Ah that beach. A lovely relaxing day of sunbathing, a nice dip in the sea and general relaxation, right?! WRONG! Whilst the beach can be a sure fire day of fun for for the kids, particularly if you have young children; this is a day trip that is pretty much the stark polar opposite of relaxing…
Packing for the beach
Pre kids: Go to your (organised) wardrobe and pick out your new beach tote bag that you bought in March and have been eagerly waiting to use. Throw in:
- the tiniest bikini you can find
- a towel
- lots of magazines
Ponder for a while (you have time to ponder after all) over which factor sun cream to take before deciding on the Banana Boat tanning oil. Throw in some factor 15 for good measure (and because you can hear your mother in your head).
Post kids: Dig around your floordrobe (you will hang those clothes up one day) for some sort of trendy bag to pack your beach items in. Fail to find one. Take large multipurpose rucksack out of the cupboard instead. Throw in:
- your unsexy stomach shaping black swimming costume
- Kids costumes
- Buckets/spades/other random beach plastic
- Suncream (factor 4000)
- Kids hats, sunglasses
- All 7000 items you usually take out with you
Sit on bag and desperately try and do the zip up over the bulging contents. Fail. Dig around some more and find another suitable mum bag to distribute some of the contents into. What’s another bag to take eh?
Driving to the beach
Pre kids: Pop your bag in the back seat, stick your sunglasses on and wind down your window before turning up some summer time tunes to get you in the mood. Drive along singing happily with your other half.
Post kids: Do at least 14 trips backwards and forwards from the house to load up the car with all your beach items while the kids whinge and whine that the are hot/bored/hungry. Ram the boot closed and pull off the drive. Get halfway down the road and realise you’ve forgotten something critical. Drive back home. Repeat this twice more.
Drive to the beach with Now That’s What I Call Disney playing loudly, to drown out the sound of the kids fighting in the back.
Arriving at the beach
Pre kids: Park a way up the beach (obviously a long way away from the toilets/café as that’s where all the families with annoying, screaming children will be). Find a nice quiet spot on the beach, roll out your towel and sit down. Lay back and relaaax.
Post Kids: Drag your kids out of the car. Load up the buggy with all the beach luggage from the car. Go to get baby out of the car and turn back to realise your overloaded buggy has tipped over. Swear at your other half for letting this happen. Argue a bit more about whose fault it was.
Realise you don’t have enough hands between you to push the buggy, hold all of the excess beach items that clearly wont fit on the buggy and hold on to the other two children (whose idea was it to have this many kids?!). Resolve this by asking the two eldest to hold hands while you cross the road.
They don’t want to hold hands. Shout at them a bit until they do.
Locate nearest toilets (in the café). Drag your buggy across the beach trying to find a spot close by, but realise that all 75000 other families hitting the beach today have also had this plan. Argue some more with hubby that this spot between 6 other families will just have to do; after all there is at least 30 cms in diameter between you and all the other families, its fine.
Pre kids: Carry on lying down. Consider reading a magazine. Decide you can’t be bothered to move to get it.
Post kids: Spend about 20 minutes trying to put up the ‘easy up’ tent (whoever came up with this name needs a lesson in what easy actually bloody means) whilst frantically trying to keep an eye on all of your children; who have run off in different directions.
Spend another 10 minutes putting suncream on each of your kids (and at least 5 minutes before that arguing with them about why they need to wear it).
Play Rock Paper Scissors with your other half over who gets to watch the kids first and who gets to sunbathe. Win the game and gloat. Until you wake up from your ten minute doze to find yourself buried up to your neck in sand with a crab on your head…
Going for a swim
Pre kids: Get up. Walk towards the sea. Keep walking into sea. Start swimming. (Esssh that was a little chilly to begin with but now you’re in, isn’t this great? Isn’t it soooo relaxing….?!)
Post kids: Reapply sun cream to each child. Revisit the why suncream is important conversation. Start walking down the beach but then stop when one child starts crying as she has trodden on a sharp shell. Pick child up and carry on.
Stop again when child number 2 starts crying as the sand is too hot and burning her feet.
Walk back up the beach in search of jelly shoes. Put shoes on the children whilst trying to stop the baby eating sand.
Head back towards sea. Wait while children dip their toes into sea and wail that it’s too cold. Offer the usual encouragement line of ‘it will warm up once you’re in…’
Feel pleased with your life choices when all of your children finally start splashing around happily in the waves. Smile and think about what great memories you are making.
Approximately 20 seconds later, bend down to try and placate a screaming child who has been knocked over by a wave and has seawater in her mouth. Get knocked over by a wave yourself. Feeling disoriented, stumble around trying locate sobbing child. Realise that child number 2 is now sobbing as she has sea/sand mix in her eyes.
Grab all children fireman’s lift style and head back up the beach vowing that if you had your time again you would almost definitely be a Lizard (according to David Attenborough, their babies grow up with sod all reliance on their parents. Could you actually imagine?!?)
Pre kids: Get up. Walk along the beach and find some beautiful (and overpriced, but who cares, you have money to burn!) restaurant with views over the sea. Order a delicious lunch and eat it whilst gazing dreamily out to sea and talking about what a lovely relaxing day you are having.
Post kids: Rummage around (one of) your Mum-backpack(s) and dig out your squashed sandwiches. Dish them out to the kids. Wait a few minutes for the sound of a whinging child who has inevitably dropped their sandwiches into the sand. Try and brush off sandwich to no avail. Offer up your lunch instead.
Swat a wasp away approximately once every 3 seconds.
Pre kids: Get up from your towel. Stretch. Throw your towel and magazines in your bag. Walk up the beach hand in hand with your other half. Get in your car and drive home, discussing with your partner what a lovely day you’ve both had.
Post kids: Spend another 20 minutes putting down tent. Then another 10 packing up all the items you brought with you whilst trying to keep an eye on the kids.
Struggle to get kids in the car whilst ignoring their wails about not wanting to leave. After a few minutes of driving, look round to find them all asleep. Whilst inwardly you sigh, knowing that this sort of danger napping will have a catastrophic effect on tonight’s bedtime, close your eyes too and realise that actually, this is the most relaxed you have been all day…
*Whilst on the face of it, it would appear that the post-kids beach trip is the depiction of hell on earth, do remember that despite the numerous meltdowns, your kids will have had the time of their lives. And that’s what it’s about right #makingmemories? (Oh and with a bit of luck, you will have got some good Instagrammable photos which you can caption #blessed and make out like you’ve all had a beautiful family day together….)