First off let me just say, bravo to all you parents out there that take your kids to the beach all the time. I know several people with kids ranging from infants to teenagers that love to take their kids to the beach. That's awesome and my hat is off to you. I am not one of these people and I often think: Maybe it's just me. Maybe I am just being a grumpy dad. Who knows.
My daughters love going to the beach, as does my wife. I just cannot get into it, I have tried and here is why:
Going to the beach as a kid was awesome!! Do you remember just jumping in the truck with your parents and heading to the beach for a day full of fun, sun and water? Food and drinks were provided. Towels were available for you to wipe your sandy hands on several times throughout the day and then when yours was trashed your parents would just give you theirs in hopes that you would not be getting in the car wet and sandy at the end of the day. If your parents cared for you at all you were pulled out of the water several times throughout the day and sun screen was reapplied for you. When it was time to leave, you may have been given a few things to carry, depending on what age you were and you simply jumped in the truck, headed home and jumped in the bath. SO SIMPLE AND FUN RIGHT!!??!!
Being a father of three kids has taught me that no family outing is that simple. As a parent you have to get everyone up and ready for beach day, hair brushed, everyone fed. Then you get to pack everything up for that day, oh and try not to forget anything. You need a cooler for drinks and food, either make a lunch or prepare to grab a sub or something on the way. Towels, change of clothes, the proper shoes, an umbrella or covering of some sort so you do not burn alive on the beach. Can't forget a sheet or blanket to lay on, chairs to sit on. Pack the cooler such that you will be able to fit some ice in it. Now get all that loaded up in the truck. Herding the kids to get out of the house is like herding cats: They are all over the place: "oh wait I forgot something" "oh one more thing" "I have to go to the bathroom". Does it ever end. Finally you get everyone loaded up and you are on the road. Once you get there, you have to find somewhere to park which can be especially difficult depending on what beach you go to and what time of the week / day it is.
Alright, we are here... finally, the beach. Now you get to lug all that crap down to your chosen spot on the beach, which is always miles from where you enter the beach because you have kids and cannot get to the beach early, so everyone else has the primo spots closest to the boardwalk. GREAT!! You never seem to have the cooler with the big wheels made especially for pulling it along loose sand on the beach so your are just dragging a pile of sand with you. "Alright, this spot looks good" you say to your family. Kids drop their stuff and puff they are in the water. Now you need to "setup" your spot. Bury the umbrella and or setup the pop-up. Lay out your sheet or blanket, why I'm not yet sure because at some point before the day is over you are going to be laying in the sand anyway, so why bother? Setup the chairs, get something heavy on each corner of the sheet so it doesn't blow away. Alright, now you get to lay down and relax in the nice ocean breeze, right?. WRONG! We have a 1 year old boy right now, so he requires constant attention unless you just want him eating sand. So now you have to be an entertainer on a small 4 X 4 sheet with whatever you brought with you which isn't much after you lugged all the "essential" beach going equipment down from the truck. That gets old fast. Let's go down and jump in the water. Now you have kids crawling all over you, wanting to go out deep with you and then yelling at you to grab them when they are drowning. This is fun right?
Hey, time for lunch, alright! Kids get out of the water and proceed to kick sand all over the blanket / sheet, GREAT!! You eat, the boy needs his bottle. Oh boy, guess who needs a diaper change. In my experience, I get maybe a few minutes out of the day where I get to read a little and just enjoy the breeze.
TIME TO GO!!. Pack it all up, sand and all, lug it all back to the truck. Get everyone rinsed off cleaned off and dried off. Change into some dry clothes. Haul them all back to the house. Alright, go get in the shower and get cleaned up. The day is not yet over yet. Unload the truck, clean all the crap off, clean out the cooler, put it all away, get all the kids trash out of the truck because I'm OCD about that sort of thing.
Perhaps I am just being a pessimist but that is not fun to me. I really try to enjoy it because my girls love it and it's good to get out of the house and expose them to all kinds of different things especially as a home school family. The beach is my arch nemesis. Oh and to top it all off, now that you are home and everything is put up you realize that all of you got some pretty narly sun burns. GREAT!! Just what I needed before going to work tomorrow.
I would love to hear some other parents experiences. Is going to the beach fun for any parent?