7 Things You Need to Pack the Perfect Beach Bag

Summer is finally here and after last year’s summer, I think we are all extra excited about it. My family lives near the beach so we go fairly often, at least once a week. The first time I went this year, I took half my house, looked like a hot mess express, and hated every minute of it. Over the past few months, I have slowly perfected what to bring to the beach to make it enjoyable for myself and my kids. For reference, my kids are 3.5 and almost 2 so if your baby is younger, you may need some extra things and if your baby is older, you may need less. Use this as a starting point and see what works for you!

First and foremost, I do not bring a tent most days even though I know they are amazing. My youngest is a runner and I hate lugging lots of things so I pack only what I can carry on my person while holding my littles.

If someone else comes with me, I am more likely to bring a few extra things but I always try to keep it to a minimum. I bring my kids dressed in their bathing suits and ready with beach sandals or beach shoes and usually apply sunscreen at home so I don’t have to stress about it when we get to the beach and all I have to do is throw on their hats, grab my bag and enjoy!

My favorite things for a perfect beach bag are:

1. Wetbag:

This is ESSENTIAL. I cannot stress how much I use these bags. I like the Lil Helper Zipper Wetbag. I normally put my phone, wallet, and keys in it while at the beach and then use it for wet bathing suits when we get to the car. Sometimes I bring multiples but most of the time I grab one and go.

Photo Credit: Becca N.

2. Water bottles(s):

I like to bring one big bottle and share it with my kids but I know some don’t like to, so it is really up to you how much you are willing to carry and share.

Stay hydrated! Photo Credit: Cheyenne N.

3. An easy snack:

I like snacks that don’t require tiny fingers to eat them like bars or pouches. Hot tip for the pouch: Put them in the freezer the night before for extra yumminess and cooling factor at the beach! I have gone super fancy and brought bento boxes before but my kids get sand all over the place and it becomes stressful for all of us. If you prefer a finger snack or your kids don’t like bars, use a Bite Bag because they are amazing.

Image from https://www.gogosqueez.com/products/fruit-pouches/apple-apple/

4. Sunscreen:

Another essential. I am very intense about sun protection so reapply often to ensure my kids do not burn. I am so adamant about it that my kids now love it and like to spread it! If you are at the beach, make sure your sunscreen is reef safe by checking out this website! My favorite sunscreens are Blue Lizard and ThinkBaby!

Hot tip: If your kids do not enjoy getting sunscreen put on them, I have friends who swear by using a makeup brush/beauty blender or this but I have never used either so can’t attest to how well they work. If you do this, please share in the comments!

Image from Amazon.com

5. A mat:

When my kids were little, I LOVED the Lifesaver mat. It was small to pack and so cozy for my kids to sit on. Now that they are bigger, I use a huge mat that my mom gave us. Here is a similar one here. Keep an eye on Lil Helper though, because the XL Lifesaver Mats are set to arrive this summer!

Beach Mat or Towel, the Lifesafer Mat does it all! Image Credit: Sarah S.

6. Sand toys:

My kids love sand toys so we have an unreasonable amount. We have a sand box at home and use these toys all the time. In the morning before we go, I ask the kids to bring the toys they want and put them in the bag I am holding. They love helping and choosing what they are going to play with. Having the bag makes it easy for me to limit the amount of stuff they bring or else they would bring every single toy. I used to have a mesh bag for it but lost it at the beach one day so now use a bag that rolls into a tiny pouch because it is so easy to throw in my bag. Here is a similar one. I got mine in university and have used it for all kinds of things. I am currently using a plastic bag that some sand toys came in though.

Photo Credit: Becca N.

7. Towel:

I love Turkish towels because they fold up super small and are super absorbent. Another option is microfiber towels that work just as well and fold up super tiny! I like both a lot. I have also brought a face cloth in the past for wiping faces if necessary or hands. I bring one towel and we all share it when its time to rinse off. My kids don’t use towels while playing but if your kids do, it would be a good idea to bring one for the water and one for the beach showers (if you use them).

And just like the XL Lifesaver Mats, Lil Helper is set to release beach towels this summer! If you missed the preorder, stay tuned for their arrival in the coming weeks!

