Sunday, February 20, 2011

Getting the Kids Ready for their Next Walt Disney World Vacation

I have discussed before ways to prepare your children for a Walt Disney World vacation.  If you missed it, you can read my post Preparing the Kids for a Trip of a Lifetime.  I am still doing all those things, but for our upcoming trip in October, I have added a few more "requirements" to the list. 

As you know, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is by far my favorite Disney guidebook.  That doesn't mean I don't enjoy a few others, but this book has all the things I love.  Numbers, grades, scores, etc.  Just what I like.  But the first time I opened an Unofficial Guide, I was shocked at the section about traveling with children.  It was called The Agony and the Ecstasy.  How could they dare refer to traveling to WDW with a little one agony?  I had traveled to WDW just one time as a mom with my 14 month old son.  He was the best little baby.  He never cried, was content sitting in the stroller to make our way around the parks and generally the perfect baby.  It was the perfect Disney vacation and nothing but "ecstasy" for a Disney mom who wanted her child to love Disney as much as she did. 

Joey and Hayley in 2008
Well, fast forward 2 years to our trip to Walt Disney with my three kids - ages 10 months, 2 years and Joey then 3.5 years old.  Suddenly, I realized what the Unofficial Guide meant by the agony.  Now don't get me wrong, this vacation was amazing and fun, but there were moments that I knew we did not prepare ourselves for what we were to face.  All three kids were in diapers (you can read all about that experience in my guest post at Growing Up Disney), not one of them could dress themselves, not one of them could help themselves at dinners and my husband and I were completely outnumbered.  There were moments that it felt like there were 10 of them, not three!  I will admit that trip was magical and absolutely exhausting all at the same time.

For our upcoming October trip, my husband and I have been on a mission to have the kids be a lot more independent, so that in one hotel room, with one bathroom, we have more efficient mornings getting ourselves ready to tour the parks and potentially, my husband and I can keep our sanity!

Our kids have been told these are things we all need to be able to do before we can go to Disney:

1.  Everyone must be able to dress themselves.  So far, we have success.  All three can get dressed, now we just need to work on speed.  My son does everything at a pace of a snail and is easily distracted.  I think he gets that from his father! Just kidding!

2. Everyone must be able to clean themselves in the shower or bath.  So far, Joey is capable of doing this (though, again, speed being an issue).  Hayley has the speed piece down, but that is because she doesn't actually clean herself, she just rinses off, but we're working on that.  Emily is a work in progress but she is getting there!

3. At dinner, everyone must be able to serve themselves.  Sounds like this would be an obvious one, but Joey really likes people to wait on him, so, surprisingly, he is the worst of the three, even though he is the oldest.  Now that I am typing this list, I am seeing a male or first born pattern here.  Hmmm.  Hayley and Emily love to serve themselves, now we just have to work on portion control.  I think they just like to stir and scoop everything.

4. No tantrums.  I am very lucky to have three children who really are well behaved and pretty low key as far as tantrums go.  Tantrums have never really been an issue here.  But as you know, if you read my post Avoiding Tantrums and Timeouts in Disney, that every once and while, they happen to the best of us.  We are working here at home on "using our words" to express ourselves instead of going immediately to tears.  This is mostly for Hayley.  She is the most sensitive of three and tends to have more emotional reactions to everything than the other two.  I will admit she gets that from me. 

5. This is the hardest one of all, but it is a work in progress - compromising.  At my kids' ages, we really are still at the point that what someone wants is it.  Compromising is not necessarily well received, but I have been posing different challenges during the day to help them work together to make decisions.  Touring the parks has a whole new meaning for us with kids because they each have their favorites.  We want them to know that we will experience all of them, but we can't do every one's favorites first. 

I am really looking forward to our next family vacation in Walt Disney World.  Not only will this list help us on Disney vacations, but they are certainly making things very pleasant here at home!

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