Category: Kids

A Second Rate Mom’s Guide to Disney World


A little over a year ago Second Rate Dad and myself had the brilliant idea to book a week-long trip to Disney World. Our oldest daughter has been begging us to take her to Disney World ever since she was about 2-years-old and saw an advertisement for it on the Disney Junior channel. So we decided that 5 & 3 years old would be the ideal ages to take the girls to Disney.

In the year between booking the trip and then actually taking the trip I tried my best to get up to speed on everything I would need to know prior to going to Disney. Not having been to Disney World myself in about 20 years, I knew I had plenty to try to figure out. In my attempt to plan I spoke with people I knew were frequent Disney-goers and those that had recently visited. Mostly this just left me feeling overwhelmed and confused. I also turned to every second-rate mom’s faithful frenemy, Pinterest. Oh Pinterest, you evil bitch. You keep me coming back for more even though you often leave me feeling inadequate…

My quest for all things Disney World on Pinterest was no different. So. much. information. One article after another about what rides to ride on and when, how to get the most out of your Fast Passes, how to use your meal plans, the best places to go for quick-service and table-service meals, which character meals are the best, where to find the characters you want to meet, and on, and on, and on. And then there are the timelines to consider. You need to make your meal reservations about 6 months ahead of time to ensure you are able to snatch up the most coveted character meals. Then you get to choose your Fast-Passes for the rides you want 60 days prior to your visit while keeping in mind your already scheduled meal reservations. It started to feel like planning a trip to Disney required the completion of graduate level course work.

And don’t even get me started on all the Pinterest lists detailing what you need to bring with you to the parks. Oh Lawdy! I’m pretty sure that my packing list for a trip to the damn moon would not be as comprehensive as some of the lists I came across during my research! Some of these freaking lists sounded less like you’re taking a trip to the “happiest place on Earth” and more like the contents of MacGyver’s backpack during wilderness survival training!

I’ve learned a lot during my Disney planning journey, so I’ve decided to impart my new-found wisdom for all my fellow overwhelmed second-rate moms. Here are my top 6 recommendations for stressed out mamas planning a trip to Disney World.

  1. Use a Disney Travel Agent. This is an important one and there’s a reason I listed it as #1 on my guide. I am fortunate enough that I have an old friend from college who is a travel agent and one of her specialties is Disney travel. Her guidance was invaluable and without her direction and assistance I’m pretty sure I would have cried on numerous occasions during the planning process. These people know their Disney stuff, folks! She answered my questions, made suggestions, sent reminders, and even booked my dining reservations for me. The best part is that you don’t pay extra to use them! I used (and highly recommend) Jenn Whitney at Whitney World Travel. Here is her link if you are interested in getting more information for yourself:
  2. Bring a stroller to the parks. My kids are past the stroller days in our everyday lives. In fact, I sold our double stroller a while back. No fear; just rent one! You can rent the ones at the park, but I recommend renting a nicer one from Kingdom Strollers. Not only did this prevent me and the hubs from needing to carry the kids around when they got tired, but it also provided for a convenient place for them to catch a nap when they needed one. At Epcot my youngest took a 2+ hour nap while Second Rate Nana and myself strolled our way through the Epcot countries enjoying a glass of wine…or 3. Not to mention the added benefit of built-in cup holders and storage underneath. If you have kids age 5 and under, I think a stroller is a must!
  3. Go at your own pace. My first day at Magic Kingdom was super stressful! I felt like a slave to our Fast Pass and dining schedule. All the scheduling took a lot of the fun out of the day for me. Once I decided to not stress about the schedule, it go so much better. Change Fast Passes around if it turns out not to be convenient. If you have smaller children don’t expect to be able to get to every ride and attraction you want to do. You’ll need to prioritize. Take a break midday if you need one. You’ll also need to remember you’re traveling with little people who also have little bladders, so frequent bathroom breaks need to be considered along the way as well.
  4. You don’t need to bring everything plus the kitchen sink with you! Many of the advice articles I read ahead of time listed suggested items to bring with you to the parks. The lists appeared quite daunting and intimidating to me. My first day at Magic Kingdom I over-stuffed my backpack and I ended up regretting it. I felt like a freaking pack mule. The parks allow you to bring in your own food and drinks, so the first day I brought plenty of bottled water and snacks. The truth is that if you are utilizing the meal plan like we did then you really don’t need to bring in outside food and drinks. The meal plan provided us with more than enough for the day! And if we did need to purchase an additional drink or 2 it was worth it to me to just pay for it instead of having to schlep all that heavy stuff around. I perfected my backpack inventory by the last day carrying only the necessities plus some hand sanitizer, small pack of wipes, travel size sunscreen, cheap disposable ponchos, and something for the characters to autograph (if that’s your thing).
  5. Research the best times of year to visit. We visited in October, which is known to be a less busy time for Disney World. Truthfully, it was still pretty darn busy so I can’t imagine going during a very high-traffic time. Also, the weather in Orlando this time of year was ideal for our visit. It was mostly lower to mid 80’s and we only saw a couple of very brief rainfalls. Visiting Disney World during the summer months will bring with it a different dynamic of combating the heat that we were lucky enough to be able to avoid.
  6. Everyone brings their own “baggage” to Disney. If your kid gets whiny and bitchy when they are hungry and tired that won’t stop just because they’re at “the happiest place on Earth”! If your spouse gets irritable after spending an entire day with the little ones, being at the Magic Kingdom isn’t going to magically cure that. Everyone is still going to lose their patience at times. All the more reason for frequent food and rest breaks. Try to keep a “go with the flow” attitude and make the most of the magical moments when you can.

