Sunday 23 June 2013

A Guide to Family Days Out at the Beach

Getting the family together for a day out can be a pain to organise, and making sure that you remember to bring everything and that the kids don’t kill each other in the process of getting everyone in the car and on their way can be a feat within itself. Thankfully, if you do a little planning and preparation beforehand you can avert most disasters and ensure everyone is happy and having fun.

Before you set off

Do a little research into the beach you’re visiting. There’s nothing worse than heading out for a day at the seaside to find that there are no facilities, or the beach is too crowded and there’s no room for a towel!

You’ll probably know a lot about your local beaches, but look up where other beaches are further afield. If you’ve in the East, you could check out Hemsby or Summerfields on the Norfolk coast – they’re only a hop from some great family holiday parks.

Most council websites have details of the facilities available on the beaches and websites like the Good Beach Guide also list the water quality of the beaches and any potential safety hazards. Another thing to consider is parking as many popular seaside resorts have expensive or limited parking on the sea front.

Don’t tempt fate and drive around for ages having arguments with your significant other because all the spots are full. Parkopedia is a convenient site to check and lists parking on a map by price and type of parking.

Things to bring with you

Once you’ve decided on where you’re going to spend your family day out at the beach make sure you bring a good supply of essentials with you.

It goes without saying that you’ll need sunscreen, however don’t use the same sunscreen you use on yourself on your children. Kids need a high sun factor sun cream usually SPF 30 and above, and babies and young tots need a higher SPF as their skin is thinner and more sensitive to the sun. Don’t forget to protect yourself too – there’s nothing worse than going home looking like a lobster at the end of the day!

Get a cool box and a good supply of water to take with you too. Beach-side food and drink is really expensive, so it will save you money. In addition to this, having a cool supply of ice and water to hand can be useful if anyone overheats. A first aid kit is also vital at the beach, with hazards such as broken glass, stings from insects and bumps and grazes all very likely if you have accident-prone children.

Keep everyone entertained

The first thing your kids will be bugging you about is a bucket and spade so make sure they each have their own one – they won’t want to share one between them! Balls, inflatable rubber rings and Frisbees are also a good way of keeping them happy for five minutes.

For a long-term way to keep them occupied a scavenger hunt is a good idea. You can award a prize once they complete the list and it can also be educational if they have to look for things that they have never heard of before. Websites such as Mumsnet and other parenting sites are always a good place to get a list of items from.

Bring a reference guide along too. The internet can be unreliable on the beach, so having a book with a clear guide to animals and wildlife on the beach means you can show your kids the delights of the ocean without having to rely on Wikipedia loading up!

Encourage the kids to collect some of their favourite shells and pebbles too. They’re great for art projects and are also a reminder of the day at the beach.

Practical advice

Beaches are great fun but come with some annoyances such as sand getting everywhere and water making everything wet. If you combine kids and pets into the picture then everything is going to be pretty messy at the end of the day!

Invest in a waterproof money pouch so you can keep all your valuables on you and go in the sea with the kids at the same time. You can also purchase waterproof cases for your phone, so even if you don’t go in the water your valuables will be protected from any unwanted splashes.

If your local beach is pebbly then buying some swimming shoes can prevent your kids from complaining about walking on the pebbles barefoot, one of the things that most people hate about going to stony beaches.

On the other hand, if you’ve spent the day at a sandy beach it can be pesky getting rid of all the grains of sand and you’ll undoubtedly find it in your car for months after. Keep a big bottle of water in the car with a clean towel and clean off all your family members’ feet before getting in the car. It might not get every grain off but it’s an effective way to ensure that you won’t be making sandcastles in the back of your car for weeks to come.

Most importantly have fun, keep safe and you’ll have a day out at the beach that you’ll remember forever. Just don’t forget your camera!

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