We headed off this past weekend on a much needed mini vacation to a beach resort about an hour and a half away. While definitely not relaxing (is there such thing as relaxing with a 14 month old?), the weekend was still far, far better than previous beach attempts in that it was not completely and utterly awful. Here are some things we’ve learned the hard way about taking babies to the beach:
(1) Never, ever, ever, ever take a crawler to the beach. A baby that’s not yet mobile? No problem — pack up a baby carrier and a big blanket and you’re golden. A new walker? Also manageable, although be prepared to spend most of your vacation running. But a crawler? No. Just don’t do it unless you like being on guard every millisecond to snatch up that sand or seashell or crawly critter that’s quickly moving from ground to hand to mouth.
(2) You must stay for more than one night. The giant production necessary to get to the beach in the first place is not worth it for less than one night. You must also spring for the biggest and most luxurious room available. And you must feel no guilt about letting hotel staff carry your many, many bags to your room for you.
(3) Whatever new skills you are working on at home, forget about them. He wants to eat nothing but goldfish crackers? Fine. Our particular “just go with it” issue was the bottle. While Flynn hates sippy cups, he drinks from a cup himself at home, although he definitely still prefers bottles when they are available. At home we’re trying to move away from bottles entirely, but at the beach? You will notice a bottle in just about every photo. Whatever makes you happy, kid.
(4) If there is such a thing as sunscreen that doesn’t act like a magnet to sand, pay whatever it costs. If not, and I fear not, then start snapping your “playing at the beach” photos the moment you step outside (sand covered babies are not pretty, people), and accept that you will be cleaning sand from hair and fingernails for days to come.
(5) Make friends with all families you find, or at least with the ones who brought the best toys.
(6) Lower your expectations of adventure and spontaneity. Those kayaks? We totally would have taken them out… before baby. That delicious smelling side-of-the-road “restaurant” with only stool seating? We totally would have tried it out… before baby. Those fishermen who invited us to tag along with them on their all-day haul? That would have been so, so cool… before baby.
On the drive home Andy and I realized that we had each independently, while the other one was off somewhere else, told Flynn the exact same time. “You make things so difficult, kid, but you’re worth it.” And it’s true.
Despite returning home from our “relaxing” weekend away more tired than ever, it was worth it to see him filling his entire pail with sand and then working so hard to drag the heavy thing over to show it off to us. It was worth it to see him inserting himself into packs of bigger kids and talking gibberish to them until they let him play catch too. It was worth it to see him running with such excitement down the boardwalk to the pool. It was worth it to see him copping an inappropriate feel on a wooden mermaid statue.
All worth it. Also probably worth it: next time, springing for a room for the nanny.