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When Mom Goes to the Beach

As you may have surmised from my last post and my recent lack of rambling posts about nothing, we just got back from vacation.  It was a magnificent time at the beach and it took me back to my childhood vacations in many ways, with one big difference.  This go ‘round, I’m the mom.  A day at the beach is a lot different when you’re the mom.  It’s not exactly a day at the beach. (hardy har.)  Here are five ways being the mom makes the beach more complicated.

Beach Supplies

Remember when you would grab a beach towel and a trashy novel and hit the sand?  Those days are gone, my friends.  These days I’m packing a cooler with two kinds of beverages and three varieties of snacks, stuffing a beach bag with band-aids, extra goggles and three degrees of sunscreen and juggling beach chairs and umbrellas onto the sand.

Bathing Suits

Hats off to the moms who have reclaimed their pre-mom bodies and rock the bikinis on the beach (I am not one of those.)  However, even the most slender, fit mom has to consider some things other than color and form when she selects her suit.  Will this suit allow me to race after a child on the beach?  Can I dive under the waves to rescue a child without coming up topless?  If I wrestle a child out of a tantrum, am I going to flash the entire east coast?  No matter what your figure, Mommy bathing suits have to be made of sturdier stuff than the eentsy weentsy bikinis of our yesteryear.

Beach Naps

Is there anything more sinfully indulgent as a hazy nap on the hot sand, with the sun soaking into your skin?  That’s a serious question, because I honestly have no recollection.  Every minute that my children allow me to escape to the sand, I am on constant watch to be certain that no one has been sucked into the ocean, eaten by a shark, or joined the wrong family on the beach, probably because they packed better snacks than I did.


My kids love to go out deep into the ocean and float along with the waves.  This is all fine and good, until the occasional big kahuna breaks right on top of your head, and the ocean knocks you down and tumbles you merrily along the ocean floor.  You know what’s terrifying about this? I mean, aside from the fact that the ocean is trying to swallow me up… I can’t see my kids now.  I know I am unlikely to be killed or swept away by a rogue wave, but every minute that I don’t have eyes on my children in deep water is just a heart attack waiting to happen.


I believe that children, at least my children, should have special application instructions on sunscreen bottles.  Waterproof for eighty minutes, my ass.  I don’t know what we’re doing wrong, other than refusing to acknowledge that my children are so pale as to be nearly transparent, but we have to reapply more like every fifteen minutes.  And I’d better have aloe and Solarcaine waiting back at the hotel anyway.  Because I will miss a spot (or five).  Wriggling, over excited children and full coverage sunscreen do not a happy combination make.

The essentials via dinodirect.com

I don’t mean to grumble about the beach, though, nor about my kids (although I do a lot.  Just keepin’ it real.)  There are some ways that my kids make the beach even better than it was when I was a beach towel-toting, nap-taking teenager in a strapless (strapless!!!!) bikini.

Sand Castles

I don’t care who you are, you look like a fool carrying a pile of primary colored buckets and shovels onto the beach.  Unless, of course, you’re accompanied by a kid or two.  Who among us doesn’t love to build a sand castle?  Kids give us an excuse to stock all the appropriate plastic tools and implements without looking silly.  They’re also always willing to run to the ocean to refill the water bucket and are truly outstanding moat diggers.

Drinks and Snacks

Remember that cooler full of drinks and snacks that you had to lug to the beach for the kids?  It’s pretty nice to have after a couple of hours of burning calories trying to keep your footing in the ocean.   Just don’t let the kids see you with your face in a bag of Goldfish, cookie-monster style.  It’s hard to maintain your dignity in those moments.


When you’re swimming in the ocean and something suddenly wraps itself around your ankle, you may understandably commence a convoluted routine of shrieking gyrations to free yourself.  Take heart in the fact that your kids also probably wandered into the same seaweed garden with a similar reaction.  While everyone is staring in alarm at the shrieking child, you have time to collect yourself and say, very calmly, “Don’t worry, dear.  It’s just seaweed.  It can’t hurt you.”


Sharks don’t always eat people, but when they do, they prefer people whose mothers aren’t watching. (No, there is no end to the variations on this commercial.)  I have never seen so much as a shark fin in real life, but I am ever vigilant.  I know exactly what’s circling in the water and when we’re going to need a bigger boat.  This isn’t the best defense against sharks, but it does come in handy if a jellyfish floats by, or if the guy down the beach loses his hat in the water.

Broken sea shells

No one on earth appreciates the beauty of a broken sea shell like a child.  I have, at this moment, an enormous pile of broken sea shells at the bottom of my beach bag, all collected by children who have found beauty in what I consider to be essentially sea-trash.  There’s something about this that tugs at my heart and reminds me to stop being so cynical and just enjoy what we have at this moment, even if it’s not whole and perfect.

Our vacation was not perfect, but it was no broken shell.  Each day began on the beach and ended with ice cream and it’s hard to go wrong with that.  (Also, our house did not burn down while we were away.)

My toes in the sand. Bliss.


  1. August 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    So true! When you are the mom a vacation is simply not a vacation like it was when you were a kid. If only there was a way to go back in time and tell that obnoxious teen that this is the life, you have a mom doing everything for you, live it up! But I am sure that 15 year old me wouldn’t listen anyway, lol! I so enjoyed reading this post and am so glad you are back and had a good time. Oh, one last thing, did you happen to bring home one of the most annoying souvenirs from the beach…sand? We haven’t been to the beach in a long time but we still have sand in our suitcase, go figure!

    • August 6, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Oh, yes, it seems like we brought half the beach back with us. Suitcases, shoes, beach bag (of course)…I just give up. It can stay. 🙂

  2. August 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Not forgetting that you spend so long worrying about creaming up your pasty little off-spring you neglect your own personal sun-cream regime… burning slowly to a crisp like a forgotten sunday-dinner turkey in the oven. Only realising your error when you go to stand up and sunddenly your skin has shrunk to half its normal size. Meaning you can no longer fulfil the rest of the weeks activities because you can’t put a top on without breaking down like a small child…and then once again your the bad guy…go figure!!! 🙂

    • August 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      Yes, this is what I’m talking about! Thanks for adding that, I can’t believe I forgot it! 😉

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