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We live in The Valley, just a short drive through the Santa Monica Mountains and we hit the beach near Malibu. We’ve attempted to go to the beach twice already this month with three babies in tow. We like the beach because our kids love playing in the sand and enjoy themselves immensely, once we are home and showered, they are exhausted it’s early to bed and a good night sleep.
However, if you’re not prepared your good intentions can turn into a disastrous experience, with lots of uncomfortable little ones, that have the potential to make your life a living hell.
All in all, it is a cheap option for a great day out with multiple kids. Over the years we have collected all the tools and equipment that make for a relaxing day out with toddlers. Something that is a mean feat with toddlers.
Here are our tips to help your day out be stress-free and easy.
Pop-Up Tent or Shelter
Pick an easy to fold easily to store option, one preferably in a zip-up carrying bag. We recently invested in a very practical pop up shelter, SunShack Pop Up Beach Shade. If your kids are still little, this investment is a must, it provides your babies with a shady, protected environment free from the wind, great for play and to take a beachside nap. These protect you from the elements of the beach, The one we have even has a window which is perfect to let a cool breeze through. Ours also doubles as an indoor cubby house for our one and two years old.
Lugging everything plus kids through the sand can be the most unpleasant beach goer task of the day. If you don’t fancy making it difficult for yourself you can pick up a good wagon, that’s relatively inexpensive online. Getting your gear from the car to your perfect beach spot will now be a much easier task. We purchased our wagon from Costco, but you can pick one up from Amazon that’s almost identical, Mac Sports Collapsible Folding Outdoor Utility Wagon. It’s pretty amazing what you can fit in and they fold up for car travel.
The last time we went to the beach I threw in some last minute plastic shopping bags, I did this because we threw in an old school beach umbrella that I wanted to weigh down. No one wants their umbrella blowing away. We try to reuse our plastic shopping bags whenever we can. You’ll be surprised how handy they will become while at the beach. This time around they worked perfectly for weighting our kite down. We threw in a heap of sand and tied the kite to the handle and away we went, the kite flew itself for a good hour and the boys were thrilled. Also great for throwing in wet towels or clothes and I’m sure you’ll find some other uses.
We are seeing more and more people using king size bed sheets these days as a beach blanket. A fitted sheet is perfect, you can weight down the corners and lift the edges of the sheet up over whatever you’re using to weight down the corner, also great if you bring a pop up shade as you can use the feet of the shade to weigh down your fitted sheet, this also lessens the amount of sand the kids kick onto the blanket. I like to use the good old beach blanket with the waterproof bottom and somewhat cushy top. Our beach blanket folds up into a little carry bag. I suggest you experiment to see what works for you
We pack in our fold up chairs. The are cheapies but goodies out there, for example, Folding Quad Mesh Camp Chair. We used to have the larger, more expensive ones that had their own shade feature, but they are bulkier, much harder to pack in and broke relatively quickly.
Check the Weather
It was really heating up in The Valley, the first time we ventured out to the beach last month we didn’t expect to find ourselves freezing with 10-foot visibility, totally covered by cloud. It’s almost an eerie feeling sitting not 12 feet from the water but not being able to see it, and hearing the roar of the waves. Santa Monica is known for its low cloud coverage and we forgot from past experience how the weather and temperature can vary so much from The Valley. Luckily I had some long sleeve tops stashed in my baby bag. We were much better prepared for our second trip and had a set of warm clothes packed in for everyone. Because your kids can still play at the beach, just make sure you have suitable attire for the unexpected change in weather.
Slip, Slop, Slap
That’s the Aussie term for a popular Sunscreen campaign in the early 90’s, one that will stick with you for life. Protecting yourself and little ones from the sun is extremely important. After you apply sunscreen you’re supposed to wait a little while for it to sink in before hitting the sun and the water. I like to apply the first coat either before we leave the house or once we arrive but before we hit the sand. There is nothing worse than a sand and sunscreen mix. I like to use a cream based baby sunscreen for sensitive skin for my entire family, then switch to a spray for the additional applications. I’m the sort of gal that gets burnt even when there is no sun. There is nothing worse than the feeling of being sun kissed, or totally scorched and we most definitely don’t want to do that to our kids. It is advised that you get a sunscreen with an SPF of 15+ or higher, selecting your brand of sunscreen is a personal preference, but just before summer is a good time to stock up when you find a good pre-summer sale.
Once your exhausted sandy kids have somewhat dried off, use baby powder to help de-sand them. They will love the soft feeling on their tired little bodies, and there will be less sand to vacuum in the car.
Zip Locks & Coolers
Ziplock bags will come in very handy. Pack small amounts of snacks, or other items that you want to keep sand fee in multiple bags. Packing into small zip locks or containers will protect you from losing large amounts of food to the sand. My husband is a Cooler freak and we have multiple coolers of different shapes and sizes. We like to use the soft coolers for the beach. The are much lighter and easier to carry around, they also tend to fit better in the wagon. We also prefer the ice packs over ice for the beach as it is much less messy. An even better solution is to freeze a handful of your water bottles
Don’t forget the bucket and spade. We love the sets that fit into their own buckets, it leaves less opportunity for items to disappear. We take ours to the park too, so it’s a must to write your child’s or family name on them to avoid getting lost or mixed up with other kids toys. Kids are usually attracted to other kids or their toys, so expect to have a few small visitors testing your toys out. I purchased a Minions kite from Toys r us on sale for $1 before Christmas, and I must say it the best $1 I have spent. Our kids have been using it for four months and its still going. It’s the cheapest nastiest kite but has proved to be a great value and a lot of fun.
Be Smart About Packing Up
Take time packing up. It’s going to be easier in the long run, less messy and appreciated by all. Every parent has felt all the excitement and joy of the day drain away as their kids’ meltdown the minute it’s time to go home.
Good luck with your next venture to the beach, we hope some of these tips help.