I hope this has been a helpful guide for those of you contemplating a trip to Disney World in the future.  Are there any suggestions you would add?

3-Year-Olds Are Pure Evil

Ok. So maybe this title is a little bit overstated, but not by much. They are evil dipped in adorable, topped with sweetly mispronounced words, and sprinkled with a dash of bat-shit crazy. “Mommy, I want more ‘camel-lope’ please.” (That’s cantaloupe to you & me.) Immediately followed up with a psychotic tirade of frantic warfare when said ‘camel-lope’ is all gone. Whoever coined the phrase ‘terrible twos’ apparently never met a 3-year-old. That, or they decided that ‘terrible’ was simply just not a strong enough word to describe the rage-inducing, tiny vein in forehead bursting task that is raising a 3-year-old.

Maybe I’m just too fresh from the drama to be objective about this age group. Perhaps if you ask me tomorrow I’ll proclaim that it’s one of my favorite ages because they really start to communicate with you and their personalities really emerge and some other b.s. that I really mean at the time. But not today.

Today began with the 3-year-old climbing into our bed at about 2:30 in the morning and kicking me in the face. Did I mention she was wearing shoes? Why, you ask? Because apparently footwear is very important to her (even when she’s sleeping) and I have lost the ability to argue with tiny humans about why wearing shoes to bed is a bad idea. But I digress. Needless to say it was not a restful night of sleep.

The morning brought with it whining. OMG, the whining! Just sitting here thinking about the “whiny voice” is raising my blood pressure. You see, dear reader, whining is the primary form of 3-year-old communication. I feel fairly certain that the devil himself employs a whiny 3-year-old to be Hell’s receptionist.

All of this whiny fun was then followed up with a trip to the dentist where lovely threenager refused to allow the hygienist or dentist to clean her teeth. The dentist was able to get as far as being able to count her teeth before making the very wise decision to try again in 6 months.

Lunch was equally as enjoyable. I had the nerve to serve her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She used to love peanut butter and jelly. Not today. Today I may just as well have served her dog poop on pasta. Pretty sure it would have gotten the same reaction. I made the poor dear take a bite of her sandwich. She refused to swallow the bite and as we were loading into the minivan for big sister’s dance class she must have accidentally choked on the sandwich a bit. Next thing I know she vomited all over the back of the van, on her sister, and on herself. We were a tad late to dance class today and my minivan now has a faint barf smell to it.

The afternoon has brought with it more whining, some crying, fighting with big sister, and (just when I’m about to completely lose it) some sweet little gesture to remind me there really is a good little person in there hiding under all those very big 3-year-old emotions. Not all days are this bad. Some days she’s a perfectly sweet little girl. But today? Today she is a threenager, and so mommy drinks a glass of wine.

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Do you have a threenager living in your house? What is the most psychotic thing your threenager has ever done?

Crap My Kids Said Last Week

photo (25)About a month ago I published a blog post highlighting all of the ridiculous crap that comes out of my mouth when talking to my kids. It’s truly one of the many marvels of motherhood. You might have been the coolest most eloquently spoken woman before having children, but then you have kids and suddenly find yourself saying ridiculous things like, “Did you get all the poopy off your booty?”. You can read that blog post here:                                        But I digress…

This week I would like to write about the mind-numbing gems that fall out of the mouths of my babes. Let’s be honest; little kids are basically just miniature drunks with Tourette Syndrome, amiright? My kids are no exception. They have a particular affinity for anything boobs, boogers, and butts. So basically I’m raising a couple of female frat boys. I’m not really sure how that happened, but I can tell you that it makes life interesting.

