Once upon a time, not all that long ago, I had a rare experience with a backpack and a beach. To preface this story, you must understand my normal going-to-the-beach scene. Picture a mom with a folding chair strapped to her back. Attached to the chair you’ll see two life jackets. A boogie board, also attached, is dragging behind. In her arms is a beach bag that weighs more than she does. And a small cooler. Various beach buckets exploding with shovels hang off her arms. Depending on the day, there might also be a child in the load. Oh, and did I mention she’s walking through thick sand?
Though it sounds more like an Olympic event, this is the reality for most moms. Oh the joys of going to the beach with kids. “Making memories” becomes your mantra and you breathe a sigh of relief as you collapse upon finding the perfect spot. You’ll do it a hundred more times (likely before the sun sets!) to see your kids smile. Now that I’ve set the typical scene- back to my story…
One day I had a beach experience unlike any other. We were on a marathon road trip (read all about it here) and on a whim I decided to take my kids to the beach for a day. Admittedly, this was not a well thought out plan at all. For starters, I didn’t have any of my equipment. No beach chair, no beach towels, no cooler, no sand toys- nothing! Had I thought this through my plans would have been aborted quickly. However, it didn’t dawn on me until I already had swimsuits on the kids.
I took a quick inventory of our hotel room. Dumping out my child’s backpack, I filled it with approximately 1 hotel bath towel and 3 bottles of water. I added my cell phone, nice camera and our room key and set out for the beach.
My children- still completely unaware of the radically different experience before them- chattered happily about the giant sandcastles they planned to build. We arrived at the beach and I couldn’t believe the freedom I felt from just having a backpack. I’m not going to go so far as to compare myself to a contestant on Survivor…but let’s be honest- it’s pretty much the same thing.
So there we were on the beach. I artfully spread out my bath towel and watched as my children dipped their toes in the water. 3 minutes of pure bliss and then my daughter walked back to where I sat:
“Mom, can I have my shovels please?” (Side note to the story here: It blows my mind how oblivious kids can be sometimes. Did they see me carrying a shovel? Did anything about the scene that day look different to them? Okay, rant over.)
I looked up at her and with a reassuring and encouraging smile and informed her that we didn’t have any toys with us that day.
For about 5 minutes my children aimlessly wandered the beach. What could you possibly do at a beach all day without a single toy? But then my son found a stick and that was a turning point. Soon they found another. Somehow, before we knew it, the afternoon passed. My children successfully entertained themselves on a beach for 4 hours without a single toy. I managed without a chair or a book or even a proper beach towel. Amazingly we not only survived, but thrived!
I wondered if my backpack style beach trip might become the new norm; but alas, I’ve visited a beach since that day and reverted right back to my old ways. However, for as long as I live I’ll know that I did it. Going to the beach with kids and just a backpack CAN BE DONE. Despite being a single occurrence event, I believe this day will go down in all of our memories as one of the best on the beach.
Do you think you could survive a day at the beach with kids AND only the stuff that fits into a backpack?
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