Ok, Mom & Dad...I think you all need a little talking to. You work so hard for very limited vacation dollars. You work. You save. You are going to take your kids to Disney. You want this vacation to be absolutely magical. I get it - and I am on board! But guess what? This is your vacation, too! So start acting like it!
I cannot tell you how many families that I have talked to when the adult coordinator (usually Mom) tells me. "Oh, that sounds like fun! *sigh* But little Johnny would probably not enjoy that." That is when I step and and firmly but kindly remind mom that little Johnny is not paying for this trip!
Yes, Disney is a great place for kids and families. Yes, most of us parents plan a trip specifically for the kids or grandkids. We are willing to cough up a lot of money to make sure they have a great time and and experience that they will remember forever. But this is a family vacation, and everyone should get to do something that they want to do!
I unapologetically tell my kids, that since we have done everything that you wanted to do all day long, it is my turn to pick. End of story. And you know what? It works! In fact, I think they like the idea of letting Mom or Dad be the kid and have some fun our way.
Disney actually is on board with this idea, and makes it easy for parents to have fun, too!
- Dining - If you want to try a nice restaurant or a more adventurous spot, Disney has you covered. Kids are welcome anywhere, except the super-posh Victoria & Albert's. Every restaurant has a kids menu with a sub-set of the Disney kids menu staples. Aim for a meal time close to when you eat at home. At dinner, your kids should be appropriately tired from a busy day that they will hopefully sit still and behave. Try not to ask to much of the little guys by pushing a meal into the bedtime hour. We all know that can end disastrously! I am not ashamed to admit that I will use the next day's activities as a powerful bribery tool. (If the gentle warning "Santa is watching." works for you for the month of December, the "Mickey is watching." works just as well at Disney!)
- Rider Swap - If you have a kiddo that is to small to ride, or too scared to enjoy, it does not mean that you can't! Take advantage of the Rider Swap option. Essentially, the Rider Swap allows your family to stand in line once, but to allow each parent to ride separately. Think of it as a fastpass for the second adult.
- Date Night - Disney has some great kids club options. Several of the Deluxe hotels have clubs that will allow you to drop off your kids in a safe and fun spot for the evening. Not only will you enjoy some grown up time, but your kids will have a ball!
- Spa Day - Let your spouse enjoy the pool with the kids for the afternoon and you enjoy the spa. A pedi for those tired feet is a great treat!
- Head out Solo - This is a frequently overlooked option! I regularly put the children and husband to bed and then take off on my own. I enjoy a late night shopping adventure at Downtown Disney without my kids in tow. I can do twice the shopping in half the time, and save money! I will also often head out to a park that is open late. It is a great time to take some pictures, scope out / preview attractions you are not sure your kids will enjoy, eat a great snack, or just wander around on your own. Fair is fair, though...the next night you have to stay in with the sleeping kids and let your spouse go explore.
So, on your next Disney vacation, I strongly urge you to take a little time - even if it is only a few minutes and do something just for you. You work hard - you have earned it! I promise that your kids will forgive you if you have some fun yourself. A happy mom is a good mom! You can always remind your kids that the more fun YOU have, the more likely you are to return! 'nuff said!