It's that time of year again to pack up families and trot off for a week at the beach, where surf, sun and sand in canera, clothes and hair are ours for the asking.
As lovely as the idea of summer trips with young children sounds, the reality can test the most saintly parents. When it rains instead of shines, when it's dreary and overcast outside and the kids have to stay in, we need to be prepared.
A few minutes to prepare ahead of time will save parents from hours of tension and annoyance when young ones deliver that age-old whine;
There's nothing to do."
Herewith, 10 easy-to-assemble survival packages for mothers and fathers going (FOOTNOTE)(END FOOT)n famille to the beach. Pick and chose those that fit your needs and enjoy the inevitable enforced togetherness that rainy vacation days bring.
1. Before you leave, prepare a surprise bag for each child, either to appear magically when noise reaches the intolerable decibel level, or saved for the first thunderstrom's enforced indoor retreat. Write each child's name on a brown lunch bag and stuff with balloon and magic markers [to make balloon faces for traveling puppet show], small pads of paper for scribbling, cookies, candies, raisins, gum [sugarless, of course], small fruit drinks with flip tops, even small boxes of dried cereals. Crackerjacks are always great. Throw in a few wash 'n' dry packets for clean-up; kids love them. Watch moods change when surprise bags appear.
2. Between now and your trip, start saving juice containers, mild cartons, egg crates, yogurt containers, ect. Cram into a bag and bring along to be recycled as molds for sand castles and mudpies, as well as stimulating hours of intense indoor water play, creative cut-and-paste projects, or [for the greatest joy of any child] just plain old mess-making. When it's all over, toss everthing out with a clear concience and the delightful knowledge of one less bag to bring home.
3. Nothing delights a young child 3 through 8 or even 10 like a brand-new set of never-opened crayons and a good, fresh unused pad of paper. No matter how many hundreds, even thousands of pieces of cryons are overunning your house, treat your children to new sets and watch their renewed interest in drawing.
4. Don't ignore the many inexpensive workbooks, coloring books game books, punchout books and puzzle books available at most drug stores. Purchase them as you see them and hoard away in a secret hiding place to be produced at the magic movement when the chaos threatens.
5. Anticipate those invetable collections of shells, pebbles, driftwood and dead sand crabs that will find their way into your beach quaters. Bring glue and cardboard to make collages.
6. For overcast days when it's just not swimming weather, bring along kites or materials to make them [construction paper cut into large diamonds with string tails are fine for the little ones]. Jump ropes and frisbees are also good; so are bikes if you can fit them on your car.
.. The perennial pleasures of Chinese checkers, Chess, Sorry, Monopoly should never be underrated. Don't forget to pack a bag of popcorn to turn a dready day into a festive one.
8. Bring long an assortment of easy food mixes of all kinds. Jello is the No.1 all-time favorite; even 3-year-olds can make it. Instant puddings, mixers for browmies, cookies and popovers are fun for kids, and work twice as long.It takes time to eat the results.
9. The oldest and still the best survival package for parents is bringing along your child's friend. Although another child may seem like a lot to manage, remember that beach houses are frequently remote from each other and it can be hard for kids to find playmates. Also, the need to referee squabbles in less for friends than for siblings.
10. The final survival package that parents must never forget is the one for themselves: the bottles of good wine, or better yet, champagne; the tins of smoked oysters or other special hors d'oeuvres; the jucy novels you ever have time to read at home. Produce this final surprise package and you'll do more than survive.