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Pack it up

The ladies are currently 10, 5, and 2, so you can imagine finding activities that everyone enjoys and can actually do is a challenge. When Margs was about nine months old we decided on a whim to pack up the car and drive to Siesta Key, Florida. At that point we weren’t planning anything too far in advance because we didn’t know what the status of her health would be, but winters in Michigan can be miserable, and the forecast said all sun in Sarasota so away we went. It turned out to be a 3-peat trip for us, as we use the car time and the beach time as uninterrupted family time.

Can we all just get along?

In all honesty, our little middle, Mae, is a big reason we travel over extended breaks. Girl is an Energizer Bunny that needs room to beat that drum wherever it takes her. Otherwise she’s beating that drum right in your space, making you crazy.

Regardless of their ages and interests, all three girls find lots to keep them busy and happy if they are at the beach or in the pool. I will say, being a Fresh Coast fam has trained us well in the beach-going department. For us, I feel like we have perfected the preparedness, so a day at the beach is actually enjoyable with three small-ish kids.

The essentials

Planning and organizing is one of my favorite parts of traveling. This past trip I took stock of some of the essentials that make our beach days so much easier. We also recently received some new beach gear as gifts, and I replenished some of the girls beach toys to give them something new to play with. Otherwise, so much of what we use has been around the last decade and is still going strong.

First and foremost, a way to transport all the stuff is a must. You cannot and should not rely on children to help in any way. It’s just going to disappoint you when they whine and cry and say the towel is “Sooooo heavy!” We tried a beach wagon for a year and found that it wasn’t easy enough to pull with all the stuff in it. We frequently had to follow behind it, lift it up, or give it an extra push. On one of our trips, the condo we rented had one of these Tommy Bahama Beach Carts, and we were sold. It holds our chairs, umbrellas, a large bag with toys, small bags with towels, books, etc., and a cooler. We might end up carrying a boogie board or two if it’s windy and they can’t ride on top. We’re not light packers, and this bad boy can do it all with ease–and by ease, I mean I do none of it.

If you’re packing a baby or even a large toddler on your trip, I would encourage some sort of carrier that can convert to a backpack. I really like my Ergo for this. We are a Baby Bjorn family while they’re itty bitty, but once they can support themselves, it’s all Ergo. I swear, she’ll still be hitching a ride with me when she’s five.
On another baby note, when Margs was little, we had this baby beach chair that was like an exersaucer mixed with a camp chair. A total must-have when you have a 4m+ at the beach and want to keep them out of the sand. -Inflatable pools are also good for that. Pop a towel in one, and let them crawl around and play with toys sand free.

You’re also going to need a bag…or five. Are Thirty One parties even a thing anymore? I mean, I went to one once and have three totes that I think will last my lifetime, so maybe it’s a one and done sorta business. We use one of the original big utility totes from like 12 years ago (similar, fancier one here) to haul all of our toys and towels. I like them because they rinse out really nicely, hold a ton of stuff, and don’t feel like they’re going to give out on you. I planned to get the girls some new beach bags filled with beach goodies for Christmas, and I was having a heck of a time finding bags that were the right size and quality. I ordered three different sets of beach bags from Amazon and kept having to return and try again. Thank goodness for that return policy. Eventually I stumbled across what I perceived as being a “new” size of Thirty One tote (it’s probably always been around), but how perfect is this Flamingle bag?!? I got each of the girls their own tote with a fun beachy pattern. They hold tons of stuff and are easy for them to carry. Margs isn’t quite big enough, but we throw everything in the beach cart anyway. I know these bags will last forever, and the patterns will grow with the girls. So fun!

Packing list

So, when I mentioned not being light packers, I mean it. We pack everything but the kitchen sink. I’ve really been attempting to be more efficient in this area. I even made my spring break packing list based on what we actually used and wore on this last trip. There are definite advantages to being an overpacker though. I’ve trial and errored just about everything, so I know what gets used and what doesn’t.

Current Beach Packing List
Tommy Bahama backpack chairs (2)
Baby chair (when they were <1)
Inflatable pool (when they were <1)
A Sand Cloud towel for everybody
A large area towel
Life jackets
Umbrella with anchor
Boogie Boards
iHome speaker
Water bottles/Cups w/ ice and straws
Shell bags
Soccer ball/Velcro mitts/Waboba ball

Toy favorites

Melissa & Doug buckets – We have had these for 5-10 years, and the kids love them. They are easy to store, and there are enough to share.
Melissa & Doug sand baking set – Fun set that we have had at least five years and aren’t missing any pieces. That’s a win!
Melissa & Doug cookie set – Another fun pack that the girls play with consistently.
Corolle babies – These babies can go in the water, get buried in the sand, and still smell like lavender. We’ve had the big baby for five years or so, and it’s still in great shape.
The girls got some new toys for Christmas, and they absolutely loved them. They’re pretty simple toys, but they pleased all ages, which is huge!
Haba sand and water funnel – I was skeptical at first, but they played with it every day and snatched it up the second one of them put it down.
Beach ball bucket – Another unique find–the baby especially loved filling it with water and lugging it around.
Hape digger – I got this tool for the 10-year-old. It was super good for all the digging.
Ariel and her sisters – Because sometimes the ladies just need to play mermaids.
Other random shovels, rakes, and sifters

Lastly, what the heck is this swimsuit?!?

Ummm…this suit was seriously under $10 and totally impressed me. Margs wore it several days; I washed it several times, and it’s still in great shape. Who knew! Plus, the hat is super cute. I just had to share because I love a good suit that requires less sunscreen.

Stressed? Give it a try

The beach can do wonders for a weary soul. It has become our happy place. The thought of packing and taking kids should not be an added stressor. Find a system and beach essentials that work for you, and then sit back and enjoy a solar recharge.