It had been a long week. After 4 days of getting up and out the door early for school testing, 3 TKD classes, PeeWee Club/Bible study, and all the usual running around, we were all feeling a bit stressed and in need of a break. So, on Friday, the kids woke up to Daddy being HOME! He had planned a vacation day so that we could have some family time and kept it as a surprise from the minions. They were elated, to say the least.
Originally we had planned to be at Epcot with Papa that day but Papa had caught a cold and we decided to postpone the trip until he was feeling better. So with a full day to ourselves and the weather looking perfect, we decided to head to our happy place, the BEACH!
It had been about 11 years since Michael and I had been to St. Armands Circle in Sarasota and it is right next to beautiful, Lido Key beach, so we packed some towels and headed south.
We had a little bit of a late start when we realized that the girl’s swimwear from last year no longer fit but a quick stop into Children’s Place (yay for great sales and coupons!) so we got into Sarasota right at lunch time. Chick-fil-A to the rescue!
With our bellies filled and sunscreen on, we headed towards the water.
It’s only mid-April so the water is still a little chilly but the sun was perfectly warm and there was a strong breeze making for fantastic waves so we wasted no time heading for the water. It was our first time on Lido Key and I have to say it quickly is becoming a favorite spot. There was plenty of parking, a very short walk to the water, showers right next to the sidewalk for shedding the sand and everything was clean and well maintained.
The kids loved every second we were there. There’s something about the freedom of running wild and chasing the birds, the soft sand between your toes, the creativity of making sand castles, the discovery of little fish swimming near you, the hunt for the perfect shell…I could go on and on. The beach has always been my personal happy place but as a mom, I see such value there for my kids.
On the surface, it’s just a fun place to play and relax, but if you look closer, the beach is a haven for childhood development.
Gross motor skills: walking and running on the unstable surface of sand and in the water with the pull and push of waves working against you.
Fine motor skills: picking up tiny shells, making sand castles and shapes, writing in the wet sand.
Cognitive development: observing new creatures like minnows, mussels, birds, coral, algae, and countless other living things. Thanks to google and the library, we can look deeper into these fascinating finds and study all kinds of coastal life!
Personal character development: learning to deal with the disappointment of your sand creation crumbling and having to start all over again, learning that you can overcome your fears when the waves topple you over, feeling the rush of confidence that comes with new discoveries and abilities.
Establishing independence by having space to run and play outside of the 10 foot radius of mom and dad that you have to remain inside of when at other, more crowded places.
Learning creativity and imaginative play by using simple tools to create games and entertain yourself! I am not a big fan of bringing toys to the beach. It’s stressful to keep track of everything and lug it back and forth to the car and clean up, but more than that, it hinders the creativity of having to make do with nature and your imagination. Each of my minions has a bucket, a small shovel, and Jonah chose to bring a toy lobster and crab, but that’s it. I did allow a couple beach balls but the wind proved to be an issue so we deflated them and put them back in the bag. They played for hours with no complaints and engaged in the nature around them. This was the ultimate goal in simplifying what we brought with us.
With our tummies alerting us that the snacks we had enjoyed were wearing off, we gathered up our things and left the beach in search of ice cream.
The second best part about driving down to Lido Key is that it is literally right next to a wonderful shopping area called St Armands Circle. There, we discovered Kilwins Sweet Shop and their fabulous ice cream. It’s such a neat little family owned shop where you can watch them hand make fudge, caramel dipped apples, toffee, truffles, and anything else your sweet tooth could ever ask for. To say it smells like heaven would be a gross understatement.
With our dinner properly spoiled, we walked around and enjoyed several other shops and some play time in the center park. The art shop was Haven’s favorite and she was captivated by the artist that was there painting that day. Jonah enjoyed the ice cream and walking around seeing people with their dogs while Laelynn was just happily soaking everything in as we went.
I have to admit my favorite part of the day, outside of the beach, would have to be the moment that Michael proved that he could indeed perform a perfect cartwheel. He never ceases to surprise me and leave me laughing. I do have video proof of the cartwheel but I will hold it back for future blackmail.
Michael’s favorite spot was a shop called The Stadium Shop where you could find tons of pictures and memorabilia from various sports arenas, including Wrigley Field! I took notes as his birthday wish list grew longer and longer the more we stayed and looked around.
And that was about it, we picked up a light dinner on the road home and ran through quick baths before crashing into our beds. It was a fantastic day and a great start to what will hopefully be an adventurous summer!