It’s no secret that a big part of why we chose to build a house in our particular neighborhood was the excellent pool complete with a lazy river. I mean, who doesn’t want a lazy river in their community?! Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of perks to living Vintage Oaks, but the pool is one. With this hot Texas summer and two rambunctious boys, we find ourselves at the pool many a weeknight and almost every weekend. So, we’ve mastered what to bring and how to get out of the house quickly. Keep reading for my list of pool bag essentials for the most excellent pool day as a mom with little ones. 


Two words: long-sleeved, for the boys and me. I love these long sleeve bikini tops I snagged off Amazon. These are a lifesaver for my fair skin and prevent the boys from pulling my top off with their rough and tumble pool play.⁣ I pair them over my go-to J.Crew bikinis for two reasons. One, I don’t care for the bottoms that come with the long-sleeved suit. Two, I do want to be able to take the top off and get a little sun or just not be sopping wet in the car for our short drive home. But, the top is fully-lined, so you don’t need a second bikini underneath. I also like these short-sleeved tops. Click the link; you will die when you see the bottoms.  

Belly Flop at the pool

Will nailed the belly flop on his first try. The kid is a natural.


A good sunscreen has to be on your pool bag essentials list. First, let’s talk about the difference between a chemical sunscreen and a mineral sunscreen (also called physical sunscreen):

  • Chemical sunscreen uses chemical compounds like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate. These substances penetrate the top layers on the skin to absorb UV rays before they can damage the skin.  
  • Mineral sunscreen uses minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as its active ingredients. Mineral sunscreens create a barrier on the surface of the skin that helps reflect UV rays.  

During the past year, I’ve made a conscious effort to switch the whole family to mineral sunscreens because I think they are safer. If you’ve never used one, mineral sunscreens feel different than chemical sunscreens. They are thicker and harder to spread, leave more of a residue on the skin. But, I find them very effective in preventing sunburns, and they seem to be more water-resistant.  

If you’d like more info on safer sunscreens, the EWG is a great resource. My favorite mineral sunscreen is by Badger. I use their kid’s sunscreen for the boys and me. It smells incredible and is easy to apply, holds up in the water. We fell in love with the Badger brand after our birth photographer suggested their diaper cream. Badger is leaping bunny certified and has fast shipping and gifts when you order from their site. I just received the chapstick with my last order and loved it.  

Hair Protection

I think protecting your hair from UV rays and chlorine is just as important as protecting your skin. UV rays can cause dryness, damage, and color fade. Most recently, I added Monat’s color-locking and protective spray to my pre-pool routine. I apply it to my wet or dry hair before heading to the pool, which protects it all day. It also smells and feels great. If you’d like more info on protecting your hair from sun and chlorine, I wrote an entire blog post on the subject. Click here to check it out.  

pool bag essentials

This was a kid-free pool day. The bag was a little lighter, but also full of White Claws.


I’ve heard that sunglasses are like yoga pants for the face, and I 100% agree. I love a giant pair, and in Texas, they are one of the most popular women’s accessories. I’ve always lived in Ray-Ban Aviators and buy them at Norstrom rack on sale. Recently, I’ve been ordering Sojos off Amazon. They are lightweight, polarized, and feature military quality hinges that can stand up to my boy’s throws, kicks, and drops.  

Hat for Sun Protection

These days, my crow’s feet have me considering botox, and I’m spending more time and money on my skincare routine than I’d like to admit. I’m also just sensitive to the sun and burn easily. I’ll be damned if I undo all that hard work or have to walk around with a painful sunburn if I don’t have to.  

This hat was the Instagram find I never knew I needed. It’s affordable, full coverage, and rolls up for easy transport. It’s also available in multiple colors. I also see many other moms rocking a similar version at the pool. So, get one—no shame in your old lady hat game. My only complaint is that it’s quite big. So, if I’m throwing the boys around in the pool, I do sometimes switch to a baseball hat. I love these with the hole in the top for a ponytail or topknot. 

Insulated Backpack

This backpack is a game-changer. I had been fawning over the Yeti Insulated Backback for years but had sticker shock. I’ve heard its great but couldn’t justify the cost. We ended up trying this less expensive insulated backpack and love it.  

The backpack is lightweight and easy to carry, has enough room for ice packs (or ice) and any snacks and drinks you would need for a pool day plus has outside pockets big enough to hold me and my husband’s keys, phones, etc. plus an extra diaper and wipes. Plus, it’s nice to have my hands free to grab a three-year-old as he bolts into the pool when we come through the entrance.  

Pool bag essentials list

The lazy river never gets old

Best Pool Toys/Gear

These Aqua sting ray underwater gliders are the coolest pool toy I’ve ever seen! Make sure they are on your pool bag essentials list.  They come in many sizes and glide all over the pool. Check them out. You need one, and I think they are fun to play with as well. They also help kids make friends at the pool since everyone wants to play with them. I recommended getting extras.  

We also snagged these kids sized inner tubes from Amazon, and the boys love them. They are the perfect size for our three and 5-year-old and very affordable.  

Our boys love goggles, and these are great because they are easy to adjust, take on and off, and don’t tangle in the hair.  Both are big divers, so we also keep a bag of rings and things for them to dive for.  We buy them at our local grocery store, Buc-ee’s, or even the dollar store.  We always get the cheap ones since we know half of them will be lost by the end of the summer.  

Why You Need a GoPro

Last but not least, the item I think every parent needs on their pool bag essentials list (and in general), a GoPro camera. We’ve had one since the boys were little, and I can’t tell you how many great memories we have captured with it.  

Here are a few things I love. The camera is lightweight, small, and waterproof. I snap short 10-20 second videos all day long with it in high-quality 1080p and then automatically sync them to the cloud and my phone. From there, I can select the best individual frames and create videos easily.  

I pay $4.99 for the cloud and then delete the camera videos since I know they are safe. We keep 4-5 batteries with us and charge them as needed. I don’t have to keep my phone with me since I have a camera, which means fewer distractions and more time focused on the boys.  

Recently, we bought a dome port lens for the GoPro camera. This cool gadget makes it possible to capture images both above and below the water simultaneously like this.   

GoPro Dome photo

These kids are animals. The GoPro is the only way I can capture them in motion.

So, that’s it. I hope you found this list helpful and that I introduced you to something new that might make your pool time more fun. Did I miss any of your favorites?  If so, make sure to comment below and share your secrets!  As always, if you have any questions for me, feel free to reach out