Written by Crista Leonard
As some of you might remember, I’m the crazy chick who loves winter. The cold, the snow, the quiet...I love it all. My next favorite thing however, would have to be the beach. Complete opposites, I know. But I am a woman who is just full of contradictions. We can save that narrative for another time. The beach, where your worries and cares are quieted by the breeze and washed away with the sea. I don’t think this is an unknown phenomenon. Almost every family I know takes at least one trip to the beach each year. They all crave the sensation that only the beach can bring them.
I must say, going to the beach with kids is a totally different experience than going without kids. The goal is still the same – fun, relaxation, making memories, and a change of pace. But those little creatures that you created multiply the work exponentially. If you have kids, you know how much work they are and you know that a vacation is not exactly a vacation.
If you don’t have kids, let me paint a little picture of a typical beach vacation for you. You will get up even earlier than normal, skip the little one’s naps, and go to bed later than normal. Let me tell you, messing with a toddler’s sleep schedule is like dancing with the devil. Once everyone is up at an ungodly hour, you will then have to convince them to eat more than 3 bites of breakfast. Next, you will spend about an hour getting them dressed, teeth brushed, hair fixed, and lathered up with sunscreen. I’m exhausted before we even leave the hotel. So once you are finally out the door, it’s hauling about 40lbs of toys, snacks, towels, sunscreen, floaties, chairs (that you won't get to sit in), and not to mention one of the kids who refuses to walk, several blocks to the beach. Good thing I’m getting my workout in to make up for all the eating out I’ll be doing this week. Ok, we’ve finally made it to the beach. You might be thinking, cool, now you can lay down and relax in the sun. Wrong. There is no laying down while you are the beach with young kids – EVER. You are now not only responsible for making sure they don’t drown in the ocean, but are also expected to entertain them at every turn. Come to the water with me, lift me up when the waves come, build me a castle, dig me a huge hole, find me sand crabs, make me a turtle, I’m hungry etc., etc., etc. Somewhere between all that, OMG I got sand in my eye!!!!! Cue the ten-minute freak-out session. If you are lucky like me, you will have a toddler who refuses to go to the bathroom in the ocean or in the hole you dug for them in the sand and you will have to carry her all the way back to the hotel in lightning speed before she pees all over you (see child in yellow bucket-she's lucky she's so cute).
After everyone has had their share of fun in the sun for the day, it’s back to the hotel for the impossible task of removing all the sand from all the kids’ crevasses and hair. This usually involves tears. Now, it’s time to take the overtired and cranky bunch to a restaurant and hope to God that they behave. I think I will order that second margarita. And dessert. I’ve earned it. After dinner, it’s time for bed. Good luck getting the kids to stick to their bedtime routine in a hotel room. We are all in the same room, so it’s like a party for them. WOOHOO! (not) Even though they are extremely overtired, somehow, sleep eludes them. Finally, everyone is asleep and now you will wake up and repeat the process 5 more times, or however many days you are staying.
So why on earth would anyone put themselves though this? The obvious answer is because of the joy it brings to the kids. They have the time of their lives. My oldest daughter could stay at the beach all day every day. I might go insane, but she (and her pet sea turtle sculpted by yours truly) would be as happy as a clam. The less obvious answer is that going to the beach is restful. It clearly isn’t physically resting, it’s quite the opposite. But it’s rest for your soul. You get a break from your normal mundane routine. You connect with the picturesque scenery around you. And hey, you might even get a nice tan. Despite all the madness and running around, I can assure you that I will do it again year after year. It may sound like I am complaining (ok maybe I am...just a little) but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. The feeling of the sand between your toes makes you smile, and the sound of the waves makes you forget all your worries. It’s a perfect time for reflection. Thoughts flow in and out with the tide, and the sun drenches you in a warmth that penetrates even your darkest places. All the extra work and lack of sleep is worth it. Your soul is recharged and you feel like you can take on anything life throws your way.