Beach Days: A Love-Hate Relationship

Beach days — I love them. I hate them.

Overall, beach or not, I would say about half of our adventures go well. It’s totally my kids’ ages, though. Some adventures just aren’t fun with a 1 and 3 year old. Or part of the adventure is fun, but then the end goes so downhill it’s basically just a giant tumble and fall.

A sampling:

But beach days with kids are just a whole other ballgame.  Especially solo-parent beach trips when Daddy is at work.

At ages 1 and 3, it’s like actual physical labor to take these kids to the beach.

We have our cool beach cart for all the stuff we bring (so. much. stuff),  but I don’t have to tell you that holding a squirming toddler in one arm while dragging that cart in the other and reminding your 3 year old to stop running… that’s is just plain difficult.


Baby in a beach cart

And that’s after the morning at home packing lunches, dousing babies in sunscreen and swim diapers and pushing big ‘ol toddler heads through rashguards with too-tiny neck holes. And, of course, throwing every beach related thing we own in the car. Anyone else have a “let’s throw all our stuff in the trunk and we’ll figure it out when we get there” approach to beach trip packing? Yup, that’s us.

Packing the car for a beach trip with kids

Then, there’s the drive to get there.  Which, for us, is about 40 minutes one way to get from Paso Robles to the coast, depending on which beach we pick. The ride only really goes well if the baby sleeps. Because the kids get bored. And there’s the whining. So much whining. And me having repeat “Mommy can’t help you when she’s driving” at least 200 times.

Then once you finally get to the beach, there’s the effort of being at the actual beach with kids. Meaning there’s basically no sitting for mom. And the sand. So much sand.

Taking a baby to Cayucos State Beach in California.

But the beach is pretty.

And the kids love it.

And it gets us out of the house. So we keep going.

Kids at Cayucos Beach in California

And you can usually sneak in a few pretty pictures.

Plus, the last time we went to Cayucos State Beach we saw whales! It was amazing. They were SO CLOSE. We saw them rising out of the water briefly and then splashing back into the sea. And then everyone on the sand was like, oohhh, ahhh, in unison and it was our own little perfect whale watching world.

Beach trips like that make it you forget all the craziness. Kind of.

But then there’s the OTHER times. Like when we went to beautiful Morro Rock in Morro Bay and it was super cloudy and cold and we found a dead squirrel petrified in the sand. Like, you know  Flattened Banana at Trader Joe’s? It was like that. BUT A SQUIRREL. With scratchy black claws and a no-eyed little face. And my 1 year old ACTUALLY PICKED IT UP with his precious chubby baby hands. I screamed legit little girl screams and doused his hands in sanitizer in a hot second.

I don’t have a picture of that. #noregrets.

Foggy day in Morro Bay

In fact, I was so grossed out that night I couldn’t eat the meat we had at dinner. Bleeeeech.

Moving on.

So, yeah, that beach trip just sucked. We were all cold the whole time and to cap of the ridiculousness, my 3 year old fell on the gravel while she was running back to the car in the last stretch of an already bummer day.

And naturally she FLIPPED OUT because she now had an ouchie on her knee which I had to clean sand out of, in the trunk of the car. Which isn’t easy, especially having to use those tiny prepackaged alcohol wipe things in the first aid kit we never open.

Then I had to pee. But the restroom was a trek to get to. And my kid wouldn’t walk. And the other one was crying in his car seat. And I briefly entertained the idea of picking them both up and hauling them over to the restrooms in one power mom swoop. But it was really far. And they were sandy and wet. And crying. Which meant they’d be wriggly and hard to hold.

And  it’s not like you can just leave them in the car and say, ‘Be good, tiny helpless children, I’ll be right back!”

Another option was to buckle them in the car seats, and drive to the restrooms only to get them out 10 seconds later and really piss them off. But,  alas, there weren’t any more parking spots. I really thought of all the options. I did.  So I did what any other desperate mom (who seriously can’t hold in pee for the life of her after birthing babies) would do.

I peed in their trunk potty. While simultaneously trying to hide from all those other normal people roaming the parking lot, appreciating the nice views of the bay and *hopefully* not totally perplexed by the crazy woman squatting in the trunk of her Honda CR-V.  All I can say is, I wish we had splurged on some window tinting. But NOPE. We opted for the crystal clear glass.

And that, my friends, is motherhood.

Then there’s the cranky drive home, ALL the unpacking, the sandy bathtime wars, and the leftover sand. So much leftover sand.

Beach days — I love them. I hate them.


About Tonya Strickland

Tonya Strickland is a journalist and Instagram influencer in the family and travel niche. A former newspaper reporter, Tonya shares unfiltered #momlife content about places to go with kids. Her family moved from California's Central Coast to Washington state in August 2020. Their adventures now continue in the Pacific Northwest.

2 thoughts on “Beach Days: A Love-Hate Relationship

  1. Tonya ~ I just about fell off my chair laughing. Every momma should have a trunk potty (and tinted windows). Thank you for that image. And I love all of the cranky kid photos. I don’t take enough of those. I guess I’m trying to block out those memories … but they are priceless.

    1. Lol! Thanks, girlie. My kids are always acting crazy, and I’m always taking pictures of them so we’re a shoe-in for the cranky kid photo award.

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