Almost instantly you’re greeted with the comforting familiar aroma of the sea salted breeze. An essence you feel the need to inhale your lungs worth. As the rainstorm battered against our coats, putting our trusted wellies to the test. There was physically nothing that could, ironically, dampen our spirits.
Since before lockdown we regularly visited the beach. A place where Livy feels at peace, where her free spirited nature is let free and roams excitedly amongst the golden sand as the sun’s beam, glitters the shells along the shore, she’s not confined by the pressure of society’s expectations.
With a bucket and spade to hand, the sand between her toes, watching our daughter explore the beach is like watching a candy floss overdosed kid at a rollercoaster park, adrenaline pumping through their veins in anticipation of when the rollercoaster will take them for the best ride of their day! Except, Livy is high on sea air, and a belly full of salt and vinegary chips.
I have not kept it a secret, how incredibly demanding life at home has been during lockdown. I mean, all of my previous escapism hide outs have been located by my children like little hound dogs cornering their prey. The kitchen no longer provides a minutes peace whilst I savour the caffeinated burst of energy. I no longer go toilet alone and have to endure a full conversation with my son with my daughter nested contently in my lap. The cupboard I once turned to, where I would secretly gobble an entire chocolate bar in world record breaking time, is no longer there and has been gobbled by little vultures instead. And my partner can no longer hide at his desk miles away from home to concentrate on his work.
Returning to the beach was extremely therapeutic for us all. All in individual ways. The four walls which we have been cramped into for 12 long weeks, we could now take a good breath of fresh air and exhale all of the tensions and frustrations we’d been harbouring and maintaining at a fearsome bubbling boiling point.
The say watching the waves of the sea, provides a meditative state to our mind and body. And I honestly think we needed weeks worth of meditation to recoup our once stable minds. How we’re going to adjust to civilisation is beyond me. I think my mind is quivering, rocking back and forth, boarder line being declared clinically motherhood insane. Haha!
For the children, being at the beach doesn’t just involve splashing overly excitedly like a energetic spaniel in the sea. The sand brings hours of endless play for them, I found this incredibly informative information about the benefits of playing in the sand, yes as parents it means we painfully endure trying to clear it off the children before setting off home, I’m pretty certain the feel of gritty sand lingers in my mouth. And will potentially take a month to remove every grain out the car however…
- Sand is an open-ended medium that encourages learning no matter the skill or cognitive level of the child. The open-ended nature of sand play means children can direct their own learning.
- Playing with sand promotes creativity, exploration, and problem solving skills. It develops cognitive skills by teaching mathematical concepts and encouraging scientific investigation. It also promotes artistic flair through creative expression.
- Sand play stimulates physical development by building fine and gross motor skills and refining hand-eye coordination as children build structures out of the sand.
- Through sand play, children practice their social skills as they cooperate, take turns, share ideas, and communicate with other children.
I hear what you’re thinking, how does one family regularly visiting the beach, as much as someone excitedly doing their fortnightly home bargains trip not become remotely bland, surely the novelty wears thin for the two boys? I think when you find something, which becomes your safe haven from reality it never exhausts itself. With a bucket full of enthusiasm and a spade here is what you can do:
– Build a sea creature. Will it be a turtle or dolphin? Maybe a mermaid?
– Search for treasures. Use your imagination, seashells, weed, pebbles or driftwood and crabs!
– Dig a tunnel to the sea. The whole family can participate in this, even engage other families once’s restrictions are lifted. Interaction and social skills at it’s finest!
– Dig a hole or build a dam! Again an activity the whole family can participate in.
– Make a necklace or bracelet, search for pebbles or seashells that have holes in to thread through string, make a bracelet or necklace to keep.
– Picture making. Whether this be drawing in the sand using your fingers, spares or material from the shores. You can also collect items to make a picture at home or a create an earth jar.
– Put those buckets to the test and see if you can create the biggest sandcastle town.
– Build a Sandman, I hear snowmen are so last year and so seasonal!
– Footprints in the sand. Who’s is the biggest? Who’s is the smallest? How many can we make in a line? Get the little ones brains ticking.
– Explore the cliffs, with paramount safety of course. Talk about the wildlife that live in the cliffs? Talk about the colours, how did they get there?
When visiting the beach, it follows the same routine every time, a routine we follow religiously for our daughter to ensure she knows what’s coming next and minimise any potential EPICALLY forced break downs and frustrations. Children with or without SEN need routine in their life and our day trips are not without an exception.
When time approaches to head back to the car, something as parents our sigh is spontaneously mixed, like your favourite passionfruit martini, with content but also a heavily mix of relief, one of Livy’s SEN being risk taking combined with the barrier of clear effective communication due to the inability to access sounds. A simple day out can leave us utterly exhausted as she keeps us on our toes. Usually Livy’s care is allocated to me whilst dad gets away slightly with the boys… I’m pretty sure all you see is a purple haired lunatic dashing to and from the seafront and shore, keeping this white curly haired dot safe from harms way.
Livy needs clear and consistent signs to ensure she understands what’s expected of her, we sign ‘car’ and ‘goodbye’ wave to the sea and point to which direction we need to go. This doesn’t always go down well, as you know she’s beyond resilient to the point of stubbornness, yet we stay consistent until she follows suit. With or against her will.
As we make our way back to the car, Livy without fail signs cold, as if she’s just been exposed to artic temperatures whilst in 29 degrees heat, even when she’s not physically cold, this is her way of saying she wants to get dressed into something comfy like her onesie. As we attempt the impossible task of disposing all sand off them, in relatively quick time and into fresh comfy clothing we pack up and set off… a screech follows, putting all vulture like seagulls to shame as they scavenge for those salty scraps, follows a father enthusiastic sign for food. How could we ever dare to forget to finish our trip with those mouth watering, salt and vinegary chips. A smell so delicious you can almost taste the fluffy chips, from the local chippy. I highly recommend ‘Henry’s’ in Hunstanton. The best, most polite smiley welcoming staff and all locally sourced products.