What Every Smart Family Knows about a Beach Trip with the Kids
Hey smart parents of smart families, this blog post is just for you! Planning a family beach vacation or day trip to the beach with the kids is not always all sunshine and rainbows—there's plenty of prep and hard work that can accompany such a venture, not to mention a lot of elements to consider (literally and figuratively).
With a little bit of forethought, some good beach sense and some advance preparation, you can have the best beach trip ever with your family without a lot of grief, complaining or unexpected problems. Plan smarter, not harder!
HOW? It's easy. Read on!
1. You are not a pack mule.
You have two legs, two arms and are not made to carry heavy loads on your back, especially during a beach trip. Last time we checked you were a loving parent and not a pack mule. So, that means that you shouldn't allow yourself to be mistaken as such. Who wants to lug a million things to the beach that your family MIGHT need, while the sun beats down on you as you trudge through the hot sand—quickly losing your breath, your stamina, your patience and quite possibly your sanity. And your day at the beach hasn't even started yet!
No, no, no. You're doing it all wrong.
First off, you really do not need all that stuff in the first place. Try to change your thought process from "What if they need this?" to "Do they really need this?" You can start with a pile of things you think your family might need, but please whittle it down to at least half that amount. Odds are you're overdoing it.
The beach is a kid-friendly and family-friendly place to be as it is. There's sand, sun and surf along with all the fun opportunities that come with a day at the beach: things to chase, holes to dig, places to explore, water to splash in, and unending coastal adventures to be had. Capitalize on those and limit all of the extras. We promise you'll be glad you'll did.
Not only will you not have to lug all of that extra stuff to the beach, but you won't have the cleanup that comes along with bringing too many extras. Then there's keeping track of it all, washing off the sand, carrying it back, and starting all over again the next day. Not necessary!
2. Anticipate problems and complaints before they happen.
Let's be optimistic.... and realistic. There are always going to be a few glitches along the way, especially when you're dealing with kids. Right? Right. That is not a problem, just something that needs to be expected. Anticipate what the needs of your family are before they arise—and you are already well ahead of the game.
You know your family better than anyone, so prepare for their specific needs and wants and you'll be good to go. Being proactive is key.
3. Someone is always going to be hungry or thirsty, or both.
It's like this at home, too, isn't it? Same thing at the beach. So the advice here is to not pack too lightly, but to bring a fully stocked cooler. Freeze a large water bottle for each person the night before so it can serve double duty as both a thirst quencher and a way to keep the cooler cool.
Keep it simple with snacks that don't take a lot of prep time, aren't messy and don't require utensils. Examples include things like fresh fruit, shelf-stable yogurt tubes, applesauce pouches, cheese sticks, chips, pretzels, crackers and other beach-friendly and kid-friendly favorites. Be smart and streamline your cooler by not adding extra bulk with ice or icepacks. Instead choose frozen items like Smucker's Uncrustables, ice pops and frozen grapes which help keep the cooler chilled. Most things will defrost by lunchtime, so be mindful of your timing if there's anything you want to consume before it gets too melted, like ice pops.
An alternative option is to have an insulated tote packed for each of your family members that is exclusively theirs for the day. It's less bulky than a cooler and if your kids are older and able to manage this themselves, by all means let THEM do the prep and packing, as well as be responsible for it during their beach day. One less thing you have to worry about!
4. Sand...there is sand. Everywhere.
We know this is not shocking information, but it's definitely an influencing factor when it comes to planning your day at the beach. Sand can get everywhere and there are just some places that it does not belong, like in your sandwich or in your water bottle. It's imperative that you try to keep some sand-free areas.
How? Well, there are a few things that can help reduce its pervasive influence. You've probably seen some beach hack ideas that offer genius ways to keep sand at bay. There's the fitted sheet idea, where you flip it upside down and use it in place of a beach blanket. Then you secure the corners of the fitted sheet with a few of your things, so that the sides act as a sand barrier. Baby powder is a popular beach hack, too. Apply it to your skin for quick and easy sand removal. The baby powder quickly absorbs the moisture from the sand resulting in it falling right off of you—like magic! Talcum powder works just as well for quick and easy sand removal, too.
