Every Tuesday morning during the summer my 6 year old son and I hop in the car and head to the beach. I’ve been bringing him since he was a toddler, usually on my own, sometimes with my nieces tagging along. It is, without a doubt, the best and most peaceful part of my week. This seems to be a crazy notion for some, so here are my tips for making a trip to the beach with kids enjoyable:
A Morning at the Beach, Not the Whole Day
When getting dressed in the morning, it’s straight into bathing suits for both of us. After breakfast, we get dressed in our bathing suits and put on our sunscreen. We’re out the door and into the car early, always getting to the beach before 9am. Parking is easier at that time, and the day’s heat hasn’t kicked up yet. We stay and play for about 3-4 hours. As the tide rises, and more people start to join us, we pack up and head out. We miss the crowds, we miss the 2p heat, we miss the onset of the tired child who’s “getting bored”.
What you Do and Don’t Need at the Beach With Kids
When we get to the beach I grab the bag and umbrella, he grabs his sand toys, and we make the trek down the boardwalk to the sand. The biggest tip I can give you is this: When you’re headed to the beach you don’t need to pack up your entire house! I’ve seen people trying to wheel sand wagons down the boardwalk, laden with everything they may need for a week’s vacation, while my son and I pass them quickly, with sympathetic eyes. Most of the time the beach is too crowded for the boogie boards and frisbees. For most people, neither you nor your child(ren) need a beach chair. An entire cooler that could fit a week’s groceries? Likely unnecessary.*
Here’s what’s in our beach bag:
- Sunscreen (High SPF!!)
- A beach blanket
- Healthy snacks (fruits and veggies) and large waters (with ice!)
- A towel for each of us
- An easy outfit to slip into when we need to get our suits off (in my case an easy shift dress, in his case comfy shorts and a t-shirt)
- A couple sand toys in one easy carry container (If he collects shells or rocks, he can only take out what he can carry. )
- An umbrella
- For many years we also had his “floaties”, which clipped right to the handle of the bag.
Create your Own Space At the Beach
A trip to the beach with kids is always better when you have a little bit of space for yourself. We start by heading directly all the way down to the water’s edge first, and then walk along the wet sand. The sand is cooler on the feet, easier to walk on, and dampens the whining of “I want to be in the water nooow” – tell them ‘we can walk our feet in the water while we find our spot!’. We head to the far end of the beach – where most others don’t put the effort to go – and create our own little “Private Beach.” Don’t make your spot down by the water’s edge if you’re headed to the ocean – you’ll just have to keep moving your stuff! If you bring an umbrella like we do, use the sand toys to dig a deep hole, put the umbrella stand in, then refill the hole – fastest way to secure it, and it gets your kid(s) in on the unpacking.
End it on a High Note
You’ll notice I wrote “Healthy Snacks” in ‘what we bring’. That’s because we always end our beach trips by heading to “Our” ice cream place, where we have big cones of ice cream for lunch – where the name “Ice Cream Tuesdays” comes from. This is my great trick for getting my son easily off the beach – and personally I think the kid in all of us deserves a treat on a beach day!
I’d love to know, do you have tricks to making trips to the beach with kids more enjoyable? Everyone deserves a peaceful beach day this summer, so share them with us!
*I’d like to note that, of course, these tips are from my own personal experience – for many living with handicaps or disabilities the list can become longer, and I’ve only ever brought a maximum of 3 children – the more you’ve got, the more you need!