I had no idea that a vacation could be so exhausting until we headed to the beach for a week with an 8 month old. Put aside the fact that he is now eating 8-9 times a day, which is near impossible to keep up with, taking him out of his element proved to be a harrowing experience. I prepared for months leading up to this vacation with swimsuits, swim diapers, sunscreen, a swim training tube, baby tent for naps on the beach, you name it. But nothing could have prepared me for what lie ahead.
The car ride to the beach wasn't much of a problem. During the 6 hour drive, Mason took his bottles and solid foods in the carseat, I pumped in the back, and we stopped twice for food and diaper changes, the drive went WAY better than I had expected.
The real issue was leaving our comfort zone, or should I say the exersaucer. The exersaucer is the the #1 toy in our house right now. Not only does Mason LOVE being in the exersaucer, but we LOVE when he is in it because we get anywhere from a 10-20 minute break from taking care of the most exhausting child in the world. Without the exersaucer (we have this one by the way) we are a mess...we don't eat, we don't shower, we fall apart as a family. And due to the incredible large and awkward size of the exersaucer, it did not make it on our beach trip. I missed it almost every second we were gone...
Our 2nd morning there, we got up at 6am, and prepped that morning to head down to the beach for the day. At around 10am, we made the journey down with 2 beach chairs, 1 baby beach tent, 1 umbrella, 1 XL Lands End Tote filled with 3 towels, 6 kinds of sunscreen, and tons of toys, 1 beach blanket, 1 Cooler with food and bottles, & Mason in the Ergobaby carrier. All and all we must have been carrying close to 100lbs and getting down to the beach and setting up all of these items was quite an adventure in an of itself. After we set up, we sat Mason down on the blanket, put some toys out, and within a few seconds he gave me this "I'm not impressed Mom" look in the photo below...
The toys did nothing, all he needed, all he really wanted was to get his hands on the sand. The one thing I did everything I could to avoid. He hated all the toys we brought down, and contorted his body off the blanket multiple times to get to the sand. Once I gave in, I realized that was all we really needed to keep him content, for about 10 minutes anyway, which seems to be Mason's maximize time he can currently focus on one thing.
Then it was time for his nap. Of course he was not a fan of the fancy baby beach tent we set up specifically for his naps so I had to sit in the tent with him (which only my top half could fit into) and stroke his head and lull him to sleep. About 20 minutes later, he would give in and finally pass out. Then we would watch as every man, woman, and child passed the tent hoping they would walk quietly or talk in lower voices. I never thought I would think of shushing people before on a beach, that very scenario had never ever crossed my mind. He proceeded to nap for about 15 minutes (about a 1/4 of the time of his normal naps at home). So with a 15 minute nap under his belt, this baby was a disaster. Down to the ocean we went, where he gave out a cry each time the cold water touched his toes, so back to the blanket, now covered in sand. Before we knew it, the afternoon was upon us and not a minute of relaxation for mom and dad had occurred, and Mason was miserable. Sitting in a wet suit, covered in sand, and tired, he was not a happy baby.
The saving grace was the Ergobaby carrier...every day we managed to get him strapped into the carrier and down to the beach for a walk which he always managed to fall asleep during and it allowed us to walk on the beach (one of our favorite things to do together) and him to get some much needed sleep.
What I learned:
• The Ergobaby carrier was worth every penny. We had used it a few times before this trip, but it was indispensable this trip due to stairs and rough terrains the stroller could not manage. Considering Mason is now 20lbs - carrying him ourselves for more than a few minutes is no longer an option.
• We did not need any of the fancy stuff we bought. All he needed was some sunscreen, a good beach hat, and a swim diaper (we love honest company reusable swim diapers). The suit and rash guard were just wet and stuck to him after going in the water once, making him miserable. And what's cuter than a baby in just a diaper?
• He was a little too young for a beach trip. Hoping when he can walk he will be ready? Carrying a baby everywhere, while keeping sand out of their mouths is exhausting.
• Don’t even bother to bring a book or something to read on the beach if you are travelling with a baby. Don’t even think about, don’t even tease yourself with the thought of reading, unless its when you google “how much sand is too much sand for a baby to eat?”
• Rent beach chairs and an umbrella if you can that are set up for you (by someone other than you) in the morning before you arrive at the beach - one word - AMAZING!
• Be flexible. On vacation all eating and nap schedules go out the window. Try to just soak in every moment of being together as a family, time really does go by too fast.
I realized that vacations are no longer a time to relax and I am pretty excited for a few years from now when Mason can swim on his own, make friends at the beach, and entertain himself. My husband and I may get a moment again where we are relaxing together on the beach without a care in the world, lounging and reading like the old days. For now, we will have to live in a world of sandy diaper changes, baby pools, and a child who loves to fight nap time.