Hacks for a beach day with kids
Summer holds so much promise of long, sunny days spent playing in the sand and water. For us, it means dad surfing, daughter boogie-boarding, and me writing while catching a tan. And, thanks to South Africa’s being home to some of the prettiest beaches on earth, we have so much variety from which to choose. We often stay in Cape Town and love the magnificent beaches on the doorsteps of its suburbs (could Camps Bay be more perfect?). This year, we’re also planning to head to more remote beaches along the Wild Coast because we want to take advantage of this gorgeous destination for family beach days. There are so many choices for things to do with kids in Cape Town.
The challenge arises with the combination of sand, sun and sea with little ones. But, with some preparation and a few handy tips, your family days on the beach can be a blast from start to finish.
Some of My Favourite Hacks for a Fun Beach Day with Kids
Prepare in advance
I love a spontaneous day in the waves as much as the next mom, but it can be really stressful to make a last-minute decision with children that are excited to get there. Try to pack your bags and snacks the night before. This also gives you time to make sure that you haven’t forgotten the essentials.
Sun protection is a priority
Dress your little ones in swimming gear that covers most of their body so that they can play and you can relax without constantly having to reapply sunscreen. I’m so over days spent running after a sticky little body in the sand, trying to spray sunscreen in its general direction. Still, it’s crucial to apply a high-factor sunscreen that lasts in a thick layer at home. Then, wait for it to absorb before dressing them so that they are well-protected for the sun-drenched beach.
Build a shade palace
Make your little spot on the beach an area that is very well shaded. Take a gazebo or more than one umbrella and drape big towels or sarongs over it.
Do some research ahead of time to ensure that there are clean, useable ablutions on the beach for you and your children. If not, start preparing! Take portable potties, plenty of diapers and swimming nappies. If you have slightly older children, tell them about the situation in advance and discuss alternatives together. Can they find a quiet bush away from the people? Could they all go before you leave home? Then, take wet-wipes and toilet paper. Remember to put the wipes in a bag to throw away in a bin (please don’t leave them on the beach).
Time your trip
The traffic, the heat of the day and the tide all have to be factored into what time you leave home. This all takes a little time and forethought, but is well worth it when it comes together.
Ditch unnecessary things
It’s probably not necessary to bring chairs (when last did you have the opportunity to sit down with little ones on the beach?), cutlery or all three lilos. Rather, be realistic and only pack what you’ll need so that you spend less time and energy carting them up and down. The fun is in the simplicity of digging in the sand and splashing in the waves. Right?
Don’t skimp on snacks and water
While you don’t want to be burdened with unnecessary things, you also don’t want hungry, grumpy kids nagging to go home because they’ve worked up a massive appetite in the waves. I always opt for cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and peanut butter sandwiches to keep my daughter fuelled for longer. Remind them to drink water often (or juice diluted with plenty of water) to keep them hydrated.
Pick your beach
While you might be after a quiet spot to read your book, it’s far more likely that your children would prefer the beach with super-tubes or play equipment. There are so many family friendly beaches in Cape Town to choose from. If the thought of that seems exhausting, just remember how well they’ll sleep when you get home.
Don’t forget to bring a little cash along for emergency waters or even-bigger-emergency ice-creams.
Beach Products I Love
- Heavy, bulky swimming towels are out and a light sarong, Turkish towel, or quick-drying microfibre towel are in.
- Mesh beach bags mean that sand can simply fall through the netting and you’re able to see the contents at all times. These are great for wet, sandy clothes, towels and toys too.
- Baby powder (talc-free) is a great way to get rid of sticky sand on hands and feet before jumping into the car. Always carry a little bottle with you. I recently saw a granny sprinkling powder on her grandchild’s feet and using a little hand-held broom to brush it off. Genius.
- Ziploc bags are a convenient way to store baby food and frozen drinks. They seal tightly against sand and are reusable too. Pack sandwiches and fruit into individual bags too, so that, if one sandy hand rummages through the food, it’s not all ruined.
- Zam-Buk™ - is there anything it can’t do? We use it for bites, stings and scrapes; but it also makes for excellent lip balm in an emergency.
Being a parent has so many challenges; don’t let a beach day become one of them. With planning and the right goodies, your summer days can be fun and filled with lasting memories.
Amelia is the heart-mom of an 11-year old with plenty of sass. They live in beautiful Knysna, along the Garden Route, and are enjoying their somewhat unconventional family adventure