I’ve spent a good part of the summer at the beach. From my many trips alone with the girls, we know I’ve concluded one important thing: husbands are good for hauling crap onto the beach. Divorce would be bad.
I’ve also had a few months to put together my list of beach essentials. Before you go on, a few notes. First, I am not a minimalist. If you are a minimalist, then KT’s beach survival list is not for you. Also, this list is particularly useful if you have more than one child. I didn’t necessarily need all of these things last summer. And well, I’m a gal who likes to need and collect things, so I do not say that lightly.
I made my peace with the true fact that I am no longer able to toss a few gossip rags, a bottle of water, some sun block (who the hell has time to apply sun block anymore?), and a cheesy beach read into a cute straw beach bag, grab a chair and hit the beach. Those days are long gone. As they are for you. So here goes, kittens.
Topping the list, without a doubt, is the very thing that saved summer. If you are a regular beach-goer, then this item is a must have. Easily the best $80 or so I’ve ever spent. And once you own one, you will note that it is like a veritable convention of these surrounding your beach camp each and every time you go. And if you relish in shopping, as do I, then you will size up the cousins of this contraption and determine that your deluxe model, with it’s big wheels fit for pulling over sand with relative ease (for the husband, of course), was well worth the extra cash.
Behold the Wonder Wheeler Deluxe – in all of its plastic perfection and big wheeled glory. It is the ultimate visual representation of parenthood, of dorkiness, the minivan of the beach, if you will. Being seen pulling or standing close to one of these tells the skinny bikini clad teens and young lovers around you that you gave up on being cool a long time ago. And as I went to dig up the link – don’t think my stomach didn’t turn upon realizing this life-saver of summer is now on sale for HALF PRICE. The rush I get from a great deal on a great item keeps me going for months, I almost want to buy them in bulk now and then sell them to others at the onset of Memorial Day 2010. The only thing this summer champ can’t do is carry a baby – and don’t think I didn’t consider where a baby might be strapped in, similar to a baby bjorn, thereby freeing up both hands of one parent (the one clever enough not to be pulling or pushing the WWD). I considered how the sturdier baby just might be fine sitting in the main basket. Trust me, desperate times call for desperate considerations.
So now that I’ve tipped you off on the ease of transporting all the gear, including chairs and the ever-important beach umbrella, to and from the beach, let’s now get into the actual gear.
Surviving two hours on the beach with two children under the age of 4 is no small feat.
Because DD2 was immobile way back in May, and in my naivete I presumed she would be immobile all summer long as was her sister, I purchased the covered tent for baby. As luck wouldn’t have it, she was crawling shortly after July 4 and so she maybe played and napped in the thing twice before she spent her next visit pushing her head up against the mesh netting that was zipped closed and them promptly began screaming bloody murder for someone to retrieve her. So – it worked well for DD1 and was a total waste for DD2, and as any self-respecting shopping lover would do, I lost the first tent from DD1. So we have this useless second one. IF she had stayed immobile, as I had planned, then it would have been a real asset to our beach-going experience.
Which brings us to our second question: how to keep the mobile baby distracted long enough not to eat a pound of sand each beach visit?
Enter the baby pool. You got it. We are big fans of the baby pool on the beach, steps from the ocean, filled with like 3 centimeters of water. I don’t think the baby pool will be useful for us next summer, but it was a life saver this summer and because DD2 would play in the pool with rubber ducks and whatever else she could find, DD1 was then interested in playing in the pool and ripping all the toys from DD2 hands (read: enabling some ‘relaxation’ time for us away from playing “let’s jump waves” in the ocean). The baby pool gets ranked second for me after my beloved WWD.
In case you’ve lost track, you are now hauling several chairs, a baby pool, a baby tent, gobs of beach toys, towels, a cooler, snacks and a beach umbrella to the beach. If you are anything like me, you are wondering why in the hell you are even bothering.
Which brings me to the joys of applying sunscreen. I don’t know about your children but applying sunscreen to DD1 is like chasing around a chicken whose head was just cut off. As it turned out, the Coppertone Water Babies sunscreen in the form of roll-on, that she could apply herself (Miss “I’m three, I can do it by MYSELF”), eased my pain and misery. I can’t recommend this product enough if you don’t already have it or if your child hasn’t turned into the taz devil yet when trying to apply sunscreen.
And finally, let’s end with me. I still haven’t found that fabulous, stylish and practical beach cover-up. Happy summer kittens, there isn’t much left to go.