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16 steps to surviving a trip to the beach with the kids.

It’s not as simple as it seems.

Here is a list of activities more enjoyable than taking small children to the beach.

  • Re-doing your year 12 exams, without studying. Naked.
  • Spending three weeks on an island cruise with your mother-in-law.
  • Volunteering to stake out Lara Bingle to get a photo of her alleged baby bump.
  • Cleaning out the linen closet in my house.

You happy to take on any of those chores? Because I guarantee you will find them more enjoyable than a trip to the beach with three kids under the age of five. Let’s be honest about taking kids to the beach – it sucks.

And yet because we are Australian, and because we feel it is a part of our national creed, and because we are sheer gluttons for punishment, we soldier on.

And this is how we do it:

STEP 1: Wake before dawn and start preparations. You are going to need many, many, many bags – waterproof bags, plastic bags, carrier bags, beach bags. Heck, why not just take a large suitcase.

Going on holidays? No just a trip to the beach.

Pack:

  • Two towels per child – as one towel will get inevitably vomited/pooed/weed on, or thrown in the surf.
  • A large container of wipes to clean up the spilt ice cream in the car.
  • Several large containers of sunscreen, because one will get hijacked by your five-year old who will see it as his own private artistic experiment to spray paint a wall with it.
  • More clothes than you would take on a weekend away.
  • Enough snacks and water to tide over a sixth grade football team.
  • Beach toys, beach buckets, beach spades, beach balls, sand shaper, sand sifters, sand drillers, boogie boards, goggles and flippers.
  • One hat to be thrown into the water in a tantrum. One hat to be dropped out the car window.
  • A hip flask of vodka (okay, okay I am kidding... kind of).

STEP 2: Wrangle children into clothes and apply sunscreen. This sounds easier than it is. It actually involves many games of chasing small people around the table as they laugh and taunt “You can’t get me”, and you slowly losing your cool until you yell "This is not a game. Get here now, or we aren’t going anywhere”. (This is the point to note that you are really going to regret not following through on that threat).

STEP 3: Pack the car.

And that's not even all of it.
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STEP 4: Unpack the car as you realise that you can’t find Ted-Ted and there will be no napping in the car unless said Ted-Ted is located pronto.

STEP 5: Re-pack car.

STEP 6: Find Ted-Ted mocking you, smiling that evil grin from the floor of the kitchen.

STEP 7: Begin yet another round of sunscreen-chasey-round-the-table. Finally pin down the three-year-old, to screams that would wake your great-great grandmother, and finally apply the sunscreen.

STEP 8: Get on the road.

STEP 9: Threaten, for the 87th time, “If you don’t stop fighting in the backseat, we aren’t going anywhere”.

STEP 10: Finally arrive. Park 157 kilometers away, pay more than your mortgage in parking fees, brace yourself for the next fifteen minutes of "I’m tired/I’m hot/my feet hurt/I want an ice-cream noooowwwww."

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"I’m tired/I’m hot/my feet hurt."

STEP 11: The beach. After a long difficult battle with the beach tent you will realise two important things. 1. Kids don’t stay in them anyway. 2. There is no way you are going to get this thing down and back in that small bag. Ever.

STEP 12: Here are the things your kids are going to fight you on in the next hour. Wearing a floatie/being sandy/being hot/wearing a hat/wearing a rashie/ not wanting to swim/not getting out of the water when you ask/being hungry/being thirsty/wanting ice-cream and he-knocked-my-sandcastle down.

STEP 13: Take off wet swimsuits and get kids changed as they are cold.

STEP 14: Put swimsuits back on as they now want to go in the water as they are hot. (Repeat above several times).

STEP 15: Give up and pack the whole family off to the nearest ice-cream parlour to stop the tears.

STEP 16: Vow to yourself (once again) that you will next visit the beach on your youngest’s 18th birthday.

How do you get your kids to the beach?

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