Friday, August 19, 2016

Summer vacation with a toddler

Most Europeans spend two or three weeks on their favorite coast for a relaxing summer holiday. This year we decided to break our summer vacation to three parts because we wanted to "save" vacation days from work and spend as little paid-vacation-days as possible. This way, my husband could stay longer (probably three weeks) when I give birth in the end of this year.

Our summer vacation this year looked like this: three days (long weekend) of Lovran, three days (long weekend) of Moščenička Draga and five days (extended long weekend) of Nin. All destinations were of course, Croatian coast (the first two in Kvarner, the last one in north Dalmatia). These were our third year taking babygirl to summer vacation, and here are some tips we could share:


Learn what your child likes, and it's probably sand

After many beaches, if there is anything we learned, it's one thing: babygirl loves sand. She prefers sandy beaches much more to pebbly ones. As much as we love crystal clear waters on rocky beaches where we can jump into deep waters, we now go to sandy beaches with easy entrance and shallow waters. She tried to kill herself several times in pebbly and rocky beaches (by tripping, falling and bumping into big rocks, and once by trying to eat and swallow a pebble), so we only go to her kind of beach now. Plus, most family with small children prefer sandy beaches anyway, meaning there would be many other children. And that means lots of new friends to entertain your child (if you're child is as social as mine) so you get more chance to just relax and sun bathe.

She can play with sand for hours and hours. And when it gets too hot, she walks to the water and dip herself in.


Protect him (and yourself) from over-exposure of sun

I've seen these kids around the beach with hats and UV-protected wet suit, and they're like that the whole day. Nope, my child is not one of them. She's the nudist kind. She'd wear a hat for like one second before throwing it away into the sea. And she takes off swimming suit. So we just let her be naked all day, and got a good and easy-to-apply sun screen. For the last two years we use the Organic Children SPF 30 from Green People on her, which I re-apply probably every two or three hours. If your product comes with a spray, I swear God it's much easier to apply.


Invest in a good beach tent

If your family is okay with no shade all day long, then you don't need a tent. Or if the beach you're going is full of trees with good shade. Normally we need a tent so every once in a while we can take a break from the sun and be inside, but you can also choose a parasol if you prefer. For three years we suffered from our conventional tent, which, quite okay but take so long to set up (it has the sticks that need to be put together, and then need to be inserted to the provided holes in the tent), so we swear we're getting a new 2-seconds-Quechua beach tent which, literally sets up in 2 second when you throw it away in the ground.


Start early, time his nap well

Before baby we'd wake up during vacation probably at 9am, have breakfast and coffee in peace, and arrive at the beach around 11am, and stay the whole day until sunset. With babygirl things changed. She wakes up around 7am, so we start our day earlier. We're usually already at the beach by 9am so she can enjoy before the sun gets too strong for her. We'd do two or three rounds of swims, she gets several hours of play, before lunch time comes. At 1pm the sun gets too strong so we'd leave the beach, get some lunch and she'd sleeps nicely in the hotel or apartment that we rent, for three or four hours sometimes, before she wakes up at 5pm and ready to go back to the beach. By 5pm the sun is quite friendly at the beach, so she plays for another three hours before the sun finally sets.

She gets three to four hours of play in the morning, and then another three hours in the afternoon

Mind the diaper, if your child is not toilet trained

It's okay to pee in the sea. Who doesn't? But bigger (poop) accident won't be nice. If your child is still in diaper, buy a good swimming diaper. I've seen these babies in regular disposable diapers floating and dipping in the water, their diapers soak up so much water that by the time they get out of the water their diaper is probably heavier than themselves. You can buy disposable swim diaper if you like, major brands have 'em. When babygirl was in diaper, (she was cloth-diapered) we put on swimming diaper from Close Parent (the maker of Pop-in diapers).


Pay attention to other offers in the area

When you go to the beach, most probably it's not just about the beach. You need other things to enjoy and get the whole experience. We try to find some beach that is close enough to other destination where we can do a day or a half-day trip to break the routine, such as an old town, a natural or national park, or some mountains for hiking. At the beach itself, our basic needs include trampoline (babygirl can't survive without trampoline), showers (we don't want sand castle in the car), coffee shop and some snack bar (she usually likes pancakes and boiled corn at the beach). Based on all of these above-mentioned category, our last year's star of the summer was Paradise beach (Rajska plaža) on Rab Island, while this year's is the Queen's beach (Kraljičina plaža) in Nin. Next year, we're planning to go to Sakarun beach in Dugi otok.

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