Don't Make These Spring Break Mistakes
It’s gotten you through the worst of winter and the kids can’t stop talking about it, but Spring Break gets better when you pick up some tricks along the way. Thankfully, we’ve made plenty of mistakes, so you won’t have to. We’ve pulled together some of our best (and worst):Then sit back with your cooler of snacks and drinks, your bikes parked nearby, your money and phone protected from sand and surf, kids completely engrossed in sculpting their own Buckingham Palace and take pity on the rookies two towels over. Maybe you can fill them in over some chips and castle building.
- Sunscreen blunders. We’ve all learned about sunburn the hard and painful way, so be sure to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply every 1-2hrs. You also want to be sure to get sunscreen that stays on as much as possible when your kids are riding the waves. You can start with this Parents list of the best nine sunscreens for kids. But you’ll also want to be sure you don’t, say, rest the palm of your sunscreened hand on your son’s back while you talk to another mom about her substitute teaching stint. Because some mistakes will stare you back in the face in the form of a handprint. (Good thing it was on his back.)
- One way to get there. No one will want to leave for the beach or come back at the same time. Ever. Someone will have forgotten their goggles, left without their flip-flops when they need them to run into the ice cream shop or need a dry towel. So if you’re not lucky enough to stay on the beach or just across the street, consider checking with your rental agency or hotel ahead of time to see if they have available bikes. Some houses and condos will have a few on hand or you can always rent them. Golf carts are great, too, but a bit pricier, especially for the larger models. If you want to rent one or two, be sure to do this at least a month or more in advance. They go fast. And if all else fails, check with your hotel, condo or even a nearby common area about a shuttle. They often run every 20-30 minutes and can be a great option for big groups who have lots of big (and different) ideas about what to do every day.
- You have nothing to eat. Cue the violins. You’re a parent, so this is probably overkill. But we’ve all made the rookie mistake of heading to the park, a softball tournament or grandma’s house without snacks. It’s beyond brutal. And it only gets worse at the beach. It doesn’t matter if they just ate lunch. It doesn’t matter if they said they weren’t hungry. And don’t count on there being concessions nearby that don’t require a home equity loan. Pack snacks. You can thank us later.
- You have nothing to put it in. Your daughter wants to change out of her suit before you shop? Put it in one of the waterproof bags you packed so everything else doesn’t get wet. Don’t want to leave home without money or your phone? Put them in a waterproof bag inside your beach bag, great for keeping out moisture and sand. Half-eaten sucker, seashell collection, assorted sunscreens that don’t close all the way. Yep. Changing a diaper? Enough said. No need to get fancy, you can just grab a handful of resealable freezer bags before leaving home. Or check these out for money and electronics.
- You tried not to talk about the spreadsheet schedule because you didn’t think it wouldn’t be a problem. Your friend’s husband happens to run his vacation like a business, complete with spreadsheets and synchronized clocks. Which is great, for him. Not so much for you. You’re on vacation to relax, thumb your nose at schedules and deal in ‘ishes (as in ‘we’ll meet you at the pool about 9ish.’). You’re on island time. He just thinks you’re late and it’s going to ruin someone’s day, or vacation. Don’t let that happen. Before you vacation with another family or even some of your own, talk about what your expectations are. Maybe you don’t share a house and you opt for your own condos where you have a little more autonomy. Maybe you only plan certain things together, ones that aren’t early in the morning or during times you know you won’t want to hurry. Whatever you do, don’t try to pretend the differences don’t exist. Find a way to talk it over before someone gets upset. You’ll be glad you did.
- You thought the beach would be enough. The sand. The surf. The sun. What more could you ask for? If you ask your kids, they’ll have plenty of answers for you along the lines of assorted beach toys. Somewhere in the process of packing, you were probably discouraged from packing buckets and shovels, those little molded plastic forms in the shape of a sand crab or a castle and inflatables. You can buy something when we get there. You shouldn’t have listened. Because whatever’s left on the shelves of nearby stores (which isn’t much) is probably going to cost you, a lot. And who wants to make a run to a Walmart when you’re in paradise? But chances are your little brood will decide that after 20 minutes racing the waves, they’re bored. And you might think you can come back with an old school ‘Tough!’ but that means they’ll be sitting and staring at you or begging you to go back to the pool or video games or something else. So save yourself a lot of time and agony: pack some shovels so they can bury someone up to their neck; pack the buckets so they can pour water into the moat and move mountains; and pack the inflatables if for no other reason than they can fight over them. For some more ideas, check out this list from Cool Mom Picks of 7 Great New Beach Toys for Kids to Make Sand Play Even More Fun.