Unlike regular trips to the beach by yourself or your partner, taking the whole family can put any parents’ sanity to the test, especially with younger kids. Instead of shades, sunblock, towel, and a book, you’re practically taking half the house with you, not accounting for snacks, toys, umbrellas, several changes of clothes, and who knows what else. It’s like moving twice in the span of an afternoon!

That’s why we bring you these useful tips that will make your family day at the beach like, well, a regular day at the beach (or as close as it can be with small children in tow!). These are a combination of time-tested parenting advice with some outside-the-box lifehacks to make sure you and your family reach the end of the day safe and sound.

Invest in a pop-up tent or shelter

The bigger your family, the less desirable it is to lug around a big, cumbersome beach umbrella (and the less useful they become). You’ll want to get a small, foldable tent where your children, especially small ones, can take a nap protected from the sun. A foldable one will also make things much easier for you when it comes to packing and unpacking, something you’ll be really grateful for at the end of the day.

Get your sunscreens right

A sunscreen with the appropriate level of protection for everyone should be the first thing on your family spring break packing list. There are no worse things to take from the beach than a nasty sunburn, so getting to know the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines on sunscreen and other sun-related protections, such as wearing hats and sunglasses, and reapplying your UVA-and-UVB blocking sunscreen every two hours. Remember that you can use a cream-based sunscreen first and reapply using a spray one to avoid getting caked in creamy sunscreen and coarse sand in the middle of a hot day. Icky!

Set up camp near the lifeguard

Staying as close as you can to the lifeguard means that your children (and everyone in your party) will have little trouble finding their way back to your spot, and you’ll feel safer about the younger members of the family playing near the water, although you should definitely supervise them yourself at all times as well. However, be sure to not sit directly in front of the lifeguard post since they need a clear path to the water.

Bring toys as a run-around deterrent

Toys aren’t necessarily a spring break party essentials when you visit the beach with your family, but they can provide a fun time for your children, and most importantly, they can keep them sitting near you while they build sand castles instead of getting bored and deciding to run around the beach away from your spot. This will allow you to take a well-deserved break while they’re playing close to you. You should still help them by getting water and such, it’s safer that way.

Protect your valuables from sand and strangers

A couple of tall camping chairs are great for placing your bags and other important things that you want to keep away from the sand, like food and cameras. Bring along a smaller bag or a duffel bag where you can keep important stuff like cellphones, keys, and other such things easily accessible but safe from the sand or potential robbers.

Be smart about leaving

Few things in life are as stressful as packing up a beach-day haul while your kids are complaining that they don’t want to leave (tired as they may be). Stay two steps ahead of the game by giving lots of advanced “we’re leaving soon” notices while also trying to be fully packed up without them noticing. By the time they start whining, all you’ll need to do is bring them into the car and go.

Have fun!

The worst thing you can do about a family beach day is overthinking it to the point where you’re not enjoying it anymore, or if your family is starting to feel the same way. After you’ve made sure that they’re well-protected from the sun and are keeping an eye on them, give it your best to have a good time along with them. You might not be relaxed at all, but you’ll definitely have fun.
All that’s left to worry about is de-sanding everything and everyone before getting home, but the thing about sand is that you’ll never really keep it out of the house after a trip to the beach. Instead of seating it too much, how about calling the pros the help you get it out and give your home a deep clean to boost?