Bruises, Bows, and the Beach Part 2: All the Help

Short and sweet. This one’s going to be short and sweet.

Yesterday, I wrote about the goods and the gear — all the things I usually pack for a day at the beach with two toddlers and a baby. One of the essential items on my itemized list was ALL THE HELP YOU CAN GET. I still haven’t figured out how to actively supervise all three kiddos around water, especially when Tessa is nursing. She’s a sleepy nurser who doesn’t like a lot of movement or interruption so I’m usually pretty stationary if she’s eating. And if you have a two year old like mine – who doesn’t listen to a damn thing you say, ever – you can’t afford stationary at the beach.

So, we enlist. We enlist anybody and everybody who wants to help. But really this post is a special shout out to the usual suspects. Our help crew runs deep, and we’ve gotten pretty darn systematic about it. So even though I may not get to ‘relax’ the entire time at the beach, I’m usually able to steal at least a few minutes…all because of our handy helpers.

Between Nana, Papa, Auntie Ally, Uncle Pauly, Uncle Nic, Auntie Lindsay, Gammy, Popsy, and the occasional Uncle Dave, we’ve got it made. The boys are usually a tag team, so as long as one adult is willing to go in the water, catch hermit crabs, build sandcastles, or catch shrimpies, then we’re good. Initially at the beginning of the summer Tessa was a little fussy at the beach – lots of stimulation and she wasn’t sitting up yet so she didn’t like not being able to see what’s going on. So if she was awake, we’d have one adult on her. Recently, she’s stronger sitting up and is easily distracted by just sitting directly in the sand so as long as someone’s in the vicinity, we’re totally good. That usually leaves 1 or 2 of us out of the rotation, effectively allowing us to take shifts. Inevitably, the person who is off-shift ends up being the drink runner (adult drinks, that is). But amidst drink runs, that lucky one gets to park it for a few minutes and maybe, just maybe, close their eyes or read a book or sit in peace and quiet. And then the shift changes and we do it all over again.

Ultimately, though, we’re SO dang lucky. We’re so lucky we have family that happily agrees to tag along with us, even when deep down they know a day at the beach with kids our age is no easy feat. I imagine every time a Cape weekend or a WT day comes to an end, all the helpers silently and secretly cheers to our departure so they can go back to their calm, quiet, luxurious day. So if any of my immediate family has made it this far in my post and are still reading, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for sticking those (not-so-relaxing, crazy, hectic, exhausting, sweaty…) beach days out. It means the world to my kids, and means the world to me too. ❤

Bruises, Bows, and the Beach Part 1: The Goods and The Gear

Let me just start by saying, if anyone ever tells you that going to the beach with babies and/or toddlers is easy, they are certifiably crazy. Like before I had kids, I would dream of taking my future angelic kids to the beach – parking my butt in my beach chair with a book and some snacks so I can supervise my kids frolicking happily in the waves in front of me. (If I happen to spot this at the beach, I sit in awe and jealousy of this family wondering when it will be my turn? Never.) This is so absurdly far from the truth, and while I’ll say it takes a whole ton of sh*t and a whole ton of planning to get our little family to the beach, I still love my beach days, and the kids do too (most of the time). They just aren’t anything like the storybooks say they’ll be. This two-part series will outline for you what it takes to “enjoy” a beach day with a baby and two toddlers, including the goods and the gear, and the help.

I feel like I should itemize what we pack to bring to the beach in terms of goods and gear. And I’ll preface this by saying we have a lake we frequent often as well as my in-laws’ Cape house, and in both situations we walk to get to the beach. I’ve linked items to the actual product where possible! Thank you Amazon!

