Category: Parenting

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?

5 Things That Will Make You A Happier Mom

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It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been in the “mom business” for nearly 5 years now. (Seriously?? I swear she was JUST born!) Since joining “team mom” I’ve had my share of ups and downs. There have been times when I wasn’t enjoying my role as a mother as much as I knew I wanted to and the way my children (and myself!) deserved. Life is far too short to be unhappy (especially when you have so many things to be happy about!). 

So I thought about some of the little things that have helped me to become a happier mom. After some thought, a few scribbles in my notebook, and now the clicking of my keyboard; here is a list of the top 5 things that have contributed to my being a happier mom!

  1. Buy good bras! Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly the secret to happiness, but it’s more of a metaphor about how you take care of yourself. Two pregnancies and nursing two kids for nearly a year each can take a toll on the ta-tas. Bras were an afterthought for a few years. When I was finally ready to hang up the nursing bras I realized that I had absolutely no idea what my new bra size should actually be. My advise; get yourself measured, buy the correct size, and spend a bit extra to get the good bras! It’s a small thing, but as moms we tend to put our own needs on the back-burner in order to put our kid’s needs ahead of our own. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, don’t forget to treat yourself sometimes too. Buy some of that make-up you want, put on that cute outfit sometimes “just because”, and BUY THE GOOD BRAS!
  2. Get out of the house WITHOUT KIDS! Go out with girlfriends. Leave the kids with your husband, meet friends for dinner, have drinks, talk, reminisce, bitch, gossip. Never underestimate the power of a girl’s night out! It really is good for the soul. Also, make dates with your husband. I know not everyone has a ton of extra money for sitters. Get a neighbor to watch your kid for a few hours or find a Parent’s Night Out in your area. Many churches offer them and it’s a great (inexpensive!) way to carve out some one-on-one time.
  3. Take time for your hobbies. Whatever it is you enjoy doing and rejuvenates your wary soul; do it! Reading, blogging, refinishing furniture, scrap-booking, running, yoga. Find what you enjoy and leaves you feeling refreshed and do it. Being a mom doesn’t mean you can’t have interests of your own outside of your kids. I’ve seen this too much and I’ve DONE this before too. Nothing will make you more miserable than not allowing yourself a personal outlet.
  4. Music! I recommend that occasionally you should listen to the music of your youth at ignorant levels. Extra points for singing along at the top of your lungs and dancing. Even more bonus points if the song is explicative laden. Usually I have little ears around me and it tends to affect what and how I listen to music in the car & at home. That’s why sometimes you might pull up next to my minivan at a red light after I’ve dropped my kids off at preschool and hear Beastie Boys or Rage Against the Machine blasting at irresponsible decibel levels. Deal with it.
  5. Be grateful for the blessings in your life. It’s hard to be unhappy when you choose to focus on all of the good things in your life, both big and small. One of my favorite people, Dennis Prager, says, “Yes, there is a ‘secret to happiness’ and it is gratitude. All happy people are grateful, and ungrateful people cannot be happy.” There have been days where nothing seemed to go right and it was a struggle to find a happy place. But then I would notice that I was outside and it was a gorgeous day with white puffy clouds in the sky. Or that I had a coffee and it was exactly what I I needed in that moment. Look for all things, big and small, to be grateful for.

What are some of your secrets for being a happier mom?

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.

But Today I Did Nothing

Today was the first full day of preschool for my kids this school year. After a brief appointment this morning I had nothing planned for the remainder of my child-free afternoon. I typically have lists of to-dos and the 5 hours they are both in preschool 2 days a week are usually crammed full of productivity. But today I did nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no end to the number of things I could have been doing. There are always things to be done around here. There is always laundry and dishes and cleaning and errands and countless other things that require my attention. But today I did nothing.

Instead of my usual productivity, I ate a leisurely lunch without interruption. I wasted time perusing Facebook. I allowed myself to get sucked into an episode of Property Brothers on HGTV. And instead of feeling gloriously liberated by an afternoon of purely selfish laziness, I felt guilty. Guilty that I was doing nothing when there were so many things I could be doing. Guilty that while I had the opportunity to be lazy today my husband is working hard to support our family. I was even feeling guilty that I wasn’t enjoying my lazy time because I was too busy FEELING GUILTY! How ridiculous is that?! Feeling guilty about feeling guilty!

The truth is that every now and then we all need a break. I’m exhausted. You probably are too. And while I’m certainly not going to make a habit of squandering my valuable time by being lazy, some days just call for it. There are many days ahead for me to do all the “stuff”. But today I did nothing, and I can make peace with that.

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