It’s finally summer time in Nashville. The playgrounds are littered with bubble wands, the ice cream trucks have started their nightmarish, atonal songs, and the entire city smells like the locker room of a major league ball team. Another tell-tale sign? The kiddie pool. Beloved in July and detested with the first rainy September day. I’ve spent many an afternoon gazing lovingly at my son as he basks in his glorious teal grotto (with inflatable palm tree sunshade and detachable howler monkey), but even on those perfect, nostalgic summer days, I can never shake the eternal question: “What in the world am I going to do with that god-awful monstrosity when the splashing season is over?” The only thing worse than a giant eyesore stuck on your lawn for months on end is finding somewhere else to put it in the winter. True, there really is no good spot for a Mr. Turtle the size of a Brooklyn studio apartment; but, before you reach out to your trusty local garbage man/wood chipper/incinerator, consider moving him inside. He’s more versatile than you may know!
Take that McDonald’s Playland!
Seriously, the day I turned my little boy’s crumpled up pool into a ball pit was the best day of his life (and he’s been to, like, eight petting zoos). Would I send this photo to Martha Stewart Living bragging about my crafting skills? Probably not, but if “Make My Child Stop Climbing The Walls this Winter ” magazine ever graces newsstands, this, ladies and gentlemen, might just be their cover shot. Intrigued? Excited? Outright thrilled about the prospect of not sandwiching a giant Minnie Mouse-shaped tub between your cars in the garage until next May? Well, it is this easy:
1) Inflate smushed up pool if necessary, making sure it is clean-ish and free of outdoor debris. Obviously if you’ve got the old school pure plastic sort, you can skip this step.
2) Purchase balls like these, which are available online and seasonally at most big box and kiddie retailers.
3) Scout optimal ball pit location. Note: Those little orbs go everywhere! Ball pits do very well inside large play yards and in closed off rooms. Trust me on this one.
4) Release balls into pool.
5) Release baby into the ball pit formerly known as pool.
6) Pat self on back. You are a hero and a genius.
Okay, it doesn’t not look like something that belongs in Austin Powers’ shagadelic boudoir. BUT, I promise you, as soon as you and your little one curl up in this sweet reading nook, all unsettling thoughts of Mike Myers in crushed velvet jammies will disappear. The supplies list is short for this one, and it requires approximately zero trips to Wal-Mart. All you need to fashion your very own kiddie pool cozy spot are some extra pillows, blankets, and cushy animal friends that I’m betting you can quite easily find around the house. I like to take the lasagna approach, line the bottom with pillows, top with blankets, and repeat until desired level of comfort is achieved!
Imagine a world where you never stepped on a Lego or found half of a Disney Princess puzzle lodged in the hose of your Dyson. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? Well this uncluttered fantasy could be your reality thanks to our friend, Mr. Turtle. See, this ingenious structure not only has the ability to contain water, it can contain any number of things that do not belong on your living room floor (including children, but we’ll get to that in a hot minute). We use ours as a space for coloring, playing with blocks, and working on crafts with our little pals. The boy seems thrilled to have a little “workshop” of sorts and I no longer have to cram my body beneath the sofa every time his favorite crayon rolls all the way under.
Insta-Minimum Security Baby Jail
Pretty self-explanatory. This really only works for the youngest of the young, but when there’s vacuuming to be done or a spill to be mopped up, a baby pool makes an excellent play yard substitute. Be a good mama warden, make sure to keep your SIDS prevention hat on and stay in the room with bubs at all times.
So you see, there really is no reason to panic, no need to fold that squeaking plastic pond into a lump and stuff it away for the brown recluse spiders to play with, no need to sell your husband’s golf clubs to make room for your child’s plastic summertime oasis. Unlike white jean shorts, with a little repurposing and some imagination, the kiddie pool can stick around long after Labor Day.