I’m not good at some of the mum stuff. Like washing clothes without ruining them, having a couch that I would happily stick my arm underneath and not raising my voice before preschool drop off. But, I have the beach holiday with toddlers-in-tow down to a fine art. It’s all in the dedication, you see. I took one for the team and researched this topic intensely. And I still am putting in the hours on a daily basis — all for you guys, just so I can selflessly share my knowledge. So if you have booked a beach holiday this year let me, a beach-side mum, give you some tips.
1. Ditch all the unnecessary stuff. The seat, the shade tent, the Esky, the towel for each person…Just leave it all at home. Travelling for a day at the beach — which is how we did it when I was a kid — is different than the beachside life. You don’t have to sit on the sand for hours, you can visit as many times as you like in a day. Plus the kids aren’t going to sit in the tent, they are going to be out in the sun so you should probably be too, then you know when it feels like it’s time to go because your skin will tell you. If there is a baby in the mix then maybe still pack a tent, otherwise your babies will be burning!
2. Stick to these essentials instead. You get one beach bag. In it there should be one towel, swimmers and rashies for the kids, one bottle of cold water and some snacks if you feel so inclined. Also, a plastic bag and aerosol sun cream. Trust me, life is too short for the regular cream stuff. So the plan is that the kids arrive fully dressed in normal clothes (including hats) so there is no need to pack any clothing. When it’s time to go home they have the choice of putting the clothes back on or wearing their swimmers. The plastic bag is for anything wet. When it comes to toys each child can take whatever they can carry (this has nothing to do with you, let them deal with this). Beach ponchos are also a total winner so if you have them, then they can come too.
- Any sort of rash vest that has a zipper so you can get it off without neck injury.
- This range of super cool beach toys by Quut.
- These Sun Jellies bags in kid’s and adult sizes – perfect for little people to carry their own stuff in.
3. Find the unicorn beach. A beach without a park is what you want to look for, you’re carrying a pretty huge bag and probably are not in the mood to push someone on a swing for 20 minutes every time you want to take a dip. You get bonus points if you find a beach without a park that also has a decent coffee shop. This is the unicorn. Always visit the unicorn, but never park near the shop — you want the option of buying ice cream but not the nagging that happens every time they see the freezer.
4. Leave the sand at the beach. I never really used to get the whole showering and washing all the toys and swimmers at the beach thing because it just seemed like too much effort. But now, all that has changed. By the time we get out of the car at home the kids are (vaguely) showered and dressed (or wearing their beach ponchos) all the buckets and spades are clean and I have one plastic bag full of wet stuff. You’re going to have to clean and sort it all as some point, you may as well do it with a view.
5. Create a beach related hub at your accommodation. Our beach hub at home consists of a hanging airing wrack and one of those plastic tubs on the front porch; depending on your accommodation you may need to do that out the back…but the point is to avoid any of it coming into the house/cabin/tent. When we get home I hang up the wet stuff, throw the toys, sun cream and floaties in the tubs and I’m done. The next time we decide to go to the beach we just walk out the front door, give the now-dry cossies and towel a shake, chuck them back in the bag, tell the kids to pick whatever toys they want and we are rolling.
6. Go during the witching hour. There is no better time to go to the beach than 4:30 p.m. It is witching hour, everyone is all hot and sticky, the sun has significantly chilled out and if the kids are going to spend the next two hours having tanties and picking fights with each other it may as well be by the ocean. I like to wrap up most summer days with this trip. Just chuck the P.J’s in the car so when they are done playing you can shower them and pop said P.J’s on and all you have left to do for the day is take them home and feed them. Collect bonus points for a seaside fish and chips dinner. You have officially won the game if by the time you pull into your hotel there are a pack of sleeping, showered, P.J clad kids in the back of the car. Your prize is wine and silence.