I am sure you are wondering where I throw all this stuff, or maybe you weren’t but I am still going to tell you. I use a cooler bag and throw an ice pack in the pocket so the water and snacks all stay cool. It is so easy to carry and fits so much so its easy to bring more if we are going with friends and want to share snacks or want to bring some extra things.

This is what my stuff normally looks like:

One Last Beach Bag Hot tip:

I don’t bring this to the beach but I do keep an assortment of things in my car that make my life so much easier. One of them is baby powder. Baby powder is basically magic to remove dry sand. Don’t ask me why it works because I have no idea. It just does. Plus it leaves you feeling so smooth.

What do you bring to the beach? Please share any tips in the comments if you have any more tips!

About the Author

Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.

Self-Care: How to Fill Your Cup in Simple Ways

Before I had kids, I taught kindergarten. It was exhausting but at the end of the day I got to go home to my peace and quiet, self-care seemed easy.

Photographer: Nathan Dumlao | Source: Unsplash

‘Filling up my cup’ was easy because nobody else needed me.

I foolishly thought that teaching had somewhat prepared me for children. I was wrong. So so so wrong.

Motherhood, for me, has been all consuming. I have chosen to parent my children in a what is considered “attachment parenting.” I cannot even imagine parenting any other way but some days I find myself guiltily longing for that peace and quiet. My second baby has taught me that while parenting is hard, it is so so important that we prioritize ourselves too.

How can we be good parents when we have nothing left to give? We can’t.
We get frustrated more quickly, we lose our temper more often, we long for that peace and quiet more intensely. I have found a few ways to fill my cups in some quick and easy ways that allow me to be the best parent possible to my children.

Momma’s support your future
Photographer: Alex Pasarelu | Source: Unsplash

1. Start the Day with Self-Care: Coffee/Tea Time

This starts my day and I try to set myself up each morning for success. If I get to have hot coffee or tea, my day is infinitely better. I don't know why. I don't make the rules. It just works.

Too early for a Guinness
Photographer: Clay Banks | Source: Unsplash

So, every night, I set up an activity for my kids so that as soon as they wake up, they have something to do while I enjoy my coffee. It is the single best thing I do for myself.

Being confined for the summer in a remote cottage, all that's left to do is drawing, crafting, an dpainting rocks.
Photographer: Sigmund | Source: Unsplash

Some of my favorite activities are “The Floor is Lava” where I throw some pillows on the floor or some precut paper circles on a rug and tell my kids they can only stand on those. They jump from pillow to pillow or circle to circle and think it is hilarious. It gets them moving without much effort from me.

It was a normal Saturday morning at our house, and I pulled out my camera to document the happenings of our morning. My middle daughter put on some music and started dancing. The morning sun was shining through the windows beautifully as I caught her in mid twirl.
Photographer: Laura Fuhrman | Source: Unsplash

That is a win/win in my book.

2. Go on a walk/run:

Sometimes my kids just need fresh air. Heck, sometimes I need fresh air.

Sun rays beating down on mother and daughter walking in forest
Photographer: James Wheeler | Source: Unsplash

Some days I don't really feel like I can chase my kids as they run in opposite directions so I throw them in their stroller or wagon, give them snacks and put a bunch more under the seat/in the basket and just go. My kids have gone out in pajamas, and in just diapers, and in some really questionable outfits, but it works.

Fresh air and snacks relax them. I get a few minutes to not be touched or called upon and just get to walk. I usually put an ear bud in and listen to my favorite True Crime podcast. Other times, I call a friend to just talk and vent. A 10 minute walk can be enough some days to fill my cup, other days it takes an hour.

A girl pushing her baby in a stroller.
Photographer: Michael Kilcoyne | Source: Unsplash

3. Go on a drive: A Change of Scene for Self-Care

I won’t lie. This is my favorite one. I have it down to a science. I have a bunch of snacks and activities in my car ready at all times. I also keep water cups in there and diapers/underwear so I can just grab my own water to fill theirs and go.

Some days I drive through a coffee shop and get myself a nice treat and water. Some days I just drive around and listen to my music or my True Crime Podcasts. On good days, my kids take a nap and I get to chill with my coffee and my podcast.

Photographer: Hussain Alolama | Source: Unsplash

4. Read a book while your kids play:

I love to read. I have loved reading since I was a young child and parenting has made it so difficult to find time for my reading. I have started prioritizing it and even a few pages make me into a new person and an overall better parent. As a bonus, my kids see me reading and also want to read sometimes so it ends up being a win-win.

