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Winter is a time for hot cocoa, cuddling by the fire, and watching my 5-year-old run back and forth down the hall. Once the snuggles are over and the sugar from the hot chocolate has kicked in, my son has energy to burn. Our usual outdoor activities aren’t doable when the wind chill threatens to chill our faces off. Being shut in has made me search for a way out.

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“Hey, kiddo, let’s go to the pool!”

“What? How can we swim? It’s cold!”

And with that, I’ve successfully worked my mom magic and piqued his interest. Now, my 5-year-old is intrigued enough to go on an adventure with Mom, because everyone knows that a person can’t swim in winter. Yet, with the help of our local YMCA we absolutely can. At first, this activity sounds like an invitation to transform my son into a “boycicle,” but the warm water in the indoor pool is just the activity for which we’ve been searching.

While I always enjoy a trip to the mall, window-shopping isn’t something my kindergartener relishes, and movies can be fun but they don’t afford my kid a way to free his built up energy. I needed to find an outlet that would satisfy his innate kid-like need to play, and luckily water play while swimming does just that. “Swimming is fun,” says President/CEO of the Greater Louisville YMCA, Steve Tarver. “It’s attractive and can be a lifelong activity to help maintain quality of life.” How great would it be if our playtime could lead to a love of water that could last a lifetime? I’d love for this to be the foundation for a healthy teen or adult hobby, but what I’m loving right now, though, is that this is an activity we can to do together.

When my not-so-little-kid started kindergarten, I was worried that we’d lose some precious mother/son time. I’d had a constant kid shadow for four years and our bond had been very strong. With school starting, my son would now be taking his first steps into a world away from me — away from us. I feared there would be little time for us to connect due to busier schedules, and I’d been hoping to find an activity to bring our closeness back to the forefront — something where the focus was about us together.

“The time with your child in a non-distracted environment, with water being the medium, is awesome!” Steve explains. “Relationship changes come with time, fun, and attention to each other as people.” Steve’s years of wisdom and aquatic experience ring true, because this is what my son and I are finding together in the water. I can certainly see the effects. My kid leaves happier than when we arrived. I leave knowing we’ve had that “Mommy and Me” time that continues to strengthen our relationship.

Steve couldn’t have been more correct when he said, “Swimming is fun.” It’s a simple truth that I’d forgotten, but one that my kid has helped me remember. After a day of splashing Mom in the water, my son comes home pleasantly exhausted and ready for more cuddles. When it’s cold outside, I’m thrilled to have found a healthy way inside for my son to expend his energy. I’m glad to know that keeping our connection a constant is doable, because the water at “The Y” not only warms our bodies but our hearts, too.

Extra tidbit: Twenty-one summer camps that will keep your kids active and give you a break.

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