It's time for Spring Training! Training for the season that is to come - the season of Mama-solo beachside adventures with four little ones. That's right, it's a sport. A sport I take quite seriously, I assure you.
It isn't that being at the shore is a challenge. Au contraire - there's not an easier place to be with my little ones. Water to swim/surf/dance in, sand to build/create/explore in, animals/plants/wildlife to discover...and friends to play with. That's all sweet, amazing, heavenly bliss. And a huge part of why we choose to raise our family here.
The challenge lies in getting ready for, getting to and from, and cleaning up after the beach...all without losing a child, a boogie board, or...my mind.
So, let's review. The goal: Finding that sweet balance of the maximum pleasure and comfort for five people....with the least amount of stuff.
Step 1. Adjust your style to the conditions.
Deciding upon the right carrier - and the right carry - for this sporting event has been on my mind of late. After much trial and error, I think we've settled on the back carry in the Mei Tai (I made this one way back when). He's happy, I'm comfortable, and I've got my arms and legs free for both carrying things and running - essential skills required. Not to mention a hip relatively 'free' in case of an emergency "we need to leave the beach NOW" scenario in which case I will likely have another child on my hip. Good times.
Step 2. Check your Gear. Update as needed.
I'm moving on from my pack mule look of '08 - many-bags-clipped-together-in-a-long-trail-with-caribiners; and instead, this year going for one really gigantic bag (LL Bean totes, I love you.) with lots of smaller bags (and still some caribiners). Diapers. Spare clothes. Sunblock and first aid kit. Snacks. And this new oilcloth drawstring for Mama's important beach stuff (made with more Anna Maria Horner Good Folks) - you know like my keys and chocolate and yarn (I know. I think I'll be knitting at the beach with four kids. It's okay. You can laugh.).
Step 3. Trial Run.
With Papa around, we gave some of my new beach tricks a go this weekend. A success. A sweet success and a grateful reunion with our beloved ocean (sans fleece and wool hats). With a few more tweaks to my little system, I think we'll be good to go for at least three, maybe four days a week at the beach this year.
I have a really good feeling about this. I think it's going to be a sandy, messy, fabulous season.