1. Ensure that your toddler actually likes the seaside.
Before booking that pricey 4-star holiday cottage on the coast, ask yourself whether your child has actually enjoyed previous visits to the seaside. Otherwise, you will spend most of the holiday avoiding the beach that’s right outside your front door because they’re afraid of sand and think the waves are ‘too noisy’.
After you come home, they will act like none of this ever happened.
Popple: [Shows me the plastic shovel that we bought for the beach, which she never used] Popple shovel.
Me: Yes, that’s your shovel.
Popple: Shovel sand.
Me: Yes, that shovel is for the sand.
Popple: Popple loves sand.
2. Bring layers. All the layers.
Leave your swimsuit at home, unless you happen to visit the Scottish seaside during the one week in July when it’s actually warm enough to wear one. Instead, bring jackets. Jumpers. Scarves. Hats. Gloves. Even if the sun comes out – and that’s a big if – it will still be f-ing windy.
Note that the colder it gets, the more forcefully your toddler will refuse to wear anything that might help keep them warm.
3. Plan alternative activities.
If your child gets tired of the beach (or refuses to step foot on it to begin with), or if the weather is a bit crap (which it will be), it’s a good idea to plan alternative child-friendly activities. We choose the Scottish Deer Centre, which seemed like a great idea until we discovered that the Popple is terrified of deer – even the cute Bambi-like ones.
Thankfully, the centre has a playground. Adrian and I quickly realised that we’d spent £17 to watch our daughter go up and down a damp slide for an hour.
4. Don’t forget a bib.
This isn’t specific to a seaside holiday – or a Scottish holiday. Or holidays, even. Just remember to bring a bib whenever you leave the house. Toddlers are filthy eaters. The Popple spent the first few days of our holiday on the Fife coast covered in carrot soup and soggy Weetabix.
5. Let the seaside air work its magic.
Despite her dislike of the beach and the unseasonably cold weather, the Popple couldn’t get enough of being outdoors when we went to the seaside. She rolled around in the grass and ran down cobblestone streets with her skinny little toddler legs. In the evening, too exhausted move, she made me carry her down the coast, slapping me on the back and saying, “Go Mummy!” whenever I paused to admire the sunset over the water.
When you live in a city, there’s something about the seaside air that clears you out. Makes things fresh. Even a toddler can feel it.
“Outside,” she demanded. “OUTSIDE! OUTSIIIIDE!”
So outside we went.