A trip to the beach with the family on a nice, hot day. Sounds perfect, right? Think again...
I've never been a big 'beach person'. As a teenager, I just couldn't do the whole smother-the-body-in-baby-oil-and-fry-myself-on-a-hot-summer's-day thing. (Which, of course, I'm now very thankful for.) I didn't overly enjoy swimming in the ocean either. Big waves freaked me out, and once, I jumped off a boat in the middle of the ocean for a swim, and promptly begged my parents to lift me back in to the safety of the boat because I started thinking about what might be swimming beneath me. I didn't like sand sticking to me, no matter how many times I tried to rub it off with my beach towel. I most certainly didn't like sand in my swimmers. And I didn't like public toilets at the beach. Public toilets anywhere are mostly awful. But at the beach? Diabolical.
And now, many years later, everything I disliked about the beach I'm still not keen on. Add taking three kids along on a beach visit and all I can say to explain how I feel about that is maximum effort, minimal gain.
Don't get me wrong. Since the kids were born, there have been trips to the beach that have been rather enjoyable. However, most of that enjoyment is from seeing the boys have such a great time. They love it! Me on the other hand? Not so much.
Firstly, when Hubby announces we're going to the beach, he then gets himself ready by dressing in his swimmers and perhaps checking his emails or the market. I, on the other hand, proceed to get three boys dressed, make sure their teeth are brushed, pack their swimmers, sunscreen, hats, spare clothes, drink bottles, snacks, towels for all of us, tissues, nappy change items, floaties, goggles, a beach tent, a book for me (which is packed in vein because I will never get an opportunity to read even one page of it), sand toys, cricket bat and ball, blow up boogie boards and some money to spend at the kiosk (where all items will be sold at exorbitant prices) and I will ask them no less than three times each to put their shoes on before we leave. Phew.
Oh the joy to then lug all the above mentioned items to our preferred spot on the beach (after we spend close to forever finding a parking spot, which inevitably is miles away from the sand and which we will pay a ridiculous price to park in). Then the boys will spend the next five minutes it takes us to set up the tent, lay down the towels and put all our belongings inside, asking us various questions like, "Can you blow up the boogie board now, Mummy? I want to go in the water now, Mummy." And, "Where's my shovel, Mummy? I want to make a rooley, rooley BIG sandcastle, Mummy. Will you help me build it now? Will you?" And, "Oh, look! We have a tent! I want to go camping! Can I get inside now, Mummy? Can I?!"
After all questions are answered with an impatient, "Just wait!" we will finally get the kids in to the tent to slap sunscreen on them - that is, once they've managed to roll around in the sand and then complain when the sunscreen hurts their skin, "because it's so scratchy!" Then they will dash to the water's edge, and Hubby and I will sit on edge watching them like hawks as we attempt to keep an eye on them amongst the millions of other families and screaming kids surrounding them.
Within a two-hour time frame, I will make no less than five visits to the toilets with one of my sons in tow (most of which will be with the 3yr old). I will make roughly three trips to the kiosk. On one of those trips I will purchase icy poles for all. On another trip to the kiosk, I will purchase another icy pole to replace the one that was dropped just seconds after being opened, and tears have ensued. I will waste enormous amounts of time removing the beach towels from the bottom of the beach tent so I can shake off all the scratchy sand that has accumulated on them, only to find more sand on the towels just minutes later.
Before too long, it will be time to return home and we will pack up all the above mentioned items and lug them back to the car - three boys begging not to go. "Just half an hour more!" will be the pleas. Half of the beach will end up in our car, and we will make our way home - sometimes, not having hit the water myself.
But the kids always love it. They will undoubtedly have fond memories in adulthood of their time at the beach with their family; the stress their parents experienced not even playing a part.
I just wish we had a backyard pool. That would be more my style. Far less exhausting, don't you think?
How about you? Are you a beach or pool person? Do you take everything other than the kitchen sink when you head to the beach?