Summer is in full swing and chances are, you’re making a trip to the pool a few times a week. There’s nothing worse than getting to the pool and realize you are missing a key item—like sunscreen. But on the flip side, overpacking a pool bag can result in lost items at the bottom of the bag—like your car keys.
I’ve created a list of the essentials to keep you organized this summer. Use this as a guideline and you’ll be able to pack up the kids in five minutes instead of a half hour.
The Bag: I recommend finding something sturdy and roomy that will hold up to lots of trips. We received this Land’s End tote as a gift after our daughter was born and it is the perfect bag to take to the pool (we use it for a million other things, too!).
Items That Stay in the Bag All Summer: Have these items in your pool bag at all times and you will do way less scrambling around when it comes time to hit the beach.
• Sunscreen. Keep a couple bottles (maybe one spray for little tots) and a special stick of sun balm for the face in your bag at all times.
• Towels: As soon as you get home from the beach, throw your dirty towel in the laundry and put a clean one in your beach bag. Stock your linen closet with a few beach towels so you are never without one.
• Goggles/beach toys: Depending on the age of your children, you’ll want to keep whatever their pool “essential” is in your bag at all times. Does your kid love to play with a bucket and shovel in the sand? Great! But don’t let that bucket leave the bag. Buy another to keep on your deck, but I promise you, you’ll forget it if it doesn’t stay in the bag. Plus, it’s a nice novelty for your child to have a toy at the pool that he may not have access to all the time at home.
• Backup Sunglasses: This one’s for you, mom! Buy a cheap pair to always have in your pool bag.
• Extra diapers/swim pull-ups: This is kind of a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget you used up your extra and not restock.
• Small pack of wipes: I know, you’re thinking your beach bag is turning into a diaper bag. But trust me, you’ll never regret having an extra few wet wipes with you, especially after your kid has peanut butter smeared everywhere after lunch and wants to jump in the pool immediately.
Items to Put in the Bag Right Before You Leave: I’m assuming you and your child are wearing a bathing suit, appropriate footwear and some sort of cover up when you leave the house. Here’s what else you should bring:
• Dry clothes for afterwards. This, of course, depends on how far you live from the pool. When I was a kid, we were so close that we’d just sit on a towel and throw a t-shirt over our wet suits on the way home.
• Bottles of water: Swimming is EXERCISE. In fact, it’s quite a workout. But since you don’t really sweat when you swim, that’s easy to forget. Keep your kids hydrated and remind them to drink plenty of water.
• Snacks/lunch: The snack bars at pools and beaches usually offer up greasy fries and hot dogs—tantalizing to a hungry child. And your child WILL be hungry after an hour in the pool. Pack up some sandwiches, fruit, string cheese and other healthy snacks so your kids won’t be tempted by the poolside hamburger haven.
• Your Essentials: Grab your wallet, keys and phone and find a safe pocket of the bag to stow them in—putting them in last will make them easier to find.
I hope these packing tips make getting out the door and to the pool or beach faster and easier for you and your family. Nobody wants to spend a half hour collecting beach gear when the sun in shining and water is beckoning!