Our Beach House Week

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Plus – a few tips on renting a beach house with a toddler.


Back in February, Kath and I began talking about doing a family beach trip together.  I was so excited for July to roll around because I felt like this trip had been in the works FOREVER!  But it was worth the wait – this vacation was exactly what I needed.  Relaxing but loads of fun.  Our sons are just hitting that perfect beach age, and every morning, we’d spend two or three hours digging in the sand, splashing in the water, and collecting seashells.


Henry had so much fun and was so worn out by the activities that I read only ONE pre-nap book all week – he was so pooped by the time I got him into pajamas that he just begged me to put him in bed so he could sleep!  Hah. 



Speaking of naptimes, the trip was doubly nice because our two families are comfortable with each other’s kids.  So the moms and the dads were more than willing to share kid meal cooking, bath time, and babysitting duties.  Every adult got their own time, both as individuals and as couples.


On the ‘quiet time’ note, I spent my adult time going on long beach walks, runs through a nearby neighborhood, and… napping.  I took a lot of naps.  It was glorious.


After a beach morning and afternoon naps, we would either take the kids back out to the beach for Round 2 or head out for some sightseeing.  Our big excursions were a trip to the aquarium, mini-golf, and the boardwalk.  The boardwalk was probably my favorite because of the rides.  Henry rode three rides and loved them all!


Oh, and Mazen and Henry got along really well.  Toddlers are just like adults… Some mesh and some don’t.  But they meshed well.   And actually, Henry’s enthusiasm for constantly having a friend around made me feel much, much better about the impending arrival of his little brother or sister.


That leads me to…


Five Tips for Renting a Beach House with a Toddler


1) Bring a baby gate (or two).  I stayed at one house last summer that had baby gates, but this one didn’t.  I threw a gate into our car at the very last minute, and I am SO GLAD that I did.  There was a serious death trap stairway in the house that desperately needed a gate.  We had to do some rigging with some hardback books, but it worked.  (You can also usually rent baby gates from nearby companies, if needed.)


2) Pack your blackout curtains.  I am so, so glad that I brought Henry’s blackout curtains.  From looking at photos of the house online, I knew the rooms were very bright and lovely, which is nice for aesthetics but not ideal for toddler sleep. 


3) If possible, rent a beach-front house.  Sure, you pay extra for it, but I thought it was worth it.  To get to the beach, we simply walked down a private deck.  There was one morning where Henry and I went back to the house 3 times in 45 minutes – I was so glad that I wasn’t hauling him across a scary, busy roadway.  And if I forgot something, like a water bottle or snack, it wasn’t a huge ordeal to run back and grab it.


4) Pack a baby pool.  Another great last-minute addition to the car was Henry’s blow-up baby pool.  We set the pool up in front of our tent every morning and filled it with water using a big painter’s bucket.  Mazen and Henry played in the ocean, too, but that requires seriously focused adult supervision and is – quite honestly – really, really exhausting (Henry thought it was super fun to dive headfirst into the waves – terrifying).  The pool let the boys cool off and have water fun without scaring the beejesus out of the adults every two seconds.  Plus, some littler/more shy toddlers aren’t going to want to get near the ocean at all.


5) Bring two of every toy.  And last, but not least, my #1 tip if you vacation with another toddler – buy two of every beach toy.  Kath and I learned this the hard way when Mazen came to visit for Henry’s birthday.  They truly FOUGHT over toys.  Sharing is hard at this age (but getting better!).  We knew that the brawls would be doubled at the beach, so on the first day, Kath and I hit up a dollar store and bought a bunch of duplicate buckets, trucks, and shovels.  Two of everything for about $15 – and totally worth every single penny.  We had almost no toy fights all week!


So – that was our trip.  Like I said, absolutely perfect.  We can’t wait to do it again next year!


Kath wrote some recaps of our trip, too – here’s her posts: Beach Week, Beach Week by Phone, and Beach Week Continued.  She has some much prettier photos of the house – mine really don’t do the space justice!  She also provided some of the nicer pictures for this post.  <3


Did you/do you have a fun vacation planned for this summer? Where are you going?



