Summertime and trips to the beach with the kiddos can certainly make for the perfect family outing… And packing and having the right gear once you hit the sand can make the day that much more FUN! Our favorite time to go to the beach is first thing in the morning. Once we get up and eat breakfast, dress and get ready, we load up the car and head out. Of course this takes some pre-planning, but heading out early (in my house) is key. First, the kids are fresh and ready for the day (less likely to meltdown). Second, it’s so much easier to find parking…and subsequently a spot on the beach. Smaller crowds always equal less headaches. I love the morning sun and the “fresh” sand. Third, you make the most of your day. Whether you do a full day at the beach or just start it there, a jump start always makes a better day for us.
When thinking about the setup and what essentials to pack…you definitely need more “stuff” when you’ve got the kids…but sometimes you try to minimize what you’re hauling onto the beach because it can be a trek from where you started (parking) to where you end up, and it’s not exactly convenient to roll stuff on the sand (i.e strollers, carts, etc…). So, this is what works for me. I use an old flat or fitted bed sheet to lay on the sand to mark our spot. Fitted actually works well because you can fill the elastic sides with sand to hold it down! 😉 Sheets are lighter and less bulky than towels and this way your towels aren’t covered with sand when you actually want to use them to dry off!
I also invested in a “Lil Nursery” tent. It’s small and lightweight and offer shade for a small child if they want to nap or get away from the direct sun. The set up on this one is pretty easy and while my kids have yet to actually nap, it also sort of is a good place to keep our personal belongings that we don’t want out in the open. And it’s perfect to use for diaper changes….BONUS! You can also find great family tent options here.
Okay now, the plastic ring pool is SO key! I won’t claim this idea as my own (I got it from a fellow Mom), but it’s perfect when you have a non-walker who can just chill in there and enjoy the beach with everyone else and you can set it up right at your feet. I picked up the inflatable pool at the drugstore and it was cheap, like $5, and worth every penny. I bring along a small hand pump, inflate it, add some ocean water and voila, fun and easy way to keep them cool while you lay out and catch some sun.
With the tots you can’t forget the beach toys. Depending how much you want to bring a bucket and a shovel are usually enough. Although we tend to bring multiple items with rakes, molds and other various beach toys. The huge blue bag we got from IKEA (the cheap one they sell at checkout), works so excellent to pack the toys, tent and towels in.
And finally – I can’t forget the cooler. There are a variety of coolers available, we have a medium size one that rolls, but also a more portable over the shoulder insulated bag that works well too. It’s always a good idea to keep milk, water and any fruits “refrigerated.” Other items for a day of fun in the sun…sunblock, swim diapers, wipes, tissue and music!
I don’t do beach chairs or lug along extra umbrellas as of now…maybe when my guys get a little bigger and can be a bit more help to transport the items onto the sand. But this is what works for me! I hope these suggestions can work for you too.