The expression “a day at the beach” was obviously coined by someone who didn’t have small children, or never took them to the beach. Albeit beautiful and full of fun, beach days come with their fair share of ups and downs when tiny humans are involved. Because it’s summer and moms all over the coasts are making trips to the beach, I thought I’d share my five stages of taking children to the beach…enjoy!

Stage 1. Regret

It started out great. You woke up early, maybe even packed the beach bag the night before. Sunscreen, snacks, toys, drinks . . . You are determined to be “that mom” who rocks, is prepared for everything, and gives her kids a great day at the beach. The kids are happy they are going to the beach. Mom is ready for a fun-filled day. If she’s lucky, maybe another mom friend is tagging along. Smiles all the way around . . . Then you get there.

Good luck finding parking. Obviously, you aren’t the only momma rocking it today. Then when it’s time to unpack, you ask yourself why did I bring SO MUCH JUNK?! Seriously, who needs this many toys, and how are you going to hold two hands, carry one chair, 3 towels, a cooler, two life vests, and an overflowing beach bag? And heaven help you if you’re trying to push it all in a stroller through the sand. Throw in a little whining from your oldest, a dirty diaper from your youngest, and you might be experiencing Stage 1. You’re starting to regret your beach day before it’s fully begun.

 Stage 2. Delusional Bliss

But then you make it. You see that pretty blue sky, hear those crashing waves, and see those little and excited faces and you remember why you keep coming back to the beach. After you’ve gotten everyone slathered in SPF you sit down and pull out that magazine that has been sitting on your counter for weeks. You’ve got this. You can read, or at least look at the pictures and keep an eye on all your kiddos. They know the rules. You told them on the ride over. You may be slipping into Stage 2 – delusional bliss. This is the shortest of all the stages. Your blood pressure is lowering, your kids are safely playing at an appropriate distance from the waves, and you are in relax mode.

Stage 3. Fear

Just when you start to fully enjoy your delusional bliss, your youngest makes a beeline for the deepest part of the ocean he can find. You throw your magazine down, spill your drink, and make a Baywatch-worthy save — minus the ridiculous high-cut bathing suit, obviously. Now you are in Stage 3 – fear mode. Sitting down is no longer an option. Your heart rate and blood pressure have risen again and you are on full mom alert.

Stage 4. Envy

Taking Kids to The Beach

While your standing in full-on safety mode, you glance over to see a group of teenage girls living it up at the beach. You are now in Stage 4 – envy. You see them laying out with their pre-mom figures, no stretch marks, no c-section scars, and think, they have no idea how easy they have it. They can listen to music, take a walk, or even read a book, all the while only worrying about themselves and their tan lines. Thankfully this stage doesn’t last too long because Fear will creep back in and you’ll have to yell for your kids to come in closer to shore.

Stage 5. Acceptance

Taking Kids to The Beach

Now for the last stage – acceptance. At this stage, you have somewhat acclimated to your surroundings and are coming to terms with what you can and can’t do at the beach with littles. You stop trying to read that magazine and build sandcastles instead. Instead of sitting in fear and yelling at your child to come in, you decide to walk out and hold their hand in the waves. You have started to accept the stage of life you’re in and find the beauty in it. No, it’s not the same beach day it was when you were a teenager because you are no longer a teenager. Life is not just about you anymore. You are a mom. A blessing wanted by so many. Your beach day may not be easy, but it is full of love and little ones. And like all the other stages, this one will pass quickly, so soak it up.