Summer is the time of year many of us escape to the beach.
The kids are out of school, and it’s scorching hot—who can deny the fun and relaxation offered by sand and sea? Well, parents can, that’s who. Taking the kids to the beach can be stressful, messy and, if we’re honest, just plain hard. If you’ve got little ones, teens and in-betweens, we have just what you need to hack your way to the beach and back—all in one piece.
What can go wrong often does go wrong, especially with kids involved, right? These clever troubleshooters will up your odds of success.
Packing list: Avoid leaving your toddler’s favorite stuffed animal behind by typing up a packing list and attaching it to your bag for a last-minute check.
Baby powder: Sprinkle it on your kids’ sand-covered feet, legs and hands. Then watch the sand fall right off. We don’t know why it works, but it does!
Aloe ice cubes: Pour aloe into an ice tray, and freeze. If you or your children leave the beach looking like lobsters, apply these aloe cubes for instant relief. (But, please use lots of sunscreen.)
Phone protection: Most phone touchscreens still work through a Ziploc bag. Seal the bag, and scroll and text as you wish.
Tent it up: Fight inevitable whines about the heat with a beach tent. The shade will give your kids relief from the sun and you relief from their complaints—most of them, anyway.
Kiddie pool: Take an inflatable pool to the beach for your toddler and fill it with toys and water to keep him occupied, cool and within sight.
Naptime: Bring baby’s tub for naptime, and fill up the base with just a bit of water to keep his feet and legs cool. Or dig a shallow, cradle-shaped ditch in the sand under your umbrella, line with a towel and let baby rest there with his bottom at the deepest point—think of the swing or bouncer you have at home to get the right shape.
Sand-free beach mat:A dual layer of mesh material allows sand to sift right through the top of the mat, keeping the sand to a minimum. Purchase one on amazon.com. Don’t want to spend money on that fancy mat? Bring a fitted sheet and prop each corner up with something heavy like a cooler or beach bag. The resulting walls will guard against blowing sand.
Floating keys:Attach wine corks to your keychain so your keys will float if they somehow land in the water.
Mesh beach bag: Leave the sand at the beach and tote the kids’ toys in a mesh bag to let all the sand sift through the bottom.
Steering wheel turn: Save your hands from a hot steering wheel by turning it around 180 degrees after you park at the beach. You could also throw a hand or beach towel over the top of the wheel to keep it a bit cooler.
Hide your valuables: If you’ve got diapers on hand for little ones, consider using one to roll up your valuables. (Just make it a clean one!) Roll everything up, secure the sides, and voilà! No one will think to look there for your wallet—just don’t let that diaper end up in the trash.
The right wagon: A wagon with all-terrain wheels will transport your cooler, beach toys, bags and towels right through the sand. (Available on amazon.com.)
Set boundaries: Keep track of the kids by giving them boundaries on the beach and in the water. It’ll be easier to keep tabs on them, especially when they head for the waves. Be specific: Don’t go past the lifeguard stand to the left and the hotdog stand to the right.
Flip-flop fix: When the prong of your flip-flop slips out, push it back through and attach a bobby pin or safety pin to it on the other side. It’ll hold your flop together long enough to get back to the car.
Yummy In My Tummy
A day on the beach can really take it out of you. Use these tips to make it easier to feed hungry bellies and quench little thirsts.
16. Ditch the juice boxes: Bring Capri Sun juices for the kids instead. Cardboard juice boxes don’t last well in a cooler, and you can freeze Capri Suns to make yummy beach slushies. Just cut the top off and hand the kids spoons.
Psst! You can make adult ones, too:
3/4 cup agave nectar (or other sweetener)
8 cups water
4 to 5 fresh lemons, juiced
1 cup vodka
Lemon and lime slices for garnish
Add ingredients to a large pitcher and mix. Pour into eight to 10 plastic baggies, and chill in the fridge or cooler.
17. Finger foods: Pack crackers, cheese, sandwiches, fruits and veggies in separate Tupperware containers or baggies. With sand and seagulls on the loose, finger foods are the way to go.
18. Snack attacks: Pack snacks for the kids in clean Coffee Mate creamer containers. The snap lids are perfect for pouring, but any container will do.
