Oh, how our days at the beach have changed since having kids. In the past, we might’ve gotten away with toting a towel and some sunscreen. With kids in tow, savvy caregivers know being ill prepared is no day at the beach. Whether your brood is braving the waves or playing in the sand, set yourself up for success with these handy hacks.
What to pack
You know you’ll need plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks to sustain yourself for a day along the water. Here are a few other items you won’t want to be without:
- Ziploc bags for those beach treasures you know they’re going to collect.
- A large garbage bag to tidy up after yourselves. Bonus points for bringing extra bags, and having the kids pick up litter before leaving.
- An umbrella that sticks in the sand and can be anchored. Even if there’s natural shade, the sun shifts, and you want to provide an area conducive to napping should the need arise.
- Frozen bottles of water instead of chill packs in your cooler.
- Cash for popsicles or the ice cream truck.
- Large picnic blanket.
- Bluetooth speaker for tunes.
- Keeping your phone in a dry bag or even a ziploc sandwich bag offers a measure of protection.
Remember, you’re at the beach, and kids won’t need as much stimulation when they’ve got the water to play in. Still, it never hurts to come prepared. Here are a few things to consider:
- Bring a ball for impromptu soccer games along the shore. If they’re old enough, tote a hacky-sack or volleyball.
- Sand toys are essential for all those amazing sandcastles they’re going to build.
- Plastic shovels, rakes and dog ball launchers (that hold tennis balls) are essential for moat construction.
- No need for a pipette when you have an turkey baster lurking in your kitchen.
- Bring toy cars and trucks, because the beach is like one giant construction site and they’re small enough that they won’t take up much space.
Even if you’ve packed like a pro, it’s not uncommon for kids to complain about being bored. If that’s the case, have them design a zen garden. You frame an area in the sand, and have them design their garden using small stones and a fork for ripples. Make a shell necklace after gathering shells (with a tiny hole in them) and stringing with dental floss. Before you leave home, print out a scavenger hunt or bingo sheets, and send them off on a hunt for beach items. Don’t forget the pencils.
The best beach chair
Don’t forget your beach chairs! The ones with pockets in the back are oh-so handy to keep your towels and magazines in. We especially adore the beach chairs sold by Costco, because you can wear them like a backpack for transport.
How to carry your gear
Nothing beats the convenience of a collapsible wagon that carries both kids and gear. For coolers, invest in one with wheels and a handle, allowing you to easily roll up to your spot. Don’t forget to bungee cord your umbrella to the cooler. In a pinch? You’d be amazed at how much you can fit in one of those big blue IKEA bags.
Get the sand off
Pack sandy toys in a mesh bag found at most Dollar Stores. The residual sand shakes out of the bag when it falls off the toys. Before you leave, rinse toys out in the water and they’ll dry much faster in the mesh bag, too.
For getting sand off feet, try sprinkling either baby powder or corn starch on hands and feet so it brushes right off. Try to park close to where the showers are, so you can rinse feet just before leaving. Failing that, bring a few old juice jugs filled with water and leave them in your vehicle. This way, everyone can rinse their feet before stepping into the car.
How do you ensure your day at the beach is successful?