How NOT to be Beach Bummed
by our guest blogger Katie Sluiter from Sluiter Nation
Is there anything more quintessentially “summer” than the beach?
A big umbrella with a baby giggling and grabbing her feet on a blanket…A toddler frolicking in the sand and waves…you in a beach chair with a good book and a cold drink…ahhh….that’s summer livin’, right?
Anyone who has ever been to the beach with small children knows that this romantic vision is just that…a vision. No one in the history of ever actually has this tranquil of a time at the beach with littles.
But the beach can be a great summer adventure with little ones as long as you are prepared.
Accept the existence of sand and its ability to permeate your life. Sand is a fact of the beach. You will get it on and in every. single. thing. Your toddler will be covered no matter how many times you urge him to “rinse”. Your grapes and crackers will have extra crunch. Your baby will get it in her toes and hair and ears—even if she never technically touches it. It WILL find every crack and crevice you take to the beach.
Bring snacks and drinks. Being at the beach is hard work for everyone. You are constantly trying to play defense against the sand and your little ones are doing everything they can to make you run after them and sweat. Even if you just ate breakfast before leaving and you plan to be home in time for lunch? Bring snacks. Our favorites are grapes (because the can be rinsed with bottled water when sand clings to them) and Cheez-Its (because the salt on them sort of feels like sand in your mouth anyway). Juice boxes are a great beach drink…until a straw gets lost in the sand.
While you can’t protect against sand invasion, you can against sun invasion. Apply sunblock to every surface of yourself and your children before you even put on bathing suits and leave the house. Do not leave this chore for the beach. Once you get there, the wee ones will want to scamper off; putting sunblock on will be akin to rubbing sharp knives all over their bodies, and they will convey this fact by wiggling and crabbing and trying to escape so that they may play. Also horrible about beach sun block application? Rubbing sand in all the wrong places. Yes, you will eventually have to reapply, but get that good, all-over coverage BEFORE you leave.
Even if they have on a layer of 1000+ SPF, don’t discount the swimshirt and hat. My child hates having to wear a swimshirt and hat. HATES. But he also has never had a sunburn, so I win. Plus it’s totally cute. And it’s more stuff for the sand to live in. YAY!
If you want it, you’ll have to carry it. This has been engrained in my being since I was very small myself. If you want it, YOU have to carry it. Realistically, small children do not need much on the beach. If you bring bags and bags of “fun” it will end up spread all over the beach, blown into the water, and sunk all while your kids throw handfuls of sand into the one bucket they have filled with water. I carry ONE bag to the beach. This has our beach blanket, towels, sunblock, and snacks in it. If there is room, I will put a shovel and pail. Anything else? Kids have to carry.
Know when the fun is done. It can be tempting to want to stay at the beach all day long, but this is typically a bad idea with small kids. The beach is fun! The beach is great! The beach is the best thing in the world! Until you have stayed well past nap time and you try to get the kids to walk back through the hot sand carrying their toys. Then suddenly the beach is horrible! You are the meanest parent ever! Waaaa! Watch the kids for signs of tiring. If they start to just sit and stare or whine to you that they need to be entertained, it might be time to pack it up before everything goes south.
I think the overall thing to remember when you bring little kids to the beach is to have fun. Yes, you are going to get dirty and sweaty and stinky. Yes, you will eat sand. But if you have the right sun protection for everyone and watch for signs that it’s over, everyone can go home happy with their adventure.
Plus the kids usually crash out in the car on the way home and take stellar naps after all the sun and fresh air, so you can reward yourself for a job well done with a big cocktail…er…nap when you get home.
What are your beach-going tips and tactics?
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Katie Sluiter resides in West Michigan with her husband and two sons. She is a high school teacher and freelance writer and who should probably be grading papers or changing diapers but is more likely blogging, tweeting, or just overusing social media in general. She chronicles all this on her blog, Sluiter Nation.