Tuesday, June 19, 2012

We're All in This Together: Logisitcs for Leaving to See the Mouse

The first post in this series, we talked about how you can let everyone partake in the planning for your Disney World trip.  Today, we are looking at what you can do to make your prep work for the big vacation MAGICAL and as low stress as possible.  Yep, today we are talking logistics for leaving to see the mouse!  These are the details that everyone dreads...you know, packing, making sure you have everything for the parks, keeping the kids on track, etc.  Basically, any and everything "not so magical" about your trip.  Let's get down to business!  

Delegate is not a bad word!  
When you are taking a family trip, why not make it a family effort.  The first step in this idea is to realize that Mom and Dad shouldn't do it all!  My Mom and Dad taught me this from an early age and I am SO thankful for that!  Now, I'm not saying you should have your 10 year old responsible for EVERYTHING!  I am talking small chunks of responsibility, and yes, I am talking about a piece of responsibility for everyone in your family!  When you delegate responsibilities, you start your vacation off on the best foot!  

Responsibilities for younger children (4 and younger)
Never underestimate the power of a a toddler!  I'll go ahead and put it out there that babies, can pretty much help you with packing during their nap time or while they are occupied otherwise by an older sibling (see below if you have a baby and an older sibling!). Toddlers and pre-k kids LOVE to help!  I have a 2 1/2 year old nephew that is an awesome helper.  He could totally handle simple jobs and be a HUGE help to a parent who would otherwise be doing it all alone.  

Responsibilities a 2-4 year old could handle

  • being a good room cleaner (if that is something that bugs you before leaving for a trip).  Toddlers and pre-k kids LOVE helping to clean.  Why not ask them to clean up the play room or their bedroom.  The plus side to this is that while they clean, you can get things in order for the trip!
  • being a toy packer.  Bring in the math fun here and limit them to 3 favorite toys (without messing up room).  
  • being a  messenger to relay important information to other family members.
  • being a loader.  I love the idea of having your little one help load the suitcase, car, carry-on.  This is all with support from you (in the form of here, "put this in the suitcase" or "why don't you help Mommy by carrying this pillow to the car").  
  • being a counter.  With support, your toddler or pre-k can help you count people, bags, and more.  I like this because you can utilize and honor their knowledge! 
Things to remember

  • Praise their hard work and effort!
  • Offer support!
  • Remind them how important they are to the family and this trip!
Responsibilities for children (5-12 year olds)
An involved child is a child on a mission.  Think of the problems and distractions you can avoid when everyone is working hard!  I just love the Easter story The Country Bunny and the Little Golden Shoes.  It is a story about a hard working country bunny who is written off her whole life as a country bunny who can't be the Easter Bunny because she's gone and had a houseful of babies.  She's a good Mama and raises her bunnies to aid her in the work around the house and she's very loving.  The story takes a turn when Grandfather bunny chooses her to be the next Easter Bunny after seeing how smart and kind she is.  You should read it.  That is what comes to mind when I think of this idea of delegation!  Let's see how 5-10 year olds can help out in prep for the big vacation!

Responsibilities for 5-10 year olds

  • Pre-packing.  By this I mean you give them either a list or a visual list (pictures of what to pack and have them lay them out for you to check over).  This will save you so much time!  All you have to do is check over the items and have them load them into the suitcase!
  • Car loader.  Simple as it sounds, their job is to take things out to the car to be loaded.
  • Babysitter.  You can get a lot more done when someone else is watching your little one! Big brothers and sisters are such a blessing when it comes to getting what you need to get done!
  • Clean.  Just like in the 2-4 year old section, 5-10 year olds can lend a hand cleaning their rooms/playrooms and more!  Why not get them to help clean out the family van for that long trip (if you are driving).  
  • Ride/Flight fun.  I would love to have a gaggle of kids someday!  I use to love planning car fun (there were just too many of us to afford flying).  Have your kids get together to plan entertainment for the trip!  From bags full of entertainment (check out this blast from the past called: the ride is in the bag!)  to ideas for games and movies to watch, your 5-10 year old will be "on it!"
  • List keeper.  I love the idea of giving 5-10 year olds the responsibility of keeping a personal copy of lists for packing, time in the parks, be creative!  They love that sense of responsibility!
Things to remember:

  • Responsibility creates such a great family culture which parlays into a great trip!
  • Have a little faith!  Faith in their abilities goes a long way!
  • Say these two words: "thank you"
  • Set  your expectations high...they'll deliver!

