Taking young children and babies to a water park can be overwhelming. After visiting nearly a dozen waterparks with my children from the time they were newborn babies, I’ve picked up a few tips. Here are my tips to help you take your little ones to an indoor water park.

My family was hosted by Great Wolf Lodge for the purpose of creating this content. My experiences and opinions are true to the best of my knowledge and are not influenced by this.

01. Plan Ahead

You don’t HAVE to plan ahead, but it really helps when you’re budgeting time and money for a trip.

Look for deals online or on deal sites like Groupon. If you stay more than one night, book a few weeks in advance or stay during the work week, you’ll save the most money. Military and other association discounts are often available.

Find out if there are rules for bringing your own meals or snacks in to the park or if you are allowed to leave and re-enter. Plan your meals and snacks ahead to save money.

To save time, find out which slides and attractions your children will be eligible to participate in based on their size and age. This will help you make your plan ahead of time on how to conquer the waterpark and keep everyone happy.

02. As You Enter

If you haven’t already, find out about age, weight and height restrictions as you enter. If life vests or wristbands are needed, get them now so you don’t have to return. If there’s a place to find out how tall your child is, do it now.

Take a photograph of your child, if you get separated, you’ll be able to show what they look like and what they are wearing.

Grab your towels now so you don’t have to go looking for them later. They’ll also be good place markers for where you want to sit.

03. Set Up Camp

Create a family meeting space or set up camp close to where you’ll spend most of your time. We like to find an open space near the “kiddie pool” or the entrance/exit, in my experience the pool that’s perfect for small children typically is near the front entrance. Make sure that every child knows where you are and try to find a way to help them remember how to find your space in case they are lost. How long should they wait for you if they return and you aren’t there?

If you are able to get a table or even rent a cabana, this is way better than a lounge chair (in my opinion.) You can eat meals there, meet up for snacks and set up a pretty nice space for relaxing when everyone needs a break from the water.

04. Meals and Snacks

Set a meal time and ask everyone to meet back at that time. It’s a good idea to give a 10-15 minute range in case your family members are in line for a ride (example, “meet up between 12:15 and 12:30.) If you are purchasing food to consume in the park, get everyone’s order ahead of time.

Consider a family style meal or shared menu items. We typically order a pizza from the resort and share that as a family and then plan an afternoon snack about 90 minutes to 2 hours later.

If it’s allowed and you are bringing your own food, I recommend sandwiches made ahead of time, fruit, a small veggie tray and cheese sticks.

Drinking water is a must, even at a waterpark. Bring your own reusable water bottles. For other drink options, I recommend anything in a plastic bottle with a resealable lid.

05. Conquering the Waterpark

Consider playing as a whole family in one location and then take children in groups when possible to other locations in the park. Or move about as a family from space to space if they are at similar ability levels. If your children are old enough, try to get them on the slides early in the day, even if they are apprehensive, so that they can enjoy them all day if they decide they like them. Our daughter refused all day and about one hour before we left, she discovered she REALLY, REALLY loves waterslides.

06. Closing Time

Give your kids a count down. If it’s realistic, let them know that they can find one more thing to do, go on one more slide, ride the waves one more time, take another loop around the lazy river, whatever works for your schedule.

Check out hotel or resort activities to give your kids something to look forward to when it’s time to leave for the day. Our kids love dance parties and going on quests. Some of our friends have a sweet treat for their kids when they leave, a lot of water parks have ice cream. Anything you can do to make the exiting less painful for yourself, it’s worth it.