The public pool: sanctuary for the overheated or scourge for the overwhelmed? Having spent the better part of the summer parked poolside with my kids (and about two-thirds of the town population), I’ve come to the conclusion that if certain rules of basic conduct and human decency were observed by all my fellow swimmers (myself included), our sanity would no longer circle the pool drain.

1 | Do not bring the following items to the pool

  • Stuffed animals
  • Bubbles
  • Chapter books
  • Doritos
  • A battery-operated light saber
  • A hamster

2 | Swim diapers

Babies should wear swim diapers. If you’re not sure if it’s a swim diaper or not, put your baby in the water. If the diaper swells up like Jiffy Pop and then explodes in a sea of polyethylene, it was probably not a swim diaper.

3 | Horseplay

There should be no running, horseplay, running with horses, or cosplay on the pool deck.

4 | Bathroom break

If your child needs to use the pool bathroom, please make sure her feet do not make contact with the sludgy floor at any time

You may want to bring a spare towel for her to stand on for the 20 minutes it takes her to roll down her wet bathing suit and then get it back on afterward.

5 | Scented sunscreen

Please don’t use the sunscreen that smells like coconut. Every bee within a five-mile radius will swarm your family until you flee back to the locker room.

 

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6 | Only claim the chairs you need

Limit the number of lounge chairs you claim for your family. While the three of you are leisurely spread out over six chairs, my family of four is stacked on one chair like a bunch of soggy nesting dolls.

7 | Diving

No diving, unless the lifeguards aren’t looking and you’re really good at it.

8 | “Look at me!”

For heaven’s sake, please look at your child when he demonstrates his swimming skills! By the sheer number of times he’s requested your attention, he must be up to some serious Michael Phelps-level moves. Turn your head and look!

9 | Tech

If you’re looking to work on your laptop poolside, maybe don’t sit right next to the cannonball competition.

10 | First aid

First aid kits are located near the lifeguard stands. If you can’t find one, you can probably find a used band-aid stuck to the pool drain or the underside of your flip flop.

11 | Lifeguards

Please do not distract the lifeguards while they’re on duty. Things that are considered distractions are: asking to see their CPR certification, addressing them as “David Hasselhoff,” parading around wearing an N’Sync World Tour t-shirt un-ironically, or borrowing their megaphone to communicate to your husband by the snack bar that he should get extra cheese sauce on the nachos.

12 | Kiddie pool

The small pool over there is a kiddie pool, not a jacuzzi. The fact that it’s super-warm and bubbling tells you all you need to know about venturing in there.

13 | More sunblock

Do not let your kid use sunblock sticks. She will use it to write on her body and will have the word “butt” sunburned onto her forearm for the rest of the summer.

14 | Laps

The lap lanes are for disgruntled adults training for triathlons or channeling professional frustration through the butterfly stroke. Definitely not the right place for your ‘tweens’ handstand contest.

15 | Give up

When the chlorine, constant whistle-blowing, and whining about water being “too splashy” finally get to you, promise to take your kids to the beach tomorrow. That’s totally less stressful.