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Heading to the beach? It’s a magical place for the kids; so many childhood memories are tied up in the sand and the surf. But it’s also an environment filled with little challenges for parents. What to take? How to stay safe? How to keep the sand out of everything? And what to do with that groaning shell collection?
Here, we offer 15 simple hacks to make your beach life that little bit easier.
1. Frozen Water Bottles
Freezer packs are useful for keeping snacks cool and fresh, but they do take up a lot of space. Instead, simply place your water bottles in the freezer for an hour, and then use them to provide the chill. Enough of the ice should have melted by the time you need a drink, and it’ll be deliciously cool, too.
2. Hiding Valuables: A Gross But Effective Idea
Busy beaches are a happy hunting ground for pickpockets. Never leave valuables, or important objects like keys, in an easily accessible place. One sneaky solution is to wrap such objects inside a nappy, and place this in a disposable bag. Any opportunist thief will steer clear. Just be sure that everyone in your group knows about the wheeze, lest someone accidentally throw the diaper away.
3. Shade Is Super-Important
Not so much a ‘hack’ as a sometimes-overlooked necessity. We often think of a trip to the seaside as a chance to bask in the sun, but with children in tow, it’s very important to plan to have some shade. Young skin is particularly susceptible to burning, and you can’t be too careful. Be sure to always pack a parasol, sun blocks or other portable structure for casting shade. They can be cumbersome to carry, but they also give added privacy for changing nappies or clothing. Hats or caps are also a good idea, especially for younger children with thin hair. And it goes without saying that you should apply plenty of sunscreen.
4. Think About Where The Sun Will Be
While we’re talking about shade, it’s also worth considering where the sun will be throughout the day. The sun, of course, will move from east to west and will appear due south around noon (if you’re in the northern hemisphere). So if you’re on a south-facing beach, the shadows will point to the right (west) in the morning and progressively toward the left (east) as the afternoon moves on. You might place your towels next to rocks or structures to take advantage of those shadows.
5. Imaginative Sand Castles
Beach buckets traditionally come in two shapes: the turreted, fortress-like mould for building one-pot sandcastles; and the more cylindrical tub, like a plant pot with a handle. But why limit yourselves to these basic designs? Consider taking along smaller objects, like measuring pots, beakers, bath toys and jelly moulds. They can be used to add adornments on top of the larger castles.
6. Baby Corrals
Infants can be given a safe, cosy place to lie by scooping out a shallow bowl in the sand, and placing a towel on top. Alternatively, you could bring along a blow-up paddling pool and use that as a kind of corral for your tot… if you have the carrying capacity.
7. Small Tents Were Made For This
If you have younger children, then chances are that you also have some kind of canvas play tent. These often fold down into a negligible space and are easily transportable. A play tent can be a real boon on the beach, offering protection from the sun and wind while also serving as a fun base for the kids.
8. Be Prepared To Take Home A New Shell Collection
Younger children seem to have an instinct to collect and hoard objects found in nature. A trip to the beach offers the ultimate indulgence for this hobby. Your kids will be tempted by shells, pebbles and the random items that wash up on a beach, so come prepared with a container to take their booty home. A selection of sandwich bags or tupperware boxes should suffice.
9. More Uses For Sandwich Bags
You’ve used them for collecting shells and storing food, but sandwich bags are also perfect for protecting mobile phones from the twin perils of water and sand. Most touchscreens will still work through thin plastic, so you won’t even need to open the bag if you want to combine digital and physical surfing. I can’t vouch for the quality of any photos taken from within a sandwich bag, though.
10. The Wonders Of The Fitted Sheet
The trouble with sitting on towels or picnic blankets is that the corners quickly become buried in sand, which then transports onto other objects on the towel. They also flap about in the wind. One crafty solution is to instead use a fitted sheet turned upside down, with bags in each corner to hold the sides up. Plus, the kids can pretend they’re inside a pirate boat.
11. Towels Don’t Have To Be Flat
Is anyone in the family handy with a needle and thread? Good. Because the humble beach towel is just asking to be pimped up. You could fold over a 10cm hem and sew in compartments for suncream, glasses cases, etc. You might alternatively fold a portion of the blanket over a pillow, then seal it in place with needle-and-thread, or a couple of button straps.
12. Get Sand Off Feet The Bloomin’ Obvious Way
People have all kinds of hacks for getting sand off feet - from a painful rub-down with a towel to baby wipes, to special sand-brushing mitts, to the application of talcum powder (which apparently shifts sand with almost magical efficiency). But there’s also a really obvious way to solve the problem that won’t hurt, nor pollute the beach with scented powder. Simply walk down to the tide, rinse off the sand, then dry your kids’ feet while still on the moist part of the beach. Having sandals ready is also a good idea.
13. Binoculars: Your New Beach Buddy
Having discussed several ways to declutter your beach bag, the suggestion that you should take some binoculars along might seem to strike a bum note. But do consider it. Binoculars have more uses on a beach than just about anywhere else. Try a bit of bird spotting, if you’re close to cliffs, piers or groynes. Use them to get a better look at distant ships or coastline. Best of all, they’re a handy way of keeping an eye on the kids, who tend to wander off and explore.
14. Mesh Bags Are The Way
Most parents will think to bring along spare plastic bags for wet swimwear, trash and beach toys. But consider using a mesh bag instead. Any loose sand remaining in the toys should work its way out. Plus, mesh bags are usually washable and reusable, whereas a plastic bag can feel too dirty to use again.
15. Beach Wagons Are A Thing
It can be a struggle to carry all the extra beachwear, food, shade, buckets, spades and other beach paraphernalia. The simple solution is to invest in a beach ‘wagon’. This is basically a crate on wheels, which can be loaded up with all your smaller bags then simply pulled along. The bigger the wheels the better for getting through the sand dunes.
The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.