The beach is a great place for the whole family to have fun, but a day spent splashing around in the waves doesn’t come without its difficulties. There’s a lot of gear to remember to pack, the potential for sunburns and the stress of keeping track of your kids in a crowded public place. But don’t let the anxiety of planning for a day at the beach deter you… there are plenty of beach day hacks that will lessen the stress so you can actually enjoy the day with your family. And that’s worth its weight in gold. Here are 7 favorite tips for a stress-free day in the sun and surf:
1. Chill Out
Literally! Freeze juice boxes the night before. By the time you’re settled on the beach and ready to drink them, they will be the perfect temperature – cool enough to be refreshing without be frozen solid. While you’re at it, toss a few bottles of water in the freezer too… they’re a great leak-free way to keep your cooler chilled. And by the end of the day, they’ll be melted but still cold enough to quench your thirst. A few Ziploc bags filled with water can be frozen as well, and as they melt you can use the water for cleaning up sticky fingers. Then you can use the empty bags to store wet bathing suits! Other things you can freeze include snacks like cubes of melon or avocado slices, wet washcloths (for an invigorating way to wipe off faces) and even sunscreen.
2. Hit Up Your Laundry Room
Be sure to head to the laundry room before your trip to the beach… for more than just bathing suits and towels! A mesh laundry bag is the perfect way to transport sandy toys to and from the beach… it’s a great place to corral all of the toys, but the holes will also allow most of the sand to fall out while you walk back to your car. Then when you get home, you can hose them off while they’re still in the bag and then let everything air dry—you guessed it—while they’re still in the bag. You might also consider loading up a laundry basket with your towels and snacks; later it can double as a spot for little ones to nap. Just line it with a layer of soft towels and place it in the shade. Which brings me to my next point…
3. Fun In The Sun—Err, Shade
On a hot day, it’s crucial to have a shady spot for your family to cool off and escape the sun. You have a few options… many people choose to set up a large umbrella, or you might try a beach tent for quicker setup. Or if you’re rolling with a big group, a larger canopy tent might be the best option for you. You’ll also want to dress the kids in UPF+ clothing for an added layer of protection while they’re splashing in the waves. You can buy UPF+ shirts, shorts and bathing suits… and don’t forget about hats! Also, sunglasses are as important for kids as they are for adults; be sure to choose frames that have 100% UVA and UVB protection.
4. Gearing Up
There’s a lot of gear on the market that can make your beach day run a little smoother. While these items aren’t necessities, they will certainly make your day at the beach easier and more comfortable. Beach chairs are probably crucial for mom and dad, but you may also want to bring chairs for the kids as well to encourage some quiet time. Water shoes are another great invention that aren’t completely necessary, but will likely prevent cuts and scratches (which means less meltdowns too). Some parents of toddlers choose to bring a small inflatable pool to fill with water so their little ones can enjoy the water without those scary waves crashing on them. And last, you’ll need something to transport everything from the parking lot to the beach. A wagon or a cart are you best options… many are collapsible too, which means they are easier to pack in the trunk and take up less space in the garage when not in use. Pro tip: drag anything on wheels behind you through the sand rather than pushing it ahead of you… it’s much easier that way.
5. Resealable Bags Are Your Best Friends
Ziploc bags are handy for all kinds of things around the house, but not surprisingly they’re also convenient at the beach. If you don’t have a waterproof case for you phone, put it in a resealable bag; it will keep the sand and water out, but it will still be usable thanks to the thinness of the plastic. Freezer sized Ziplocs can be used as a makeshift dry bag for car keys, wallets and other electronics. Wet bathing suits also fit perfectly in the larger Ziploc bags at the end of the day. And of course there are dozens of other non beach-specific uses for them – you can fill them with snacks, use them as trash bags and as storage for soiled clothing.
6. Location, Location, Location
Do your research ahead of time. Pick a beach that isn’t too far away that has ample parking, because there’s nothing worse than arriving at the beach after a long car ride only to realize that the nearest parking spot is half a mile away or—heaven forbid – no parking available at all. Once you get there, be sure to set up shop near a lifeguard so you have that extra sense of added security. And if you have a toddler, dig a big hole for him or her to play in – it will be cooler than the top surface of the sand and it will keep them more contained, allowing you to get some much-needed time off your feet.
7. Extra, Extra
Be sure to bring more supplies with you than you think you’ll need; you’ll be happy you have that extra sandwich when the first one gets dropped in the sand. But take it a step further than additional snacks – you’ll definitely want extra water and juice so everyone stays hydrated. Bring some backup cash and a credit card for emergencies (hide them in a rolled up diaper along with your other valuables to deter theft!) because you never know when you might need it. Other extras you should bring include dry clothes, towels, diapers and sunblock.
As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to organizing a day at the beach with your family. But with a bit of prior planning, a day of playing in the waves with your kids can go smoothly. And the happy memories that you create are worth every bit of planning you put into it!