Beach Day

We are blessed to live by the beach. Actually, I've been blessed my whole life to have lived within 20 miles of it on both coasts, the closest having been 1.5 miles in Westchester neighborhood in Los Angeles...those were the days. But with all this closeness, you'd think I'd be there about every weekend. Not so. Actually, I average a beach trip about every month. So I have to ask myself why?  And if I'm being honest, I think the answer is: kids.

Yes, it's difficult to take kids to the beach. And even if I don't plan to take them to the beach, during a big surf swell for instance, I can't just leave them at home (yet...). So my terrible solution has been to only venture to the shore on rare occurrences when I'm feeling both brave and patient enough to endure the hardships of beach-going; or when the stars align and someone is home to watch so I can sneak out for a couple hours to surf.

But today is different! Yes, I awoke with the beach on my mind, and so I decided to single-handedly take my children to the beach! My wife did it as the Stay-at-home Mom -- several times -- and managed to come home with both children and her sanity intact. She actually had developed a good routine for it, which she taught me during my "training" (when we were both home before she started working again). There are several difficult things to prepare for if you want to have your own blessed beach day. Check out the list I thought of below and feel free to add your own in the Comments if I missed any.

Papa got us this tent, which was an awesome addition to our beach supplies.
Preparation: This is key. You must think ahead and bring lots and lots of things to have a successful beach day! Gone are the days of grabbing a surfboard, a towel and a bottle of water for a few hours of fun. No, with children you must have sunscreen, bathing suits, towels, toys, swim diapers, clothes to change into when you are done, water, snacks, a tent/umbrella, sandals and probably some other items I'm forgetting. Today I forgot to bring toys, which my three year old noticed when she wanted to dig and build a sandcastle. No worries though, Daddy is good at...

Improvisation: Be ready to improvise. I turned seashells into shovels, which can also be used for castle decorations and listening devices. ("I can hear the ocean," she says with a conch shell up to her ear. Of course you can hear the ocean, you're standing right next to it, I think, with a smile and an affirming nod.) You will forget something and before you know it, turn a towel and some sticks into a makeshift tent to protect the baby from the sun. Just be ready for it.

Sunscreen: Like I said, my wife created a routine for this which involves changing and lathering the oldest, who will stand by the car while you work on the youngest (a wanderer). I don't want to say too much about sunscreen here, because there are a ton of different types out there and a lot of research on which ones give you cancer and which ones prevent it. I will say I had a friend who made her own, and it was a lot cheaper and a lot better; just super thick and less convenient. The thing I forget to do is reapply, but today when reapplication time came, it coincided with lunch time, so just left. Again, improvisation.

Snacks: If you're a stay-at-home parent, you know that you never leave home without snacks. This is only truer at the beach, where you are more isolated from convenient supplies, and kids are seemingly hungrier. The good thing is that if you get tired making sure your kids aren't drowning, you can use snack time for a brief respite from concentration. The bad part is trying to keep your one-year old from eating sand (and then cleaning up the poop after she does).

Not surfing: We were getting a little bit of the Hurricane Jose swell today, and I have to say it is difficult to watch people catch four-foot waves while you're jumping over four-inch ones with your kids. Usually I go to the beach with my wife and she watches the kids while I surf for a bit, then I come back and play. It works. I guess if you're not a surfer, the flip side of this is suntanning. You can't exactly check out for a few minutes to lay back and relax in the sun when your kids are being pummeled around by the ocean.

Not drowning: This is really hard with my youngest, who is a wild woman of the water. I love this part of her, and so I try hard not to squelch it (I am looking forward to family surf time one day), but it is hard when this fearless one-year old goes deeper and deeper. I guess when you name your child Waverly, what can you expect? Those swimmy things are awesome for this when your child is big enough.

Leaving: By far the hardest thing about the beach is getting two children with different minds on the same page for leaving -- something they probably don't want to do anyway. You're drying off one while the other is running back in the water. One is rinsed off and the other starts digging again. I still don't know how to do this, so any tips would be appreciated!