Everything I was glad I brought in my beach bag and one thing I was sad I forgot.
As a first time mom, I had some serious apprehensions about taking Cillian to the beach! Also, I am a little embarrassed that his first beach trip was at 17 months old.
What if he gets sand in his eyes? Anything in my eyes ruins my day quickly!
What about sand in his mouth? We all know how miserable that can be!
What if he hated it, and I had to cut my trip short due to toddler meltdowns?
My family and I grew up in the Caribbean, and I am a beach girl at heart! I do not remember a time when I was not comfortable and at home on the beach and in the water, but I was still nervous about doing the beach with a toddler. I have lived in Florida since 2013…
…but we are two hours from either coast, and with Cillian’s history of misery, we had not yet stumbled upon the courage to pursue a beach trip.
But when some dear friends invited C and me to the beach on a weekend when Jon was out of town, I decided it was time our Florida baby see the ocean (or, rather, the Gulf. What ever)
Venturing to the beach when I was a child meant a five-minute walk in our flip-flops with a towel thrown over our shoulder. If we were making a day of it, we might take the van loaded down with a cooler and shovels, but because we lived so close and went so often, it was not something we gave much thought to. Or, maybe ten-year-old Beka just did not have to think about it. Either way, this was the first time I had to be mindful about what was in my beach bag!
Here is a list of everything I was thankful I brought!
A hooded poncho towel.
It was perfect for when C was done in the water and began to shiver, but we were not done on the beach. I was able to strip off his wet swim shirt without worrying about him getting too much sun. He is in a phase where he wants any blanket or towel on his head like an old washer woman…
…but he does not understand how to keep them there. He also needs to be hands free all the time for all that important toddler stuff. A hooded towel kept him warm and protected while allowing him mobility. Thanks, Dad and Mimi, for this towel!
My mom actually reminded me about this trick for sandy hands and feet. The powder absorbs all the moisture that holds the sand on the skin. C left the beach looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy thanks to how much powder I dumped on him, but he was sand free! It especially helped to get the sand out of his diaper area to avoid chaffing.
Our strategy for toddler tantrums is always to throw food at the issue. To C’s credit, he was very well-behaved the entire day, but it was still nice to have munchies! And not just for the kids, for mom too! But that is a given on any beach trip. Or, trip. I made sure all my snacks were bite-size – Cheerios, Teddy Grahams, etc. – that way if one was dropped, there was not much wasted. But, of course Cillian ate them out of the sand anyway. I guess sand does not bother your teeth as much when you do not have a full set of molars.
Duh! Dehydration is a seriously overlooked symptom of a beach trip, but remember to select a cup that is beach worthy. I selected a Replay cup because it is the design we own with the fewest nooks and crannies to get sand in. I would avoid taking those fancy space cups, as one drop in the sand means the entire lip, with it’s cool 360 design, will be full of sand!
Cillian’s outfit consisted of a reusable swim diaperfrom our favorite cloth diaper brand Apple Cheeks, a rash guardand water shoesfrom Amazon, and, of course, a hat. His outfit is never complete without a hat. The shoes were for walking from the car to the beach. He handled the soft sand better in his bare feet.
In addition to these things that made our trip magical, I also brought essentials like coffee for mom (we left the house at 7am), a towel to sit on, a towel to dry off with, my phone and wallet, dry clothes for both of us, C’s entire diaper bag, sunscreen which I forgot to use #FloridaGirlProblems,beach toys that were passed over in favor of sea shells and driftwood, and a partridge in a pear tree.
One thing I forgot
Trying to manage street parking, walking a block to the beach, carrying a toddler and all our stuff, I was so upset with myself for having left our brand-new-to-us wagon at home! One of the boys on Jon’s baseball team gifted the wagon to C, and I intended to use it at the beach. It might not have rolled through the sand very easily, but I probably could have carried it just as easily as I carried a little boy, two bags, and a cup of coffee.
Cillian seemed to absolutely love the beach. When his feet hit the sand, the biggest sand box of his whole life, he immediately threw two handfuls of sand into the air in celebration! The shells tasted of delicious salt water and freedom. The line where the sky meets the sea, it called him. He giggled everytime the waves lapped at his legs, and he handled a wave to the face like a champ!
Sadly, I did not get a single picture of this little seafarer in the water, because I knew that if I had to choose between saving my phone or saving my child from a deadly wave, I would choose my child. I did not want him to carry that blame for the rest of his life. If we could all agree to pretend I chose to be present rather than take pictures…