We never had a backyard pool growing up, but my Grandma has always lived on the lake. I have the fondest memories of my Granddaddy taking me and my sister fishing on the boat dock and driving us around the lake in his old fishing boat and ski boat. Even after he passed, the family would spend summer weekends out on the lake, riding behind the ski boat in huge inner tubes, attempting to ski, snacking on the dock, zipping around in the Seadoo and just floating in the water in the cove while spending time with friends.
So now that we’re living in my Grandma’s house for several weeks before we hit the road for our RV trip, I’ve been welcomed by wave after wave of nostalgia as little memories begin to surface. And I’m excited for my own kids to have a taste of those memories as we live in her house now and possibly for a short time next summer after our RV trip.
But I’ll tell you, having young kids (especially two Rowdy boys) and now living on the lake has changed my perspective. Whereas I used to view days spent at the lake in my teens and twenties as a calm getaway, now it’s the exact opposite. If the kids are playing outside, I have to know exactly where each one is at all times. There is no getting out of Mama’s sight, because the lake is simply a walk down the trail in the backyard.
My boys are curious and adventurous and rebellious. They have no concept of the danger of drowning at this age, and that’s ok because that’s my job. Our rule is that no child even begins to venture down the winding path to the lake without a life jacket clicked on. That took a bit of practice the first week we moved in, especially for my independent-minded four year old, but he now wholeheartedly embraces the rule and remembers to grab his life jacket at even the mention of going down to the dock.
Though my view on water safety may make me sound like a helicopter mom, I promise, it’s for good reason. According to the CDC, nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male. Couple that with the fact that drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1 to 4 than any other cause except birth defects, and you can understand exactly why I am so adamant about water safety for my kids, especially my Rowdy boys, ages 4 and 2.
If you ask any mother to name her worst fear, it’s likely losing her children. I know I can’t protect my kids from everything in life. I can’t keep them from skinned knees and bee stings. I can’t keep them from riding in vehicles despite the risk of wrecks. I can’t keep them from catching colds and sneezing from allergies. But I CAN keep them safe around water by insisting they wear a life jacket. It’s one thing in my power that I can do–and will do–to protect them.
I’m teaming up with the US Army Corps of Engineers to help spread the message about water safety, as it is near and dear to my heart having grown up on the lake. My boys love learning about Bobber the Water Safety Dog, especially watching the water safety cartoons and playing the online games. Bobber the dog makes learning about water safety fun, interactive and relevant for their little minds. So far, pairing Bobber with Mama’s strict rule has been successful.
Visit the National Water Safety Program website to find safety tips for all ages, videos and campaign resources.
In a way, living here on the lake for a few weeks will prove so beneficial for us. After all, I can almost guarantee you that we’ll encounter many different bodies of water while we’re traveling the country. But this short stay in a somewhat controlled environment has helped us ingrain in our kids the rule of wearing a life jacket around water.