Family Beach Day Survival

5 ways to reduce stress and increase the fun at the beach

By Sara Kendall


Packing up and heading to the beach is a favorite excursion for many families. What better than to spend the day together, playing and relaxing in the sand and water? With just a little planning, it’s easy to keep a beach day stress-free, fun and memorable. Here are five tips to incorporate into your beach-day planning.

1. Protect: In spite of the fact that we literally would not exist without it, the sun is no friend to our bare skin. Choose a UVA/UVB protection, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater. Apply a thick coat at least 15 (and preferably 30) minutes before heading into the sun. This will give your skin time to soak it up and maximize its protection. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and always after swimming or after you have worked up a sweat. Don’t forget your and your kids’ lips! Use a lip balm with an SPF of 30.

UPF protective clothing is one of the best ways to keep your family safe from the sun's harmful rays. A number of companies make it for babies, toddlers and older children, as well as for adults. The concept originated in Australia, where the clothing is claimed to be more popular than sunscreen. The togs are made of light, comfortable fabrics that cover arms and legs as well as the child's torso.

2. Shade:In addition to sunscreen, put up a couple of umbrellas or pitch a lightweight tent to provide protective shade. This is most important between the hours of 10 am to 4 pm when the sun is strongest. Having your own shade isn’t just protection from the sun. It can go a long way to erase sad faces if a brief shower interrupts your fun, giving your kids a place to ride out the rain.

Other items to pack are hats, long sleeved shirts and sunglasses. These are key items to reduce the chance of getting sunburned or to put on if someone has gotten too much sun. If your little ones are resistant to sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat is a good option.

3.Refuel: The constant heat and never-ending activity drain everyone. Take time to cool off and replenish. Bring along plenty of water and juices (not sugary soda) to keep everyone hydrated. Portable, healthy snacks (fruit, simple sandwiches, granola bars) will fill empty tummies and maintain everyone’s energy level. If your kids drink and eat enough, they will be less likely to get cranky.

4.Soothe: Stinging saltwater is a painful eye irritant for children hitting the waves. Masks and goggles are a great way to reduce complaints from frustrated kids. Bring extra pairs in case a strap breaks or they happen to float away in a big wave. Having some saline drops handy to rinse irritated eyes will aid in clearing away the unpleasant saltwater.

5.Simplify: Reduce unnecessary lugging by packing fewer toys. Let the sand and waves be the entertainment for the day. For kids ready to hit the waves, a boogie board or inflatable boat is a fun choice. A couple of small buckets and a few shovels can provide hours of creative activity for kids of all ages.

Let the Good Times Roll

A little planning goes a long way. Take the time to craft a smart game plan for your family’s beach day. You’ll score big points with your kids when you can instantly solve their biggest complaints. Plus, you will have more time to breathe in the salty air, feel the sand between your toes, and let gentle waves lap at your feet. Make your family's beach day one to remember.


Sara Kendall is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters. For more information, go to the American Academy of Dermatology.