Summer Sun & Fun with #Swimways

I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for SwimWays. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
I don’t know how it is in the summer where you live, but here in Texas, we have two key ingredients to summer survival: water and air conditioning.  When you have kids, the water part, while fun, can also be incredibly stressful.  I’ve found that quality water safety products can make a mom’s (or dad’s!) life so much easier when pool/beach/lake season hits.  Good support products also make for smooth transitions to water activities for younger children, setting the stage for a lifelong love of swimming and promoting confidence and independence.  

The Swimways brand has been helping children learn to swim for over 40 years, and they’ve even created the Swim Steps program, making it easy for parents to navigate entry into the world of swimming and for children to become confident swimmers.  If you’ve followed my blog much, you already know that I don’t pay empty lip service to products, and I only choose to work with companies in whom I truly believe, no matter the compensation.  So when I say that Swimways is a best bet for peace of mind, you can rest assured that I really mean it.

Read on for my review of what is, in my opinion, the single best baby float on the market today: the Swimways Baby Spring Float.  (Along with some photos of our non-traditional swim party/photo shoot….)

As soon as our Baby Spring Float came in the mail, Thing 1 and Thing 2 immediately began the “Let’s Go Swimming Nownownownownow” Campaign.  Planning to do a formal photo shoot at a later date, we obliged, and the kids LOVED it.  And let me tell you, this mama loved it too.  Keeping track of a rowdy preschooler and an adventurous toddler can be trying at the best of times.  Throw in a pool, and you can easily have a recipe for Mama Meltdown.  Honestly, though, I feel like the Baby Spring Float gives me a way to gently introduce Thing 2 to the water, while still being able to play with Thing 1, who is still not ready to swim independently yet.  

Some things I loved:

  • Sturdy construction:  the materials used on this float are truly quality.  They feel strong and durable, and the float manages to be both substantial and lightweight all at once.
  • Quick pop open design: When your kids are ready to get in the pool, they’re ready NOW, and you don’t have time for a labor intensive float/toy process.
  • Removable, multi-position canopy: I love this canopy! It’s easy to put on and take off, and it can be used in a full upright position or clipped back at a recline.  So much versatility!

The only real “complaint” I have is that it took me a minute to figure out the valves on the small section that inflates.  At first I thought it wasn’t working, but then Mr. TFT (thank goodness for engineers, right?) showed me that the valve flap is just really low.  Once you figure out that part, you’re golden.  And it actually makes the inflating process (you know, where you interrupt yourself multiple times to yell at children to stop beating one another with pool noodles?) much easier because the air doesn’t all leak back out if you stop pinching the valve.

Now, parenting is all about having a backup plan —a two fault tolerance, if you will–for when things don’t go quite as planned.  And let’s be honest, that’s most of the time, right?  So, as I mentioned before, we had a wonderful time using our float with the intention of doing a photo shoot a few days later.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans.  We have had an endless barrage of cooler weather, severe storms, and sick kiddos (and Mama…).  With a deadline looming, a husband going out of town for business, and no end in sight on storms, I formulated a brilliant plan for getting action photos of the float.

Ok, so Mr. TFT might argue the validity of my “brilliant idea” claim, and admittedly the inflatable pool I rushed out to buy was, well, larger than I realized….but we had an indoor pool party all the same!  Only, Mr. TFT drew the line at actually filling the pool with water in the living room, so you’re going to have to work with me a little here.
There was much excitement from Thing 1 and Thing 2 at the prospect of an indoor pool party, although, as you can see above, Thing 2 quickly decided that Mama’s “pool party without water” was an incredibly nonsensical idea.  Nevertheless, we got in our floaty (Thing 1 insisted it was only fair for him to get in too, of course), and we even did some floating on our backs.  Check out my awesome bikini!
I know you’re all jealous of our amazing #Swimways pool party fun, and since May 16th is National Learn To Swim Day, now is a great time for you to buy your own Baby Spring Float!  Remember to kick off summer safely with these resources and tips!

A “Statute of Limitations” on Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders?

About 6 months after Thing 2 was born, I sat in my OB/GYN’s office and listened to him tell me that I was no longer really “postpartum” and would need to find another doctor to prescribe my antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds.

Now, before I go further, I must say that I absolutely love my OB/GYN.  He delivered both my children and helped me through the decision process before my hysterectomy.  Even with this experience, I wouldn’t trade the amazing medical services he provided.  In fact, when my gallbladder failed me during my pregnancy with Thing 2 and all tests came back normal, he was the only doctor who said, “Hey, sometimes a doctor just has to listen to the patient and look at symptoms, not just test results.”  

This is a large part of the reason I was so floored when he told me I needed to look elsewhere for treatment and support of my depression and anxiety as I was “no longer postpartum”. At a time when I was feeling extraordinarily vulnerable and helpless, I felt as if one of the few shaky legs I had to stand on for support had been kicked out from under me. I was still in that “you’ve given birth fairly recently” timeframe, so regular doctors sent me to my OB/GYN, but here was my OB/GYN telling me to find a regular doctor.  I think this is indicative of a huge problem with the way our society, as “enlightened” as it is, handles Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders (PMADs)–or really just mood disorders in general.  

The postpartum period is most often defined as the period beginning immediately after birth and extending for about 6 weeks after.  Interestingly, perinatal mood disorders (like postpartum depression and anxiety) can show up any time during pregnancy or in the 12 months after.  That’s a heck of a lot longer than 6 weeks, and it’s certainly longer than what I’ve found to be the standard “acceptable” time frame for suffering.  

In the past two years, I have connected with so many other mothers with stories like mine.  A common thread?  The statement, “Don’t feel bad.  I’m [insert number here] years postpartum, and I still struggle!”  This seems to be the rule, rather than the exception, so I have to wonder why the “rules” haven’t been updated, or at least made more inclusive. Does it really matter how many months ago I had my baby?  I was pretty well in control of myself, then I had a baby, and now I’m not.  I’m married to an engineer, so I get the scientific need to classify things.  But really, in times like this, I think the most important classification to be made is not WHEN you started needing help, but rather WHETHER you need help. 

The last thing any of us needs in this battle is to feel alone, so I encourage you, no matter how old your youngest child is, to know you have a place in the ranks of the Warrior Moms of Postpartum Progress–the women who band together to lift each other up and climb together out of the dark valleys of PMADs. And when we’re standing at the top of those mountains (whether it’s the “I’m finally back” mountain or the “I took a shower today” mountain), you’d better believe we’re there to cheer one another on. There is no real statute of limitations on the suffering of a mother, nor should there be on the availability of support.  

If you know someone who has survived or is currently struggling with PMADs, don’t be afraid to reach out!  In fact, on June 20th, nationwide (and even some international locations!), mothers and friends, families, and supporters will be participating in the Third Annual Climb Out of the Darkness to raise awareness and funds for supporting struggling mothers everywhere.  You can find a climb near you (or start your own!), here.  

Whether you’re taking the trail one step at a time or one day at a time, and whether you are still pregnant, had your baby a few weeks ago, or find yourself wondering where the last 5 years have gone since your baby was born–know that you define your own normal, and you CAN climb back.