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A day at the beach brings to mind relaxation and fun, but if you’re toting a young child with you, it could turn out to be the exact opposite. Everyone needs a day at the beach now and then, so the answer to the dilemma is not to just skip it, it is to take the steps necessary to make the day go as smoothly as possible.

Before you leave for the beach, your task is packing. Small children like (or need) to eat much more often than adults do, so snacks are important. Crackers, fruit, fruit snacks, or any other type of easily packed and stored food can be brought. Pack your cooler with any food that needs to be kept cold. Be sure to add drinking water, juice, or any other type of drink that you want your child to have. Snacks can re-energize your child, and while your child is snacking they are also getting a little rest. It is very important to keep liquids available while they are playing in the sun.

Sunscreen is an absolute must for any outdoor activity. Be sure to re-apply every so often. Adults have a hard enough time with sunburn, but children can take it even worse. A hat is nice to keep the sun off of their scalps and faces. If your child won’t keep the hat on, it’s a good idea to rub some sunblock into their scalps, too.

What do you do about the potty training child while you’re at the beach? A potty chair can be kept in the car. If this is the route you go, it’s nice to hold up a towel around them to give them the privacy that they deserve. Be sure to store the potty chair in your car, and dump the waste in the facility provided. Clean up after yourself, and don’t make this a public health issue. You may choose to keep a diaper on your child at the beach, which tend to get rather “puffed”, but they do make diapers just for swimming now that work wonderfully.

Toys are required wherever you go with young children, and the beach narrows down the selection of toys. Beach balls, shovels and pails, plastic hand rakes and hoes, or any other beach toys make the beach much more fun for young ones. They can also bring their cars, trucks, barbie dolls, baby dolls, or anything else that can get wet. It’s also a good idea to bring some books and toys along that can’t get wet for when they need a break from the water. If you have an umbrella, you can set that up on top of some towels for your child to get away from the sun for a while. It also creates a fun place to play.

As an adult with a child, your day is pretty much going to be spent monitoring safety. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun, too! Enjoy the sun while you watch them play, or join in their play. Bring a book for when they read their books. Share in a snack with them. Bring a camera and get some memories on film. Be prepared for minor bumps in the day, and handle them with a light heart. If you are flexible, then the day is easier. At the end of the day you will probably bring home an exhausted child, and you may be exhausted yourself!