A Toddler Beach VacationBeth Anne Ballance
There’s a week in the year that we look forward to for months. We plan and save and dream of the magic that will happen, when we are all together as a family without a care in the world.
Sounds like Christmas, right? Except it’s in August and it’s our annual family beach trip!
Some folks head to the busy beaches with the restaurants and putt-putt and shopping malls, but we’ve always preferred the quiet small islands of North Carolina. We rent a house and my parents and siblings drive in for a week of pure loving chaos. We cook every meal in (I’m deathly allergic to seafood, so that’s more a safety requirement for me.) and love nothing better than simply playing in the ocean.
It is simple and wonderful and I hope these weeks will form the best of Harrison’s childhood memories.
Here’s how we do a toddler beach vacation, without jam-packing it full of expensive or exhausting activities:
The thrill of vacation. 1 of 9
Is there anything better than the drive over the bridge to the beach? (Answer: no.) Listening to Harrison squeal with joy at seeing the ocean and the boats in the bay made the drive worth it. He's a beach bum through and through, so I doubt you'll ever find us on an expensive exotic vacation or traipsing through the mountains.
Quality Daddy time. 2 of 9
Oh, that Daddy of his that he loves so very much. The two main guys in my life have had an amazing time together in the ocean and it's been such a joy to watch them. I just hope their relationship is always this wonderful. (See also: I look at this picture and feel like high-fiving myself. Well done, self. WELL DONE.)
Turtles! 3 of 9
Oh, this picture is dark but we had the most AMAZING experience this year - we got to watch sea turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean! Every night after supper we would walk down to the ocean and sit with red flashlights near the nests. The turtle volunteers were a wealth of information and on Tuesday night, the babies crawled through sand trenches to the ocean. I've been vacationing on North Carolina beaches for 30 years and this is my first time witnessing this miracle—so cool that Harry got to see it already!
Simply being with family. 4 of 9
I grew up in a large immediate family with a close extended family, so having Harry know his grandparents and uncles and cousins is a top priority. I spent this afternoon in the waves with my husband and son, watching my brother wrestle my nephew and my parents laugh from the beach. I'm so thankful that Harry is growing up with family traditions that give him the security of where he belongs in this world.
Catching up on ZZZzzzZZs 5 of 9
This week has been one of rest for all of us. After months of uncertainty about my job and health insurance, we came to the beach with calm hearts and the collapse to prove it. I think our shortest nap has been two and a half hours and every nap has been taken as a family. Yep, we love the mid-day snuggles!
Quiet time. 6 of 9
Those moments before the naps when Harry plays quietly with his trucks. Or the times I'd peek upstairs to find him and his cousin playing MicroMachines side-by-side. And the mornings with a cup of coffee and him curled up on my lap with a book. It's so much easier to slow down and appreciate the moments he is still on vacation.
The timeless classic. 7 of 9
Let's talk sand castles. Because it's an art and not one that I have mastered well, as evidenced by me dumping sand in loose turd-shaped piles and calling it a day. But I can make a mean "foot pool" by digging out a ditch with my feet where the water meets my beach chair. Then the toddler makes it his mission to keep my foot pool filled and he wears himself out, which leads to those epic naps. (Tip: snag a plastic tote with holes in it, like the one in my picture above, which can be hosed off and air-dried easily!)
Momma time. 8 of 9
I came to the beach with one goal—to read. I've had so many books on the back burner for months as I plowed through resumes and interviews, so this week was one to sit and do my favorite past time after a year of solid hard work. I'm thrilled to say that I'm on book #3 of the week. Mission accomplished.
Treats! 9 of 9
We try not to over-do the treats, but oooooh vacation! My sister-in-law brought these busted Jelly Belly jelly beans, known as Bumble Beans, and they were such a hit with the family. The young ones found them so silly, the older ones found them so tasty! We don't go out for ice cream or anything wild like that, so our treats are pies bought from home and ice cream sundaes after supper.