My version of beach bliss includes a good book, a comfy lawn chair, and lots of peaceful listening to the waves lap the sand by my toes. It does not include lots of overly-excited children who want me to pertpetually jump waves and build sand castles with them. (This is why I am Mom of the Year) The one sticky wicket with my fantasy vacation? I have children–children who really like wave-jumping and sand castle-building.
While I hover, mourning the suspension of my dream beach-going for the foreseeable future, I am here to tell you that we just got back from a week-long beach trip and survived. Every single day was gorgeous, so we spent hours upon hours on the sand, and you know what? True story: we not only survived, but I actually enjoyed it too.
I know, I know. How is this possible?
Listen, there are few tricks of the trade to acing out the beach–real mom style. You know, not the way moms who study Pinterest for months pre-beach trip do it. The way we moms who are just happy to remember swimsuits for the whole family do it.
1) Get a beach box. Dude, I blew this one off for years in the interest of saving money. Then we started renting a place that included one. I will never go back. Ever. My 35 yr. old arms and sanity will no longer allow me to haul a gajillion beach chairs while screaming at children to not run out in traffic and kill themselves as we make the daily trek to the beach. Get a beach box; just do it.
2) Lie. Profusely. My moral code discourages dishonesty; that being clear, LIE ANYWAY. The man that checks beach tags? Didn’t you know he’s actually the police searching for whiny children to take to jail? The fact that a shark just nabbed someone the next beach over a week prior? Tell your children that sharks have never existed in this area if you ever want to have any hope of getting them in the water. Lying? A parent’s saving grace.
3) Dark sunglasses. Two benefits: you can pretend snooze when you’re actually not so you shirk the next sand castle-building duty to your husband, and also, this allows you to conspicuously and vigorously people-watch to your heart’s content.
4) Pack the book. No, you probably won’t actually get the chance to pick it up and read it, but stashing it in the bottom of the beach bag may perpetuate the fantasy that you will actually get a chance to relax. This is a good thing.
5) Remind yourself that salt water has healing properties and that sand is the most perfect natural pedicure. Also, digging ginormous holes in the sand is fab exercise. For real–remembering these bonus plusses helps stifle the under-the-breath curses.
6) Don’t take your phone. I know, your modern-day self is roiling over the preposterous of this idea. But listen, it will only get wet, sand-covered and your aging eyes won’t allow you to properly view the screen anyway. Above all, it might actually increase the chance that you give your children some dedicated, quality attention. The texts will be there when you get back, really.
7) Be comfortable. Let’s be honest: there’s little to zero chance I’m going to rock the perfect body in this lifetime. I could squeeze into a trendy ill-fitting suit or I could comfortably hang out in duds that allow me to toss my kids in that endless stream of waves. I bought this adorable Columbia skirt to cover up the unsightly bits and felt uber-comfortable treking back-and-forth to the beach for the first time in years. Wear what works for you–not InStyle magazine.
8) Make a date for a post-beach break. Plan on pouring yourself a bev, snagging a teeny nap or extra-long shower as soon as you scrub the sand off your kiddos. Knowing you have a few minutes of sanity on the horizon can get you through the frenzy of many sun-kissed hysterics. I promise.
9) Pack all the things. I know, you’ll never read this in Parents magazine. But trust me, hell has no fury like a preschooler whose sandwich has been snatched by a band of aggressive seagullls when Mommy has no back-up snacks. Also, have you ever heard a parent sob over having too many wipes? Far better to pack up and slug out a heavy load than rue the day.
10) Go with it. I am the least zen creature on this earth, but when I allow myself to just be and accept all the imperfection that comes with the salt-water territory, I am far, far happier. Channel your inner “roll with it” and let it go–pitiful attempts at building sand-castles included. The kids will only remember that you tried, not that you aced it.
The beach? Totally yours for the taking, friends. And I’ll meet you on the flipside of this parenting gig–with a whole totebag full of chill novels ready to roll.