Beach Please! Top 10 Tips for a safe & fun family day out.
Pre-kids heading to the beach was as easy as 1,2,3. Grab your swim suit, towel and sun cream, go to the beach, relax. With kids it can be a very different ball game. I am a total beach bum, and when the sun is out, there is nowhere I would rather be - I spent the first few years of parenting life living in Dubai and spent my childhood on the beach - with or without sunshine. So have a bit of experience and have made a few critical errors along the way! All have helped me to put together this guide.
Top 10 Tips for a FUN family day at the beach.
Plan & Prepare! Whether you are going everyday and have the essentials always in the car, or you're starting from scratch, it can be stressful running around the house trying to remember everything you need. Do what you can the night before. Plan What time to go at - early or late is better to avoid strong mid day sun, Where to go - do you know the beach? is there parking close? When is the high tide/low tide? I use an app called "Tides Near Me" - it helps me choose my beach spot for swimming vs playing in rock pools or building sandcastles! Preparing your beach bags - clothes, towels, swimwear etc. makes loading up with kids way less stress.
Sun cream! Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Ireland? Sometimes we forget just how strong the sun is here, but it is and we need to protect both our kids and ourselves.
Use SPF 50+. Sprays and roll ons can be easier on the go.
Make sure it hasn't expired - most last about 12months after opening.
Apply it at home naked to avoid missing spots, allow time for it to sink in, and avoid delaying enthusiastic kids from playing when they hit the beach. I get the kids to stand on the kitchen table while I apply it all over.
Have a little pouch to keep all the sun creams together so you aren't rooting around trying to find it.
Sun Safe Swimwear! No matter how much or many times you put sun cream on, it doesn't compare to keeping skin covered. Choose quality swimwear with a high UPF rating that covers backs, shoulders, chests to avoid getting burnt on those common spots. Loved by Rascals stocks Beach & Bandits which are all UPF 50+ and block 97.5% of the suns harmful UVA & UVB rays. With really cool and comfortable swimwear that kids will be dying to wear that keeps them safe.
Shade! Better to avoid the mid day sun, and always good to bring something to create a bit of shade. Even more important if you are spending longer periods of time. You can choose a simple umbrella or a pop up tent. I love ours, the brand is Oz Trail, I got it in Dubai, but there are loads of similar options here. Practice packing your tent away at home...there is usually a simple knack to it, but if you don't know it, you can work up quite a head of steam at the end of the day when you are tired, hot and bothered (I speak from vast experience in this from tents to chairs to new buggies). If you know how to do it, it's quick and easy.
Water, Water Everywhere! And ALL the snacks. Bring way more water and snacks than you think you will need and if there isn't somewhere to grab food near by bring brekkie, lunch or dinner picnics. Kids get hungry at the beach, and seem to always want more snacks than usual, so make sure to take loads. Prechopped fruit is always brilliant if you have time - thirst quenching at the same time. If you can freeze your water bottles the night before and they work as cooling elements. Bring so much water, if you have too much it is always great to wash sand off at the end of the day or get salt off skin. It is so important to keep hydrated out in the sun, so chase those kids around with a water bottle if you need to!
Toys! Choose Quality over Quantity. I have lost count of the number of cheap plastic beach toys that have broken over the years, not even lasting one summer, let alone one beach trip! Invest in some sturdy toys. Like our eco friendly Dantoy range. From simple buckets and spades to ice-cream kits and diggers. There is a large selection to choose from. You really don't need to bring much though, the sea side has plenty of its own natural toys! We tend to rotate, bring something different each day if you are going to be on the beach for a few days in a row. If it is a once off - keep it simple with a bucket and spade.
You can also think outside the box with beach toys - is your rascal car or small world crazy? Way to Play flexible toy roads can be an amazing addition. You can use them in the water, on the sand, in rockpools - wherever!
Beach Trolleys. There is a lot of "stuff" that you can end up bringing with you, I find a beach trolley great for carrying everything (I even pop the kids in sometimes!) to get everything down to/back from the beach without working up too much of a sweat. There are loads of models online - collapsible ones fit easily in your boot.
Be Sea Safe! There can be so many dangers at the beach - from the obvious to the not so obvious. There are things like Sunburn, Heat Stroke, Jellyfish which can be easy to spot. Then there are things that are not so easy for everyone to spot - the dangers of the water, from strong currents, rip tides, wind, waves and currents to name just a few. It is important that you are aware of the dangers. If you aren't a regular beach goer, choosing a beach with a Lifegaurd is so much safer. If there is no Lifegaurd, re-assess, ask locals if they can tell you any dangers you need to be aware of, only get into the water if you are 100% sure it is safe.
Never, Ever, Ever leave your kids unattended, even if they are good swimmers, make sure there is someone watching them always, and ideally enjoying the water with them. Be aware of the dangers of inflatable floating toys or boats - winds and currents can send these out to see at dangerous speeds. An onshore wind is always safer when using these toys.
Go with the Flow! Routines can go out the window, nap times missed, meal times all over the place. Just enjoy the day, be flexible, there are so few of these days in Ireland. We are quite relaxed anyway - but on beach days, things go totally out the window, danger naps on the way home are a common occurrence!
Leave only footprints behind! Bring bags or containers to bring home your waste, it should go without saying, but this last week I have seen so many things left on the beach - nappies, cans, wrappers, cigarette butts, broken toys. When the tide comes in, this all gets washed out to sea polluting it even more than it already is. You will have waste at the end of the day, have a bin bag going and take it home with you. Even better, take any other rubbish you see home too - or make a game with the kids to clean up the beach! It may sound daft, but its a great way to teach them about the environment, and to keep these wonderful places clean, and the kids love it.
Most of all enjoy it, let your hair down, get down in the sand and play with the kids, wear that bikini or swimsuit and make precious memories with your kids!
I hope this is a helpful guide, it may seem like a lot, but really once you're in the way of it, it gets much easier and most of it becomes second nature.
Love, Carolyn xx