Thursday, May 17, 2012

YMCA membership... Was this a good idea?

Have I mentioned that we joined the Y? For a family membership, it's $82 a month. There is a warm pool, an indoor track, lots of fancy exercise equipment, and child care. Two hours of child care per visit! Since I started running I had been wanting to add strength training, and the kids love to swim, so we joined.

The cool thing is that during the summer our YMCA also has a little water park for the kids. I've never been, but it looks fun, and Suzi is excited. It'd be a great way to spend some of those hot summer days we'd otherwise be stuck in the house. There are yoga classes, which are included in the monthly membership cost. And did I mention they watch your kids for two hours?

It sounds magical, doesn't it? But with three kids, it's somewhat complicated. First I have to get them rounded up and dressed and out the door. I dress the girls in their swimsuits and cover-ups so I don't have to do that at the gym. I also make sandwiches and cut up fruit to take for lunch. Robert doesn't get why I can't hold him while I do all this. There is usually screaming and crying before we make it to the van.

Once we are at the gym, I take the kids to the Child Watch area. The girls enjoy it; Robert screams. He usually only does it for a minute, but it makes me feel awful. There's a sign in sheet and a sticker tracking system to deal with at drop-off, but I know they are safe and happy there. Only once so far have I been called back to get Robert because he was crying and wouldn't calm down. Being called back derails our whole plan, though, because before I go for the kids I take a few minutes to shower and get my bathing suit on. There is no way I can do that while holding Robert, and there is nowhere to sit him, either. At home we have the jumperoo and the floor is clean enough for him to play in. When he can stand up and sort of listen to directions this won't be so much of a problem.

The locker room situation ticks me off. Children are not welcome in the nice adult locker rooms with TVs and saunas and steam rooms and all. I'm not sure why. I guess I can see how this could be unsafe if a child ended up in there alone with a sexual predator, but I think the problem is really that the adults get annoyed with kids. Or maybe they don't like kids looking at them naked. (Let me just suggest, if this is you, that you could go into a stall to dress. They are readily available and only a few yards away. Just saying!) Anyway, since we are not welcome in there, we have to walk wayyy down the hall to the special needs locker room, where there are two showers and two toilets behind locking doors, and the lockers are only half as big. I have to carry a diaper bag, a gym bag, a lunch box, shoes, and the Ergo. Our stuff takes up two lockers.

Once I've gotten Robert into his swim diaper and trunks and helped the girls use the bathroom and asked them fifteen times to remove their cover-ups and shoes, we walk to the pool. It's a long and rather slippery walk past the nine-foot-deep lap pool, because the special needs locker room is further away from everything, including the pool. I keep having to remind the girls to walk, not run. Then it's into life jackets and finally we can swim. Sometimes there's not much space in the shallow end. Today there were two swim lessons going on and I felt like we were in the way. Robert splashes, kicks, and whines. We are not allowed to use a baby float because it might block the lifeguard's view of another swimmer. It's really no fun holding him with both hands the whole time while he struggles.

When we are out, Robert is thoroughly irritated that he is wet and cold and needs changing yet again. I put him in a fresh diaper and outfit, but let the girls ride home wet. I've tried showering and changing them there and it is a total nightmare. They hate the shower and I only have one hand anyway because I have to hold Robert.

The cherry on top of this mess is that they decided to put the massage therapy room right inside the special needs locker room where they send all the toddlers! So as my children are singing loud, repetitive songs and whining at top volume about how no they will not put their shoes on and running noisily back and forth over the tile, I can rest secure in the knowledge that the people on the other side of that door are totally pissed.

Once we finally make it back to the car, I absolutely love the ride home. Peace and quiet! Ahhh! And once we are home, naptime! Even better! Of course, by the time we reach this final stage I am totally exhausted and hardly good for anything the rest of the day. Plus the kids still need baths.

I've figured out how to use most of the machines in the gym, and I love running on the indoor track. It's great being able to run without worrying about getting hit by a car or attacked by a dog. I'd like to take a yoga class. Swimming lessons for the kids will be discounted. It's a great way to get out of the house and get some exercise and a change of scenery, especially on a rainy day. And the Splash Zone water park will be open soon, so membership is not without its benefits. It's just... $82 a month, plus the gas money we use driving out there. We probably spend around $120 a month on this. We could use that to sign Suzi up for karate classes and buy some new homeschool goodies I've had my eye on! Besides, the days I go are days that hardly any work gets done at home. If it were relaxing and refreshing that would be one thing, but three little kids plus the kajillion rules make it super stressful. They think they are family friendly, what with their giant mural of kids emblazoned with scripture about children being a blessing. But all these rules.

As I was walking out today, there was a woman complaining to the front desk people that there were children! Showering in the ladies' locker room!!! I'm sorry. I don't get it. It hurts my feelings and brings ugly, mean thoughts about how this is exactly why there are neglected elderly people in nursing homes. We are taught from birth that people who are inconvenient or annoying do not matter and should be put away somewhere so they can't bother anyone.

Anyway. There are a couple of ways we could possibly solve this. Jordan and I could take the kids together after he gets off work or on the weekends. It may be crowded then, but I don't know for sure. Also, they open at 5:00 AM, so I've thought about going alone then, while the children are still in bed and Jordan wouldn't have to watch them. Haven't made it yet, though. Besides, the rare days I get up at 5:00, there is always housework to be done and I just can't see leaving that to go work out, knowing I'll return tired to kids who are ready to party and a house that's a disaster.

We will probably keep our membership through the summer because of the Splash Zone, although because it is outdoors, sunscreen application will add an extra degree of difficulty. Sigh. I am getting spray-on.

After writing all this out I am still not sure what to do. Hmm. It's quite the first world dilemma.

3 comments:

Beth said...

Yeah I was NOT impressed with the Andrson Y when we were members. Our Y over here in Greenville has a nicer facility and is cheaper! Doesn't make sense does it?

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Oh, my goodness, how obnoxious with all those rules! I don't get it, honestly. You'd think a Y would be family-oriented. I find it difficult enough to deal with slippery baby and/or preschooler in the regular locker room at the pool, and I give one or the other to my husband. I feel for you having to do all that with all three kids and no help at all from the way things are set up.

No, but seriously, why can't you use the regular nice locker room?? I am baffled. The TVs would probably help keep the kids calm. Bah. That's what I say to your Y.

We looked into membership at our local Y but were put off by the price, so I feel you on that one, too. The features seemed tempting, though.

P.S. I also have a baby who does not understand how I can't always hold him while performing every single task on my list. Sigh.

Emily said...

Totally understand. We had a Y membership back in FL- can't afford one now- but we really only used it for the pool. It was such a hassle to get the girls ready and out there, and I worried about the germs in child care (esp. having selectively-vaxxed kids who were never in day care or anything).