I had talked Joel into this trip, because I was really yearning for the beach: the sound of the waves, the break from electronics, the peacefulness that comes from the kids playing with each other in the sand. So, I found a room at a four star hotel right on the beach, bid on Priceline.com, and made our plans!! All in all, it was such a nice little trip. Our hotel had plenty of amenities and tons of things for the kids to do. We played on the beach both days, and we visited the hotel's pools in between times.
So this was probably our fifteenth trip to the beach with our large-ish small family, and I am still learning about what works the best for us and makes the most of our money. Plus, we keep having more kids, so what works one time might be different than what works the next. This time, we took our family of seven and had an awesome time. Here are some of my observations about what worked out really well and what we might do differently next time:
1. I decided to get a hotel room instead of a condo/house rental, because we were only staying for one night. I thought it would be cheaper; now I'm not so sure. When you get a rental, you have to pay cleaning fees and a deposit. When you get a hotel room, you have to pay for meals and snacks. So for us, it basically comes out about the same, as long as we can get a discounted room on the internet.
2. The hotel pool is a great feature when taking kids to the beach, because the beach's awesomeness fades fast when you're little. It was super hot, and there were lots of jellyfish. So, next time we might not pick the end of July to make our little trip, since I hear the jellyfish are worse this time of year and in early spring.
3. There is nothing on the beach more fun than sand and waves. In other words, lots of toys are NOT necessary. For years, I loaded us down with diggers and water wheels and buckets and beach balls and dump trucks. This time I brought nothing but a tiny beach umbrella for #5, and we wished we had brought one shovel. That's it.
4. The public access at Driessen Beach is just as nice as the private beach area near our hotel. The more we go to Hilton Head, the more we really like Driessen's amenities. We bring some lunch, eat at the picnic area, use the restroom, and trek down the boardwalk. BUT BEWARE OF SPLINTERS!! Littles #2 and #3 decided against wearing the shoes we brought them--because they know better, for heaven's sake--and got splinters the size of Virginia in their feet. Thank goodness Joel is skilled at performing minor surgeries and could remove them while holding his breath and praying at the same time.
5. Let go of the idea that you will enjoy the sound of the waves and be able to relax. Just let it go, because that's not the season of life we're in. There was a time for about two minutes when everyone was contently digging or diving in the waves, and then Joel got stung by two jellyfish. And then one of the littles got stung. And then the baby started furiously shoveling sand in his mouth. And then we all laughed and still had a good time. It is what it is.
So, those are our take-aways from one of our first beach trips with all five littles. I prayed at the beginning of the summer that we would be able to make at least a small trip to the beach, and God had mercy on me and let us go, even though it's not a necessity. We had a great weekend, and now we are home for only two days before we take our next trip. Next stop, Chattanooga!!