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How to Take Your Kids to the Beach

Taking your family to the beach is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and it has been for many generations of Americans. The sand, the surf, the sun and the memories all mingle to make your experience unforgettable. When you take your kids on your next beach adventure, try the following tips:

1. Pick a family-friendly beach location.
Do a little homework on the right beach. Some are more open to kids than others. Look for one that has the right amenities to ensure that you and your children have lots to do and will be completely welcome. The Internet is a great place to look up suggestions from other parents who have kids the same age.

2. Prepare your youngsters for a day at the beach.
If your kids have never been to the beach before, it’s important to explain to them what they’ll see and do. Talk with them about safety. They should be with you at all times and shouldn’t roam around on their own unless they are older or you’re comfortable with it. If your kids cannot swim, they shouldn’t go in the water without an adult even if they’re wearing floaties.

3. Make a list of everything you want to pack.
Whether you’re just making a day trip to your favorite beach or you’re staying for a week, make a complete list of everything you’re going to take with you. Remember to include:

  • Sunscreen
  • beach towels/blankets
  • sand toys
  • water
  • non-messy food
  • trash bags
  • a cooler
  • flip-flops
  • hats
  • a beach chair and/or umbrella
  • Band-Aids
  • aloe vera
  • a change of clothes

Once you make your list, you can just check off the items as you pack without worries that you’ll forget something important. You may also need to get new swimsuits for the kids — after all, they grow up quickly and might have outgrown last year’s bathing suit.

4. Have a plan in mind if young children get bored.
One of the biggest shocks to parents can be when little kids suddenly get bored with the beach. Just because the beach is amazing to adults doesn’t mean that a toddler can handle the excitement for more than a couple of hours. Moms, dads and grandparents have to expect that smaller boys and girls may have enough of the beach after a short timeframe.

Rather than getting mad, plan on making the beach day shorter for them. Many beaches have boardwalks or other nearby things to do.

5. Explain wildlife to your children.
You might see numerous types of wildlife at the beach, including seagulls, terns and sand crabs. Research some information or facts about the wildlife that will likely be at the beach you’re visiting.

Make sure to talk about expectations when it comes to what the kids can and should not touch. For instance, a jellyfish sighting may be interesting to a child, but without the proper education beforehand, he or she might not realize jellyfish stings can be dangerous. A little education can go a long way towards preventing a problem, so having a discussion about wildlife can help you feel more at ease.

6. Talk about rip currents.
A rip current is a certain type of wave action that makes swimmers – even strong ones – incapable of directly swimming back to shore. Many beach-goers experience rip currents every season, so it’s a good idea to talk about this phenomenon with the whole family. Lifeguards are always on the lookout for swimmers who are at risk, but it’s best if the swimmers understand how to stay as safe as possible in the water beforehand.

7. Encourage exploration at the beach.
Beaches are ripe for exploration, and kids are naturally curious. This means that beachcombing should be an activity that is high on the to-do list for any family! Of course, you should always accompany your young children as they look for rocks and shells along the shoreline. The rocks or shells can then be collected in a bucket and brought back home. One note: Some beaches request that certain items not be removed from the beach, such as grasses that have been planted along the shore to prevent erosion. Look for any warning signs indicating what not to touch or take.

8. Discourage bringing electronics to the beach.
Although it may seem perfectly reasonable for kids to bring their electronics to the beach, moms and dads may want to discourage this activity. Not only can the electronic items become clogged or bogged down with sand and water, but you’ll also lose the value of the beach because of lack of physical activity. The beach is all about enjoying nature, so leave the electronics at home or at the hotel. Moms and dads may want to do this as well to set an example.

9. Allow for down time after going to the beach.
Kiddos may become over-excited by a morning or afternoon at the beach, and the younger they are, the more they need some after-beach downtime. This helps avoid common issues such as meltdowns due to constant on-the-go action. However, quiet time doesn’t have to be totally inactive — it can include watching a television program, reading a book, having some healthy snacks, taking a shower or indulging in a nap. Your kids will have a chance to settle down a bit, and it gives parents a chance to catch their breath before heading on to another adventure like miniature golfing or going out to dinner.

10. Take tons of pictures.
While it seems obvious that families should take pictures of their kids when they all go to the beach, it’s easy for parents and relatives to lose track of time and forget. After all, it’s easy to get engrossed in dozens of activities when you’re playing at the beach! However, the pictures will be worth it in the end — you’ll be happy you stopped to snap some funny shots of the kids building a sand castle, flying the kite you built, jumping in the waves, chatting with new friends or trying to bury dad in the sand.

More than anything else, make sure the name of the game is fun! Have an incredible time at the beach with your family. Take the time to plan upfront, and go into your trip with realistic expectations of what your kids need. Then, sit back and enjoy!