In keeping with yesterday's entry about summer time tips, this one is all about the beach!
Top 5 Things to Remember When you go to the Beach
1. Will there be a cost to park or enter - A few of us recently went to a really beautiful beach just south of Santa Cruz, but because it was a State Park there was a cost to park. A few years back, my mother, aunt, and I went to a beach in NJ where we had to pay $15 each to go in. While I don't mind paying to park at a State Beach (because it usually means it's clean and quiet), $15 per person at a crappy boardwalk beach is ridiculous. People will be all over the board with this one, so just make sure you know whether you have to bring money or not, and make sure all the other people in your party know too so you can avoid any surprises when you get there.
2. Is the dog allowed? - When we went to the beach a few weeks ago, the beach we initially picked out allowed dogs. We did that on purpose so we could bring Charlie and my friend Mike could bring his dog (they're best buds). But half way through the day we decided to beach hop up to Santa Cruz and found out the dogs were not allowed. Major bummer.
3. Is alcohol allowed? - I'm not a fan of beach time drinking, but I know some people are. So just make sure you check those rules ahead of time because a lot of places aren't allowing it these days. And that goes double for glass containers.
4. Explain to kids the rules of the beach - What we think, as adults, is common sense (like don't swim too far out), kids don't always realize. Make sure they know how to be safe at the beach and that they need to listen to the lifeguard. Most beaches have rules posted near entrances. It's a good idea to review them together when you first get there. Also, my friend Roni found a very good article about how to recognize drownings that you should all be clued in on. Click me.
5. Don't worry about how you look, just have fun - Nick does this one way too often. We lived here for a full year before he would even go to the pool because he was too self conscious about how his stomach looked. And when we went on our honeymoon he had a horrible allergic reaction to the chemicals used to clean his tux shirt and he got hives all over. He wouldn't take his shirt off or go in the water. At the end of the day, think about how many near naked bodies are near by, and remember two simple rules. 1. There will always be people who look better AND look worse than you. 2. Everyone is having too much fun to pay attention to you. So let it go and have fun!
Top 5 Things to Make sure you bring with you to the beach
1. Sunscreen - No skin cancer. Even if you put a low SPF like 15 on, you can still get a tan but prevent damage. Be safe. Melanoma can strike and kill at any age.
2. Towels + Blankets - You can never have too many towels, and I suggest leaving a couple extra in the car just so you have a few sand free ones.
3. Snacks + Drinks - It's cheaper to bring them with you than to buy once you're there. And if you're at a beach with no board walk do you really want to leave early if you're having fun?
4. Umbrella - If you're some place where the sun is relentless bring that umbrella. Not only will you protect your skin (and those of young kids who are extra vulnerable), but you'll protect things that can be damaged by the excess heat like spray on suntan lotion, anything with a battery, and food.
5. Toys - It's a lot easier to built a sandcastle when you have a shovel. And there's lots of other beach toys for the older kids too.