How to Brave the Beach with Kids Under Five

Drew Kuehner

School for Amazing Kids, Weatherly

By Drew Kuehner

So, I’m approaching a beach vacation in a few days and I’m really looking forward to it. Who doesn’t love the beach, right? I do! But it’s changed a lot since I’ve had kids. Ever since my children started invading my vacations, it’s less about relaxation and more about managing meltdowns.

Kids are wonderful! Don’t get me wrong. I can’t think of a better thing in this world than being a dad. It’s amazing…but…finding a balance between my own peace of mind and my children’s wants and needs can be difficult, especially on vacation.

So, how to do you relax on a beach vacation with a two year old and a four year old? It’s not easy but it is possible.

#1 – Bring lots of toys, snacks, water, and a BIG cage.

Okay not a cage but do spring for a pop up beach tent if you can. You can find them at Walmart,Target or Costco and they can be lifesavers. It’s not too hard to keep the sand out, they love to play inside and it protects them from the sun. If you’re really lucky your kid may even take a nap in there and you can work on your tan.

#2 – Roll out your gear.

Let’s face it, when you go to the beach with kids you’ve got to prepare for anything and that means packing nearly everything you own. Spring for a wagon or cart to roll your gear out to the beach. It’s much easier than carrying 7 bags, 2 beach chairs, a cooler and a squirmy 18-month-old. You can get an all-terrain wagon at Walmart for $50.

#3 – Take another adult. One you trust.

My wife Jessica and I tag team a lot of the duties. It speeds up the whole process of getting to the beach—which can take forever—and gives you both the opportunity to take a mental break while the other is watching the kids.

#4 – Keep them on their normal schedule.

Children thrive off of predictable schedules. Make sure they eat and sleep at times consistent with their normal routine. This can help you avoid tantrums and epic beach breakdowns!

#5 – Get some “you” time.

Don’t forget to take some time for yourself. It’s important to keep your stress down and for your vacation to provide some kind of break from the momentum of your normal, busy life. Otherwise you’ll need a vacation from your vacation! Work it out so that you and your spouse/family member both have time to chill and relax so that neither of you spends the entire vacation following the kids around.

#6 – Embrace the crazy. 

Despite all the prep and planning there will be moments of mayhem and your kid might eat some sand at some point. Try your best to take a deep breath, go with the flow and enjoy it all. Years from now you’ll look back and say, “That was a great family trip!” The important thing is that you’re all together, creating memories that you’ll keep with you for the rest of your life. (And that sand will come out in the diaper!)