Today, the power went out right after I made my coffee. Because we have a tankless water heater, no power means no warm water, so I resigned myself to doing one of the two activities I can do without showering: either lying around the house feeling bad about how it looks more like a warehouse for cheap furniture, 80s-inspired blinds, and plastic toys instead of a artfully-curated Instagram-worthy abode, or going to the beach. Although the self-pity seemed appealing in many ways, I knew that, if I gave in, I would regret having already blown the whole homeschool thing with a pajama/endless Digimon/did I even feed the kids lunch? day. So, we went to the beach.
You know me (probably?), and you know I *hate* hassles. I am not that mom who throws the kids into the car for carefree adventures. I, like, don’t really take them anywhere. This is why we bought a house with a big yard. Theme parks, actual parks, birthday parties, bounce studios, Target – it’s just all TOO MUCH FOR ME. But, two summers ago, Bridget begged and begged to go to the beach. I never took her, because I spent that whole summer on bed rest. Last summer, Bridget begged and begged to go to the beach, and I never took her, because I had a little baby, and because I am me. This year, I got back on Lexapro, and life kinda went to shit, and I decided it was time to throw caution to the wind just freaking go.
And it was kinda easy.
My friend, who is a beach regular, even though she has more kids than anyone I know, gave me good parking advice. She was right, I parked right on the sand.
And although I made a few rookie mistakes, the kids had a good time, and it wasn’t at all the massive, messy hassle that I had envisioned. So we started going, kind of a lot. And now I have a system.
Do you want to know the system? If not, then, I guess, go away.
Here is what I do:
First, I decide that we are going to the beach in the morning. I like to go before it gets busy, because I do not like people. I tell my kids to brush their teeth and put on their swimsuits. No t-shirts, no flip-flops – nothing else! The boys wear trunks, and Bridget wears her bathing suit, and Fefe goes right into the car nude. Yep, I’m that mom at the beach with the nude 2-year-old. We get a fast-food breakfast on the way, both because things from a deep fryer keep the kids full for a long time, and because, well, I am pretty lazy.
I bring the following items:
2 towels. A tube of sunscreen (for Jack.) A bag of lightweight sand toys. A bottle of water. Sometimes I bring a life vest for Felix.
That’s it, my friends.
Part of my reluctance to go to the beach was that I believed, erroneously, that going to the beach required toting loads of things out onto the beach, then lugging them all back to the car like a pack mule, while the kids cried that the sand was too hot and were too tired to carry their sandals. Chairs. Umbrellas. Food. Drinks. Changes of clothes. A towel for everyone. NOPE. With my minimalist approach, when my kids get hungry, we just leave. I get that some kids boogie board or skim board, or might need a hat or whatever – but the point is to bring the absolute BARE MINIMUM. (I do want to get an umbrella for really hot days, though.)
Once I have settled in on a spot (ideally, at least 50 feet away from another human) we play for a while, with no arbitrary amount of time that we need to stay to make it seem “worth” the trip. When the kids are over it, we just leave.
And here is what is clutch:
I bought this 2-gallon sprayer for about $15.00 on Amazon (is there any other store?) I fill it before we leave, and it warms up a bit in the car. I hose the kids down before they get back into their carseats. Rookie move: not having them sit on the running board to get a final foot rinse. I also hose off any sand toys that the kids used. THEY RIDE HOME IN THEIR WET SWIMSUITS, PEOPLE. And yes, Fefe is still nude.
When we get home, the kids shower, and all I have to wash is two pair of trunks, one girls’ swimsuit, and two towels. I put the bag of toys back in the garage, and the sunscreen stays in the car. Hell, yes.
There is still a bit of unavoidable sand in my car, because sand is a bitch like that, but nothing a quick vacuum doesn’t take care of.
And that is how the lazy, hassle-averse mom does the beach.