Are you going anywhere for fun this summer?
Many of our families go to the beach. The beach can be a great choice for our friends with sensory issues, or it can be a real challenge.
For kids who like sensory exploration, the beach can be amazing! Building sandcastles, being in the water, and getting your body covered with sand—are all fantastic sensory experiences!
On the other hand, if your child does not like sensory experiences, the beach can be challenging. Sand can be a nightmare for these kids. They don’t want to walk on it. It’s dirty, it sticks to your feet, and it’s hard to get off. If your child has sensory-defensive issues, you will have to approach the beach one step at a time. You might even try spending time at a park first, and build up to a beach. It may take time!
Here are some tips for how to have the best summer beach vacation ever:
1. Have an escape route.
When I was growing up and we would go to the beach, it was an all-day thing. When you go to the beach with your children now, it’s important to always have some way to leave, to escape. We recommend this for any event or area you go to with your child. It’s important to always have some easy way to leave if you have to because you cannot always predict what your kiddos are going to want to do or not want to do. And sometimes if you demand that they stay in a situation, that can make the behavior worse.
2. Drive yourself.
Consider taking your own transportation to the beach. If someone drops you off and leaves you there to spend the day with no way to leave, this can turn into a problem and behaviors can escalate.
3. Tag team.
Sometimes parents have to tag team. If your sensory child needs a break from the beach but you have other kids who want to stay all day, it’s great to be able to have one parent stay with some kids while another takes some home.
Some families rent Airbnbs that are right on the beach. This makes things easy! One parent can go home with a kiddo who needs to rest, take a nap, or just watch TV and take a break, while the other stays and plays. Sometimes our kids just need a break from the sun. The sun can exhaust them.
4. Stay hydrated.
Bring plenty of drinks and snacks. Always remember when you go to the beach bring lots of beverages and snacks. Make sure the kids are staying hydrated.
5. Bring some shade.
You might also bring an umbrella to give the kids (and you) a spot to get out of the sun while still on the beach.
6. Don’t forget their preferred activities.
You might have to bring the iPad or some other electronics. Don’t forget to bring them in some kind of a case that can tolerate the sand and the weather!
7. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!
Sunburns are a nightmare for our kids. Make sure you have them use plenty of sunscreen or wear water garments that filter the UV rays.
8. Extra clothes.
Have changes of clothes ready. Remember to bring a change of clothes (or two). Sitting in wet clothing can be very uncomfortable and irritating to the skin.
9. Plan ahead.
This is our mantra for every activity. Plan ahead! Think about all the things you’d need for any trip, to keep your kids comfortable, fed, and happy. Whatever you’d need for a flight or road trip, you’ll probably also need for a trip to the beach.
When you plan ahead and can anticipate as many of your kiddo’s needs as possible, the trip will go much more smoothly! Have fun!