19. Straw storage: Keep straws clean and straight in toothbrush holders.
20. Cooler tricks: Freeze water in freezer bags to keep snacks and drinks chilled in a cooler. When the ice melts, dump the water and pack with wet swimsuits. Or, freeze water bottles completely and use in lieu of ice. The water should stay cold most of the day at the beach—even if it’s not in a cooler. You can also freeze water balloons for the cooler, and, once they melt, you’ll have a water balloon fight on your hands. (Just make sure to pick up the broken balloons when you’re done.)
Happy & Healthy
Damaged hair, peeling skin and dehydration are just some of the after-effects of spending a few days (or even hours) at the beach. Make your beach stay a healthier one with these tips.
21. Apply sunscreen early: Make it easier on yourself and coat the kids with sunscreen before you leave for the beach. They won’t be as distracted, and it’ll give their skin time to absorb it.
22. Reapply chart: Use a marker to write down times to reapply sunscreen on the back of the bottle. If your bottle doesn’t have a blank area, set a few phone alarms.
23. Rash guards: Cover more of your kids’ skin, surfer-style. Rash guards provide extra sun protection, so don’t worry too much about missing a spot with the sunscreen.
24. Drink up: Take a break from those adult Capri Suns to drink plenty of water. Pack a bunch of smaller water bottles for the kids, too.
25. Wash buckets: Fill up one or two buckets with water for the kids to use to rinse their hands off in before eating. No one likes a sandy sandwich.
26. Beach hair protection: Mix two tablespoons of melted coconut oil, three drops of lavender oil and one cup of water together in a spray bottle. Spritz on your hair throughout the day for hydration and protection.
27. Soft feet: The beach will dry out your feet if you’re not careful. Keep them soft and refreshed by applying Vaseline or lotion and wearing socks to bed at night.
28. Prevent stinging legs: Ladies, coat freshly shaved legs with baby oil before jumping in the water to lessen the sting.
29. Homemade after-sun lotion: Spread this cream on your and your kids’ skin to keep it healthy and soothed, especially if it’s slightly sunburned. Apply before bedtime, as lavender helps the body relax. Mix these ingredients together, and store in the fridge for extra cooling relief:
3tbsp aloe vera
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cocoa butter
15 to 20 drops lavender essential oil
Don’t forget to bring toys, games and fun activities to keep the kids occupied at the beach. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
30. Bath toys: Pack your kids’ bath toys instead of buying new beach toys. Watch as the old toys become interesting again in a new setting.
31. Handprints and footprints: Bring along some plaster of Paris in a baggie. Add the appropriate amount of water, and pour into your kids’ hand and footprints in the sand.
32. Shell art: Help your kids color shells with crayons. Let the shells and crayons warm up in the sun first to make it easier for the color to go on.
33. Sunscreen tattoo: Give your child a tattoo (or let them give you one) by making a design on their skin with sunscreen. After being in the sun awhile, a tattoo of lighter skin will make its mark under the sunscreen.
34. Water relay: Form teams of two, one person from each sitting on the sand and holding a cup above their heads. The other teammates have to fill up smaller cups with water from the ocean and run back to fill the larger cups. The team that fills their large cup first wins, so try not to spill!
35. Sand angels: Florida doesn’t get snow often—or ever really—so making sand angels is a must for us locals. (And it doesn’t require bundling up or getting frostbite.)
36. Beach bowling: Dig three holes in the sand—a small, medium and large one. Line the kids up and have them roll tennis balls toward the holes. More points for sinking them in the smaller holes.
37. Sand drawings: Write words like flip-flop, sun or rainbow in the sand for your kids to draw a picture of. Then switch.
38. Sandcastle kit: Gather measuring cups, plastic drinking cups, shovels, paint spatulas and brushes together in a large bucket to make a sandcastle kit.
39. Scavenger hunt: Surprise the kids with a list of objects to find and collect on the beach. Make it a competition or work together.
40. Tic-Tac-Toe: Draw a big tic-tac-toe grid in the sand. Then, let your kids pick beach toys as playing pieces or just draw ‘x’ and ‘o’ in the sand.
Sources: scarymommy.com, yourmodernfamily.com, onecrazyhouse.com, sheknows.com, passionforsavings.com, craftingagreenworld.com, mom.me, momtastic.com, getawaytoday.com, moneytalksnews.com, tiptopflipflops.com, somewhatsimple.com, bustle.com, theindianspot.com, funathomewithkids.com