As much as I love Pinterest, and anyone who follows me can attest that I do, the end result of many a well meaning post on gear or ideas to make outings “easier” or more creative is that the average parent reads them, gets overwhelmed, and is less likely to make it out the door. This series, Simply Adventurous, is the ant-Pinterest. It’s about how to keep things simple enough that you’ll do them more often.
One of the things we gave up when we moved to St Francis Hall, our new home, was the pool. We’ve considered putting one in, and maybe someday we will, but there is lower hanging fruit on the to-do list. Like finishing our upstairs bedrooms, for example. Meanwhile, we live in the gateway to Northern Wisconsin’s lake country. There’s no reason we can’t go to the beach.
I have seven children ranging in age from almost 2 to 14. With a family our size, you’d think that packing for a day at the beach would resemble packing for vacation, but I’ve found the more kids I have had the less I pack. I don’t want to spend three hours preparing to go to the beach to spend one hour in the water. By keeping essentials minimal, we can go after work on a weekday, not just when we have a whole day to invest.
Here are my essentials.
-Sunblock. Except for Zach and Charlotte, we are some of the palest people on the planet. Enough said.
-Beach blanket. I got our foldable, easily wipeable beach/picnic blanket at Costco a couple of years back and it was a well spent $15. Sand just falls off of it, and if it gets really grimy, it gets the hose. This isn’t even essential. It’s just nice to have.
-Towels. Obviously. Well, you’d think obviously, but on any given day at least half of my kids forget. We somehow make it work anyway.
-Water bottles. Because never drink water that’s touched your butt is a literal house rule.
-Snack. I like to keep snacks as low waste, and minimal work as possible, but sometimes one or the other factor has to be sacrificed. Popcorn, granola bars, bananas, or cubes of watermelon are all popular around here. We also make a lot of dinners around here that can be easily transported from the house to the beach or park, if the mood strikes. More on that in another post.
-Bag for trash. Carry in, carry out, and leave the place at least as nice as you found it. That’s the rule at many of our local parks, and it’s just good stewardship, besides.
That’s it. If the kids start needing more food than we brought, or start getting bored and crabby, it’s time to head home. They often decide, faced with that as the option, that they really could last another half hour, but if they don’t, that’s ok too. I’ll take an hour at the beach once a week all summer long over three hours at the beach once a year anytime.