The weather has warmed up and, although most kids would probably be content just to stay indoors watching Minecraft videos on YouTube or fighting with each other until you slowly lose your mind, you’ll probably want to get them out of the house and into the sun at some point. And since even siblings who can’t agree on what cereal you should get at the grocery store can at least agree that water is fun, you’re likely to end up at the beach or pool about a billion times this summer.
Unfortunately, like any outing with children, a trip waterside is destined to have its share of bumps and hiccups and epic meltdowns. Increase your odds of having a safe, fun, tantrum-free trip with these helpful beach and pool hacks for moms …
1. Make a list, check it twice. Sick of getting everyone loaded up and carting them to your destination, only to realize you’ve forgotten something that the kids are going to freak out about not having, like goggles or that one special raft shaped like a crab that takes 45 minutes to inflate? Print out a list of pool packing essentials, laminate or cover it in packing tape and clip it to your bag! As a bonus, the kids can use the list to collect their own junk.
2. Keep your valuables a dirty little secret. If you’re going to get off your sandy beach towel or (heaven forbid) leave the comfort of a lounge chair, hide your valuables in a rinsed-out, empty sunscreen bottle. Even better, use a diaper – a clean one, please, but roll it up to look like it’s dirty. No one will want to touch it then, probably not even your husband! ZING!
3. Out with the new, in with the old. Bust out old bath toys to use outside in the water. Those boats and color-changing mermaids your kids got sick of using during tub time ages ago suddenly become interesting again in a new setting, even if your journey is only as far away as a kiddie pool on the deck.
4. Use protection. Surely you’re going to want to take pics of the kids while you’re out (and probably post them to Instagram, and maybe update Facebook about what a great time you’re having). Protect your phone from random splashes by sealing it inside a plastic baggie. The touchscreen will still work, and best of all you’ll have one less thing with crevices to dig sand out of for the next three weeks.
5. Make SPF easy (or, as easy as possible). Speaking of using protection, one of the most important things you’ll do all day is slather those kids in sunscreen. Here’s our Scary Mommy tip: apply all that goop before you leave the house. It gives everyone’s skin time to absorb the lotion, plus kids are less likely to spend the whole time struggling to get away from you (and making you miss, like, half their backs) when the temptation of the water isn’t within sight.
6. Prepare for snack attacks. Pack your kids’ crackers and treats inside recycled, empty Coffee Mate bottles (most caffeine addicts have plenty of those around). The food won’t get crushed or soggy, and it’s easy to dispense a handful at a time and seal everything back up with a flip of the cap. Better yet, make one for each kid with a mix of their own favorite snacks and they can handle snack breaks themselves!
7. Get (out of) seasonal. That plastic snow sled you figured was useless until next winter? Pull it out of storage and pull it along behind you to easily slide supplies (and even kids) across the beach. When you stake out your spot on the sand, it can serve as a water tray for small kids to play in away from the shore.
8. Powder your nose. And your arms, and your legs, and even your hair! Baby powder, sprinkled liberally over your kids’ sand-covered parts, dries the surface of the skin enough that the sand almost magically brushes right off – instead of brushing off later, in your car.
9. Be ready to rinse. If the idea of dealing with dusty powder doesn’t appeal to you (or your kids), fill a large cooler with clean water and leave it hanging a bit (not too far – you don’t want it to tip!) off the edge of a picnic table or out of the back of your minivan; open the drain plug and you’ve created a mini toddler shower! If you’re feeling really nice, fill the cooler early and let the water warm up in the sun.
What are your favorite pool and beach hacks for parents? Leave ’em in the comments!