Written by Liz Wolens, a proud Big Blue Wilmette parent
It's been just over three months since Illinois' shelter in place order began in response to COVID-19. Those first few weeks of quarantine were pretty stressful while we navigated a world where everyday situations became risky behaviors, and activities we valued such as weekly swim lessons were no longer possible. We found ways to adjust to some of our kids' activities, such as moving our youngest daughter's first birthday party to a Zoom call, planning daily pre-school lessons to include at-home gym classes, and taking turns working and watching the girls, but others, like swim lessons, we had to explain to our kids why we couldn't go anymore.
As talk of Phase Three and the glimmer of Illinois reopening began, we panicked a little. We were still in the middle of a pandemic and still limiting most activities. We had started seeing grandparents but did't want to do anything too risky to expose them.
At the same time, our three-year-old, Audrey, was struggling. She rated every activity on a scale of whether it made her more or less sad. My husband and I decided we had to find some normalcy for her. We started our own rating system, evaluating activities we were willing to try on a scale of public health risk to mental health benefit for our daughter.
When we read the protocols that Big Blue had for offering swim lessons in Phase Three we felt reassured that they were taking things seriously, had everyone's safety in mind, and that any perceived risk was worth the joy Audrey would experience. Right away we signed her up for two 1:1 lessons per week for the month of June!
The day of that first lesson we were a little scared: scared that Big Blue may not live up to every precaution they promised, scared that Audrey wouldn't be able to handle swimming with a teacher in a face shield, and scared Audrey would have lost her love of swimming in the three months she was out of the pool.
I am so glad we were wrong on all three accounts. When Audrey and my husband showed up that first day, they were more than impressed as they had their temperatures taken at the door and were assigned to a specific seat, changing room, and swim lane for Audrey's lesson. Everything was planned out, and there was no question about their ability to social distance. And best of all, Audrey jumped right in the pool and mastered a new skill that first day!
While things continue to reopen in Illinois, we are definitely taking our time resuming most of our normal activities, and the girls have not returned to daycare. Audrey still talks about how "the germs are taking a long time," but she no longer rates activities on how less sad they make her. We think this is partially due to the fact that we can easily find some normalcy in the Big Blue pool, and we are so grateful to resume at least one activity that has always been important to us.
Update from Big Blue: We are delighted to share that since this was originally posted in June 2020, Audrey quickly moved up to Bright Blue 3 driven by her hard work in the water and a return to consistent weekly swim lessons! She continues to brighten Big Blue Wilmette with her huge smile in and out of the pool. We are so proud of Audrey for achieving her Big Moment!