But that’s what winter has served up for us So Cal folks so far and I’m lucky enough to have spent last week vacationing in Oxnard, a beachside community about an hour north of Los Angeles.
This was the first time my 20-month old had seen the ocean. He took full advantage of all there was to be discovered.
What precisely does a toddler do at the beach? Here’s what our little explorer enjoyed:
- Throwing gobs of wet sand at the ocean, at someone else or at himself
- Chasing the tide
- Splashing in the water
- Making footprints in the sand
- Walking the shoreline with dad at his side
- Digging in the sand with a shovel or bare hands
- Filling a bucket with sand, then emptying said bucket
- Gathering sticks, rocks, dried seaweed and whatever else he could find along the shore
- Pouncing on sand castles
- Feeling the sensation of having sand on his hands, between his fingers, on his face and in his mouth
- Watching the sunset
- Running through sand without abandon
If you plan on heading to the beach this winter with your toddler (and with such amazing weather in Southern California these days, there’s no reason not to), here are a few things I recommend:
Give your child room to roam – Resist the urge to control your child’s every move. Give your little one freedom to explore.
Be a model of fun – Show your toddler how to have fun by doing so yourself. Bury your feet in the sand, dig, build, splash, chase ... whatever brings you joy.
Allow for messes – The beach is sandy and wet, so why try to avoid a mess? My youngest went through at least two sets of clothes every day and was full of sand from head to toe. I took it as a sign of successful fun.
Dress for the weather – Winter at the beach doesn’t necessarily mean shorts and T-shirts, at least not in Los Angeles. I dressed my kids in layers that could easily be removed or added back on as necessary. Other key items include sandals, hats and plenty of sunscreen.
Go with the flow – Just because you've brought along the buckets and shovels doesn't mean your little one will have any use for them. Left to their own devices, kids will create their own fun and games. Go with it.
Bring along an extra set of hands, if possible – When it comes to toddlers, the more hands on deck, the better. You need all the energy you can get!
I challenge you to take your toddler outdoors every day ... there is much fun to be had!