter..

FCM

June 4th, 2010
1:29 pm

Go scream….when I was a kid my brother and I were both on swimteam, so by the time we were 8 we were both going to the pool (10 min car ride or 20 min bike ride) by ourselves. We rode from near Lower Roswell Rd through Indian Hills to close to Roswell Rd. By 12 we were biking up Roswell Rd to Merchant’s Walk….yes the one right next to busy Johnson’s Ferry. We had enough sense not to get on the roads or even close to JF Rd.

Now my 2 like to act like pinballs. When they do that it is time for us to leave. Like Catlady said it doesn’t take long for the lesson to get learned.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 4th, 2010
1:33 pm

This blog is going to be fascinating when TWG’s oldest applies for and decides to attend college at…ohhh…I don’t know, NYC or U of Washington. It’s going to be like that Jim Carrey movie Truman, where we just watch TWG go slowly insane with worry in a total lack of control over her children.

JJ

June 4th, 2010
1:36 pm

We used to ride the city bus to the Community Pool, all by ourselves at 10 & 8 years of age. My dad worked across the street from the pool, but we didn’t ride with him. We walked down to the corner (1/2 mile from our house), and got on the city bus and rode to the swimming pool. We usually rode home with Dad.

I fell at that pool one day and had to get stitches in my chin. We simply gathered up our stuff, and walked across a busy street to my dad’s office, and he took me to the ER…..I think I was 10 at the time.

We also used to ride the city bus to the Mall, and hang out at the mall, when we were about 12 & 14. The we would get back on the bus and head home. ALL BY OURSELVES….

JATL

June 4th, 2010
1:41 pm

@Becky -read the whole post. Since my mother is dead now, we don’t have the opportunity to take any weekends or vacations without children. If we want ANY alone time on a vacation, we have to take someone who can watch the kids for an afternoon here and there. This is why a lot of resorts have babysitting services and kid’s camps -for parents who don’t have the luxury of leaving the kids with grandparents for a weekend or week! I don’t know about you, but I actually like to be alone on the beach for a few hours with a book! I love playing with the kids on the beach too, but one of my top joys on earth is to read, undisturbed with the waves rolling in and a cold beer in my hand. My husband and I also like to go out to adult dinners and bars one or two nights while on vacation. We definitely plan to spend most of our time with our kids, but Jesus, I don’t get people who seem to think you’re never supposed to have another minute to yourself after you have them! I would KILL to be able to have our own vacation, but this is where I draw the line -not going to leave a 4 year old and a 19m old with the nanny day and night for an entire week or even a weekend. During the day is one thing -24/7 for several days is completely different. It’s not like they’ll be locked up in the condo when she’s watching them either -they’ll be at the beach or the pool too having fun.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 4th, 2010
1:52 pm

@JATL…I have to say…I’m with you and all for getting away from the kid for some alone time with my wife. We’ve got grandma in town this weekend so we can take off to the mountains for a few days. It’s funny because every time my wife talks about going somewhere I always hold a hand up between me and my son, point at him with the other hand so he can’t see me and mouth to her “do we have to take him???”

Don’t get me wrong…love my kid…and I love going places with him and showing him new things…but I love those “love trips” to Vegas without him just as much!