by Laura Onstot | Laura Onstot, registered nurse and mom of 2 young kids, rarely pees alone, only frequents restaurants with Kraft Mac N Cheese, and blogs at Nomad’s Land. In her spare time, she can be found sleeping on the couch while she lets her kids watch endless episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Her parenting advice is questionable, but at least she’s honest. Follow her on Twitter @LauraOnstot.
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Going to the beach with kids may conjure images of packing for a trip to Antarctica. But compared to the beach, Antarctica would be a breeze. Instead of schlepping half of your household in a sled across the ice, you will sweat profusely under the unforgiving sun while your ankles are sucked into the sand.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to pack light for the beach with kids, and make your beach adventures less traumatic for all involved.
#1 Limit the number of beach toys you bring along.
Does your child really need 5 buckets and 23 shovels of varying sizes? No. Institute a one bucket and one shovel per child rule, and enforce the “you bring it, you carry it” rule. Or, bypass the buckets and shovels entirely, and bring a set of small sea creature toys that will easily fit into your beach bag.
#2 Your kid doesn’t need a chair.
Does your child really need their own chair? No. They will spend 98% of their time running around and throwing sand in the air like maniacs. They do not comprehend the magic of sitting in a beach chair, with their eyes shut, listening to the sounds of the waves. If they need to sit, remind them that sand is a fantastic exfoliant.
#3 Skip the cooler from hell.
Can you bypass the cooler that weighs 987 pounds? Yes. Yes, you can. Invest in insulated water bottles to keep your drinks cold. Pack frozen foods that don’t need a cooler and will thaw by lunchtime: Uncrustables PB&J sandwiches, frozen go-gurt, frozen cheese sticks, frozen applesauce squeezes. Shelf-stable foods that don’t require refrigeration are also great, such as beef sticks, Ritz Crackers, fruit snacks, apples, and oranges. If you are bringing food that requires a cooler, use the smallest cooler possible to save space and reduce the weight on your shoulders as you journey across the sand. Simplify, simplify, simplify.
#4 Swap your bulky towels with Turkish beach towels!
Don’t bring the beach towel that is large and fluffy enough to be a king-sized mattress. Invest in Turkish Beach Towels, which roll up to the size of Chipotle Burrito, and don’t trap sand. Win-win? Yes. If only they turned into chipotle burritos on the car ride home from the beach. That would be perfection.
#5 Don’t bring your entire sunscreen collection.
Of course bring sunscreen, but don’t bring your entire 75-bottle collection. Pare it down to one spray and one bottle of sunscreen lotion. Here’s another life hack: put the sunscreen on right before you go to the beach, not when you are sweaty and sandy at your final location. *Still bring the sunscreen for re-application after swimming.
Packing light for the beach with kids is possible when you make lots of little swaps- something bigger for something smaller. But it is also about simplifying. You don’t need to haul a glamping-style tent out onto the beach– an umbrella will work wonders. Your kids will be okay without their entire collection of beach toys, and so will you.
That said, always make sure you pack enough water, sunscreen & sun protection (sun shirts, hats, sunglasses, umbrellas), and food. These are the things that can cut a beach trip short if you are lacking.
Best wishes on your beach endeavors, and may the odds be ever in your favor!