Top 5 Items for Going to the Beach with Kids

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Making Outings Easier

One of the best things about working from home with a flexible schedule, is being able to take advantage of the afternoons with my kids. And, being lucky to live in Santa Barbara, California, my favorite place to go on a lunch break is the beach. I’ll take my kids to the beach over a playground ANY DAY.

Many parents stay away from the beach for a multitude of reasons, but I love it. There is something about the repetitive crashing of waves and endless grains of sand that captures all of my kids’ hearts as much as it does mine. They get in the zone, whether it be digging holes, splashing along the shore, or searching for treasures. There’s no tall playground ladder to be paranoid about, swing to fight over, or tunnel slide to squeeze and scoot through.

After seven years of beaching with my babes, here are the items I’ve found most useful to make it more comfortable and efficient, especially when I go as a solo parent with three (or more) kids in tow:

1. Large soccer backpack

Just like the “stadium chair”, this designated single-use backpack for soccer has been one of the best multi-use pieces we own for doing anything with our kids. The size, which is meant to be able to hold an actual soccer ball, is perfect for beach or any other outing for our family of five. We also use it as one of our main grab bags and carry-ons when we travel.

Favorite features of this backpack:

  • Netted front pocket, designed for stinky soccer shoes, but perfect for sand toys or wet bathing suits
  • Large water bottle pockets on either side – we can easily fit all four to five water bottles
  • Easy-to-clean and waterproof interior and exterior
  • Small zipper pocket for our phones, keys, wallet
  • Exterior straps to hook our chairs, sand bucket, etc.

2. Lightweight, rollable, stadium chair

These stadium chairs are not only comfortable for me, but also for the kids. When I’m alone with them at the beach, I usually only bring one or two. They are super lightweight and roll up to pack. The straps make it easy for me to attach them to the outside of my soccer backpack turned go-to beach bag. Breastfeeding at the beach is more comfortable when I can sit in one of these chairs, as opposed to trying to find a rock to lean up against. Because it’s flat on the ground, I can relax under the umbrella with baby next to me or easily access our bags to grab the sunscreen or water bottle for the kids.

We also bring them to parks when we’re out for a picnic. So, don’t be fooled in thinking this is for stadiums only!

3. Lightweight Turkish towels

Gone are the days where laying out a beach blanket was meant for a nice summer, adult, nap…for now, at least. When I’m by myself, and packing minimally for me and the kids, I don’t even bother bringing a big blanket. They are either too heavy, take up a lot of space, and just get trampled over with sand in a matter of seconds. These days, I bring two or three of these Turkish towels. They are thin enough to fit in my single bag, but big enough to lay down on or wrap a wet child in.

4. Twice-folding umbrella

Umbrellas are usually the biggest hurdle in carrying all the things down to the beach with kids. They’re often big, heavy, and awkward to carry. BUT, they are one of the most important pieces of beach gear in our book (aside from sunscreen and food). We found this great umbrella that comes apart in multiple pieces to make it more compact to carry. It’s easy to set up and provides the perfect amount of shade to take a break under. For longer beach days with the whole family, we discovered this beach canopy that’s even more portable. It offers a larger area of shade for our whole crew.

5 Freezable lunchbag

Snack and lunch or dinner at the beach are always the number one thing we pack in our backpack first. There is something about the beach that makes our kids’ appetites increase exponentially. It’s a good sign they are getting good exercise and pouring lots of energy out of their little bodies. Unless we pick up burritos or pizza, we usually pack sandwiches and snacks for the kids. For everything we need to keep cold, we use a freezable lunchbag like this one. It’s perfectly small enough to fit in the backpack. Especially if we’re bringing deli meat and cheese or any other item we want to keep cold. This is also a great bag to have for storing bottles of milk or breastmilk!

July 30, 2020: First trip to the beach with all three kids by myself with our youngest at 3-weeks old.

Other Essentials

  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottles
  • Whenever my youngest at the time was not yet or newly walking, I would also use my baby carrier to get from the beach to car. My carrier of choice was the Ergobaby, now sun faded a purple grey color full of many beach days.

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After earning my Masters in Education, I started working in education technology and most recently found myself at a publishing company. I started working from home after the birth of our first child seven years ago. We now have three kids, ages 7, 4, and 2.