Vacations cause stress. Seems in direct opposition to what’s actually supposed to occur when you have time off from work and school to escape for some fun and relaxation, but there you have it. There are a lot of moving parts to a vacation – a lot can go wrong…and therein lies the problem. In theory, we’re supposed to be happy, carefree, and fully enjoying the experience purchased by our investment of time and hard-earned money. HA! Right. If you’re a mom, that’s a nice thought, but virtually impossible to pull off. Why? Why do we make this so hard on ourselves? Why do we make it even worse by going on vacation and letting things get to us and make us less than our best (to put it nicely). Not that I’d know from experience or anything.
If you’ve ever had an episode on vacation, ever lost your cool, ever blown up or melted down, ever wished you’d just stayed home where you could be your own worst enemy in the peace (and privacy) of your own home, this post is for you! These tips may or may not be derived from my own experience as a mom – I can neither confirm nor deny any allegations.
You can’t do it all. You can try, but you’ll be exhausted for vacation. Even if doing for others brings you immense gratification, you can not do it all on your own. Here’s one idea: Make a packing list and distribute it to everyone in the family. Let each person pack their own suitcase to the extent their age allows. My kids started packing on their own as soon as they could read the list – they’d bring everything to a central location and we’d check off everything as it went in the suitcase. As they got older, less double checking was required. By high school, they were self-sufficient vacation preppers. I still make the list, but I only ever have to worry about packing my own suitcase.
Sweat some of the small stuff. It would be ridiculous for me to suggest you go cold turkey on sweating all the small stuff. It’s what we moms do! You’ll be worried about a million tiny details. It’s important to take some time to prioritize what’s really important among those tiny details and focus on just a few bits of minutiae. Let the rest go! I’ve cautioned a million times the perils of over-planning. Please, I’m begging you – don’t worry about things you cannot control, like the weather, ride breakdowns, character fears, and picky eaters. Focus on being ready to go with the flow, having a flexible schedule, and not allowing unexpected obstacles like meltdowns, rain, or longer-than-expected lines keep you from enjoying all the wonderful, magical details that Disney vacations have to offer.
Enlist help. Shared responsibility means shared control. Do your best to embrace this as much as you can. We
control freaks super organized vacation planners like to do things our own way. We pretend we’re flexible, but secretly know that if we want something done right, we have to do it ourselves. This is a lonely existence during vacation prep – loosen up a little! Get input on dining, FastPass selections, character meet-and-greet choices, etc. Best of all – let someone else take over some of the vacation planning completely. I know, it’s scary to think about, but do your best.
Use Pinterest sparingly. You’ll never be able to pull off all those fantastic Disney vacation preparation ideas. The fancy DIY countdown calendars, tie-died Mickey shirts, picture frames, character autograph ideas, photo suggestions, Disney-bounding outfits, and so much more! Narrow down those hundreds of amazing choices to a couple of things to try that are within your abilities and budget. Then stop looking.
Remember whose vacation it is. If you want it to be all about you, go on vacation alone. If you take your children with you, the term “family vacation” applies and that means you need to let them feel like they have choices, time to burn off steam, at least a little time to do what they want to do (not what you think they should be doing). There’s no vacation from parenting when your children are with you. We actually got mad at Megan when she was five for wanting to leave Magic Kingdom and go back to our resort to go swimming – not our finest moment as parents. She was hot, rarely got to swim, and sincerely thought the pool was more fun than rides and attractions. It was her vacation too. We still feel bad about how we reacted.
I’ve seen moms at Disney World yell, scream, taunt, berate, and even cry. Please, please, for the sake of your family’s vacation happiness (and memories) do NOT be THAT mom!
Have you had a bad mom moment on a Disney vacation? Tell me about it…we’re all friends here.