If I had my choice of where to go for vacation, it would be the beach. Every. Dang. Time. There is something so calming and relaxing about sitting with your toes in the sand, feeling the ocean breeze, and the sun shining on your face as you gaze out at the crashing waves.
When Eric and I were newlyweds, we would go any chance we got. Everything I needed was in my cute, little monogrammed tote. We would lie on the beach for hours upon hours. Talking. Reading. Listening to Jimmy Buffett. Drifting in and out of sleep. It was glorious and so relaxing.
Now that we are a family of five, it is still our favorite place to go, but it is far from relaxing. We don’t travel a lot, but our week at the beach is held sacred to us. Eric works so hard to provide for our family, and it is a week to just enjoy time with each other. What better setting to do that than the beach?
As much as I love our annual beach trip, it also can be incredibly stressful. Here are 10 reasons why going to the beach is the most stressful “relaxing” vacation for parents:
- Packed to the Gills. It starts weeks before as I make piles of stuff we can’t forget. We couldn’t eat on our breakfast table for two weeks because of the piles of sunscreen, beach towels and random kitchen stuff we needed for our condo. I continue to make piles of clothes, sand toys, chairs, and tents. By the time I am done, it consumes half of our garage. Then Eric (aka – the master packer) has the not so small task to fit all of it in our SUV. Even though it is all ready to go the night before, the master packer waits until an hour before we leave to put it in the vehicle. Breathe in. Breathe out. Miraculously, he gets it all in and we are on the road. Then we make our first right turn and a tower of pool noodles tumbles on Matthew in the back seat.
- The Drive. When I went on road trips with my girlfriends in college, it was a blast. We listened to mix tapes, read Cosmo, and laughed until Diet Coke came out of our noses. Getting there was almost as much fun as the destination. Once you have kids, it is the exact opposite. We make a tick mark sheet for the number of times our kids ask “are we there yet?” By the time we get there and the ticks consume an entire page, Eric and I are laughing like maniacs. The kids probably have their own tick sheets for the number of times I say “Keep your hands to yourself!” And to make matters worse, I-65 in Alabama is a nightmare. What genius decided to close lanes on one of the main corridors to the beach weekends in the summer??? Eric tortures himself by staring at his “trip average mph” on the dashboard going down, down, down. No, we are not there yet. As soon as we get going a decent speed, we hear “I gotta go poop” from the backseat.
- Sunscream. I am kind of a maniac about sunscreen. It takes me a good 20 minutes to slather the 50 SPF on every square inch of my three kids. (Can’t forget the booty cracks that inevitably peak out! My son has the tannest top inch of his crack this side of the Mississippi.) It is impossible for them to stand still. I either have to chase them around the condo to lotion them up or plant them in front of the TV to put them in a Disney trance. I am just soooo thankful they are finally old enough to know to not rub their eyes. That was the worst when they got sunscream in their eyes. Inevitably they would then rub their eyes with their sandy hands. Do not miss those days one bit.
- I’m a Pack Mule. The amount of stuff that we bring to the beach is epic. We have tried wagons, huge bags, anything we can use to get all our crap down to the beach in as few trips as possible. Eric and I will load up with bags, coolers, chairs, tents, sand toys, and more sunscream. Then the kids will complain when we ask them to carry a towel. By the time we make it down to our spot, my flip flops weigh ten pounds from all the sand that has collected in them. We spend 20 minutes getting everyone and everything set and then we hear – “ I gotta go poop.” Rock, Paper, Scissors over who takes Poops Magee back to the condo.
- But I wanna go to the pool. So you finally have your little beach oasis set up. Kids Pottied. Chairs out. Umbrella Up. Sand toys properly strewn about. Boogie Boards ready to boogie in the surf. We finally sit down to take a breath and look at the ocean. And the kids start whining, “I wanna go to the pool now!!” Really? We could go the pool every dang day in Tennessee. So then you have to bargain whine free beach time so that they can have pool time after lunch. Which will most definitely not be wine free for mama after the morning.
- Water. Our kids are finally old enough that they can venture into shallow water without me being right by their side. Holla!! But of course, there were reports of shark attacks the week before we left in none other than shallow waters. So although I am allowing them to test the waters with their newfound independence, my eyes are constantly scanning the water for danger. Drowning kids. Jellyfish. Sharknado. Why did I bother loading down my Kindle with new reads?
- Sand, Sand, and more Sand. Nothing makes me happier than sinking my toes in the sugar beach. The kids love to play in it. Heck they roll around in it making sure they get as many granules in their scalp, ears, and booty cracks. But I want to leave all that sand at the beach. No amount of hosing off, showering, or bathing can get it all off. I can’t even walk around our condo barefoot because the sand on the floors drives me straight up crazy. Don’t even talk to me about the sand that we are bringing home in our suitcases despite my efforts to get it all out.
- Family Pictures are a Beach. You spend a lot of time and money for the perfect picture that says “look how cute, color coordinated and happy my family is!!” Bribes are made with ice cream if they just for the love of God smile and quit pinching their sister. When that doesn’t work, you threaten no beach through clinched teeth and a plastered on smile. And thank God for digital cameras. Ten years ago, you would have done all that and gotten your pics back days later after you dropped them off to get developed. You remember…you would get this beloved box chock full of what you know are the best pictures ever. You couldn’t even wait to get home to look at them. You would sit in your hot car and frantically flip through your pictures. And the best one looked like this:
- Eating Out is for the Birds. It really is a perfect storm. The kids are tired from staying up later and playing hard all day. They are mad because I made them put on actual clothes. There is always a wait to be seated because it is the summer and it is the beach. By the time we are seated, everyone’s blood sugar is low, we are grumpy, and we are just trying to get through the meal so we can go home. Why did we spend so much money to do this?
- The Drive Home Straight Up SUCKS. It is just as long of a drive (if not longer, thank you again Alabama interstates), but you don’t have the benefit of the pre-vacation adrenaline hyperness. You just have a car full of sand that makes you depressed, dirty laundry, and tired, cranky kids. But you can eat a fat cheeseburger without the guilt of living in a swimsuit the next week, so there’s that.
Truth be known. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat (and a good night sleep) just to see this one more time…