  • PATIENCE. Lots of it. Like more than any other time.
  • NO EXPECTATIONS. Some days you last an hour and others you last the whole day. Some days the kids are entertained and others they whine and cry the whole time. If you don’t have expectations, then you won’t be disappointed.
  • WILLINGNESS TO GET SANDY. In your unabashed pre-kid life, you could go to the beach and avoid any grain of sand on any of your things. With kids, you need to expect it. All over you, all over them (yes they will eat it and you won’t be able to stop it), and all over your sh*t. Learn to accept it.
  • HELP. You need all the help you can get. I’ll have a separate post devoted to this entirely.
  • ADULT BEVERAGES. Whether it’s coffee or booze or seltzer water, it is an essential item.
  • Beach wagon or beach buggy. The beach buggy we used to use broke, and the wagon has held up much stronger.
  • Beach tent. It needs to be easy to put up AND easy to take down. I went through a bunch at first that were like trying to put together origami when trying to put them away before I found this one.
  • Beach umbrella. Since baby’s skin is so sensitive, we need portable shade. So we always bring the umbrella in addition to the tent. This year especially we discovered how amazing it is to put it right on the water line. Helps us supervise with baby in tow, but also provides much needed relief on really hot days to be able to sit with your butt in the water.
  • Kid beach chairs. This may sound excessive, but it honestly helps SO much. If the kids want a snack, they have to sit in their chair. It helps us avoid sandy snacks and dropped food. And the baby beach chairs trap the baby so you don’t have to worry about chasing them around. LOL. We love the Summer Pop ‘N Sit chair for babies, and the big kid version too.
  • Adult beach chairs. You can’t go wrong with the Tommy Bahama backpack chairs because you can still carry them if they don’t fit in the wagon. They also have a cup holder, cell phone pocket, and built-in cooler.
  • Sand toys in an easy open, easy close sand toy bag. So the kids can carry them if needed, and help to clean up at the end of the day. For the bruises, I especially recommend buckets, nets, and shovels, so they can catch anything and everything nasty and gross.
  • Cooler. For adult beverages and kid cold snacks, but mostly adult beverages. My mother-in-law came across this awesome Tommy Bahama zipperless cooler bag at Marshall’s.
  • Snack bag. Pack all the snacks. And pack easy tupperware or kid containers so they aren’t sticking their sandy hands into bags of chips or boxes of cheez-its. We just use a re-useable shopping bag. Easy enough.
  • Water bottles for the kids. Ones with the pop up mouth pieces so they can be closed to avoid sand. We like the Yeti ones and Hydroflask ones because they keep water icy cold. A little pricey but worth the investment.
  • Beach towels. I ditched the beach blanket a long time ago because toddlers don’t understand the idea of keeping sand off the blanket or not walking across it. Towels are a lot easier to keep in a bag and only take it out when you need it. I’m a big fan of the Pottery Barn Kids towels – personalized (so the kids don’t argue over which one they want) but also really thick and high quality. Another worthwhile splurge. I also bought cheap ones on Amazon to send to camp with Luca so he doesn’t lose any of the good ones!
  • Extra change of clothes for every kid because inevitably, “Mommy, I’m sandyyyyy!” or “Mommy, I’m colddddd!”.
  • Diaper bag. Still need all things baby, even at the beach.
  • Portable white noise machine, in case the little needs a little extra help taking a nap on the go.
  • Swim diapers. Honestly, I just keep the whole package in our beach bag now. Too many experiences with blow outs or leaky pee to only pack 1 or 2 extras. Need the whole package, all the time.
  • Water shoes. You’ll thank me later for this one because your kid will no longer be able to say “Mommy can you carry me?” (hot sand, rocky sea floor, seaweed in the water…).
  • Puddle jumpers. SO much controversy here. Lots of media coverage lately due to the false sense of safety they provide kids when around water. Here’s how I see it though. I have 3 kids, that at any time, can all go in 3 different directions. I NEED something that can give me a little extra comfort when I’m trying to supervise them all around water. It holds them upright very well. But, holding a child vertical in the water is essentially holding them in the drowning position, so we still do swimming lessons and spend plenty of closely supervised time NOT in our puddle jumpers so they can get comfortable in water without anything helping them.
  • Koozies. I almost started buying non-alcoholic slim-can seltzers JUST so I could use my BruMate. But then I realized people would probably assume I jumped on the booze-wagon at 9am by myself at the beach with 3 kids and….yeah, that wouldn’t go over well. BUT, we all know what happens when you crack your seltzer (alcoholic or not). Immediately, every kid needs your help doing 25,000 different things. So when you come back to that seltzer 3 hours later, you better believe you still want it cold! Invest in a quality koozy, BruMate or not.
  • Sunscreen. Kid sunscreen and adult sunscreen. We use Beach Bum/Baby Bum or Babyganics.
  • Hats for every kid. I don’t put sunscreen in their hair, and I still don’t put sunscreen on Tessa’s face yet. So they know the rule is: out of the water, hats on.
  • Beach shoes. Easy on, easy off, and ones that are still comfortable with sand in them. We have our Natives and our sharky shoes that we got from Stitch Fix but are kind of like these Amazon ones.
  • Boogie boards. They love to float on them and pretend to surf, even though neither boy has figured out how to actually boogie board yet. I think we got ours from the seasonal aisle at Stop and Shop.
  • Portable, wireless speaker. Music makes everything better.
  • Candy and gummies. BRIBES. Whatever you need to bribe them to: get out of the water, change their diaper, let the hermit crabs go, take a picture, eat lunch, sit still on the towel….I could go on and on.

I’m probably forgetting a bajillion things. Moral of the story: we pack our house and more to go to the beach. But who doesn’t?