I am an avid beach lover. I grew up on Long Island’s East End, where a beach is never more than 20 minutes away in any direction. Needless to say, some of my fondest childhood memories include the beach.
As a mom, I am fortunate enough to be raising my kids in the same place I grew up. Since I am such a beach lover, and since we are surrounded by the Atlantic, the Long Island Sound, the Peconic Bay, and tons of other waterways, the beach is a big part of our lives. I am so delighted that my kids love the beach as much as I do.
Since becoming a mom, I have mastered the art of beaching it with kids in tow. If you’re planning your first beach trip with the kids, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Take a deep breath and keep on reading, because here are my top 15 tips to make your trip to the beach with the tykes a success.
Forego the umbrella and think about buying a pop-up tent instead. Umbrellas create great shade, but they blow away, they’re awkward to carry, and they can be difficult to set up.
I invested in a pop-up tent, and let me tell you, it has changed my life. It folds flat and is easy to pack. It sets up in seconds, and it is super sturdy. It also takes a pretty strong gust of wind to move it. My kids and I enjoy some great, cool shade in our pop-up tent. It’s really a game-changer.
When sand gets stuck on wet hands, feet, and faces, it seems almost impossible to get off. The solution: Baby powder! Sprinkle some baby powder on whatever is covered with sand, and it will wipe away as easily as chalk from a chalkboard! This is a definite must with kids at the beach. I wish I had known about it sooner!
If your kids are anything like mine, they can’t stand having sunscreen lotion smeared all over them. I’ve tried the spray, but they never sit still long enough to get properly covered. Instead of arguing or hoping that I have covered their delicate skin from the sun, I use roll-on sunscreen.
Just pop the top and rub it over their skin. It glides on smoothly, and it gives great coverage. Our sunscreen battles have ended since I started using this ingenious invention.
Another great way to make your beach trip a success is to get there at the right time. Arrive at the height of the day (late morning/early afternoon) and you’ll have to deal with a busy parking lot, and no spots to be found on the beach.
We leave either right after an early breakfast, or after an early dinner. It’s less crowded, and we always get a great spot. I highly suggest it.
When it comes to packing food and drinks, freeze whatever you can before you put it into the cooler. You won’t have to take up valuable space with ice packs, and your food and beverages will be frosty and refreshingly cold.
The top items I always freeze include water, grapes, and berries. This trick definitely makes it easier to pack the cooler.
If you have a small tyke who is crawling and you want to keep him contained, or you just want to keep your space sand-free, ditch the blanket and bring a fitted sheet.
Lay the fitted sheet on the ground, pull the sides up, and stuff them with tall items, like a cooler or beach bags. I use a queen- or a king-sized fitted sheet, so there’s plenty of space. This hack has really simplified beach trips.
Believe it or not, you are going to need bags. Lots and lots of bags. I always take two over-sized grocery bags; one holds toys and the other holds towels and dry clothing.
I also bring a collection of plastic grocery bags (I recycle them when we are done with them.) These are for holding wet clothing and towels, for storing dry clothing, for holding treasures that we have found, and for collecting dirty diapers.
At the end of the day, I toss the plastic bags into the toy-filled bag for easy transport home.
If you have a tyke who is too small for wading in the open water, an inflatable pool is a lifesaver. Blow it up when you arrive at the beach and fill it with buckets of water from the body of water you are sitting beside. Or, you can fill it with buckets of fresh water. Your little one will be able to cool off and splash around with ease.
You've probably seen these before at the grocery store, it's one of those carts that has big wheels and a large reusable bag attached to it. Pack your haul onto it and you will be able to easily transport it to and from the car. No more strained arms, or running out of hands. This little number has made my beach days with the kids so much easier!
The reason is simple: so your kids can easily find you. I know that when my older son is off exploring, or playing on the playground, he often has trouble finding where we are located. The lifeguard stand is easy to see, so when we sit by it, he can easily locate us. Another bonus; the lifeguard stand creates some nice shade!
The last thing you want is to lose is your wallet, keys, or phone--or worse, to have them get wet and sandy. First of all, I never take my wallet, I just take my license and some cash. Secondly, I store these, and all my other valuables, in a zip-top plastic bag.
I place these inside a small canvas bag, that also has a zipper, and put it in the bottom of the over-sized grocery bag filled with towels. I know exactly where they are, and they don’t get wet or sandy.
To keep the car free of sand (well, as free of sand as possible,) I keep a handheld broom in the trunk of the car. Before I load up boogie boards, bags, and even the kiddies, I do a quick wipe down with the broom. The baby powder definitely helps, but for that renegade sand, the broom really helps to sweep it away.
Though the beach itself should be enough to entertain the kiddies, sometimes, they need direction. I always try to plan a few activities to keep the kids occupied, should they ever get bored. Some of our favorite activities include scavenger hunts, digging holes as deep as we can get them, building rock walls, and building sandcastles. Oh, we also use rocks to build roadways for their beach cars and trucks. These activities are simple, and the kids love them!
To avoid a major meltdown, make sure you know when it’s time to leave. Keep an eye on your kids to see how they are behaving. If they are yawning a lot, or rubbing their eyes, they’re starting to get tired. If they are complaining and whining, yep, they’re getting tired. If you’ve been at the beach for several hours, but they aren’t showing signs of being tired, it’s still time to consider packing it in. A meltdown will ruin your day of fun in the sun in a split second.
This is kind of a general rule of thumb for successful parenting in any situation; you kind of just have to embrace the craziness. Your kids are going to be very excited to go to the beach. Sand is going to be thrown. Snacks are going to fall. Just embrace the craziness and try not to fly off the handle. Kids will be kids, and the more you go with the flow on your beach day, the more fun everyone will have.