Going to the beach with little kids often isn’t all that relaxing for parents. But this one change to your approach can make it far more enjoyable for parents and kiddos alike.
Kelsey Pomeroy is a content creator in Kansas City, Missouri, and a mother of two who has started doing “backwards beach days” when she vacations with her four-year-old and one-year-old. The basic premise is this: Instead of hitting the beach in the morning like most families do, they wait until the late afternoon after her kids have woken up from their naps.
She now considers herself a “p.m. beach person.”
“This realization has actually made me like going to the beach with small children,” Pomeroy said in an Instagram Reel explaining the concept that has racked up almost two million views since she posted it in February.
Growing up, Pomeroy told HuffPost that her family’s beach days would go like this: eat breakfast, head to the beach for the day, come home before dinner to shower, and get ready to go out to a restaurant. But after becoming a parent herself, she discovered “that is the literal opposite schedule that works for little kids.”
Pomeroy decided to switch things up so she could actually enjoy the beach with her sons. In the mornings, they now do quicker and easier activities like the pool or the park followed by an early lunch at a restaurant. Then they put their kids down for their naps. After they wake up, they head to the beach around 3 or 4 p.m. for a few hours. Dinner is a sunset picnic on the beach.
She swears by this schedule for a few reasons. For one, restaurants are less crowded (and less expensive) at lunchtime, and young children tend to do better eating out earlier in the day.
“I will do anything to avoid 6 p.m. dinner with tired kids,” said Pomeroy.
The beach is also less packed in the late afternoon and early evening when a lot of folks have gone home for the day. Plus, the UV index is lower at this time, and you don’t need to bother with setting up an umbrella.
If your toddler struggles with transitions, there’s yet another upside to a p.m. beach trip.
“For little kids who have a hard time ending an activity, they can visibly see the sun going down, like, it is bedtime,” Pomeroy said. “That’s a very easy way to walk away. ”
It’s also a fun but low-stimulation activity to tire kids out and helps them wind down for the night, she added.
“We just leave the beach, get them washed up, and put them straight to bed,” Pomeroy said. “And they’re already fed.”
John Marshall is the father of four kids between the ages of two and 14. He called the backward beach day concept “marvelous.”
“Having a wife that is very sun-conscious, we do try to limit sun exposure, and the backwards beach days concept simplifies it without losing any part of the beach experience,” he told HuffPost.
“Also, it allows families to engage in sights that are normally not so crowded during summer days, such as aquariums and museums, since everyone is at the beach. Having a family of six, we prioritize minimizing commotion, and being out at a beach full of other people is not how we visualize a good time.”
The backwards beach day was conceived with parents of young kids in mind, but it’s a great idea for anyone who wants to stay out of the sun, avoid overstimulation and large crowds, and save some money, too, Pomeroy said.
That said, a backwards beach day may not be right for every family or every beach location. For example, if you plan to go in the water with your kids, then you should do so when there’s a lifeguard on duty (if that’s an option at your beach) or during times of better visibility. Pomeroy’s kids generally play in the sand and on the edges of the water, but they don’t go in the ocean, so it isn’t an issue for them.
For kids who are old enough to question why you’re doing things differently than other families, Marshall said he’d share the reasons and use it as a teachable moment.
“Let them know not all drummer’s beats are the same and you and they are creating your family tradition and culture,” he said.
This story originally appeared on HuffPost.