Ok, so we are not the Druggars by any means, however, people often look at me and say, “how do you do it?” I’m not sure if its my age or that other people just can’t handle the decibel or what, but I prefer to think that it looks harder than it is. Not to say that having 4 children is a piece of cake by any means, but age spacing makes a big difference. Each child needs more attention at certain times. When you see them making stupid choices, that is usually a good sign to spend a bit more time with them.
In any case, this is not a post about stupid choices, but more of a what not to do or a how to about getting a family to the beach without killing someone or forgetting anything. Oh! And to do it easily!
First things first: plan, plan, plan and then make a list. This list needs to be well thought out and done 1-2 nights before. I recommend 2 nights before, and save the list. Secondly, pack everything the day before except food. What should be on your list? What should you pack? Start with the basics: Sunscreen and swimsuits, then move to towels, sheet (sand flies off sheets better than blankets), reading material, digging material, chair or umbrella if you wish. Clothes to change into and diapers, wipes, etc….Now, once you have everything packed, but the food, pack it into the car after dinner. Get it in there and leave it there. If you have a ton of stuff and fairly small kids, here is a trick that can help you out. Yank out a sled out of your garage. You can put chairs, umbrellas, bags, even a kid sometimes and drag it across the sand. HOWEVER, if its real windy you better have something to weigh it down, otherwise someone is going to be really angry with you when it hits them in the head!
Now in the morning everyone is going to be running around screaming LAKE! LAKE! LAKE! Relax, this is normal. Give them each the task of getting their personal poop in a group (ie: toys for the car) while you pack up snacks. My children, in fact I believe most children, are not interested in a sit down meal whilst frolicking in the waves. So, snacks need to be available and ready. My biggest problem with food at the beach is sand. I hate grabbing food and I get an extra crunch that was not supposed to be there. In order to alleviate this I bring prepackaged food; granola bars, peanut butter crackers, carrots and dressing in the packages. Also, fruit that requires no work, like apples or nectarines, and bottled water. I then plan to have to buy ice cream and whatever later on. Don’t believe me about the food? Take a look:
That look on India’s face is saying, “LuLu, that is gross and full of sand”. After this day, we will just say that LuLu had her colon exfoliated with the amount of sand she ingested!
A few other tips to help you out. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you some burnt children. I never have them wear their suits to the beach or water park. The only time they are dressed before is at the local pool. The reason for this is many fold. Swimsuits can irritate little bums and whatnots, especially if sitting too long. They also give an illusion of sunscreen boundaries, thus making all the edges easy targets for sunburn. So, I take them into the changing room or bathroom, strip them naked and cover them with sunscreen and then put their suits on. This way I know I have not missed a spot and I feel better when I do quick re-applications. Case in point of places missed below:
Once they are lubbed up then get to it!
The main objective with dad, regardless of which beach we are at, is to make a sand castle and pool area with the help of the kids!
When we head to the beach for a day trip we go to South Haven, North Beach. My in-laws live in Battle Creek, so there is always a pit stop available and a quick visit with Grandma and Grandpa!
Who is that guy?
An in ground pool!
Most people recognize that we are on a tight budget and we even have to budget out these day trips. Measure how far the beach is from you and calculate your gas, ours was a tank ($60). Figure your ice cream and whatnots and really that is it! I think we spent a total of $100. Unfortunately, even that is pricey for us, and we were missing a teenager that day! Many magazines and websites keep speaking out about day trips and staycations, but I think you can spend close to the same if you are not careful!
I hope even a little bit was helpful. I will not claim to be an expert on traveling with kids, but I am working on it as its one of the things that I like to do best!