Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beachin' It With Babes

I'm pretty sure just about every person on the entire planet loves a good beach vacation, no? 

The sound of the waves dancing along the shore in a beautiful, rhythmic fashion. The feeling of the hot sun spreading its warmth across slightly sandy legs. Seeing the ocean water ebb and flow, ebb and flow, dancing across the coast. Tasting the salty air and rinsing it down with ice cold water. And ice cold beer. Feeling the gentle breeze oh-so-lightly kiss tanned cheeks. Falling in and out of the best kind of naps--beach naps. 

Hearing the shouts of "Momma! Mom! Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mom! Momma!" over and over and over and over again. 


You mean that sound doesn't totally relax you? You mean all you mommas out there are no longer able to take the best kind of naps--beach naps--as you see fit? You mean you have less than 0.5 seconds to soak in the sun from the comfort of a lounge chair and instead are changing diapers (while silently praying the flimsy ol' swim dipe is NOT full of poop),  applying sunscreen, wiping sand from baby hands, cleaning salt water out of burning eyes, re-applying sunscreen, finding seashells...yet again, filling sippy cups, cleaning up snack messes, answering inquisitive pre-schooler questions about all things beach, helping toddlers avoid stepping on jellyfish, and putting on sun hats that have been tossed to the ground again and again and again? You mean THAT doesn't totally relax you?

Yeah. I guess those oh-so-relaxing beach vacations are for the birds anyway, right? Right?


Now that I am 3.5 years into this mommahood thing, and will be taking my fourth beach trip as a momma in less than two weeks, I thought I'd offer up some tips/advice/ideas that I've gathered along the way. I am by no means a momma-expert nor a beach expert. Just a momma who has accrued a few beach trip notches in my belt. 

And now, without further adieu, how to (semi-, somewhat, kind of, sort of) successfully beach it with babes:

