On your way to the beach you’re filled with hope. This is going to be SO exciting! you think. Baby’s first time at the beach. Will she enjoy the sand beneath her tiny toes? Will she watch the waves crash against the shore with wonder? Will it be just like the photos on the Instagram accounts of celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bundchen – all smiley freckled noses and fresh salty hair?
You arrive prepared. You’ve got the beach tent to shield baby from the wind and sun. You’ve got the snacks and the nappies and the beach mats. As you trudge across the sand, carrying your baby in one hand and your beach tent in the other, you refuse to let any negative thoughts enter your head. So what if you feel like a donkey tramping across the beach laden down by baby paraphernalia? WE’RE AT THE BEACH! Everyone knows you need to put a little hard work into a successful day out. You wonder if Gwyneth has to lug this much stuff on her back while she looks for a spare spot on the sand on the beach in Hawaii. It crosses your mind that if you were a celebrity you’d probably invest in a chauffeur-driven beach buggy.
But never mind – you’re here! You find a spot on the sand, work out which way the wind is blowing and get to work putting up your beach tent. “Easy assembly” boasts the packaging. Ten minutes later, as you grapple to stop the tent being blown down the beach, your inner calm is starting to feel compromised. Again, you wonder if Gwyneth has this problem when she takes the kids to the beach. Stupid bloody tent.
Tent up, you survey the scene with satisfaction. Okay, NOW we can get on with the job of having fun. You place the baby in the tent and put on your wetsuit. Finally you can play in the sea while one of your beach companions holds the baby. Ten minutes to yourself frolicking in the waves! The wetsuit is just as stubborn as the tent. FFS, you grunt. If I was Gisele on a deserted beach somewhere hot I could just swim naked.
Wetsuit on, baby in tent, fun can begin. HURRAY! (You’ve now been at the beach for an hour.) The baby starts to whinge. You realise she probably wants a milk feed. Breastfeeding in a wetsuit proves challenging.
Milk feed, done. Tent put up. Beach towels laid down. NOW we can get on with having some fun. Look at the sand, baby! Doesn’t it feel amazing beneath your toes? This is the beach! you coo. You take a quick photo for Instagram. Look out Gwyneth, we can do smug beach pics too. It’s been thirty seconds of enjoyment so far. This was totally worth it, you grin. I win at life. We’re making memories! And then you realise your baby has escaped from the tent and is trying to eat the sand. And the seaweed. And a suspect piece of little brown driftwood… actually, is that driftwood? It looks kind of sticky…. is that a dog over there? NO BABY! DON’T EAT THAT!
Unperturbed, you decide to venture to the shoreline. Baby loves the sea. She loves it so much she wants to drink it. And splash in it. It’s so fun. What a success. The beach was DEFINITELY a good idea today. Oh… hang on, she wants to splash in it alone. No baby! You can’t swim on your own yet! Just hang on one little second. The sea turned out to be a bad idea. Next time you’ll need to bring a life-jacket for the baby, for sure.
Three hours later you’ve derived approximately thirty minutes’ fun from the beach experience. Well that was a success! you sing. What wonderful memories we’ve made! Time to go home.
You arrive at the carpark approximately two hours later, dragging a half put-down tent, towels covered in suspect little brown driftwood, a grumpy baby and half-wearing a wetsuit, with one arm and breast dangling free.
Maybe next time we’ll stick to the pool.