Campaigns, My Story

Don’t let “what if” derail your summer fun in the sun

05/08/2013 - 22 comments
This article, which focuses on the importance of water safety and how to keep the fun in summer activities, was inspired by Stearns® Puddle Jumper® life jackets who provided compensation for participation in sharing this promotion.

When I was young I thought I was bulletproof. I embraced life and “what if” was something I dreamed about, not something I was afraid of. Life was seen only through my eyes, and every new chapter was something new and exciting. It was all about me and I was in control.

Then something happened.

It’s called motherhood.

It changes everything.

I know, they all say that and you imagine your life with less freedom. Less sleep. Less time. But it’s more than that. Motherhood exposes you to a gut-wrenching reality where “what if” keeps you up at night. “What if” causes tragedy surrounding other children to haunt your every thought. “What if” paralyzes you when your own children are out of your sight. “What if” makes you feel so wounded and vulnerable that you can’t seem to catch your breath.

What if.

One of my biggest “what if” fears involves water safety and my kids. With spring and summer right around the corner, these fears become the focus of my daily life. I want them to be able to enjoy everything that summer offers without having to worry about their safety.

My son is 9 and has taken swimming lessons, but the problem is that he has a tendency to sink rather than swim despite his training. He just doesn’t get it. He drops like a rock. My daughter is 5 and is currently taking swimming lessons. Her problem is that she is fearless and one session of lessons has left her with the attitude that she “can swim” when, in fact, all she really knows how to do is kick her legs.


I struggle every day with “what if” but I am making a conscious effort to not let it paralyze me. I don’t want my fears to prevent them from enjoying life, and I certainly don’t want to miss out on making great memories with my kids.

The good news is that when it comes to water safety, “what if” can define the potential for FUN in the sun as opposed to something you have to be afraid of, you just have to be smart about it.

Water safety tips

Being smart when it comes to the water is about paying attention and teaching your kids about water safety. The American Red Cross has detailed information about water safety and how to keep kids safe around water.

  • Learn to swim – make sure you and your kids can swim.
  • Never, ever swim alone.
  • Do not swim in areas designated as unsafe.
  • Never lose sight of your kids around water.
  • Enroll in a CPR class.
  • Children or inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) in or around water.
  • For more tips from the Red Cross visit: water safety tips.

water safety tips

Stearns Puddle Jumpers Life Jacket

The Red Cross recommends that children and inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device when in or around water.  Stearns Puddle Jumpers Life Jackets are U.S. Coast Guard approved as floatation devices for kids and can help them learn to swim.

About Puddle Jumpers:

Build confidence in the water with a Stearns® Puddle Jumper® life jacket. The patented design allows children 30-50 lbs. to move and swim freely in pools and lakes and beaches, without ride-up.  The US Coast Guard-approved life jacket is also a learn-to-swim aid.  Your child will build confidence in the water, learning to swim comfortably, and you’ll build confidence in their abilities.  Always use Stearns® Puddle Jumper® Life Jackets with adult supervision.

puddle jumpers

The Stearns Puddle Jumpers Life Jackets come in a wide variety of colors and styles and help make water safety fun. Abby WANTED to wear her new life jacket, it was easy for her to put on and comfortable enough for her to wear and not complain about it. It fit her well and has plenty of room for her to grow until she becomes a strong enough swimmer to not need a floatation device to help her swim. She can’t wait to hit the beach!


It’s so important to me that my kids get to experience the water and have fun in the sun every summer but in a way that is as safe as possible. Other floatation methods don’t offer the same security and protection as the Stearns Puddle Jumpers. Pool noodles aren’t secure and rely on the child to hold on to them. Other methods rely on being filled with air and cannot be counted on to stay inflated.

Where to buy Puddle Jumpers

Puddle Jumpers are available on the web at the following locations:

“Fun in the Sun” Sweepstakes

Puddle Jumpers has teamed up with Parents Magazine for a “Fun in the Sun” sweepstakes with some fantastic prizes including a $5,000 Grand Prize to use towards a summer vacation. Three First Place winners will also receive 2 Stearns Puddle Jumpers life jackets each. The sweepstakes runs through 5/31.

For more information, stories and tips for summer water safety and fun and to enter to win, simply visit the Parents Magazine Facebook Page (click on the “Fun in the Sun” tab).

I know $5,000 would go a long way towards helping to create a summer vacation to remember for my family, so what are you waiting for – go enter to win!

Before you go, tell me, which Puddle Jumpers life jacket would your child like?

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Leave a Reply

  • Reply Tammy 05/24/2013 at 12:26 pm

    Water safety is a concern near and dear to me. Our nephew died from a swimming pool accident. We are very cautious around the water and those Puddle Jumpers life jackets look great for children who aren’t ready to swim on their own, a little extra assurance for mom and dad too. It only takes a second around water for something ill fated to happen.

