Remember when a friend would call up and ask you to go to the beach, and you’d put on your bikini (wait, what’s a bikini?), grab a towel and a pair of sunglasses and be on your way? Remember when you could lie in the warm summer sun, work on your tan, read a good book or a magazine, maybe even have a cold beer, and watch the cute guys pass by?
Remember when a trip to the beach was actually RELAXING?
Well, for those of you who went and had kids, those days are over.
Can you imagine if you went to the beach today, at least one kid in tow, with nothing but a towel and a magazine? Someone would probably call Child Protective Services on you and your screaming, sunburned, dehydrated, starving children.
So yesterday, I woke up at 7am and decided it was a good day for the beach. I spent the next three hours of the morning in deep preparation mode, careful not to forget a single thing because failing to remember even the slightest detail for a trip to the beach could have catastrophic results. Remember; a trip to the beach is merely a very hot day outdoors surrounded by nothing but sand, water, and half-naked strangers. It’s up to you to make it a little more eventful for the kids, and as bearable as possible for yourself.
Since this was my first trip to the beach with two children who are both old enough to walk, I wanted to get some tips and ideas to help me out. I decided to consult my old friend Google and typed in “ways to make a family beach trip more fun,” then came upon some helpful stuff like “construct a sun shade using only bamboo poles, rubber bands, markers, and a sheet!” and “make sure the kids are wearing hats!” Well, let me just slide these here bamboo poles in my bag right next to my towels and sunblock, then superglue these here hats to my kids’ heads (since that is the only way they will ever keep them on), and go! Thanks Internet!
After I finished my useless research and packed the car with more bags and beach chairs than my husband and I could carry in from the parking lot in a single trip, we finally headed to the beach. Our day continued like this:
My kids spend the first fifteen minutes fighting over a tiny plastic shovel, despite having enough toys for half the kids on the beach. Eventually my daughter gives up the fight and grabs a giant sand pail, fills it to the top with sand, and dumps the entire thing in my lap. Thanks!
She quickly gets bored of us and wanders onto our neighbor’s blanket before I am able catch her. I apologize profusely for her getting sand on their blanket but still receive numerous dirty looks. I walk away wishing I’d instead demanded an apology from them for disobeying the unspoken rule of personal beach space and setting up less than ten feet away from us.
We then eat lunch and enjoy the crunchy, gritty goodness of sand sprinkled generously by the wind onto our turkey and cheese sandwiches, and I resist the urge to make a painfully corny joke about how I’m eating a SANDwich on the beach.
I grow increasingly annoyed with our too-close neighbors, who are noisy and curse like truck drivers. Hey, Parents of the Year? Just because you’re cool with dropping f-bombs in front of your kids doesn’t mean I am. Shut the F%*# up!
I pry a tiny seashell out of my daughter’s hand before she puts it in her mouth and potentially chokes, then repeat several times with various other tiny objects. Not really in the mood for the Heimlich today.
I decide to take the kids down to the shore and have about five heart attacks once the water is deep enough to cover their toes (I have some MINOR anxiety issues with drowning). I get over it after a minute and allow them to go ankle-deep, then have five more heart attacks when a plastic bag lightly grazes my foot. I get super grossed out when I realize just how disgustingly filthy this ocean water is and then daydream about being in Aruba.
I take about twenty different iPhone pictures of the kids with the ocean in the background until I finally have one where both children are sort-of both looking at the camera, then silently curse my phone for taking such crappy pictures of my beautiful children.
We head back to our sandy abyss and I change my daughter’s diaper while wondering why toddler bathing suits don’t have little crotch snaps like onesies do. The only thing easier than changing the diaper of a sweaty, squirmy toddler is changing the diaper of a sweaty, squirmy toddler in a WET BATHING SUIT. Even more fun than THAT? Is putting the soaking wet bathing suit BACK ON after the diaper change is over. I can’t even blame her for being miserable after that.
I reapply the kids’ sunblock and my daughter tries desperately to escape, falling in the sand before I’ve managed to rub it all in. She now resembles a 20-pound chicken cutlet in a bathing suit.
My husband takes the kids for a walk and I have ten whole minutes to myself, most of which are spent refolding towels, shaking sand off of blankets, and throwing away garbage.
Three long, hot hours have passed and it’s finally time to head home. We take a moment to consider how we can get these kids home without taking half the beach’s sand with us. We give up quickly– it’s really not possible.
We go home, give baths, make dinner, sweep up the sand left behind, and get the kids to bed.
Once I’m finally sitting down to relax, I take out my phone and look at at all the pictures I took. I can’t help but smile to myself because I can see they were having an awesome time, and, believe it or not, I think maybe I did too.