Ah holidays. The great British summertime, when we all get our lily white legs out and head to our nearest bit of beach to cavort in the sand and Instagram pictures of our children eating ice creams. When you have kids, all of a sudden a trip to the beach isn’t quite what it used to be. If you’re anything like me you seriously overpack the car and yet inevitably still forget something reasonably important. So this post is for you: Top tips for a day at the beach.
PLAN PLAN PLAN
A day at the beach used to be me obsessing over which bikini didn’t make me look fat, which sandals would give me the least weird tan (read: sunburn) lines and smothering myself in factor 50 because I burn after three seconds of sun exposure. Now you have another delicately skinned small human to look after. The other parents will judge you horribly if your kid ends up sunburnt, you are probably quite far away from a proper shop when you’re in a seaside town and everything is so expensive. You need to make a list of what you might need and pack the night before. Keep things like food in soundproof containers and take lots of it, someone will definitely drop their sandwich in the sand. Take sun cream, good grief don’t forget that. Take hats and sunglasses (if you can wrestle glasses AND a hat onto your kid you win mum of the year). Think carefully about how long your journey will be, download enough movies/take enough toys to last that amount of time. Toddlers have no concept of time, you can’t make them understand that you still have two hours to go, they will just ask every 7 seconds if you are there yet.
This my friends, is a gift from me to you. Always take talcum powder to the beach. In fact, if you have a sandpit at your local park or just sand anywhere near your person, make sure you also have talc. Talc removes wet sand from a wiggly toddler. No more wailing when they have sandy feet in their shoes. No more wrestling them dry with a towel. No more cleaning one foot, only to discover as you clean the other one that they have stood back in the wet sand. No more I say! TALC.
I learnt this one the hard way, although I do place the blame squarely on my husband. We were at Tenby beach last weekend and having a merry old time pootling down to the waters edge when we saw two rather large, but rather dead jelly fish. Isabelle wanted to paddle so my husband took her in to the shallow bits before promptly abandoning her there when he realised he still had his shoes on and a large wave (along with a dead jelly fish) was coming his way. Isabelle was not in any danger I’d like to add, but she did panic as she watched her dad sheepishly scuttle away and lost her balance, leaving her sitting waist deep in the sea. All of her spare clothes were in the car, quite a way away. She had to run about on the beach in just her pants (luckily I had a spare pair in my handbag) until we got to the nearest shop to buy her a new dress. A costly mistake. Take a well stocked beach bag.
Take all the snacks. Snacks for the journey, snacks for the beach, snacks for each meal, extra snacks just in case they eat all of the snacks. I hate myself a little bit for using the word snack to be honest, with the amount of times I hear this word on a daily basis, it has lost all meaning. But seriously, you will be pestered for ice creams, fruit shoots and other such sugar laden shit approximately every 8 minutes, at least if you have a bag full of reasonably healthy parent approved snacks you can lengthen the pester time to around 23 minutes between requests.
BEACH BAG – not your changing bag / handbag
For the love of all that is holy take a proper beach bag. A bag intended for the beach. Don’t just presume your normal giant handbag containing all of the usual toddler paraphernalia will suffice, it will end up full of sand and sticky with suncream and discarded ice lolly sticks. Get one of the cheap bags with meshy little holes in from Primark and be done with it. I’m not going to lecture you on taking all the obvious stuff like suncream, hats and other such practical stuff, you know that stuff already. But just chuck it all in your beach bag.
POP UP TENTS
Does your kid have one of those garishly coloured pop up tents? You know the ones that once you open it you can never figure out the right way to twist it back down to its previously tiny size again. Well if so, dig out the instructions, fold it down and pack it. They are so damn handy. Kid fancies a sand free snack? Put them in the tent. Midday sun a little too hot? Put them in the tent. Being asked to build a sandcastle again and all you want to do is read your magazine? Hide in the tent. Not only that, but all that digging, splashing and burying their parents is knackering for the little monsters, put them in the tent for a conveniently sun/sand free nap if you can.
DON’T OVERPACK (but pack a spade)
We both know that at some point your toddler will demand to be carried. You don’t want to be lugging about a sticky kid as well as a heavy shoulder bag in the heat. Imagine the underboob sweat. That being said, pack a spade. All they want to do is dig, give them the tools.
Take a few bottles of water. Your kid will try to drink the sea in a fit of rage if you declare you’re out of drinks for them.
Or zip lock bags are a god send at the beach. Chuck your phone in and keep a few spares for wet/sticky clothes.
That’s it folks. I won’t pretend to know anything about taking toddlers abroad, we have yet to try that fun little activity, but we have ventured to the UK beaches a few times with her. As long as you have all the stuff it is usually a pretty great day, they dig for hours completely engrossed and you can just chill out (whilst checking periodically that they aren’t eating sand).