  • One-piece or two? After my sweet little girl was born, I felt strongly that she should wear only one-piece bathing suits. I mean, she was just a baby. It felt wrong to parade her around in a bikini. So. She wore one-pieces all last summer. And then, I quickly realized, I had made a rookie mistake. A big rookie mistake. You see, while it does still feel a little wrong to me to put my baby in a two-piece swim suit, what I didn't realize at the time, as a new momma to a baby girl, is how much harder it is to change a diaper when your baby girl is wearing a one-piece. A wet one-piece. A wet one-piece that is coated in sticky beach sand. You see, the entire swimsuit has to come off for a diaper change. And, considering how frequently little itty bitty babies need diaper changes, this seriously cuts into beach time. So, this summer, my girl will, for the most part, be rockin' two-pieces in the hopes of decreasing time per diaper change and increasing time per fun-in-the-sun.
  • Sandy bodies. Smart mommies. Oh, Pinterest. What did we ever do without you? Feel a little less threatened and a little more secure in our home decor/children activities/workout routines/outfit choices? Absolutely. But, Pinterest, you are also a fabulous place to find genius, who-the-heck-knew-that ideas for any and everything we need to make the most of beach trips. One of the best tips I've found on Pinterest to date? Baby powder easily removes sand. Sticky sand. Sticky sand that covers every square inch of a child's body post-beach day. So. I highly recommend you throw some baby powder in your beach bag. It is certainly a staple in mine!
  • Bald beauties. Doesn't this go without saying? Sun hats are a MUST for little ones. Especially bald little ones. Like my little girl was during her first trip to the beach last summer. Of course, I slathered her sweet bald head in sunscreen, but I am always the paranoid momma who is worried I missed a spot during pre-beach sunscreen lathering. So. Sun hats are a must. But more importantly, sun hats with CHIN STRAPS are a must. Because, as any well-versed momma knows, if the chin strap is missing, so, too, will your sanity be after picking up and putting on the non-chin-strapped hat, that has been thrown to the sand, for the thousandth time in 10 minutes.
  • Covering all the bases. Tents. Tents, tents, tents. I must take a moment to thank my hub's hardcore Clemson tailgating ways for the tent that, not only is the crucial element for any good 90+ degree Clemson tailgate, but is also the means by which we are able to spend an entire day on the beach with young children. Because the sun gets hot. Babies get tired. And the large-and-in-charge tent provides all the shade and coverage needed to ensure a full day at the beach is possible. And comfortable.
  • Ain't no party like a stationary party. Heading to the beach with a non-mobile baby, or one in the early stages of mobility, can be easily aided by packing a few stationary devices to keep him/her comfortable and entertained. Last summer, when my baby girl was a wee 5 months old, we took a bouncer chair and travel swing, which were great for elevating her so that she could see the ocean and lay comfortably. But also a must-have? Enter, stage left, the KidCo Go-Pod. This brilliant device allows baby to stand, is easily transportable, and has little notches where you can clip on baby toys. An awesome device that can be utilized in many settings and doesn't break the bank. Highly recommend!
  • Soak it in. As I learned when my Banks was just a wee lad, swim diapers do not, and I repeat do not, hold pee well. Duh. If they did, they would puff up all regular-diaper-like after getting wet by pool or ocean water. However, I didn't think about that simple fact in the early days of being a momma when taking my firstborn out for a swim to a local pool. So, by the time we got there, the carseat was soaked in the urine that was not well-held by the swim diaper. Take home message? Try to change your babe into his/her swim dipe as you pull up to, or are walking out on, the beach.
  • Shady business. Sunglasses. Don't forget the sunglasses! Because they are just adorable on kiddos. But also? In our unique case, helpful for a little girl with anisocoria and whose eyes are thus especially sensitive to sunlight. Sounds like a good excuse to buy a few extra pair to me. :) 
  • Smart cartin' it. Last year, a few weeks before leaving for our annual beach trip, I ordered a beach cart. Initially, my husband balked at the idea and price and was none too happy when I informed him I had already made the purchase. But then? You know what happened? He totally ate his words. Yup. He acknowledged that it had been a good purchase after all, as we were able to throw allllllll of our beach gear in it and pull it easily through the sand. And by allllll, I mean multiple beach bags, small coolers, beach chairs, toys, floats, etc., etc., etc. Awesome. Another highly recommended product and a good investment for those who take annual beach trips.
  • Sandy seats. Remember that bullet point about stationary devices? Yeah, well, when all else fails, just carve a chair in the sand, throw a towel or sand blanket on top of that bad boy, and call it a day. 
  • Don't be a fool. Bring a pool. One of my favorite tips: Whenever possible, bring a baby pool for non-ocean swim (and sand removal!) for the littles. Sometimes, kiddos just want to splish-splash in a kiddie pool rather than jump ocean waves. And the win-win? It is very easy for mommas to pull a chair up next to the pool and catch a few rays while the littles splash to their hearts content. I think small inflatable pools are much easier to travel with, and very easy to transport directly to the beach, but plastic tub versions are fun, too!
  • Dollar store dreams. As if I need to say this, but don't forget to pack beach toys galore. Luckily, any Walmart, Target, or Dollar Store has beach toys galore this time of year. So, stock up and let the kiddos play, play, play away. Oh, if your little boy is anything like mine, I highly recommend throwing in some sporting equipment, too. I swear he hit golf balls for hours at a time last year at the beach. 

  • Secure swimmers. Puddle-jumper!! Do you know what this is? I didn't either, until two years ago, It is a GENIUS invention for little kids (weighing 30+ pounds) who don't yet know how to swim. It keeps them upright in the water while also allowing them the freedom to bob up and down and float on both tummy and back. Yet another HIGHLY recommended product. A must-have, really!
  • Rain, rain, go away. And of course, we've all had the beach vacation wherein it rains for a day or two (hopefully not more!). Sometimes, beach towns offer fun venues where kids can go during rainy days. But our family? We love, love, love going to Edisto, where it is less touristy and more relax-y. Which I truly love. But when the rain comes? Well, then we have a bunch of little bodies stuck inside with little to do around the small beach town. So. As was the case last year, I packed a few brand spankin' new toys and kept them hidden from little eyes until the rain days hit. Then, when we realized we would be indoor prisoners for the day, I busted out the new toys, which were met with excited reactions from kiddos who were ready for some new indoor entertainment.

Alright, that's all I've got for y'all off the top of my head. But. Hopefully, this was helpful for those mommas who are headed to the beach soon. 

And please, all you experienced mamas out there, feel free to comment if you have other great tips and advice! 

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