When I was a teenager, I’d go to Ocean City Maryland with my boyfriend’s family every summer.
Before the trip, his mom would have random bags around the house filled with beach towels, groceries, puzzles, books, and other things for the trip. She’d pre-cook a few meals and load up on lots of snacks. The morning of the trip, she’d meticulously pack every inch of their Pontiac Sunfire with suitcases, coolers, and bags. My boyfriend and I would squeeze into the back seat and spend the drive listening to music, reading a book, or talking. At the beach all we needed was a towel, boogie board, and sunglasses.
Fast forward twenty years. My family of five is headed to Myrtle Beach South Carolina for a week-long vacation. I’m now the mom with bags everywhere, pre-cooked meals in the freezer, trying to figure out what on earth we’ll need for my 7-year old, 5-year old, and 8-month old. I literally have three different packing lists going.
We haven’t even left, and I’m already exhausted! Luckily, we have a slightly larger vehicle now than the Pontiac Sunfire of old. But it’s still going to be a challenge fitting all our suitcases, coolers, groceries, towels, stroller, pack-n-play, baby toys, beach chairs, umbrella, wagon, portable high-chair, sand toys and every other possible thing we might need into our minivan. I excitedly accept the challenge.
Thanks to the Marie Kondo method of folding laundry, I was able to pack just one large suitcase with clothes for all five of us. I also found some very large tote bags with a zipper close top at Five Below for only two dollars each! I hope that’s not lame that I get excited about things like that.
So, we’ve done this trip to Myrtle Beach a few times over the years, but never with a baby. In fact, we haven’t been to any beach with a baby in about 7 years, since my oldest was ten months old. Back then it was just him getting our full attention for a few days. For the beach, we took a handful of sand toys and an inflatable little pool that he’d gleefully splash in for most of the day. When he’d nap, my husband and I would take him back to the room and enjoy reading together on the balcony or chatting about life. Now, with three children, I’m anticipating a very different scenario.
For example, our list of beach items has expanded quite a bit. We’re even borrowing a friend’s beach wagon just to tote it all with! Seriously, a wagon. We again are bringing an inflatable pool for the baby, and this time a little beach tent that I’m optimistically hoping baby girl will nap in so we all can stay on the beach. Cause who wants to haul all that stuff back and forth for naptimes?? But now there are also LOTS more sand toys to entertain her brothers, beach chairs for them, books to read, football and frisbees to throw, and card games to play. And food, so much food. Five and seven-year-old boys pretty much eat non-stop, all day long.
When not on the beach, we have lots of plans for playing miniature golf, exploring the boardwalk, and playing in the hotel’s waterpark. All of which our boys are going to love, and hopefully our baby will enjoy tagging along in her stroller, carrier, or floatie. Though now that she’s crawling, she pretty much hates being confined in all those things. Should be interesting. In fact, everything about vacationing with a baby and older siblings is interestingly unpredictable!
Like, will our boys drive us insane during the eight-hour drive with questions of “are we there yet?”, “can you skip this song?”, and “can I download this game on the iPad for only $9.99?” Or will our baby girl give us a heart attack by trying to crawl into the ocean, eat twice her weight in sand, or choke on every tiny thing she can find on the hotel room floor? Will none of us sleep because the baby is teething and the boys are scared of the weird sounds coming from the room next door?
But just like I fondly look back on those times as a teenager, lounging lazily on the beach, I too will remember these family vacations with fondness, regardless of what happens. Sure, it’s different being on the ‘mom side’ of things now, but the joy I see in my children’s faces and the memories we’re going to make together, make it all worthwhile.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, has two sons, and baby daughter. Click here to read more of her Mommy Daze blogs.