So over the course of the last week I decided to keep track of the Top 5 most disturbing and bizarre things that my children said. (Please note; these do not make me proud. Kids are weird. And gross.) Without further ado, I bring you the Top 5.

  1. “Mommy, I just sniffed your butt!” (Disclaimer: I believe she was pretending to be a dog & greeting me in the appropriate canine manner….but still.)
  2. “Do mermaids wear underwear?” (Valid and thoughtful question, actually. I believe we spent some time pondering the logistics of mermaid underwear because, you know, life’s burning questions and all.)
  3. “Mommy, I love your boobs.” (I really have no good explanation for this one. I believe I said, “Um, thank you.” and then quickly changed the subject.)
  4. “Mommy, your tummy is just like jello!” (This phrase was uttered by my oldest daughter as she was so kindly patting my tummy. She may or may not have been immediately removed from my will…)
  5. “Mommy, your boobs are so squishy!” (This gem came from the youngest child as she attempted to feel me up as we were sitting on the couch watching tv. Really, kid? Hands off the goods!)

What is the most bizarre thing your child has said to you lately? Please, let me know mine aren’t the only tiny weirdos out there!

A Note To My Future Self About “Vacationing” With Children

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Dear Future Self,

I know you think it’s a great idea to plan a “vacation” with the kids. You long to get away as a family and spend oodles of quality time together away from your regular daily grind. Don’t do it, Future Self. For the love of all that’s holy, back away from the computer and do NOT purchase that family “vacation”.

You see, Future Self, there is a reason you are always saying that traveling with small children is NOT a vacation, it is a trip. There is a very important distinction between a vacation and a trip. A vacation is something you return home from with a glowing tan and a sense of rejuvenation. A trip is something you return home from feeling like you need a vacation.

Current You is on “vacation” in San Diego right now, Future Self, so she knows a thing or two about this traveling with kids business. She knows that it started out with great intentions and gleeful anticipation. Surely the road to Hell is paved with great intentions and gleeful anticipation, amiright?

“Vacationing” with children is a lot like childbirth. It’s excruciating, there is screaming, at some point during the process you change your mind (but it’s already too late), and after enough time has passed you forget how heinous it was so you do it all over again. Don’t get me wrong, Future Self. Sure, there were some good times and special moments. It’s just that when you are looking back at this San Diego “vacation” and see the smiling angelic tots of yours on the beach you’ll forget that this “vacation” called you to question your entire existence as a mother. That on more than one occasion during this “vacation” you decided you aren’t fit to raise a pet gerbil let alone two of the world’s most strong-willed and fierce little girls.

That’s why I’m here, Future Self. To bring you back to reality. Ok, so maybe putting a kibosh on all future family “vacations” isn’t reasonable. There are some wonderful and amazing things about traveling with your kiddos. But maybe just check and double-check your expectations, Future Self. Lower your expectations until you think you can’t possibly lower them any more. Then lower them again. Now you are ready for a family “vacation”.

Just know that no matter the mode of transportation, you will hear “Are we there yet?” about a bazillion times. Your kids will fight with a level of passion typically reserved only for battling genocide to be the one that gets the privilege of hitting the button on the elevator. They will stay up late and wake up at the first hint of dawn. There will be no escaping them because you will be trapped in the same jail cell, err, hotel room with them. They will find fault with the food because it is not EXACTLY the same as the food you have at home!

What do you mean McDonald's doesn't have Eggo Nutrigrain blueberry waffles?! Someone get me a manager!
What do you mean McDonald’s doesn’t have Eggo Nutrigrain blueberry waffles?! Someone get me a manager!

So my dear Future Self, I urge you instead to consider that adult-only getaway you were considering. At least until such a time has arrived when your children are a bit older and more self-sufficient. Oh, who the Hell am I kidding? You’ll look back at all the happy pictures and remember only the magical times and do it all over again. But don’t say I didn’t warn you, Future Self…


Current You

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Do you have any tips & tricks for traveling with littles? As it turns out, Current Me is a sadist and we have a trip to Disney World planned for next month.