Last week my grandchildren, aged 2 and ½ and 7 years old, were at the cottage with our son. During COVID, they are in our ‘bubble’ of 10 people. Our daughter-in-law is also in the bubble but she was working from home and taking a break from two noisy active children.
At breakfast every morning their insistent request was ‘when can we go down to the beach?’ Sometimes that meant changing from pyjamas directly into swimsuits.
Our beach at Lake Huron is child-friendly with a large sand bar in shallow water where children can play safely regardless of swimming ability. There is no undertow. It’s a great spot for smaller children to play with blow-up tubes, floaties, boogie boards, and swim tubes.
Nonetheless, no parent can afford to take their eyes off a youngster when in or near water.
When the lake no longer holds their interest or feels too cold, there are sand dunes to climb, interesting rocks to examine, and castles to build. Constant activity including jumping down the dunes then running back to the top, zooming around while chasing seagulls, creating pools in the sand by digging holes and carrying water to fill the hole — all these activities make for hours of playtime.
What I learned
- Children respect rules. They understand social distancing and the need to stay close to a parent or grandparent. They obey water safety rules and stay onshore unless an adult is close by.
- Play is fun alone — but it’s more fun when a brother, sister, or parent gets involved. At the beach, children learn skills from each other. My 2 and 1/2-year-old grandson constantly mimics his 7-year-old sister. Climbing the dunes, falling down, and running to catch up with each other develops the confidence to try new things.
- Big waves and choppy water can be challenging. Our 2 and ½-year-old grandson is fearless regardless of how many times he gets knocked about by a big wave. He holds tightly to his father’s hand for security but never balks when a wave pushes him underwater. He’s learning resilience and building perseverance skills. Holding on to a parent’s hand gives security and builds the courage to try again. As adults, we may no longer hold onto a parent’s hand for security but we need to feel loved and valued in our key relationships. when knocked about by ravages of life.
- Beach time results in BIG appetites. Intense outdoor physical activity uses a lot of calories! My husband joked that on some days they came back with voracious hunger — enough to eat any available snack — especially salty offerings. My heart burst to hear the expressions of gratitude and thanks for whatever I produced.
- Water, sticks, sand, and rocks stimulate the senses. My grandson’s fascination with holding sand and letting it run through his fingers showed how this sensory experience delighted him. My granddaughter was intrigued by the different colours and shapes of small rocks and stones. A new collection of stone treasures came back to the cottage with her every day. As adults, too often we ignore sensory experiences.
- It’s good to look out for each other. My granddaughter who is 7 takes care of her younger brother. She provides encouraging advice and holds his hand when he is reluctant to try something new.
- Beach time means good sleep. Bedtimes not a problem after robust physical activity. A benefit of beach time is that everyone is exhausted in the evening. Children and adults alike sleep better after a day at the beach — especially if there’s been after-dinner swim time. Of course, we are all better people after a good night of sleep as sleep refuels both brain and body.
Hitting the beach with grandchildren in tow means leaving books, phones, and other adult diversions behind. It’s a time for full attention to the antics of little people — keeping them safe while playing along with games they invent.
Thanks for reading my post. I welcome your comments about what you’ve learned from taking grandchildren to the beach? Is it always fun?