  • Julia July 21, 2014, 9:53 am

    That looks like an amazing trip! I go to Hatteras, NC almost every summer and LOVE it! The North Carolina beaches are the best, in my opinion! 🙂

    I will be on my honeymoon next week at this time! We are going to Napa! I am so so excited to both be getting married, and to be taking a fabulous trip. If you have any suggesting for honeymooners in Napa, let me know!!

    • Caitlin July 21, 2014, 10:42 am

      Take a Platypus bus tour!!! Congrats!!

  • Eileen July 21, 2014, 10:03 am

    Love the small pool idea. Similar to the blowup pool, we used to bring a clear plastic shower curtain liner and dig a hole (of whatever depth/size made sense) and then fill it with buckets of water like you did. If you have a longer walk to the beach, a shower curtain liner is pretty portable.

  • Shelly July 21, 2014, 10:31 am

    I don’t even have kids, and I enjoyed this post. All good facts to know about for the future! It looks like you all had a blast, and it makes me excited for my own beach vacation coming up at the end of August.

  • Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries July 21, 2014, 11:08 am

    So fun! Sounds like the perfect vacation week! And how fun to do it with good friends – especially those that have a child that is similar in age! Thanks for the tips on renting a beach house with a toddler! We are staying in a beach house for a week next month, so the tips definitely will come in handy.

  • Janelle July 21, 2014, 11:40 am

    Oh, this makes me want to go to the beach; it’s been too long. So glad you had a relaxing trip!

  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution July 21, 2014, 11:45 am

    I’ve been dying to know which beach you went to, but didn’t want to ask while you were there (I’m sure you wouldn’t want to share due to privacy issues), but do you care to share now?

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 21, 2014, 12:44 pm

    It looks like you guys had SUCH a great trip! Definitely a bit jealous. I’m planning a beach weekend trip with some girls from CrossFit and we’ve already started the countdown. I can’t wait!

  • Luv What You Do July 21, 2014, 1:03 pm

    How nice that you have friends to do get aways with! I think this sounds perfect and the start to a new tradition!

  • Erica { EricaDHouse.com } July 21, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Looks like such a fun & relaxing vacation! Makes me grateful that I live 5 miles from the beach 🙂

  • katie July 21, 2014, 2:44 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I already went on my vacation to France! It was so much fun and I can’t wait to go back already.

  • Dominique @ Eat, Pray, Lift July 21, 2014, 2:57 pm

    I just can’t get over how adorable toddler-friends are. The cutest!

    Your beach house vacation sounds amazing. I don’t have any big trips planned, but I will be going with my family to meet my brother when his platoon gets back from Afghanistan. Can’t wait for that!

  • Kaella (KaellaOnTheRun) July 21, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Wow, it looks absolutely GORGEOUS there!! What a wonderful idea! I’m taking my little guy (almost 2) to the beach next month! I’m definitely going to remember some of these tips! He’s kind of shy and cautious so a baby pool for the beach is a GREAT idea! Thanks for sharing!

  • Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit July 21, 2014, 3:31 pm

    This sounds great! I’d love to take a vacation with another family (in the future) that can help with all the duties and allow for some free time. Very cool!

  • Abby July 21, 2014, 8:01 pm

    We just got back last night from a 3 week adventure. We drove from WI to California (L.A.). We traveled with a 3 year old, almost 2 year old, and our dog! We stayed for 5 days then headed to Colorado where my in laws had rented a house for 11! Quite an adventure! I can truly say I enjoy traveling with my children. Travel does a lot for children!

  • Maryea {happy healthy mama} July 22, 2014, 6:21 am

    These are great tips! I’m glad you had a wonderful vacation. 🙂

  • Stacey @ Binge Free Me July 22, 2014, 2:49 pm

    Looks like so much fun! How did you find such a great house to rent?

  • Kim July 22, 2014, 4:55 pm

    I read this post and told my husband, “We need to go to Wilmington, NC!” Today I started researching it and found out this is where Dawson’s Creek was filmed!! I have to keep that little nugget a secret or we will never go! I’ve been binge watching it on Netflix for a month, (never watched it when it aired on TV) much to his chagrin. He would totally think the show is the reason I want to go. . . not this post!

    The vacation looks perfect! Glad you had a fun time!

  • Lisa July 25, 2014, 6:59 pm

    Beautiful beach vacation! Could you please provide the property information! Thank you!

  • Kath July 27, 2014, 5:45 pm

    Amazing trip – I miss it so much!!!!!

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