It’s the most…wonderful time…of the yeaaaaar!

A bag of beach toys (with plenty of extras to share with new friends we meet there), and my trusty tote, packed with our supplies and ready for anything!

A bag of beach toys (with plenty of extras to share with new friends we meet there), and my trusty tote, packed with our supplies and ready for anything!

No, I’m not talking about Christmas, I’m referring to the fact that beach season is upon us! I’m a Connecticut girl through and through when it comes to our coast. When I lived in upstate NY for four years in college I felt landlocked. Four hours to the nearest ocean beach? Panic!

The beach is absolutely my favorite place to go, and I haven’t let having young kids change that in the least. Last year, I put together some tips for fun at the beach with babies and toddlers. Well, this summer, my oldest is nearly five (gulp!) and I have some new tips for the parents of preschool and early elementary school kids.

I’ve spent a lot of time at the beach with kiddos, both as a mom, and as a summer camp counselor while in college. In what was perhaps the single most awesome job I’ve ever had, I taught 1st-5th grade summer school students from 9-12, then chaperoned a daily beach trip from 12-4. We didn’t bring lots of gear, but we had loads of fun. While babies and toddlers can be a handful at the beach, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Kids make the beach so much more fun! All the awesome stuff you remember from being a kid? Drip sandcastles, burying your friend’s legs, eating snow cones, making huge castles with water-filled moats? It’s all back!

Lots of my tips from last year still do apply for the bigger kids, but here are a few more. Now get out there and enjoy the beach this summer!

  • Take the amount of snacks you think you should bring and double it. Kids are non-stop motion at the beach. Sun+Hunger=Cranky kids.
  • Bring a lot of really basic beach toys. We have a giant bag with loads of buckets and shovels in the trunk. Somehow, kids who have never before met become instant friends at the beach and want to build sand creations together. Have plenty to share!
  • Write your last name on your beach gear with a permanent marker. When kids get together to play, it’s really easy to forget which buckets and shovels were yours. We’ve lost so many beach toys because they were accidently scooped up by other kids.
  • Try fruit water instead of juice! Water with frozen berries, slices of lemon, etc. is really refreshing and feels like a special treat. Plus, you can simply refill a reusable bottle from a water fountain if they run out.
  • I don’t care if your kid has been out of diapers for 5 years…pack those baby wipes. Kids get dirty at the beach. Baby wipes are so great for cleaning hands and faces!
  • Keep the basic beach gear in your trunk during the summer months: towel, sand toys, sunscreen, extra clothes, water or juice, snacks. You never know when you’ll have the urge for an impromptu beach stop, and it’s always more fun if you don’t have the mad dash for gear beforehand.
  • Bring containers for beach treasurers. My son loves to hunt for really cool shells, driftwood, rocks, etc. If I try to get him to leave it all at the beach when it’s time to go home, he’s understandably crushed. Why not save some favorite treasures for fun projects later? Some ideas we have for this summer include…
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