Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Beach Gear

Last summer we went to the beach exactly twice.  So sad, but so true.  From our place in Boston, the beach was about a forty-five minute drive away and required advanced maneuvering to be an appealing option with a two-year-old.  The weather had to be great, the timing had to be right, and we needed to be a packed-in-advance, ready-to-deploy machine to make a successful beach day happen.  It was doable, but challenging, and so our days in the sand were limited.

This summer, it's a whole new world!  Not only is the little man older and more beach-ready; in our new home, the world's greatest kid beach, complete with soft, digable sand, gently lapping surf, prolific tidepools, and an adjacent playground/picnic/bathroom complex is just ten minutes from our house.  It's a whole new world!  We can dash over there after breakfast, return home for nap time, and close out the afternoon there as well.  We can go on an overcast or even rainy day, just bundling up for a short trip and returning quickly.  I'm guessing we'll be at the beach most days this summer, and our first couple maiden voyages there have made me realize that I need to up my game to be a pro beach mama. Summer is coming late to a lot of the country, so if you are also just slowly switching mental gears from rain boots to beach days, I hope my Beach Preparedness Thought Process can help you as well.
Here's what I'm thinking I need to gather to turn us into professional beach bums this season:

1) An enormous, durable bag that is not our diaper bag and can essentially live in the car.  I've been hauling our diaper bag with me on our beach runs, and not only is it ill-equipped for the beach in terms of content and structure, it also inevitably sheds sand everywhere when I bring it inside to restock it.  Not cool.  I love this massive straw bag from Roxy, which is designed for the beach, and is cute without being over the top girly or kiddo-centric.

2) A small first aid kit.  My beach trips used to involve a simple combination of lying out, swimming and reading, and sunscreen was adequate protection for all.  A beach day with a little boy is an entirely different story.  Rocks are scaled and slice into little feet.  Crabs are captured and pinch on little hands.  Bugs bite.  Rashes are procured.  I'm thinking I at least need a basic sack of band-aids, antibiotic ointment, sting-soothing goop and alcohol prep pads to probably accompany us everywhere we go from now until high school graduation.  This needs to be assembled and added to the car-dwelling beach bag.

3) Non-toxic, as-organic-as-possible, yet affordable sunscreen.  You know I'm always after great organic skincare products, and I don't mind splurging a little on a moisturizer I'll use an eighth of a teaspoon of each day, but sunscreen is entirely another matter.  I love the California Baby line of children's skincare, and their 30+ sunscreen rocks, but a six ounce bottle of it costs $40!  Last year I went through one tube for the whole summer, slathering on a bit when we happened to be at a playground during the heat of the day, but this year that is not a sustainable plan, considering I need to use at least a double shot glass full to get us geared up for each beach trip.  Splurge on California Baby all summer, and we'll have to give up, I don't know, food?  So, I went on a hunt for a more cost effective but equally non-toxic solution.  I ended up with Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple, which gets a good rating from the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep site, and costs about $7 for an 8 oz. bottle at Target. Boom.  Both sun protection and groceries are once again within our reach.
4) Nothing says summer like warm, slightly sandy PB&Js, so I'm not about to haul a huge cooler to the beach.  However, to keep us properly hydrated, tepid drinks won't do.  I need a wee cooler bag big enough for a water bottle a piece, to be tucked into the epic beach bag, and I'm digging this collapsible one from Packit, which is colorful, affordable, and eco-friendly.  It also lies flat in the freezer to cool down, which is perfect for our new place, where freezer space is limited.

5) A water and sand-proof iPhone case, as things are already getting ugly on that front.

6) Summer means iced coffee, and hitting the beach early means I'm still sippin' it.  I think I need one of these, as my Mason jars are cumbersome and not so beach friendly.

7) Last but not least, we totally need a hand-vac for our mudroom, which becomes instantly covered in sand every time we return home from a beach excursion.  I've been lugging the big vacuum over each evening to mitigate the problem, but I think if this little bad boy was hanging on the wall in there and I could just shwoop-shwoop the sand away right as we arrive, it would be a pleasure.  I could also use it on our now sand-covered carseat, as seen here...
I have a toddler and a dog.  I should be sponsored by a hand vac.
These are the items topping my beach list at the moment, but I'm sure more are about to surface as the summer truly gets underway.  I'll be reporting back from our continued beach adventures with any tips and tricks I gain, and I'd be indebted if you'd share your beach go-to items.
Hooray for summer and long days at the beach!

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