My heart
Photographer: Iana Dmytrenko | Source: Unsplash

I know these all sound a little too perfect. Not all days go super well. Some days I have to take my kids into the car kicking and screaming because I so desperately need that time. Other days, I turn on the TV just to get those 5 minutes of peace and hot coffee. Parenting is a 24/7 job for me and I have learned one thing: I cannot be a good parent if I do not take care of myself.

There is no shame in choosing you. A stroller, TV, the car won’t ruin your child’s life but it can change your entire day. Your day matters. Enjoy those small moments because you deserve them. You are important, too.

About the Author

Jessica is a Latinx mom to a boy and a girl. She currently lives in California with her husband, babies, and a super cuddly pup. She has many hobbies but her favorites include dancing, hiking, and true crime podcasts.

What are some ways you fill your cup? How do you keep your kids entertained? Share your tips and tricks in the comments!

Practical Advice For A Happy Maternity Leave During COVID-19

COVID-19 wasn’t around for my pregnancy. This was my first baby; I was really looking forward to having him, having visitors and attending those parenting classes! I couldn’t wait. I ended up having an emergency C-section and had to be really careful while I healed. It was hard enough being a first time mom and now I had to heal from a C-section too. Eeek.

Finally I was healed and able to get around comfortably and then BAM- COVID.

Changing Expectations: Maternity Leave & Covid-19

No Visitors, No Parenting Classes, and no family coming to help.
(We live away from family so we were anticipating a lot of visitors.)
And now nothing. NOTHING. I felt on my own and alone.

When they say ‘It takes a village’, it’s because it does! My village couldn’t come and help. I felt completely HELPLESS. But after realizing that now I had all of this time to bond with my child and I didn’t have to share him with anyone except my husband… I thought ‘Well… maybe this will be ok!’ And you know what, it was. Sure, some of the days I probably had more tears than my baby did but looking back, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Activity Ideas for Maternity Leave during Covid-19

Of course I had to get a little more creative on things to do to entertain us and to prevent the walls of my house from closing in on us.

Activities with Baby:

Walks – so many walks! And when it was too cold for a walk we did ice skating. My husband would bundle our little guy up, clip him into a sled and pull him on the ice- he loved it.
Water play on the kitchen floor.
Sensory play with colorful noodles! (He LOVED it!)
We had dance parties.
We read a lot of books.
A lot of sitting on the floor and helping him play with his toys, did some of that include rolling a ball and playing fetch with my child? Yes. Yes it did.

Activities with Your Partner:

I did a lot more baking!!
I became more knowledgeable about photography and took A LOT of pictures –(Lil Helper obsessed? I think so! Did you know there is an exclusive Lil Helper group for Ambassadors who love photography? Check out the Unsnapped Group for more info!)
We started some woodworking and made toys for our son after he had gone to bed. (This benefited us by giving us something to do AND helping us to provide gifts for his first birthday).

We did as much as we could to try to stay away from the TV and entertain ourselves in other ways.

But let’s be real, I totally did binge watch Tiger King.

Finding Your Village in Isolation

It was hard being on maternity leave during COVID but there were still parenting resources available. The Lil Helper family helped me any time I had a parenting question. By anytime, I literally mean ANY time… if I was up in the middle of the night with a fussy babe and a question .. someone on Unsnapped was also awake.

It’s been a year now since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a year no one will forget.

If you are having your maternity leave during this time you may not have that village you thought you would but you are strong and you’ve got this! Trying to find activities to entertain yourself is key. And when you need a virtual shoulder to cry on, your Lil Helper family will always be there.

About the Author

Ashley is a first time mom who lives in Saskatchewan. When she has free time she loves to bake -her go to is banana bread. She randomly stumbled across Lil Helper when looking for an AI2 style diaper and is so grateful she found them and the Unsnapped community that came with them.

Teaching Our Kids to Love Their Bodies as We Struggle Loving Our Own

Hey y’all! It’s Jess again.

Today I’m going to go into something that I think is super important and definitely not talked about enough- body image. I know we think about our own body image all the time but that’s not really what I’m talking about- I’m talking about our kids seeing us. How do we make our kids feel more confident in their bodies when we aren’t comfortable in our own?

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