I'm going to let you all in on a not-so secret of mine: I do not have a Type-A personality. Lists don't make my heart skip a beat, I'm prone to ramble, and most of my life lessons have been taught through my fantastic ability to just wing it. Becoming a mom has had little impact on this aspect of my personality, and quite often I simply forget things that are pretty obvious to most people. I can tell you that day-tripping the beach is not the most ideal location to learn that a sun hat is key, unless you enjoy a sizzling forehead and find sun spots flattering. With advice from those who know better, and much trial and error, I have compiled a list of the ten items which have become essential for my trips to the beach that go beyond the given sunscreen, beach towels, and sunglasses.
1. A proper beach blanket
Refusing to allow the cooler-than-average temperatures ruin our good time, we stayed on the beach last weekend most of both Saturday and Sunday... and we were cold! I had a hoodie, pair of leggings, and a baseball cap on over my swimsuit, and as the wind was whipping my face and chapping my lips, I was cursing myself for grabbing four beach towels we obviously weren't going to use instead of a proper blanket. Most days at the beach aren't cold, however a blanket is usually larger, much easier to clean, and doesn't trap sand as a typical beach towel does, making it essential for our bag.
2. Sun Hat
On our first Memorial Day beach trip a few years ago, I came home early with a blistering (literally) sun burn on my face. It was awful, and my skin has suffered ever since. Unfortunately, last Sunday I forgot both of the hats I packed for our trip when it was time to actually go to the beach (doh!) and ended up with another sunburn on my face. In fact, it was around the time I was applying my fortieth layer of aloe that I decided to go ahead and write this post. Big and floppy are what I usually gravitate towards, to ensure extra coverage, but lately I've been loving a straw fedora with a simple black swimsuit.
It always happens that after just a little while on the hot sand, one or more of us end up ravenous. Wraps, pasta salads, and melon balls are delicious, but unless you're a serious prepper, are not always the most practical beach fare. Reaching in and out of bags or Tupperware is almost guaranteed to cover your food in sand. Fresh, uncut fruit has been proven to be the easiest, healthiest, and cleanest solution for us. Bonus: If you're like me and find yourself making an unplanned trip to one of the many beaches within a few miles of where you live, it's easy to stop by any grocery, gas station, or roadside stall and pick up delicious fresh fruit!
4. Lip Balm w/SPF
Growing up, I didn't give much thought to protecting my skin from the sun. In fact, I've been known to frequent tanning beds from time to time. As I aged, I began to put sunscreen on my face, neck, and tattoos, but often overlooked some of the most important areas--the back of my hands, tips of my ears, nose, and lips. After personally experiencing sun damage to my lips, I vowed to take better care of myself in the sun. Sun Bum, while not as easily accessible as a brand like Banana Boat, is a fabulous product for those of us who live for life outdoors. Their company has lotions/sticks/balms which are Paraben-free, 100% vegan, and are recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. In other words, it's worth the search.
5. Insect Repellant
For some reason, I never thought a trip to the beach would require insect repellant. Last summer I was saved by a friend who knew better. Ever since, I've kept a bottle of Burt's Bees Herbal Insect Repellant in our bag. (I also keep a Bite Relief Stick, just in case!)
6. Beach cart
Beach totes are, without a doubt, way cuter than a beach cart, but when you're far from your parking space or campsite, these buggies are enviable. They carry so much, and leave you with an open arm to grab a surf or paddle board!
7. Sanuk Footwear
Admittedly, flip flops are my go-to from April to September, but last year on the beach, I discovered how inconvenient they can be. Turns out, when the sun beats down on the sand, it gets really, really, really hot (who knew?) and when your feet are unprotected, that hot hot hot sand gets under your feet, and flipped up on the back of your legs/behind. Blisters on the bottom of your feet are the worst. Trust. You do not want to experience that for yourself. After I ran as fast as I could down to the water to give my feet relief, B. schooled me on Sanuks, and how they protect against the very situation I was in. Lesson learned.
As a mom, I can't go to the beach, stick a pair of earbuds in, and just let go. With my boys playing near and in the water, I have to be aware of what's going on, and ready to act if necessary. A simple, relatively inexpensive, water-resistant stereo is key to listening to music on the beach. (An iPhone does not a stereo make!) Having a CD player is great because we can make mixes to play and share, and offers up a chance to hear new music.
9. Bottle Opener
Ordinarily this would be a given, but as this is the Forgetful Girl's Guide to the Beach, and have personally left mine at home more times than I'd care to admit, I'm including it! Having an opener or corkscrew, if wine is more your speed, slipped into your bag, cooler, or on your keychain guarantees that you won't be left hanging when it's time to open up your cold adult beverages.
10. Seasonal Brews
Few things hit the spot like an ice-cold beer after a bout of swimming. One of the greatest treats of the summer is savoring a frosty seasonal brew while the sun beats down on your shoulders. Easily one of the best beers for the summer is Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy; a fabulously fresh, crisp, citrusy blend that's deliciously easy to drink.
Keeping a bag for the beach ready with these essentials (and the givens) has been one easy way I've eliminated stress, got out of the house in a timely manner (our little family has been known to take FORever), and breathed a bit easier during the summer months. It has also allowed me to take one step closer to becoming the Domestic-Super-Mom-Goddess that I sometimes wish I were. (Sometimes)