9 Ways to Make a Beach Vacation with Kids More Enjoyable for Grown-Ups
Taking your kids away to the beach makes for some amazing photos memories: you and your floatie-clad cuties gazing at the surf. Tawny little hands holding melting cones of soft-serve. Less awww-inspiring? The unseen implosions over crotch sand and hysteria because the kite won’t fly on a windless day. These simple steps will take your holiday from “we barely survived” to “best ever.”
The generally ideal scenario of having one-adult-per-child must be amended when it comes to the beach—if fun has any hope of being had. Grandparents can be deployed as snack-bar waiters, beach-chair sherpas and evening babysitters, so you can escape to an adults-only dinner of lobster rolls and strong cocktails (you’ll need sustenance to face the looming rollout of four back-to-back beach days). With multi-generational child supervision, you may even get to read one page of a book (no promises).
Make bedtime ridiculously early
4:30 p.m.: Hot dogs on the beach
5:30 p.m.: Bath
6:30 p.m.: Lights out
4-plus hours of uninterrupted you time.
Get a wagon
You may think because the beach is a mere 20 yards from your car that your children and gear-laden husband will be able to walk across a hot parking lot without completely losing their sh--. Assume otherwise. Instead, load kids, toys and towels into one of these bad boys and bask in the glow of its drink holders. “Walking” to dinner? Not anymore they’re not.
Pitch a tent
If you have children under age ten, the sun will be “too hot,” the ocean “too cold” and the blanket “too messy” to possibly sit on. (In fact, “too sandy” is the number one complaint of beach-going children, according to our field research.) But a beach tent has the double advantage of being easily spotted by wandering family members, and offering built-in UV protection for anyone too slippery to submit to sunblock.
Squirt bottles are your friend
Crocs too crunchy? Hair too sticky? Unquenchably thirsty? Hose down everything in sight with squirt bottles pre-filled with fresh ice water.
Skip the nap at your own peril
The only thing more mood-destroying than an overheated toddler is an underslept, overheated toddler. No one needs you, midday sun.
House > Hotel
Beach hotels are the stuff dreams are made of. But the lovely restaurant off the lobby will do you no good when there’s a baby napping in the bathroom, a child who goes to bed at 7 p.m. and a long, dark night of monastic silence ahead (knock upon penalty of death, room service deliverer). By renting a kid-friendly, multi-story beach cottage, you get guaranteed downstairs space where grown-ups can relax after the obscenely early bedtimes a beach day blessedly brings (see no. 2). The upside to having your own fridge (besides ample storage space for local beer and the only brand of yogurt your kids will eat)? Never running out of milk.
Many beach resorts offering all-inclusive family getaways build childcare and kids camps into the package. If you are determined to learn to surf or hit the spa—or even just maximize your parenting potential by getting a few hours of alone time—kid-friendly activities or an on-staff nanny may be just the ticket.
Make them do stuff YOU want to do
There’s no reason you can’t drag kids along to an oyster restaurant or nautical antiques shop (strap grabby toddlers into strollers as needed)—as long as you talk of nothing but their imminent ice cream/toy store/screen time reward the entire time.