Summer is almost over!
Okay, you can stop freaking out now. 😉 You still have some time left!
I have to admit that I’ve been too busy to go out and have a real vacation this summer until just this past weekend, though. I had a few options to choose from. I could go to the zoo, or maybe a museum (with a one year old? Fat chance!), or perhaps just to a staycation with some movies I’ve been meaning to catch up on.
I chose to do something I haven’t done in almost a decade. We went to the beach!
Beach vacations are relaxing and allow you to spend time in the sun with family, without having to do too much of that tiring stuff like walking. You don’t really have to do much of anything if you don’t want to! And believe me, I was ready to be a lump on a towel with a book and a drink.
While you’re getting your relax on, your kids can play in the sand, build sand castles, and splash in the quietly waxing and waning waves. Older kids can have fun, too, by tanning, reading, or finding other teens to play volleyball and other beach games with.
My son is an explorer, so he had dad following him around while he learned about fish and crabs, and he collected driftwood and shells to bring home. What are we going to do with the driftwood? Who knows, but we’ll try to turn it into some kind of fun craft!
Warm breezes, natural beauty, cool drinks, and fun reads. All of this and more can be yourself while you’re on the beach.
These activities are restorative and invigorating! A lot of beach activities can be more tiring than relaxing (I studiously avoided playing volleyball!) but a day at the beach can be just what you need when you live a busy life and have a heavy work schedule.
Any vacation, however, can cause discomfort if you don’t plan well. The good news is, though, that there are some things you can do to make your beach vacation fun and easy without being unsafe.
Clean out the car!
My husband and I took our car to the beach. We have a small Honda with barely enough room for our legs a lot of the time, so that meant we needed to clean out anything that wouldn’t be useful for us.
So first I went through the glove box. Sure, it’s where we store our car paperwork, but it’s space where I can also store some closed up snacks and my cell phone. So out came the random crap I’ve thrown in there (why was there a pack of Pokemon cards in there?) and in went a bottle of sunblock, some pain killers, antacids, medical bandages and a few cough drops. Then I stuffed in a small bag of nuts, some graham crackers, and a small water bottle.
With the little bit of room I had left in that glove box I stuffed in a few hair ties (is anyone else sick of their hair this summer?), a travel brush, and left room for my cell phone.
With that box stuffed full, it was time to move onto the rest of the car. I brought out my vacuum, a trash bag, and some wash cloths. I figured if I was going to clean it at all, I may as well go whole hog!
Once the trash, toys, and mysterious objects have been removed or sucked up by the vacuum, then we got out tires check and oil changed because we needed to get both done anyway. At least we knew that our three hour drive would be a safe one! We didn’t want to end up broken down on the side of the road, especially since cell reception can still be spotty in some areas in our state.
Then, we did the Luddite thing: we bought a real, paper map. I know, we’re so old school!
Traveling with kids
Traveling with kids is always a challenge, but out son is pretty well behaved as long as we have his music on. We’re pretty much on a three hour diaper changing schedule right now, so we made it the whole drive without needing to stop for a change (though we did stop for food and to stretch our legs!)
Some kids might be excited or impatient if they’re old enough to know what’s happening, and this is when behavior can turn sour. Make sure your kids have cool water bottles and snacks of their own within reach, then load up their area with books, games, and whatever else you can to keep them entertained.
Inevitably, the books and games will bore them, and that’s when you should turn to simple car games to help the time pass. Play the alphabet game, where they have to find things that start with letters. Or maybe play “I Spy”. If everyone gets involved, everyone can have fun!
We saw horses on our way out to the beach, so we stopped for a few minutes to let our son check them out. He loved it! He got a little fussy getting back into the car, but once his music was back on everything was fine again.
Whatever you do, don’t forget the sunscreen! Especially if you’re going to be in the sun between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun is the strongest.
Sunblock with a high SPF that is replaced after getting wet or every couple of hours will keep you from becoming a lobster. I’m extremely pale, so I knew I would regret it if I didn’t have sunscreen!
As for towels, try to bring lighter ones that won’t trap sand and become uncomfortable due to the grit.
Last but not least, protect your eyes! Make sure everyone has access to sunglasses and hats. My son hates wearing both, but we tried our best!
Thanks to our preparations, we had a safe and fun weekend at the beach. I got through two whole novels, and my son learned so much about the natural world, so it was completely worth all the extra work to be prepared.
We came home relaxed and happy, ready to get back to work and back to the parenting grind. Well, after we unpacked we were a little less relaxed, but it wasn’t too bad!
What do you do to prepare for a day or weekend at the beach?