It’s Memorial Day Weekend! Pools are open, beaches are ready, and it’s the official start of summer vacation season. Guest blogger Jennifer Bonnell writes about crafting, decorating, parenting, and more on kumquatmay. We love her tips, resources, and practical planning.
Here’s how she gets her beach bag ready to grab and go so it’s ready to roll all summer long:
Memorial Day Weekend is here and I’m thinking of summer fun and swimming. The problem with going to the pool or the beach with the kids is that getting everything ready is torture and takes forever! Unless you have a ready packed swim/beach bag, that is, with all your family’s crap in it, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Here’s the thing: I am fundamentally lazy. So I’d much rather put 30 minutes of effort into something once a season to prevent the inevitable “goddamnit, where are the towels?!?!” that would otherwise happen EVERY DAY. This way, I never search for sunscreen–it’s in the bag. Goggles? In the bag. Towels? In the bag. Snacks? In the bag. My rash guard and suit? In the bag.
What exactly do I pack? Well I’ll tell you. And show you! Because who does not love a good “What’s in your bag” piece?
FULLY UNPACKED: IT ALL GOES IN THE TOTE.
BACK ROW: TOTE AND TOWELS.
SECOND ROW: WET BAGS, SUNSCREEN ON TOP; MESH DUFFEL WITH PILES OF TOYS ON TOP; BIG KID’S SWIMSUIT, RASH GUARD, AND HAT.
THIRD ROW: MY SWIM COVERUP, ABOVE GOGGLES AND SUNGLASSES; MY SWIMSUIT AND RASH GUARD; DIAPER CLUTCH WITH UNO, SOAP CASE AND BRUSH ON TOP, SITTING ABOVE THE PRESCRIPTION GOGGLE CASE; LITTLE ONE’S OLDEY TIMEY BATHING SUIT AND SWIM DIAPER.
Lands End’s XL tote, with SWIM embroidery so everyone knows exactly which bag is what. You can also do BEACH or POOL — whatever floats your swim tube. I also like L.L. Bean totes, the stiffness of the canvas is great and keeps everything upright and easy to access, but I need the pockets and the attached key fob of the Land’s End style for swim outings. (Editor’s note: We also recommend The Day Tripper from our favorite Birdling Bags.)
The oldest son has a specific pool-branded towel he likes, but the rest of us use Turkish foutas, or peshtemal. I am OBSESSED with these. They absorb a ton, dry out quickly, are cute, and I got them off of eBay (from this shop–the thick ones are the best) for way cheaper than the fancy places sell them.
Two of them. Because inevitably one will not get put back. And tell me why I never knew these were a thing until I had kids? Cause they are AWESOME. The Skip Hop one has a mesh outside pocket which is where I stash my swimsuit and rash guard.
That’s the black mesh bag. It holds the boys’ swimsuits and rash guards. Please to note the little one’s oldey-timey one-piece striped job. Last season The Gap had a similar suit that I am kicking myself for not buying in all the sizes, so I hunted one down from Etsy this year (do you die? I die. That is some cute stuff right there). I need to find him a toddler-sized straw boater, a handlebar mustache, and teach him some barber shop harmonies before fourth of July. Packing cubes are the bomb by the way. I got a bunch in multiple colors from ebags a few years ago. So now when we travel, the boys and I have our stuff color coded. It makes packing all those tiny little socks so much easier.
That’s the crazy patterned zip bag (it’s a Ju-Ju-Be wristlet; I have a couple because they are the perfect size and I cannot resist an obnoxious pattern), which is also waterproof so can function as a wet bag just in case. This one holds a tiny wet brush, a spare barrette and hair ties for me, soap, and all the other little toiletries that we’ll collect randomly over the season.
That’s the blue mesh duffle, which is new this season. I straight up copied another parent at the pool who had all their water toys and dive sticks in a big mesh nylon bag. Genius. It fits in the main bag to go to the pool or beach and can just hang out separately on the way back.
Two pairs for the kids and a prescription pair for my husband (in that fancy stripey case) get tucked into one of the side pockets. I am neither blind nor a delicate dainty flower about opening my eyes underwater so I skip ’em.
Side pocket, alongside extra disposable swim diapers. I have sunscreen in every car as well. Because, preparation! I should buy stock in Banana Boat, Coola, and Supergoop, because despite trying seriously every brand under the sun, those are the only ones that are easy to put on (no ghostly cast or impossible to rub in craziness), smell nice, last a while, and actually work.
Kid ones go into that little drawstring bag. Mine are either on my head or in the car (I have, no joke, 6 pairs stashed in there. Again, preparation). I’ve had good success with picking up kids’ sunglasses cheap at The Gap. I have zero faith in either kid’s ability to not break things or lose things, so I get multiple pairs when they have their massive sales.
Uno–a pool STAPLE–goes into a little pocket. Not shown, but thrown on top will be a skip hop diaper clutch (also have spares on both cars, because, preparation) with wipes. I generally just throw my wallet and phone on top as well; my wallet is one of the cute ones from Mochithings that also holds my phone. As I’m sure you can tell, I am a big proponent of the “little bags inside the big bag” method of organization and that site is the best source for all kinds of pouches and wee things. Keys get clipped to tote’s attached fob. I usually throw a magazine or book along the side edge, and a water bottle and Cheez-its for the hangries.
It is amazing how much crap I can pack in this bag. All that stuff, turns into this…
SWIM BAG, PACKED! ALL BUT THE TOY BAG WHICH GETS THROWN ON TOP.
Oh, and this is just for me and the kiddos. Any other grown ups (I’m speaking to you husband) are on their own with their stuff because THEY ARE GROWN UPS and can handle their own crap. Except for the goggles. I got tired of the misplacing of the goggles.