As a pre-Birthday adventure, and a much-needed change of scenery, we whisked the children to the beach last weekend. Anyone that has ever taken two young children to the beach (or anywhere past the front door really) will know of the 1001 things one must prepare. It can be – the preparation stage anyway- a little bit stressful.
One thing Joel and I have noticed on days like this, where mornings are often a bit chaotic, is our tendency to slip into some kind of dispute.
It’s always first thing, during the preparation stage, when we land in conflict ranging from a petty squabble to full-blown “I’m not coming!” tantrums. Neither of us know how we get there, but we get there without fail.
So, in order to avoid the classic morning rupture, we decided to take action and beat conflict before conflict beat us. (And hopefully prevent what has become known as the “inevitable-big-day-out-morning-argument” from occurring.)
The night before, in anticipation of the great debate, whatever it might be, we made a list of all possible points of conflict, then discussed the answers to each. It took less than five minutes and led to miraculous results the following day.
The list looked something like this:
1.) What time we plan to leave.
We have learnt that specificity is everything; saying “between 9 and 10am” is basically just guaranteeing a dispute:
“It’s 9:15 we said 9am!”
“No we said as long as we’ve left by 10! It’s only 9:15!”.
2.) Whether we are packing a picnic or buying lunch there.
3.) Who is preparing Leo’s changing bag and packing his food and toys.
4.) How many layers Leo wears.
Joel and I have very different ideas about temperature. We feel it differently. The air must hit our skin in different ways. He believes it is balmy when I will insist it is jumper-weather. The saga continues.
5.) Whether Leo goes in the sea or not, and if so, how immersed will he be.
“Well obviously he’s coming with us in the water..”
“He can paddle…”
Each and every point was agreed upon. Communication at its finest. We set ourselves up for a smooth morning, and a smooth morning was had. We made it to the car having had zero squabbles; this was nothing short of a small victory.
One of my favourite parts of any day out, is the car journey there. Long car journeys – especially when I’m not the one driving, which tends to be the case as I’m still nervous of motorways- remind me of childhood. Music and snacks and staring out the window; bliss.
The only decision to be made was podcasts or music. We opted for a bit of both, going for our “ROAD TRIPS” playlist (an eclectic mix of Joel, Maia and my favourites) and our current favourite “The Adam Buxton podcast”.
“Can’t we have more music?!” Maia protested.
“Okay..one more song…”
*Five Little Mix songs later…*
The beach itself was a delight. Sun, sea and sand in the new trainers Leo refused to take off. We all made it into the water and Leo had his first proper dip in the ocean, giddy with joy every time a wave hit his tummy.
I lay with Maia in the sea for a lovely few minutes singing our made-up song over and over:
“It’s nice and warm in my nice warm bath”. We basked in the sunshine, enjoying the surprisingly warm water, giggling as the waves knocked us about.
I spent the rest of the day in Joel’s spare shorts, having drenched both of my own. (What was only meant to be a paddle became full-immersion, twice).
Maia and Joel took turns burying each other, with Maia a tad more submerged than Joel; only her little head poking out the sand. At one point, as Leo napped, I was able to actually read my book, a mother’s dream.
We people-watched and collected shells and ate ice cream. A dreamy afternoon indeed.