Go Jump In The Pool

It’s spring, which means it’s pool building season around here. I live on a long street – at least 120 homes – and it has a lot of bigger houses on bigger lots, which means pools are a dime a dozen around here. Seriously, I do not think I am exaggerating at all when I say there are at least 40 pools on our street alone, which can be very disorienting in the summer, feeling like we have been transplanted to California. With the coming of this spring, there’s already a half dozen big trucks on the street all day long, and the sound of the digging and concrete pouring and tile scraping of another couple new pools going in.

I used to think we would never want a pool, because I was not interested in all in the upkeep. Although I do think I work hard, home maintenance is not my forte, and outdoor home maintenance is even lower on my priority list. But then, a couple of years back, our back yard got into such a terrible state, with bare patches and prickly weeds and dandelions (see: lack of interest in outdoor maintenance), that we actually started to think about putting in a pool just so we could eliminate the grass. Plus, MyFriendJen down the street got a pool, and her kids went from casual swimmers to Michael-Phelps-style SuperFish in just one season, and that was pretty darn compelling.

Last year we actually got to the point where we were really, seriously, going to do it, but then the kids begged us to keep the swing set that takes up at least half the available backyard space, and then the Basement Budget Suck event happened, so it’s not happening any time soon. But that’s okay, because I’m not sure I want one really, anyway – it would be wonderful in the summer, but how would the kids play outside in the winter? Where would we put the vegetable garden? Would we ever have the funds to take another family vacation, or would the backyard become our vacation?

So I’m curious: do you have a pool? Do you love it, or regret it? Do your kids have enough backyard play space, especially in winter, with the pool there? Are your kids totally awesome swimmers now? I am wondering.

12 thoughts on “Go Jump In The Pool

  1. Although I love pools, and swimming, I can’t quite make the leap to having one in our climate. Also, my environmental anxiety spikes at the thought of the massive carbon footprint I’m pretty sure a pool carries with it.

    I’m being a bit of a hypocrite, because my parents installed a pool at the cottage and we LOVE it. When we’re there, the kids are in daily, and never get bored.

    I feel less angst about that pool because (a) it wasn’t our decision and (b) much like the cottage, it’s a shared resource, so I figure it’s better than my parents, AND our family, AND my brother’s family all having our own.

    The problem in our neighbourhood, is I walk by so many pools that I HAVE NEVER HEARD / SEEN ANYBODY USING. I think, “I’d use your pool, if you don’t have time …”

    Anyway, not a helpful comment, just my thoughts!

  2. my strategy is to make friends with people with pools…. and let them do the maintenance!!

    Our yard is not suited for a pool.. not that big, and very shady. I love swimming but in Ottawa, there are so few months to enjoy a pool anyhow. Plus, we love to travel in the summer. but, all that said, I do have serious pool envy.

    1. This sounds like me – I don’t think I actually *want* a pool, and yet I have raging pool envy. Why can’t there be a nice, clean, outdoor public pool right across the street??? SIGH.

    1. I always think of Calgary as being very similar to Ottawa in terms of climate, but I now realize that’s a totally made-up assumption. Is Calgary actually much cooler, overall? To the Google!

  3. I LOVE our pool! This will be our third or fourth summer since we got it (I’m too lazy to figure out the actual timing) and it’s being used daily, weather permitting. We don’t have a huge backyard, so the pool takes up most of it and because of the cost, the rest of the landscaping in the backyard has taken a back seat. Every summer we do a little more but it’s far from finished.

    Because we’re on a corner, we do have a decent side yard and that’s where the kids play. As a former lifeguard and swim instructor, I’m anal about safety, so not only do we have a fenced in yard with padlocks on all the gates, we also fenced in the pool last summer when the littlest kid became mobile.

    So now I can let the kids (and the new dog) out to play without worrying. Both our boys love the water and so we swim daily. While it’s not always in use during the work day, we’re in it every evening and I often swim in the morning before work.

    We debated about a cottage, but I swayed my husband over to the pool side by reminding him that we’d only use a cottage on weekends and while on vacation, where as the pool can be used everyday by virtue of being in the backyard.

    One more comment before this becomes a blog post in and of itself, I love that our pool draws in the neighbourhood kids. It’s been a great way for my shy, 7 year old with social anxiety to meet new people and I love that when my kids are older, they’ll want to be in our home, where I know what they’re up to at least some of the time. 😉

    (Ack, one more thing, we have a salt water pool and the maintenance so far (knock on wood) has been a breeze. It takes us about 12 hours to get it ready in the spring (which we do in fits and starts over a couple of weeks) and even less time to close it up in the fall. Throughout the summer we test the water occasionally and rarely have to do more than add a bit more salt if the weather is hot.

  4. Chantal

    my sister got a pool two summers ago. An above ground one. I grew up with an above ground one as well. Her kids love it, my kids love it (we go over lots just to swim, bonus lots of visiting time). I think if we had a larger yard we may consider an above ground one. I am not sure if I could stomach the expense of an in ground one. It is pretty crazy.

  5. Mark Davis

    No pool here, but I definitely identify with the idea of anything that replaces grass. Our house actually doesn’t have any, and I couldn’t be happier about the fact that I never, ever have to mow the lawn. Too much work for too little benefit IMHO.

    A pool would be nice, but perhaps like you, I couldn’t justify taking up so much of our backyard (it’s not that big) with one, even though we could use it year-round.

    I think the other suggestions are good – just make friends with someone who has a pool. Problem solved!

  6. I go back and forth. Both my girls love to swim but I really don’t need one more thing to take care of. That being said we aren’t travelers, so by that rationale I think we should go for it.

  7. smothermother

    no pool. my grandparents had one when we were kids. all the cousins loved it and we went in it when it was icy cold (they lived up in the laurentians). there are hardly any pools around us, living in the inner city and all. the only one i know of is one of our backyard neighbours. i have to say we are very envious when it’s a billion degrees with the humidity in july. but our lots are small and they have no yard to speak of other than patio around the pool. we are lucky to live on really calm streets and all the kids play in the front yards and on the street all four seasons, so i don’t think they mind not having somewhere in the winter to play in back. and we are doubly lucky to have a great city pool just a 2 min walk from our house. inner city living has it’s perks. 😉

    so that didn’t help you at all did it? 0.o

  8. suze

    have you thought about one of those above-group quasi-temporary ones? I have some friends who love them. Much cheaper than a permanent one. Not for serious swimming, but enough to horse around in and cool off.

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