Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Beach with Kids: Just Like the Brochure

Before we had kids a vacation meant going somewhere fun and doing whatever we wanted. 

Should we spend hours strolling along the cobblestone streets of Rome? Why not! Should we spend the day napping on a sun-kissed seashore in St. Lucia? No one's stopping us! How about an exhilarating trek along the Great Wall of China? Yes, yes, yes!! 

Of course, we never actually did any of those things before we had kids. I spent some time wondering why we didn't go on more vacations before we had kids and then I realized we probably didn't need more vacations before we had kids. 

I think Alanis Morisette would call that ironic.

Now we go on vacation with our kids. A vacation with kids essentially means parenting in a different location. 

Should we bring along enough snacks to feed a small army? We'd better! Should we do four loads of laundry in four days? Unless we want our luggage to smell like urine! How about going to a nice restaurant? Yes, Chick-fil-a is very nice

This month our family took a trip to the beach. Here we are ready to "relax" on our "vacation":
The kids carried their shovels.
We packed so much gear that the minivan barely made it up the slight incline of our driveway. The children peeked out of their car seats from behind walls of collapsible beach chairs, duffel bags and sand toys, and every time we turned a corner in our over-stuffed vehicle, Jack was buried by an avalanche of beach towels. Henry thought we were actually moving to the beach.

We rented a beach house with 13 other extended family members and when we arrived we discovered that our bedroom was so small we literally had to move the furniture into the living room and store our luggage in the car in order to have enough sleeping space for everyone. And one child still had to sleep in the bed with us every night. Of course, by "sleep" I mean unconsciously flail around. 

Here is a photo of how John and I blissfully awoke each morning:

Everyone was usually ready to hit the beach by 11am which, taking into account that the kids woke up at 7, means that it only took 4 hours to eat breakfast, not shower and put on swimsuits. It took me less time to get ready for my wedding.

Here is what a typical day at the beach looked like for us: 
I told you I was obsessed.

At least we were finally able to lay back and relax after setting up camp on the shore. KIDDING.

On our first full day of vacation, loaded down with enough equipment to be mistaken for pack mules, John and I hiked the seemingly mile-long trek to the beach and exchanged glances which asked what vacationing parents have wondered for years, Is all this even worth it??

"Just like the brochure!" John suddenly exclaimed and I dropped my end of the beach tent for giggling so hard. It was all we could do to stumble down the rest of the sandy path, pausing between fits of laughter. The children raced ahead, approaching the blue-green water with giddy anticipation.

As soon as our feet hit the shore, the kids took off towards the foamy surf and luckily, thankfully, it only took a moment to remind us why we came in the first place.

If all the lugging and sweating and slathering was the price for sweet little sandy toes and salty kisses, we were happy to pay. The craziness of life can't always be escaped on vacation, but there is something about the sea that allows you to embrace it, even enjoy it. Our kids may be the reason we need vacations, but vacations wouldn't be the same without them.

The ocean reminded us of something we've always known: the best memories are made in bare feet, on a summer seashore. So we swam in the surf and played in the sand. We built castles and attempted to tunnel to China. We took walks at dusk and gathered nautical treasures. We stayed up too late and ate way too much ice cream.
Also, we are so fun we plan theme nights. (This is baseball night.)

We were cramped, sandy and tired...and so happy to be a part of the best kind of memory making.

We decided it was all worth it. The beach is always worth it.

Well, maybe:
I am still finding sand in my toddler's ear.

Embrace life's little messes by following along on my new Facebook page :)


  1. This is hilarious and oh-so-true! It takes lots of work to go on a beach vacation with kids, but the fun makes it all worth it! :)

  2. I love the part about hitting the beach at 11, even though everyone woke up at 7. It does take 4 hours to eat breakfast and put on bathing suits!

  3. Omg this was our vacation to a t!

  4. I'm dying at the last chart!!! Marrying George Clooney, lol!!! -Cindy

  5. this is why I have no kids. I choose to be child-free so I can go to whatever exotic location whenever I want with whoever I chose! I don't have to bring my whole house with me when I travel, except maybe an extra suitcase just to hold my shoes lol!

    1. Glad we live in a society where we have those choices! :)

  6. Anonymous.. I'm sure that is fun going here and there but the squeals and laughter and the joy of just watching and seeing things through the eyes of your child and or grandkids is priceless and worth every moment. We are now at the place that we could travel alone but love bringing the grandkids and watching it all over again with love overflowing! Enjoy your life as that's how you chose it. Nothing wrong with that.

  7. It took you less time to get ready for your wedding! Dying! Its God's honest truth, man. So happy to have found ya :)