5. Sun...there is a lot of sun. All day.
We're still playing the role of Captain Obvious here, but the outdoor elements can be brutal. Just like the sand, sun exposure needs to be managed and minimized. Sun protection is a must. Hats and umbrellas are helpful, but they also count as extra stuff for you to bring (refer back to #1 and repeat to yourself "I am not a pack mule.")
The best way to protect your kids from the sun's harmful rays and overexposure on a sunny day on the sand is to dress them in cool, breathable beachwear that offers both a physical barrier and SPF protection. Board shorts and shirts in true surfer-style are great options.
Sunscreen is helpful too, but you'll want to apply that BEFORE you get to the beach. Otherwise, you may have a struggle on your hands as well as a mess. Think sunscreen smeared all over sunglasses, sand stuck to sunscreen, screaming children who just want to play, dig, run and escape from your torturous application. No thanks! Apply it advance and avoid a lot of potential problems and messes.
6. Be aware of naptime needs.
A day at the beach is equally fun and exhausting. If you have young children who need naps anyway, this is something you'll want to think about. Even if you don't have young children, a nap on the beach is always welcomed no matter what your age.
Babies, toddlers and young children are going to need a little more when it comes to napping needs. A small, beach-friendly tent or shelter that is quick and easy to set up, not too bulky to carry (again, remember #1), as well as easy to rinse off, dry and pack up is ideal. You can shop around for suitable options and decide if that's something you should have with you on your trip.
Teenagers require much less and probably only need a towel and their earbuds. As for the adults, well if you're lucky enough to catch a few Zs, more power to you.
7. Prevent potty problems.
This all depends on your kids' potty proficiency. If they're potty training, you know that comes with a set of challenges all its own. Our recommendation is that if you're going to be at the beach all day, try to station your beach setup as close to the restrooms as possible, if at all possible.
Another great option is to bring a foldable or portable potty. You can either keep in the back of the car if you're driving, or in your beach tent if you plan on bringing one.
Baby wipes are always good to bring with you, whether you have a baby or not. They make for quick cleanup of any mess, can be very useful in any bathroom-related emergency that may arise, and are incredibly helpful to have around during a day at the beach. You just never know!
8. A few more family-friendly beach tips & tricks for your sanity.
- When parking for the day, of course try to find a shady spot if one is available. It also helps to turn your steering wheel 180-degrees, so that when you're ready to drive home or back to where you're staying, the part of the steering wheel that you touch when driving won't be skin-scorching hot. (We've all been there, done that. OUCH.)
- Fill a ziploc bag or two with water and freeze to use as an ice pack in your cooler. When the ice melts, pour out the water and reuse the bag to store and transport wet swimsuits. Just don't forget they're in there....
- Depending on the situation surrounding your day at the beach, you may want to consider this kid-friendly strategy: Come early or come late in the day. If at all possible, avoid the middle of the day. If you're staying in close proximity to the beach, you have this option. There are several benefits to this strategy. Not only do you avoid the crowds during the peak beach times, you also can go back to your beach vacation rental for a lunch break, saving you time and effort all around. You can avoid the hottest hours of the day this way, too, while also protecting your family from the sun's rays during its peak UVA/UVB hours.
- If you're the crafty type or know someone who is, sewing a few pockets into each person's beach towel can help protect your smartphones, keys, and other beach paraphernalia from the elements, while also anchoring the towels in place. Well worth the effort!
Here's to a successful family day at the beach, where the memories you make will last a lifetime! We hope this beach-friendly blog post has helped you become a little smarter and wiser on how to make it the best beach day ever for you and your family.
What's your best tip for a family-friendly day at the beach? We'd love to hear it!