Let’s face it: going to the beach with the kids isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Between making sure we have all the gear we need, packing food and applying sunscreen, there isn’t much time to enjoy the scenery. But we’ve gathered up a bunch of game-changing beach hacks that will turn your next seaside trip into a walk in the park (or, well, on the beach). Keep reading to get the scoop.

DIY Towel Pockets

Keep everything you need close at hand with this genius idea from Making It with Danielle. All you’ll need is an oversized towel and basic sewing skills, and you’ll have a pocketed beach blanket in no time. To get the full instructions, click here.

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Homemade Cooling Spray

After an afternoon of playing in the sand, cool off with this refreshing spray from Wellness Mama. With soothing ingredients like aloe vera, witch hazel and essential oils, it’s great for post-sun recovery. Get the details by clicking here.

The Easiest Sandwhiches

A visit to the beach isn’t complete without a picnic! To go with your watermelon, whip up a batch of sandwiches inspired by Easy Peasy Pleasy. The recipe uses Hawaiian sweet rolls (and the packaging), making it easy to make enough for your whole crew. Click here to see how they’re made.

Sunburn Relief

If someone in your crew ends up with a sunburn, try this home remedy to help relieve the pain. Just combine equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply it to the affected area.

Make Sunscreen Fun

Getting the kids on board with applying sunscreen every couple of hours can be tough, so why not make it into a game? Apply it in dots all over their body, and let them play “connect the dots” as you rub it in. Hop over to Simply Stacie for more smart sunscreen hacks.

Keep Your Valuables Safe

Take a cue from Smart Schoolhouse and use a clean plastic jar to keep your valuables safe and dry. You won’t have to worry about digging through your bag for your keys or dropping your cell phone in the sand.

Chill the Sunscreen

Once you’ve lathered your kid up, stash the sunscreen in the cooler, where it will be nice and cool for the next application. You'll lower your kids' body temperature and keep them sun-safe at the same time. Grown-ups will enjoy this welcome chill, too!

Keep Sand Out of Your Space

Keeping home base free of grit while at the beach can be a challenge, so if you want to create a large, clean space for your kiddos, try Team Johnson’s idea. Bring an old sheet, and using a cooler, beach bags or even an umbrella, stretch out the corners, and you’ll have a pretty sweet pad.

Bag Your Phone

The challenge is to keep sand and water off of your phone but still be able to use it. The solution? A humble Ziploc or similar zipping sandwich bag. Seriously, this works (although you do have to take it out to get a cute photo or two).

Bring a Mesh Bag for Sand Toys

Heading surfside means toting the gear your kids will need for sand castle construction, burying siblings, making beach art and other fun games, but when it’s time to pack up and ship out, the bottom of your bag looks like the beach came along for the ride. Not anymore, thanks to The Idea Room's sweet hack. Putting all of the toys in a mesh laundry basket gives dried sand an escape route, and there are major bonus points for being big enough to pack your kiddo’s entire supply of beach toys.

Use a Chip Can for Valueables

Use an empty Pringles to stash your keys and some cash for ice cream (Bonus! You get to eat all the Pringles first!). Other upcycling ideas include: stashing a $20 in a lip balm container: watch this video for an easy how-to, or roll your cash and keys into a diaper—very few people will willingly pick up a "dirty" diaper.

Dig Out a Nap Space

A long day at the beach means your little one will need a comfy place to nap. Before you have visions of dragging a pack ‘n’ play over the dunes, consider digging a hole. Yes, just dig a shallow, wide hole, lay down a towel and after a little rocking, place your baby down. Be sure to angle your umbrella just right to ensure your ki has a shady spot for her snooze-fest.

Sand Baggies

Days at the beach can get pretty windy. There’s a simple way to keep the family supply of towels from blowing in the breeze; grab a few plastic bags (quart size should work) and, while setting up camp, fill the bags with sand, then seal and set on the corners of the towels and blankets. Your little plot will stay secure, and the days of flinging sand on your crew and your neighbors will be over.

Frozen Water Bottles

Freeze a few plastic water bottles and put them in the cooler. They’ll last longer than ice and when they defrost you can drink them. Bonus: you can roll the icy cold bottle on your neck to cool down. Just remember to recycle them after you’re done: studies show freezing and refreezing disposable plastic water bottles can cause a chemical breakdown that could contaminate the water.  And don’t try this trick with metal bottles because they can burst when the water expands.

Beached Boat

All kiddies want to wade in the surf, but taking a dip in the ocean isn’t always the safest choice. Here's one idea for letting your toddlers have fun in the water; bring a small blow up raft, fill it with water, their favorite toys and presto! Baby beachcombers get to splash around as much as they want, and you get to keep a close eye on them.

Beach-Approved Koozie

If you are determined to keep your drinks from spilling into the sand this summer, try making a few of these nifty cup holders we spotted over at The Homes I Have Made. Ideal for keeping cups and bottles clean and positioned at the perfect height, you’ll need a few simple materials including a large soup can, fabric, glue, and a threaded rod. Sail over to The Homes I Have Made for the tutorial.

Baby Powder to Get Rid of Sand

We know your little beach bums can’t get enough of making sand castles, digging for seashells and burying their friends alive, but what happens when the day is over? How do you clean off all of these tiny specs of sand? With baby powder, of course! Just sprinkle it over tiny fingers and toes, and you’ll see the sand fall off like magic.

Sunburn Soothers

Sunburns are one of the few things parents don’t enjoy about frolicking in the sand and surf, so when it does happen, soothing the fiery feeling is priority number one. If you’re looking for a more creative way to help kids with sunburns, try making a batch of super cool aloe vera ice cubes like the ones we spotted over at The Chic Site. The cooling effect of the ice, along with the classic healing properties of the aloe vera will bring immediate relief to the most painful of sunburns.

After-Beach Care for Babes

In spite of your best efforts, your little ones sometimes get a bit too much sun. Soothe their burns and any bites or itches by adding a few drops of apple-cider vinegar to the post-beach bath.

—Natasha Davis & Amber Guetebier

 

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19 Beach Hacks for Your Next Trip to the Shore