Before you had kids, taking a trip to the beach was a relaxing event that meant lying back on the sand with a good book, soaking up the sunshine and perhaps taking a relaxing dip in the ocean. However, these days it means constantly slathering your little ones in sunscreen, getting sand kicked on you, having to watch them carefully so that they don’t swim too deep and puffing until you are dizzy to blow up an inflatable crocodile.
However, with a little bit of preparation taking your kids to the beach doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, it can even be fun! Here are some tips to keep in mind that will make everything much easier.
Bring a Source of Shade
Make sure that you bring an umbrella or a tent that will offer you some shade to retreat to while playing on the beach. On a hot and sunny day the heat and sunshine can be very strong and your children will be at risk for sunburn and heat stroke. Having a cool and shady covered area gives them somewhere to take a break from the sun and perhaps even have a nap if they are tired.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
The long term dangers of sun exposure are pretty scary and sun burns really hurt, so make sure that your little ones are protected. Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before going outside and you should be using a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher for your young children. You should reapply the sunscreen if they go swimming in the ocean, as it will wash off. You could also consider a surf shirt, which have built in UV protection and dry quickly.
Stock the Cooler with Snacks
Bring a portable cooler with you to the beach so that you can keep your kids well fed and refreshed. You can freeze bottles of water in advance and they will help to keep everything cold while they melt to a drinkable temperature. Healthy beach snacks that you can bring with you include grapes, cheese sticks, apples, oranges and nuts.
Bring Plenty of Beach Toys
When your kids have something to play with on the beach they will be entertained and better behaved, so make sure that you bring a range of toys including shovels, water guns, sandcastle moulds, inflatables and others. Kids love to dig deep holes, build sand castles and bury their feet or legs in the sand and they can play this way for hours while socialising with the other kids.
Consider Going Later
Instead of heading to the beach at the middle of the day, consider going at 3pm and staying until dinnertime. This has a number of advantages. First of all, you will not be exposed to the strong midday sun which will reduce your risk of sunburn and sunstroke. Secondly, the beach will be less crowded later in the day so you will be able to find more room to play. The weather will still be warm enough to swim and afterwards your tired little ones can head home for dinner and an early night as they will be tired out from all of the fun.
Choose a Meeting Spot
When you get to the beach, make sure that you choose a landmark meeting spot that is unique and let your kids know that if you happen to get separated they should meet you there. The beach can sometimes all look the same and sometimes kids can get confused and not find their spot again, especially after swimming further than they think. For example, if there is a lifeguard stand at the beach that is a good place for kids to go if they are lost, as the lifeguards can help them.
Don’t Expect Toddlers to Last All Day
Your very little ones will not be able to handle the beach for more than a few hours and they will become tired and in need of a nap. At that point you will either have to set up a cool and shady place for them to nap, or take them home. Make sure that you are paying attention to their signals so that you notice when they start to get tired and cranky – a toddler meltdown doesn’t make for a fun day at the beach.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when you are taking your kids to the beach, so that you can have a fun and relaxing time.