Over the past six years, I've picked up a few tips to make parenting at the beach a little easier. Of course, things change with each stage -- thankfully I no longer have to worry about my kids eating sand and shells.
But as my beach-memory week comes to a close, I thought I'd share some of the this year's best tips with you:
- Trash bag: Bring a plastic grocery bag down to the beach with you every time you go. You can use it to collect trash (for my kids, it's juice boxes and fruit snack wrappers and banana peels) so that you don't accidentally litter on the beach. When you come inside, just drop it in your trash can. It's not fancy, but it helps.
- Jumpster: This bit of strategery (courtesy of my friend D) doesn't work so well if it's really windy on the beach (ahem, not that we learned this the hard way or anything, but you really don't want the tent to blow away in a strong gust). But if you've got an infant who likes bouncing in the jumpster, consider bringing it down to the beach and hanging it from your tent poles. It'll keep your baby entertained and away from all that tempting sand. And if your baby doesn't like it, use it as a handy place to keep snacks out of the sand and easy to reach.
- 3-in-1 wash: One of the hardest things about being at the beach with little kids is getting them sand-free when it's time to come in. I like to keep a bottle of 3-in-1 wash (shampoo, conditioner and body wash) at the outside shower/hose. Soaping them up all over makes it easier to slide the sand (and most of the sunscreen) off of their crunchy, sticky little bodies. And by washing them outside, it keeps more of the sand out of the house.
- Burrito lunch: Now that my kids are old enough to go all day without a nap (and with a deliciously easy, early bedtime), we had lunch on the beach. But no matter what I tried, their turkey or almond-butter-and-jelly sandwiches always looked sandy and crunchy. Then I made burritos for dinner one night and wrapped the leftovers in foil. Voila -- the perfect leftovers for a beach lunch because you keep your sandy hands on the foil and just unwrap as you go. Would work with sandwich wraps as well.
- Plastic pool: Last year I showed you how to build your own pool right in the sand. But this year our friends S&J brought one of those hard plastic pools with them. The pool served many important purposes during the week: a fun splash area for the kids to play in; a storage container to corral all the shovels, buckets and toys at the end of each day; and (most impressively) an aquarium space for the live marine animals that J found in the surf. Yes, that's a giant clam arm-foot-tongue thingy twisting out of its shell in that photo.
Your turn to share -- what are you must-do, must-have tips for parents with kids at the beach?