Category: Opinion

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?

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!

Please Excuse the Dirty Panties on the Floor

Clean or tidy. When you have kids you can have one, but not both.

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It has been said that attempting to clean with children in the house is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos; completely pointless. Having a 4 and 2-year-old myself, I can attest to the accuracy of this statement.

Before I had kids I was a bit of a neat freak. Every Sunday I cleaned the house from top to bottom to start the week off fresh. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. Now I’m lucky if there’s a walk path through the sea of toys scattered on the playroom floor, and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to need to step over a pair of princess panties wadded up on the floor. *Heavy sigh* 

Before I had kids my house was NEVER going to look like kids had taken it over (now it looks like I’m running an unauthorized daycare center out of my front room) and I was going to teach my kids that you only have one toy out at a time and that it needs to be put away before getting out another toy. (Ha!) Yeah, I was pretty much a giant sanctimonious asshole. Karma got me back though!

These days priority goes toward making sure the piles of dirty laundry get washed, hung, folded, and put away. To making sure the dishes are done so we can have clean plates for dinner. To taking out the never-ending trash before it starts to smell. Everything else is just a luxury that gets completed when time (and energy) permits. I’ve (mostly) learned to embrace this new standard of cleanliness.

It just becomes a fact of life that when you take the time to get some cleaning done, your kids will use that time to make a giant mess in another room. Case in point; When I decided to do a thorough cleaning and reorganization of our guest bedroom my darling daughter used that time in my absence to tear her own bedroom apart.

This was a clean bedroom. It only took my tiny tornado a brief time to turn it into a scene from a natural disaster.
This was a clean bedroom. It only took my tiny tornado a brief time to turn it into a scene from a natural disaster.

Or there was the time my house was neat and picked up. I took a phone call from a friend and in the 30 minutes I was not policing them my children turned my downstairs into an obstacle course that could double as a training ground for American Ninja Warrior. Every chair pulled out and lined up, and every pillow and cushion in a pile on the floor.

Here is my ninja warrior in action.
Here is my ninja warrior in action.

And then there was that time this Monday when I went upstairs to scrub the 2 toilets up there only to come downstairs to discover that one of my kids (neither one would fess up, of course) had made a mess of the downstairs bathroom. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll just say that sometimes I feel like I am living in a frat house–and I don’t even have boys!!

So these days I mostly try to focus on keeping things reasonably picked up off the ground, floors from reaching the point of being sticky, and keeping the layers of dust under a quarter-inch tall. I have learned that the price of mopping your floors is having every toy strewn about the house, and the price of putting all the strewn about toys away is having dirty floors. And watch your step. There are some dirty panties on the floor right there…

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Sisterhood of the Second Rate Moms

Since joining the ranks of motherhood nearly 5 years ago I’ve been reminded time and time again about the importance of encouragement and kindness.

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We live in an often cynical world. A world where people frequently allow their own insecurities to rule them and justify their judgmental and unkind behavior. Sadly, this is all too evident among moms. Especially in cyber-world. Working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-from-home moms, formula feeding moms, breast-feeding moms, helicopter moms, free-range moms, if you potty train too late, if you potty train too soon, if you let your kid eat sugary food, if you only let your kid eat organic locally sourced food, if you spend too much time on yourself, if you let yourself go, if you’re too skinny, if you’re too fat, if you co-sleep, if you use cry-it-out, if you spank, if you don’t spank. DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON’T!

It’s easy to find someone ready to hurl criticism. Why not be the person ready with a kind word of encouragement and support?

I’m not perfect. Not even close. I’ve judged others and perhaps offered criticism when I should have just offered support. But in the end, that isn’t positive or constructive for anyone. Why is it so difficult for us to just smile and be kind to others? Are we afraid that if we acknowledge that they’re doing something right, than maybe that means we are doing it all wrong? And why do we always believe there is only one correct way of doing things?! We are all different. There are an infinite number of ways to do things. Just because what works for me is different, doesn’t make it any better or worse. Just different.

Motherhood is hard. Like, super hard. The last thing most of us need is someone else feeding our own doubts and insecurities. You don’t have to agree with someone’s particular methods to support their efforts. Sometimes a few kind words can go a long way.

I remember one time when I was struggling with a newborn and a toddler in the grocery store parking lot. I was trying to calm a fussy baby, wrangle a fidgety toddler, and unload groceries. I must have looked particularly defeated that day because a kind lady approached me and said, “You’re doing a really good job. It’s so difficult when they are this young, but it will get easier.” Then she gave me a wink and was on her way. I almost cried. It was exactly what I needed to hear that day.

Conversely, I can remember a time I had taken my flight-risk toddler to the mall play area. I was very pregnant with my youngest at the time and of course feeling hormonal and lousy. In the bustling chaos of a play area covered in tots I lost sight of my own little one. Panic set it. I began dashing around the play area looking for my daughter only to hear someone say “Is that your daughter running through the mall?”. There she was. Halfway down the corridor, tiny blonde hair flowing behind her as she ran barefoot through the mall. In my rush to get my pregnant body to catch up with her, I passed a group of moms standing by the entrance. One of them said (in a tone that was obviously directed at me and intended for me to hear), “Somebody needs to keep a better eye on their kid.” Not what I needed to hear that particular day.

