I think that people who live outside of Florida sometimes have the impression that our life is like one great big beach vacation. I lived in Tennessee for a couple of years during high school, and I remember fielding a lot of questions about whether I knew how to surf and why I was so pale.
But the thing is, even though I grew up in a town with the word “Beach” in its name, I very rarely went to the beach. I guess I just wasn’t a Beach Person. We weren’t a Beach Family.
When I met my husband, also an (almost) lifelong Floridian, one of the things we had in common was that he wasn’t a beach person either. Even though we lived 20 minutes from the beach, neither of us had much interest in going to it. In 4 years of dating, we only went to the beach together once or twice, and I’m pretty sure it was just to walk on the boardwalk.
Then we got married and had kids – kids who happen to LOVE the beach. In fact, I took my older daughter to the beach while I WAS IN LABOR with her sister! (long story)
Days at the beach became something that my husband and I learned to tolerate. I mean, we enjoyed the family time and all. But if you’ve ever taken small children to the beach, you know that it can be kind of, well, challenging. (There was that one summer when one of the girls developed a fear of the ocean, and if you brought her anywhere near the water, she’d cling onto whatever was in reach – bikini tops, ponytails, your skin.)
Every summer we’d schlep the family out to the beach once or twice, and we’d spend the rest of the summer convincing the kids that going to the pool was WAY more fun.
As they got older, going to the beach started getting a little easier. The kids could play a little more independently, they required a little less stuff, and no one was afraid of the ocean. And then this past summer, we discovered a little stretch of beach that we all absolutely fell in love with. We could drive onto the beach and camp out right near our car – no schlepping required!
This little spot has a little something for our whole family. Big waves crashing on rocks. A shallow pool that fills when the tide comes in. Shells and shark teeth and sea glass.
We found ourselves trying to plan weekly trips to the beach. All of sudden, we’d become Beach People
photo credit: Sugar Booger Memory Lane Photography (c) 2013
The more we went to the beach, the more we fine-tuned our routine. We learned what we need to bring with us and what we can leave home. We learned (the hard way) that this fair-skinned family has a four-hour limit on sun exposure. And we learned (also the hard way) that snacks are a MUST if we want to avoid the “going home meltdown.”
We try to get to the beach around 9:00 a.m., and we stay until 1:00 p.m. We’ve found that if we’re well-stocked with wholesome and filling snacks, we don’t need to bring lunch with us – we can wait until we get home to eat lunch. This is way better than soggy sandwiches and sandy apple slices – not to mention that it makes our beach prep much easier.
Our typical snack smorgasbord includes protein bars, granola bars, and other individually packaged items. When I had the opportunity to sample some Smucker’s products, I found a few that would make perfect additions to our beach snack collection – particularly Uncrustables and Jif To Go Dippers. Both are easy/quick to pack into a cooler and are perfect for on-the-go snacking. I grabbed some of both on our most recent trip to Walmart – our “Snackation Destination.”
I also thought the new Jif Whips looked delicious! I’m not sure how they’ll work out for our beach trips, but I’m excited to try them out beforehand.
We’re planning to head to the beach again next weekend, so I’ll let you know how the packing & snacking goes. Stay tuned.