A few weeks ago, my friend, Chrissy Powers, and I took our boys on an adventure out to the desert. Two mamas, four boys, and nothing but dirt, cacti, and Joshua Trees. It was our first time visiting the town of Joshua Tree and it was such a magical trip.
We stayed at The JoshuaTree House, an amazing house that we found through Airbnb. When booking a place to stay on family-friendly vacations, I try to find places that they are not only kid-friendly, but are also impeccably designed, where the decor blends seamlessly into the surrounding environment of the location and you feel as though you have been transported into a completely different space. I not only want an adventure for the kids, but to feel as though we have escaped into a whole new world for a day or two. The Joshua Tree House was all of the above!
The house is located within walking distance of downtown JoshuaTree, but set back on enough land that you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. The decor is just amazing and you can tell that the owners, Sara & Rich, have put thought into every single detail of this home. We basically didn’t want to leave the house and didn’t venture out as much as we could have because we enjoyed hanging around the house so much. It has a hot tub in the back that we all used after a long day of exploring and a huge front porch where we sat and drank coffee in the mornings while the boys ran up and down the driveway with the dump trucks that we brought collecting rocks and stones and other treasures.
I have been taking the boys to the beach on my own since Gray was one week old. We live right at the beach and spend so much time in the sand and the ocean that I’ve had a lot of time to figure out what works at the beach with little ones and what doesn’t. Dustin works during the week so he isn’t able to join us, but the weekdays are our favorite days to go because it’s less crowded, there’s more parking, and sometimes we even have the entire beach to ourselves. And when I’m on my own, I want our trips to run smoothly so that we can all enjoy the experience without any frustration or stress.
Below are a few things I’ve learned that help make beach days with kids happy and fun without unnecessary stress…
When you have kids, you need a lot of things at the beach. But that doesn’t mean you have to carry in ten bags – because that’s not only impossible, but it automatically starts your beach trip off with unnecessary stress. Lugging ten bags over your shoulder while you walk through the sand and try to keep track of your kids is just not fun. And there’s nothing worse than making ten trips back and forth to the car with your little ones in tow who just want to get into the sand and start playing.
We use just one bag, The Beachmate, to carry everything! The Beachmate system is a genius invention for anyone that takes kids to the beach. It is an all-in-one stackable storage system that organizes the whole family’s beach essentials in one bag that you can simply carry over your shoulder. Complete with durable buckets, shovels, soft cooler for snacks and water, and plenty of pockets for sunscreen, extra sand toys, wallets, and other essentials. The Beachmate system comes with a collection of stackable buckets that make for pretty epic sandcastles and can even be flipped over and used as lunch or snack trays. The Beachmate system will pretty much change the way you go to the beach with your family – trust me!
Put sunscreen on before you leave the house
There is nothing worse than putting sunscreen on in the sand. Sand inevitably makes it way into the sunscreen as I rub it in on my boy’s legs which is not a pleasant feeling and makes them want to avoid sunscreen altogether. Applying sunscreen before we leave the house, or even before we hop out of the car once we have arrived at the beach, saves the trouble of chasing down kids in the sand or accidentally exfoliating their skin.
Wear protective clothing
Holden has particularly fair skin and I really have to be on top of reapplying sunscreen when we are spending the entire afternoon in the sun. However, there are times that we are having so much fun or we’ve walked down the beach in search of sea treasures that I’m late reapplying. Therefore, to make my (and his) life easier, I always make sure to cover every inch of skin that I can in UV-protective clothing to prevent any sunburns. The boys now wear their wetsuits and sun hats when we go to the beach so that I really only have to worry about reapplying sunscreen on their faces, hands, and feet. Plus little kids in wetsuits are just adorable. And don’t forget to clothe yourself in UV-protective clothing as well.
Don’t worry about sand
Don’t worry about sand because if you do, it will make you crazy! I never understand the people that freak out over sand getting on their towels or blankets when they are at the beach with children. Little ones don’t meant to, but they are going to step on your blanket or inside your tent and get sand everywhere. It’s pretty much impossible to not get sand into every single nook and cranny when you are at the beach and guess what…that’s ok! It is just part of going to the beach. Let go of that and you’ll have an amazing time. Even when Gray was just a week or two old, it wasn’t fair to ask Holden to not get sand anywhere near the baby. I mean it really is impossible, especially for little ones. So I accepted that Gray would get sand in his car seat, there might be sand on the blanket where he was lying, or Gray might even sand in his eyes! But you know what, by acknowledging beforehand that was a possibility, I didn’t over react when it did happen. And guess what, we all survived a little sand here and there. The Beachmate towels are super lightweight and quick-drying which also means you can’t shake out the sand at the beach and leave it there, without dragging it all to the car with you.
Bring lots of snacks and water
All of the running, digging, swimming, and splashing makes for some pretty hungry kids. Pack more than you think you will need because there is nothing worse than getting to the beach to have one of your kids say the words “I’m hungry” and you realize that you don’t have any food with you. Also, make sure to keep plenty of water on hand because running around in the sun and sand can make everyone dehydrated.
