Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Taking 4 Kids 6 and Under to the Water Park Capital of the World

Last week we suddenly decided that it would be really fun to take the kids to Wisconsin Dells overnight. So we did.

We did a little research and on the recommendation of a neighbor, we booked a room at the Wilderness- home of multiple waterparks, both inside and outside. Of course the outdoor ones were closed.

Taking 4 young children anywhere (even the grocery store) requires at least a loosely thought out plan. Either that or a random aunt or grandma that can come along as an assistant. Alas, our aunts all had work or school and hmmm...I guess we never invited the grandmas.

They are our children afterall, so we decided to attempt this waterpark hopping feat by ourselves.

And do you know what? It went fine.

Turns out, waterparks are our kids things.

We had no "Roman fits"

We had no "Lincoln freakouts"

We did have one "Deacon panic attack" but that was only after we decided to add 96.5 miles to the trip to buy Noah new pants- a panic attack under those circumstances is to be expected, I think.

Here are some things we learned. Hope they will help you!

1. after a couple of hours of waterparking, ordering pizza to your room is a good thing. No one wants a bunch of wet, cold, tired kids at a restaurant (least of all me). Having pizza delivered to our room while the kids watched the Disney Channel was a good thing.

2. bringing life jackets with hoods and handles is important. Yes, they provide life jackets at the park, but we brought our own- ones with handles. This saved Roman's life more than once in the wave pool.

3. spelling out the life jacket rules prior to entering the water is helpful. We told Roman and Lincoln that they had to keep their jackets on unless they were in the 6 inch deep kiddie area. Deacon only had to wear his in the Wave Pool. They knew these rules beforehand and they didn't fight with us about them.

4. having a totally laid back baby who is content to be dragged around the waterpark wrapped in towels is handy. If you have a baby, I recommend only attempting this endeavor if your baby is super low maintenance.

5. if you are a nursing mama, wear a two piece. Nursing a baby in a one piece in the middle of a waterpark requires more skills than most have. It is definitely a 4th or 5th baby kind of manuver.

6. if your 3 year old loves the waterslide, be prepared to walk up all 88 steps, holding his hand, over and over and over and over again. Bonus: this will wear him out.

7. Come up with signs to use between you and your husband. You can use these when one of you is at the top of a waterslide with 2 children and you can see him on a bridge with one child. Obviously that makes one kid awol, and this must be communicated promptly. I suggest coming up with sign language for " child # blank is missing", " Child # blank is coming down slide, may need a rescue at the bottom" and "this is the last time I am taking this child down this slide. I am exhausted. It is your turn." Of course, it is more fun if you also have signs for "you look awesome in your swim wear".

8. Be on the lookout for sudden maniacal looks in your children's eyes. This may indicate that they are about to jump off their tube in the wave pool. This may mean that they have developed a sudden grand delusion of being a famous body surfer who is much taller than 40 inches.

9. I am not usually real organized and I don't plan ahead for any disaster (I don't even carry a diaper bag). I thought about the areas that were most important to me and planned for them. The 3 things I made sure I had were these 1. life jackets 2. bandaids 3. 2 swim suits for me so I wouldn't have to put on a wet one. Ewww.

10. Watch for maniacal looks in your children's eyes before they go down a waterslide. This may communicate that they are planning a dramatic somersault at the end of the slide and will indeed be chastised by the lifeguard.

11. Don't let your 6 year old stay up late watching Hannah Montana- even if he is running in tight circles around the room. Sit on him or pat his head until he falls asleep instead.

12. Let each other have fun! It doesn't all have to be about the kids. If you have a chance, gather the children around to watch one of you go down a more adult slide. Of course it is rather disappointing when the slide you want to go down requires at least 2 people over 48 inches tall...

13. Figure out before hand how tall your children are and ask the park what slides etc they will be allowed on. Then you can warn your kids beforehand and they won't end up as disappointed.

14. You will have your hands full with 4 kids. If your camera is more expensive than the birth of your children, leave it home. You don't need to be focusing on picture taking and having to make decisions like "do I jump in to save my child and destroy my camera or do I set my camera down and risk it being stolen before I jump in?" I am a little sad that we have no pictures of our trip, but I think it was less stressful and we do have our memories :)

I am not the only one up anymore, so those are all the tips I have time for today! We will certainly go back- it was an active vacation, and that is what my boys do best!


Elise said...

Great post Julie! Love the tips and will have to remember them for a (way in the) future family trip to the Dells!

gma pam said...

Invite me next time.

joolee said...

As another mom who recently took 4 kids to the Dells.....I agree wholeheartedly, though mine are a little older, none are nursing, and we didn't brave any wave pools. My favorite line of the whole post was, "Of course, it is more fun if you also have signs for "you look awesome in your swim wear". Cute.