And try to be mindful of the fact that we all have bad days. I would hate for someone to base my entire ability to parent off of a single snapshot of a really bad day I was experiencing. I’ve had moments I was less than proud of when I’ve handled parenting situations like crap. That doesn’t mean I’m a crappy mom, it just means I’m having a crappy moment. It means I’m human. Extend people the same courtesy you would hope they would also bestow upon you.

So this week I have decided to extend a challenge to you.

At some point during the next week, I challenge you to lift up a mom with kind words or a helpful act.

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It can be a stranger or a friend. It can be a small gesture or a grand one. If you feel it is something you can share, please tell us about it in the comments. Also, please feel free to share about a time when someone lifted you up in kindness.

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Opinions Are Like A-Holes; Everyone Has One

Something happens the moment you let the world know you are going to be a parent. Everyone has advise, insights, and cautionary tales to tell you. Even the least likely among us to give a flying fart about what others think are suddenly susceptible to give weight to this unsolicited advise. Maybe it’s the unparalleled hugeness of it all, or maybe it’s just the hormones blocking your ability to form your own objective thoughts. Who knows…

What I do know is that in the beginning of my parenting journey I listened (mostly) to what others had to say about pregnancy, birth, babies, and toddlers. I assumed (falsely) that if my experience was different that I must not be doing something right. What I realize now is there isn’t a “one size fits all” for parenting. Just because someone else finds something to be true for them does not mean that it will ring true for you. And that’s okay. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t still seek advise from others or share our experiences with others. Give advise, take advise; just take it all with a grain of salt.

Here are the top 5 inaccurate (for me anyway) parenting nuggets I was told. Maybe you can relate too.

1.) Breastfeeding comes naturally and it’s so easy. Um, false. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and once you are established it is pretty easy. But it can be very difficult in the beginning, not to mention painful. Did I mention painful? (Ouch!) Just because your body naturally produces milk does not mean you and your baby automatically possess the ability to be instant experts at it. There is a learning curve involved. And, sadly, you might find yourself bleeding from the nipples in the early days.

Good advise, luckily, did come in the form of encouragement from Second Rate Best Friend. In the early days when I was contemplating even continuing to breastfeed she advised that I see it through the first month before making the decision. Glad I listened to her. It did become natural and it did get easier.

*On a side note: Can we please just all agree to stop all of these ridiculously immature and ignorant online mommy wars on breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. Both ways are great and nourish your baby. Breastfeeding doesn’t make you more of a woman any more than formula feeding is going to poison your infant. What happened to respecting and supporting other’s decisions? Enough! Jeez. End rant.*

2.) Sleep when your baby sleeps. What the what?! Okay, maybe this works for some people, but it was not true for me. I love my sleep as much as the next sleep-deprived Mombie (mom-zombie), but this just wasn’t realistic for me. When my newborn was sleeping it was the only time I had to tend to the mountains of poop/pee/spit-up laundry, do dishes, prepare a meal, or take a not frequent enough shower. And when my second baby was born, her napping provided some much-needed one-on-one time with my oldest. This well-meaning advise just didn’t work for me.

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3.) Your life is over once they start walking! Could not have been further from the truth for me! I felt so much more freedom once my littles hit the walking stage. That’s not to say that the walking stage didn’t come with a new set of challenges;  just that I felt like it beat the hell out of crawling. Walking gave my poor aching back a break from always having to carry the baby around. It meant no more being grossed out by all the germs on the ground when they were forced to navigate the world on hands and knees. Walking brought with it a whole new world of awe and discovery.

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4.) When they drop nap time, it messes up your whole schedule. This one is both true and false. My kids decided to drop nap time within weeks of each other shortly after turning 2 and 4 years old. It was rough at fist. I had grown to cherish the 90 minutes of peace and quiet nap time afforded me every day. Losing it sucked at first. But then I realized there were also benefits and some new freedoms to our napless days. No more stressing about rushing home from a play date or an errand to make it in time for a nap. Plus, once my girls dropped their naps they started going to bed a bit earlier in the evening with less bed time protests. What’s not to like about that?! So overall, this was one for the “tie” column for me.

5.) Going from 1 kid to 2 kids is so much easier than going from no kid to 1 kid. FALSE! At least, it was for us. I’ve heard split reactions to this one among friends. The transition from 1 to 2 kids rocked our world to the core. Me and Second Rate Husband admittedly aren’t the best at multi-tasking, and having multiple children is the ultimate form of multi-tasking. Add that to the feeling of suddenly being pulled in too many directions, and the insecurity I had about being able to equally divide my love and attention. Our first year as a family of 4 was definitely harder on us than our first year as parents. Again, I know that is not the case for everyone, but this was true for us.

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Was there any advise you received that didn’t pan out for you? What was the worst advise you ever received?

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