The Fourth of July has come and gone, but what remains are the memories of surviving one of the year’s most intense beach days ever! If you are like so many other families you had the pleasure of schlepping not only your kids, but all of their gear to the waterline only to find out that you didn’t even bring their bathing suits! And that, my friend, is unacceptable. If anyone can understand the stress that arises while packing for a day at the beach it is a mom. A mom knows that 5 minutes into a beach day one of the kids will ask for water, then a snack, then their favorite toy, another snack, a towel to remove the sunscreen from their eyes and finally yet another snack. So you have to be prepared for anything they can throw your way in order to prolong a potentially relaxing day of reading trash mags by the lapping shore…Forget that last part. That will never happen. But what can happen when you are prepared is some sort of semblance to a relaxing day at the beach that your children will enjoy and possibly you as well. And isn’t that what it is really all about anyway? Well, that and getting quickly to dinner, bath and bed so you can enjoy some actual peace and quiet.
As a seasoned veteran of the kid induced beach jaunt, I am going to offer you some unsolicited advice on how to avoid any roadblocks that might force you back into the car and headed home for a day of henpecking by your sweet offspring. You’ll need a checklist of must haves for this day to come to fruition. It is a simple but important list. One that is often taken for granted.
1. ORGANIZE YOUR BEACH TOYS– An expandable laundry bag or plastic tote bag is ideal so that you can easily shake the sand off of the toys and rinse while still in the bag.
2. DESIGNATE A BEACH COOLER– This cooler is always clean and ready to grab. You don’t take this one to soccer or camp or on a road trip. It is only for the beach! Pack it with snacks, water and a sandwich for each child. If your kids are like mine there isn’t time for a complicated meal. Keep it simple. Power bars are great for snacking on the go and when dropped in the sand can still maintain its taste. Always bring a trash bag and baby wipes or napkins to help with those sticky hands.
3. BEACH TOWELS– Keep a basket by the backdoor or place them on a designated shelf in the laundry room or linen closet. You can go above and beyond by having each child’s name embroidered on a towel so no fights break out later, and you cut down on laundry if each child keeps up with just one towel.
4. SUNSCREEN BAG AND HATS– I keep a small bag of sunscreen, lipbalm and hats within my larger beach bag so that I don’t have to dig through all the other stuff to find what I am looking for. Also in this bag it helps to keep hair ties, a comb and a few first aid items like bandaids.
5. BEACH BAG– There are tons of great bags to choose from that suit your needs. You can always go for the ole’ standby canvas boat tote or step it up and go for something a little bit more sophisticated. I personally like a zipper closure, long handles, internal and external pockets and something that is washable. In this bag you should keep a change of clothes for each child and a Ziploc bag for the wet swimsuits at the end of the day.
6. CHAIR– This is for you, mom. I really like the chairs that come with a shoulder strap so your hands are free and of course a cup holder. Don’t waste your money on any of those pint size chairs. In all of my beach adventures I have yet to see a kid sit down to reflect on the day’s activities.
7. CART– I have seen these come in all shapes and sizes. The wagons with the big pumped up wheels are awesome. But in reality, they weigh a ton and create more work for me when I am alone with the kids. So I suggest that you go for something a little more compact like a cart.
If you keep your beach gear in check throughout the summer it can make a world of difference when heading out the door. Your kids will get the hang of your routine as well and begin to follow suit. Only a month and half until Labor Day. By then, I expect you to be running your beach program like a pro.