• Keep a cheap shower curtain folded up in the beach pack for longer days in the sand. That way when the kids dig a hole they can line it with the shower curtain and have a mini swimming pool. • Always take extra freezer gallon-size bags along with you for everything from wet clothes to seashells. Believe me, you will use them. • Don’t skimp on the sunscreen! Some of the “Dollar Store” off brands you might buy work very little or not at all. Especially with children, it’s best to use a known name brand and apply frequently. Make sure to get the tops of feet, as they burn easily. • Keep your valuables in an empty Pringles can in the cooler or food bag. Many cell phones will fit in one as well. • Keep a bottle of baby powder in the beach kit to sprinkle on sandy legs and feet prior to getting in the car. The sand will stick to the baby powder and brush right off. • Freeze water balloons to put in the cooler if you don’t want to fill it with ice. When the balloons melt it’s time for a water fight! Freezing grapes, strawberries, water and juice pouches work as well. • Use coffee creamer bottles again and again for perfect beach snack containers. Goldfish crackers or trail mix work very well with this. • Make sure to explain the “stingray shuffle” to all children, and what a jellyfish looks like. While many people worry about sharks and rip tides, it’s easy to overlook the much more common beach threats. • Also explain to children to be respectful of all dogs at the beach. Just because a dog is running free – and even if the owner is nearby – it doesn’t mean the dog is always friendly or used to children. • Remember, less is more when it comes to toys and food. Even when you take kids to the beach you don’t have to bring the whole toy chest and the kitchen sink. Memories are just as well made by making a sand castle with a big shell as a shovel, and 56GASPARILLA ISLAND July/August 2017 quite often half the food you take with you returns home uneaten. Unless you’re planning a big cookout at the beach, finger foods, crackers, trail mix and a few cookies should suffice. • Always remember to fill in holes and pick up all beach equipment and trash especially during turtle nesting season .Turtles can get trapped in furniture and toys (they can’t back up, they can only go forward) and baby turtles can get trapped in holes. • If you find yourself beaching with more than one or two children on a regular basis, you might want to consider buying a beach cart with big wheels to tote your luggage around. • The most important tip to remember next to lots of sunscreen is water safety. Even just playing near the water can turn to trouble if a big wave comes rolling in, so it’s well worth it to buy a lightweight, good-fitting life vest for your child. Tell them they can’t go to the beach if they don’t keep it on and you will have an infinitely more relaxing beach experience. Also teach kids about rip currents that can occur right off the beach. If the current is strong, if it’s windy and the waves are big, be diligent. Teach kids about incoming tides, and how to keep an eye on them if they are playing in tidal pools or on sandbars. Taking a small baby to the beach seems like a daunting experience, especially because you can rarely take your trusty stroller/luggage rack along. Now is the time to consider a front baby carrier, and to invest in a good waterproof diaper bag.
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