My 8-year-old Peevie Child and her 8-year-old pal M. Black Hair and I put together our metal frame and vinyl pool in about an hour last week. (That's how easy it is.)
This little pool (which takes up most of our typical Chicago back yard at 10' diameter and about 3' deep) has served us well. Every year it gets a little more off-kilter, and it currently doesn't have a working filter (kilter, filter--it rhymes! I'm a poet!), and the vinyl is bleached, and we had to plug a filter hole with a sock--but this pool was the best summer entertainment value that I ever purchased. Assuming we get through this year with the pool still functioning, I think the cost works out to about 16 cents per hour of summer fun or less, not including the cost of filters, chlorine, pool toys, and other accessories.
They're running about $129 at Target this year*, but when we bought ours three years ago, it was $99, including the water filter, plus about $50 for the chemical kit. The filter gave out during the season last year, but we continued using the pool without it. I also stopped buying expensive pool chemicals, and just started using regular old chlorine bleach to kill the germs; and I used a skimmer net to skim off the leaves and dead animals that accumulated on the surface of the water.
(I still used the testing supplies to make sure that the Ph and chlorine levels were appropriate. It vastly amused me and made me feel like a mad scientist when I dripped the yellow and red solutions into the test beakers. But then again, I am easily amused.)
So for the first two days that the pool was up, M. Peevie spent great chunks of time in it--even though the temperature has barely reached 70 and the water temp is probably just shy of icicle. She floats on hot pink inner tubes, swims laps around the perimeter, practices holding her breath under water, and generally splashes happily for hours on end.
The good thing about having this pool in our tiny Chicago backyard is that it's fun for our kids and their friends. The bad thing is that sometimes I become slightly irritable at the parade of kids needing food, drinks, bathing suits, towels, sunscreen, and Band-Aids tracking watery footprints through my kitchen.
At this moment I have an 8-year-old, a 9-year-old, and a 10-year-old floating on inflatables and telling stories in the pool. It's sweet, innocent, and simple, and it makes me happy and grateful for my life.
*I saw the pool on sale for $99 again yesterday.