Parenthood

Single-handedly taking our two small kids (5 and 2) for a swim is a challenge that I do not take lightly.

I know that I must be in the full of my health to achieve this family outing: I must be rested, feeling positive and have an otherwise flexible schedule on the day in question to ensure that it is a stress-free event.

Will all the preparation, mentally and otherwise, in the world - it never ceases to amaze me how the whole effort of going for a swim always goes completely wrong.

Here are the 18 stages of this delightful family activity:

1. Hope

You feel confident that you can master this and that everyone will not only have the time of their lives, but they will thank you for days afterwards. Hope is an asshat.

2. Excitement

You let the kids know that a trip to the pool is definitely on the cards and they rummage through their wardrobes for arm bands and swimming hats with glee. You feel completely proud of your decision.

3. Regret

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As the toddler empties the packed swim bag for a third time, you wonder if you can get out of this now. But you've already told them and one of them has their float jacket on over her clothes, waiting by the front door. Damnit.

4. Nervousness

You mentally check all the things that could go wrong in your head. What if the water is too cold? What if the fancy wave machine isn't working today? What if your daughter takes a dump in the pool and it has to be evacuated? Take a deep breath and keep driving.

5. First Round of Relief

You get to the changing rooms and everyone is in good spirits and happy to hang about while you get them into swimming costumes and rubber rings. You imagine it will be the same on the way back out. You are 100% WRONG about that.

6. Panic

Every square inch of the wet changing room floor is a death zone. You shove bags and towels into the locker while roaring at your kids to just. stop. running and hold onto mammy!

7. Stress

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One of them just slipped on the floor anyway. You contemplate not even dipping one toe into that pool now.

8. Rage

The rubber wrist band with the key on it for the locker is half broken so it won't fasten to your wrist. You can't bear taking everything out and finding another locker so you just shove it down between your boobs instead. Be grand.

9. Glee

We're in the water! We're in the water! Everyone is happy now, we're floating around without a care in the world. The kids are having a BALL.

10. Boredom

You look at the pool clock and wonder if they'll know they've only been in for 15 minutes if you start giving them the countdown to get out now.

11. First Row

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"No, we've only just got here!!!" your five-year-old roars at you when you give it the ole '10 minutes, guys'. "You're the meanest mammy ever!!"

12. Second Round of Relief

The pool staff just sounded the alarm for 'Big Waves' - that'll buy you another 5 minutes or so.

13. Big Love For The Baby

"Mammy, poo poo". Fair play to her, she didn't shit in the pool. You instruct her big brother that you guys have to get out now one way or the other because you have to change her nappy.

14. Second Row

Carry-on and wailing from the pool to the changing rooms, no matter whether they've been in for 5 minutes or an hour. Threaten to never bring him to the pool ever again and mean it.

15. Regret

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Yes, you will feel regret several times throughout the course of this exercise. It's just the way it goes.

16. The Getting Dressed Dance

Getting you and two wet kids dry and dressed successfully in a slippery, and often gross, changing room at the pool is enough to drive anyone over the edge. We're talking negotiating, ordering, pleading, re-sitting them on the bench 14 times so they won't get their socks/bums/feet wet on the floor, shoving packets of crisps and raisins into their hands to keep them distracted, packing everything up, deflating EFFING rubber rings.. epic multi-tasking required!

17. Defeat

You pass the pool mirrors and realise you completely forgot to brush your own hair and look exactly as demented as you feel. Will you open up that backpack and search for the hairbrush? Not a hope. Carry on, soldier.

18. McDonalds

There is only one way to successfully cap a trip to the pool and that is a drive-thru at McDonalds. Nothing says 'I'm sorry for being such a crazy mammy today' like a Happy Meal and a thumbs-up through the rearview mirror.

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parenting, family time, being a parent