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We’ve all heard the saying that motherhood changes everything. Well, add another victim to the list: the beach.

On my final hurrah of the summer with my husband, children and extended family, I was dismayed to find that the beach is no longer the place it once was. Before motherhood, the beach meant white sands, sunbathing and romantic walks.

After motherhood, the beach equals sandy diapers, sunburns and temper tantrums.

So as summer fades to fall, I thought I’d share the lessons I learned in this year’s beach trip (you can’t call it a vacation with two kids in tow, by the way.)

Beware the sand and the sun — I used to worship the sun. SPF was for wimps and redheads. Now after consuming way too many articles on skin cancer, the sun is a worthy adversary, but it was no match for my SPF 50 and sunhat. I lathered up my babies with the wonderful white stuff to the point where my 4-year-old often looked like a Caribbean Geisha.

Beware the sand — You expect a little sand at the beach, right? Perhaps a sandy shoe or bathing suit. Oh no. Somehow sand and children are an explosive combination wherein sand ends up everywhere — in the sheets, in your ear and inexplicably in the tunafish sandwich. Seriously. That was some crunchy tuna.

Don’t try to fight it. The sand will find you. Even when you think you’ve escaped it and you nestle into your crisp hotel sheets, it will be there — waiting. Your feet will find the few rogue pieces of sand that have somehow been tucked into your sheets just to taunt you.

But of all the lessons I learned and cautionary tales I could tell about my beach trip, the most important one is this: Beware the unrealistic expectations.

The fact is, motherhood does change everything — beach trips included. I have two children, and the beach vacations of yesterday are no more. And you know what? That’s OK.

I couldn’t fit into a bikini (and I’m sure fellow beach patrons thanked me for not trying). I wasn’t able to lie out in the sun all day or read a book as the sun set. And yes, I ran around like a madwoman with sunscreen in one hand and a camera in the other.

But I also built sandcastles, made treasure boxes and took a sunrise walk each day with my daughter to collect shells. I watched my daughter swim with fish for the first time as her giggles and screams of delight funneled up through her snorkel.

My husband and I did manage to fit in a few romantic sunset walks, only this time one daughter ran in front of us and the other toddled between us. And I’d much rather have those four sets of footprints in the sand than even one moment of the way the beach — and life — used to be.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister's nose.