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 12:49 pm

      Oh wow, I had no idea. I’m so sorry about your nephew. I heard that backyard drownings are way more comment than people think.

  • Reply Maria 05/24/2013 at 11:24 am

    My kids are pretty good swimmers, but when they were younger I was an nervous wreck about them being in the water, especially without me. Puddle Jumper Jackets looks to me like a good transition piece for the kids. Great review and very important water safety tips!

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks Maria!

      They are a great tool and because of the way they look kids WANT to wear them, which is important.

  • Reply Beth 05/24/2013 at 10:32 am

    I saw these at Walmart when we were looking at new swim gear. Great to see a review on them and know Abby wants to wear hers. That is a battle we have had before that I am not willing to repeat! lol

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 10:52 am

      Abby wears hers around the house constantly WANTING to go swimming LOL

  • Reply Kristinia Carter 05/24/2013 at 10:27 am

    Love your post. My fear as a child was swimming, I’m even still sketchy in the water myself. I want my children to be fearless but safe and learn as much as they can about how to swim and water safety! Great post Kim!

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 10:47 am

      It’s so important and most kids figure it out pretty quickly. i still hold my breathe every time she puts her head in the water but I know that it’s helping her learn.

  • Reply Mel Outnumbered 05/24/2013 at 10:21 am

    I worry about the “What If’s” all the time too. I swear, just like you, I was fearless, until my son was born. Then, I became a completely different person! Water safety is VERY important and living on a lake, we stress it ALL the time. My kids are strong swimmers and have been able to swim since they were each 4, but I still watch their every move. I cringe when people come to visit and they take their eyes off their kids or don’t pay attention.

    Your daughter looks cute in her life vest too!

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 10:49 am

      Thanks Mel!

      I didn’t realize that you lived on a lake. Definitely imperative to learn to swim!

  • Reply Linda B 05/24/2013 at 10:09 am

    Swimming is on my list to do with the kids this summer. I have always had “What if’s” on my mind daily to prepare me how/what to react. UGH, I hate it. But you have excellent points! Thanks for the contest link!

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 10:25 am

      Being a parent seriously has made me a worrier…but it’s worth it! Both of my kids are in swimming lessons again in June to make sure they are as safe as they can be.

  • Reply Lindsay (@LindsaysFamily) 05/24/2013 at 10:03 am

    I am SOOOO glad I came across this post! We moved last summer to the East Coast near the beach. I was worried about bringing my 3 and 4 yo in the water, but won’t be so scared if they have these on!! These will definitely be bought by my family!!!

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply Cat Davis | Food Family & Finds 05/24/2013 at 9:58 am

    Drowning is in the top 3 of my biggest fears for myself and my children. None of us know how to swim but then again, we’ve never really needed to know how to. We don’t have pools around here and I never let them more than a few feet away from me at the water park where the water is only a few feet deep.

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 10:27 am

      I took swimming lessons when I was a kid and a few local people have pools. Abby is obsessed with water and swimming and because of that I knew she needed lessons. She is a fish. She puts her face in the water and swims with it in there and gets pretty far. I hate my head being under water.

  • Reply Sara Phillips 05/24/2013 at 9:57 am

    I’ve NEVER thought I was bulletproof (or at least I don’t remember a time that I did). I’ve ALWAYS been afraid of the “what-if” …

    Your water safety tips are excellent! (And that’s the same life jacket C has – except his is ‘boy-ish’)

    Thanks for the contest link!

    • Reply Kimberly Grabinski 05/24/2013 at 10:31 am

      I wasn’t a wild and crazy risk-taker but I never considered the risk in the things that I did do. Now I get in the car and am afraid of what might happen. …because of my kids. Will they get hurt? Will they be left without me?

      ugh crazy LOL

      • Reply Sara Phillips 05/24/2013 at 10:40 am

        I hear ya! It scares the bajeebies out of me!

  • Reply Heather @OurKidsMom 05/13/2013 at 1:35 pm

    Ethan has the orange one with a smiley face on it and Emma’s is pink with elephants on it. We found these last year and they give me a much great peace of mind while they have fun and frollic.

    • Reply Kim 05/17/2013 at 8:58 pm

      I really do think they are brilliant and definitely give me peace of mind.

  • Reply Teresha F 05/09/2013 at 11:36 pm

    I never learned to swim because my mom’s what ifs prevented us from taking lessons. I still want to learn. I definitely want my kids to learn. I would feel better with a water safety aide like puddle jumpers. my daughter would probably like the purple fish design.

    • Reply Kim 05/14/2013 at 1:03 pm

      My “what ifs” are what made me enroll my kids in swimming lessons. Everything they do scares me LOL.

      We discovered a ladybug one after getting the whale…Abby insists she needs the ladybug one now too.