My family has been very blessed for a long time. My wife and I have always loved the beach and my daughter follows suit. My son has had his issues with the feeling of sand but loves the water and is getting better with the sand. We lived near Virginia Beach for around 9 years and tried our best to utilize that beach life mentality. Over this last weekend, we were able to spend all day Sunday with some great friends at the beach and soak up the wonderful weather. After watching some single people in their early 20s, I realized how different going to the beach has become since we had kids.
There are some major survival tips for not just parents, but dads in particular, that will help make this type of trip much more successful. I decided to make these tips after we made many, many mistakes! Our first mistake was many moons ago, when Brennan was still a baby and we went to a beach that didn’t have a bathhouse. When you have a tiny human that is still in diapers, it is imperative that you have somewhere away from the sand to change a diaper, this becomes more important during the potty training days. We are very fortunate now that my kids will pee in the ocean and have learned (the hard way) that they don’t need to drop their pants in order to do so. Appropriate toys are also a must! As my kids are now 5 and nearly 8, we can bring the generic buckets, shovels and sifters. We learned very early that it is tough to have your toddler part with their favorite car, truck or blanket sometimes and negotiations can be brutal. We ended up with specific beach monster trucks and house trucks. A beach umbrella with an SPF rating or even a canopy can be so clutch on those hot summer days.
Food and drinks are another ball of wax that can make or break your trip to the beach. Water is always a go to along with Gatorade, but it can get so hot very quickly so a cooler that can be hosed off is invaluable in these situations. The cooler is also good for an adult beverage or two so that you can survive and maybe even enjoy your family outing. We know that even when the kids aren’t hungry when we leave the house, they definitely will be hungry by the time we are done unloading the car which makes snacks vital, no the RIGHT snacks are vital. My daughter will eat anything, even if it is half covered in sand as she usually is while at the beach, but my son is much pickier. For him, we learned very quickly that granola bars are too sticky and the sand sticks to them along with chicken nuggets. We now make sandwiches that are individually wrapped in a bag to keep sand off and can be used to eat directly out of. Also chips and crackers are a plus so that we can blow the sand away before getting that unwanted extra crunch! It goes without saying that sunscreen is a must, but be aware that many types of sunscreen expire after a year or two and becomes ineffective, so spend that extra $7.99 and lather them up every few hours!
Finally, location is key to success! Do your homework people, make sure there is somewhere to park and that your cooler and everything else is allowed. We choose our location based on the weather as well, the water was far too cold for me to spend all day in the water last week, so we hit up the bay without the bigger waves of the ocean so that the kids can swim without us standing over them. Even though they are both good swimmers, we still have them wear life jackets in they are going in deeper than their knees and obviously always keep an eye on them. We made a minor miscalculation this trip with our location as we were right in the heart of young people who were drinking a lot and it may not have been an ideal environment, but they kept to themselves and we were able to enjoy the day.
These few tips can help new parents or new beach goers turn a scary and sometimes stressful beach trip into a glorious day. If you’re like me, make sure there is some aloe on hand because even that April sun can get your bare shoulders that lobster-esque glow that nobody really wants.
Stay cool and shaded out there dads!
Yes the beach can be quite challenging with kids. We are from New York so we haven’t been blessed with beach weather yet! Can’t wait though. Love the beach!
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