***And because I want you ALL to have an amazing time with your family at the beach or lake or while you’re on vacation, you can now get 10% off your order at Beachmate by using the code MEMORIALDAY. Offer ends after memorial day weekend (Monday at midnight)!!! Don’t miss out…trust me…this bag will change everything :)***
At 6 weeks old, Holden began having severe breath holding spells. A handful of these resulted in prolonged seizures because he held his breath too long and after that first time, I worried he would have a seizure with every single spell.
With breath holding spells, there is no real diagnosis. You basically rule out everything else with cardiology and neurology and then say if it’s not this or that, it must be breath holding. In the back of my mind, I always worried it was something more serious. Of course I spent so much time researching that I found some scary stuff when googling and some of those stories that I read I just couldn’t ever get out of my head. There are no experts on breath holding spells and most pediatricians aren’t particularly educated on them because children out grow them between 4 and 6 years of age and there are no true or prolonged real health risks. I found it hard to find and trust a pediatrician because I always felt like I knew so much more about what was going on with Holden than the Doctors themselves did.
Sometimes when I told people that he held his breath, they would laugh and say nonchalantly, oh ya I know so-and-so who did that and it was so funny because every time he/she would get upset, she would throw a temper tantrum and turn blue. This was not the same as Holden’s spells. His were severe. He would turn blue, his eyes widen in fear like a person drowning but in mid-air as he desperately gasped, he would claw and scratch my face as he tried to take a breath until his body would collapse and he would pass out. We would shake him and say Holden, wake up! and after a few seconds he would regain consciousness and then begin crying again.
I didn’t ever leave him, I put him to sleep every single night, I didn’t take my eyes off of him no matter where we were, I had to avoid anyone that has even the slightest cold (getting sick made his spells 100x worse), and it was that way until he outgrew them at 4 years old. If I left him, all I did was worry about him so I could never enjoy anything when I was apart with him. It was terrifying and overwhelming when we were going through it. It dictated my life.
And yet, although a very traumatic experience, it shaped and molded who I am as a mother. My child turned blue and stopped breathing ten times or more a day for four years and every time I would wonder if he would take that breath again. This has made me grateful for every single breath and every single moment I have with him (and Gray). It has given me patience during the tough times because instead of getting upset over the fact that he was crying in the middle of the night, I would think to myself, at least he is crying, and remind myself how grateful I was to have the ability to hold him while he was crying. It doesn’t matter what the experience is, I just feel happy that I get to be able to experience every little thing with my children, even the tears, the late nights and the early mornings. I definitely look at life differently because of it.
And it changed the way we parented, choosing to do things that worked for us and our family even if they were outside the norm. I opted for extended breastfeeding and we co-slept with Holden until he decided he wanted to sleep in his big boy bed, amongst a lot of other parenting choices that I might not have considered if it hadn’t been for our experience with breath holding.
We all have different experiences and backgrounds that make us who we are as mothers, determine the decisions we make, and change the way we see the world, but just because they are different from one mother to the next doesn’t mean they are wrong. You won’t hear me complaining about a rough day or that motherhood is difficult because my experience raising Holden has forced me to be overwhelming grateful for it all…every single piece of it. And that’s just me and my experience. Breastfed/bottle fed, co-sleep/crib, rock to sleep/cry it out, stay-at-home/working, etc.
We may all do things differently but we are all just trying to raise these tiny humans to be happy and healthy the best way we know how and we should celebrate motherhood no matter what it looks like.
Living by the beach, we live in beach attire and swimwear year-round. Living in Southern California, we are really lucky that the temperature is pretty temperate throughout the entire year (I don’t know if my kids will ever understand seasons ha!) and we are able to enjoy the sand, surf, and sea almost every single day of the year. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I am constantly looking for new swimwear for the boys as they grow, that is not only cute and unique, but also protects their skin against the sun’s harsh rays.
Well Cotton On Kids just released their new swim collection for children and it is to die for!! They have board shorts, rash guards, sandals, and more, for your little ones and each piece is just so cute and unique.
It’s your lucky day because I’m partnering with the Cotton On Kids USA team to giveaway $100 store credit to Cotton On Kids Stores to one lucky winner!
Head over to Cotton On Kids, browse for a bit and then comment back which item you would choose if you won!!
For our final adventure of the day, we decided to take the boys to Sunny Jim Cave. This is a spot not a lot of people know about unless you’re on a kayaking tour and seeing it from the other side. The Cave Store is not only a cute little store filled with trinkets and treasures to remember your trip to La Jolla, but also is the entrance to Sunny Jim’s Cave. Here you will find an entrance to a long staircase (it looks like a mining shaft) that takes you down through the rock to a cave that opens out onto the ocean. You can watch the waves crashing into the cave and see the kayakers as they pass by. Holden sat on the railing and was mesmerized by the crashing waves coming in and out. Gray, however, wanted to climb over and hop in! I definitely think that this is one of those adventures you have to try at least once.
See the rest of the Tiny Travels : La Jolla series below: