Have you ever attempted to go to the beach with 5 kids, all under eight?
I have. Four of our current children are under 8(until September!) and the little guy I babysit is 4. That means when I try to bring them on an adventure in the summer time, it’s me versus 5 kids, ages 7 years, 6 years, 4 years, 2 years, and 2 months. If I’m lucky, the 13 year old is also there. If not? Let the Hunger Games begin.
In all seriousness though, I try to make sure we keep the kids entertained by more than television in the summer time and one of our favorite things to do as a group is to chill out at one of our local state beaches. I have a few favorites, the top being North Pond at Savoy State Forest. While it’s secluded from any close roads, it’s a popular destination and we almost always run into friends up there. The water is clean, the beach is well maintained, and we always have the plus side that I know most the people up there personally.
However, anyone who has more than one kid will agree with me-getting out of the house in general is never easy. Going to a public place with dangers, like a pond and the woods? Also not easy. I always have and do a few things to make this trip a little more fun and less stressful for us all.
Have a ready to go bag before it’s time to leave, so I don’t have to pack it after we’ve already told the kids we’re going. I always have a bag packed in the summer time that has towels, bug spray/suncreen, and beach toys in it. These are actually two separate bags-I keep all beach toys in their own bag so sand isn’t all over our things. I also keep the things I need for Bear near the front door so it’s easily accessible. I bring a portable bassinet(one of my TOP gifts from someone for Bug) and one of my wraps usually. That way, I can just throw in some snacks and grab the bags right before we leave.
Pack snacks and waters. I cannot be the only one who gets somewhere, only to have two of the five kids demand a snack. I bring snacks with me all the time; it’s so bad that even adults know they can ask me for something to eat if I happen to have the diaper bag. I prefer snacks without garbage at the park, so we can put cores or scraps right into the woods and let them decompose-I also love to lecture on why that helps the earth! Apples, clementines, and bananas are some of our favorites. And water is a must! I usually fill up sippy cups for the 6, 4, and 2 year olds and bring water bottles for myself and the 7 year old.
Put bathing suits on before you leave. THIS IS ONE OF MY BIGGEST PRO TIPS. Changing 5 people into swim suits(this is counting myself) at a beach is just a no-no. One child finishes before another, the boys whine about having to go into the girls room but the mama can’t be in the boys room…man, just don’t do it. Seriously. I always put bathing suits on before we go and sneak off Bug’s diaper when we get there. Then I only change Bug when we leave-and usually that’s just taking off his suit and sliding on his diaper.
Have a plan in mind, but don’t be too intense about following a timeline. Having times in mind to be there til, to get there, etc, is important. But don’t have those times as absolutes! Some days everything can go right and you’ll get out of the park right when you mean to. Other days? It totally will not and you’re almost an hour behind what you intended. So be flexible. Take the stress right out of your fun day out.
Buy yourself a mama treat. Oops. My money saving husband would shake his head at this one. But you’re going to a beach with five kids in tow? Stop and get yourself that coffee Mama! Grab an ice tea, a doughnut, whatever you want. Anything that will make your day a little better and fill your soul with a little extra sunshine.
Don’t expect to be able to read or relax on this trip. When I was younger, beach days meant a book in one hand, a glass of wine in the other. I tanned, I listened to music, I laughed. That doesn’t happen now. Okay, I actually laugh a lot. And I get a little burnt and it eventually changes into tan. It’s so important for us mamas to pay attention on these trips, I purposefully leave my phone in the bag. Especially since far too often I’m in a place with no lifeguard.
Rest after! The beach with a bunch of kids is exhausting. The sun, the running around, the constant attention. As I mentioned above, you really can’t send them off to play when you’re near water, so you don’t get the intermittent breaks you may find you have at home. Give yourself time to rest too! One of my favorite things to do after a long beach day is to have a movie night-cuddle up with some extra hydration and relax. Your kids will enjoy it too. Even if they seem to want to keep running!
I don’t want to make it seem easy-I know how hard it can be to get out of the house with kids! These are simply tips and ways I’ve found to make the beach trips easier for Mama. Have fun when going out this summer…and remember your sunscreen and bugspray! I will be writing an entire post on my needed items for the beach day.
Do you have any tips for moms to get their kids out of the house?