Responsibilities for teens:
Teen buy in is a crucial building block in the Disney equation.  If they buy in, there will be a HUGE reward!  I feel like the magic of Disney will take over your teenager and the fun will be over the top!  I am not a parent yet but, I say that you might even be able to convince your teenager to stick it out with the group for the trip if they feel like they have a place in it all!  At the very least, they could earn a little time away from the group.  I mean really, do you want to die on that mountain...ask me that again in about 20 years...I might answer differently!

  • Pack their own stuff (offering to check over if they'd like)
  • Clean up their room
  • Have them help you make dining reservations 
  • Online Check in (print out to give to you before leaving)
  • Route research (let them use an app...they love that kind of stuff)
  • Instagramer for the trip
  • Vlog the trip
  • Time keeper
  • Let them pick their seat for the ride first
Things to remember:

  • Give them a bit of room.  Don't hover to much instead, give some deadlines (room clean by X , pack by X).  It might work out in the long run to award them with minutes for "free time" in the parks with each item they complete.  I feel like Disney World is a pretty safe place and splitting up especially when they are a within phones reach and of age.  Why not get the prep work done with minimal complaining and 100% effort by offering them some park time to themselves?
  • Respect their input (using your discernment).  If they suggest something give them credit and if it is doable and makes sense...honor them!  If they suggest packing snacks for the ride...do it!  If they suggest a restaurant on the way down...do it!  You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar right?  
  • Think before you act!  
  • Love them!
Responsibilities for the grown ups:
Of course you have responsibilities!  Welcome to the real world!  What are some responsibilities you'll have. Well, a lot are common sense.  Here are a few!

  • Book your vacation
  • Pay for vacation
  • Make dining reservations or figure out eating in the parks
  • Get to Disney (drive/fly)
  • Budgeting
  • Packing
  • Plans for the parks
  • Making sure the house/pets will be cared for
Why not utilize the whole family rather than take each family member's load on your shoulders?  I hope you found some of these suggestions to be helpful.  Maybe you've never thought to include everyone and by the time you are in route you are exhausted!  I hope you'll try these out on your next trip!  Remember DELEGATION helps avoid FRUSTRATION!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We're All in This Together: Magic Helps!

Hello Friends!  I hope this post finds you well!  Perhaps you are packing up and heading out on a magical vacation to Disney World.  Perhaps you are just Disney dreaming...like me!  Either way, today I am bringing you an idea for Disney planning with a young child (or at least a child that will play along).  Have you ever heard of the Christmas Elf?  They are really popular where I live and in the school where I teach.  Here's what he looks like (there are other versions as well including girl elves.  You should Google it).  
Okay, well today I am sharing an idea that is inspired by this lovable Christmas tradition.  The purpose of the Elf on the Shelf is to have a little magical fun with your kids and to keep them in line(behavior wise) before Christmas.  The story goes that the elf watches you all year, but especially close just before Christmas.  The elf reports to Santa each night to tell him how the children behaved.  There are some versions where the elf plays little tricks and comes back home from the North Pole in new and creative poses and predicaments  (Mom and Dad get to exercise their inner kid...I've heard of everything from finding the elf in the cupboard to finding the elf relaxing in a bra hammock...seriously.).  There are even versions that stipulate that the elf must not be touched or it will lose its magic.  Why not create your own version of this with a little Disney Magic? Here is what I propose for a bit of extra pixie dust to your trip!

1. Get a Disney themed plush/doll of your choice.  Go with something your kids really like.  For example purposes, I am choosing this awesome Tinkerbell Doll!  

I chose Tinkerbell.  I would totally play up her flight abilities and the fact that every night she flies down from Cinderella Castle.  That must mean that she oversees all things Disney.  "I'd hate for Tinkerbell to have to tell Mickey that you had a melt down at Target over a pack of Skittles!"...yeah, that sounds good!  If your kid is really into Phineas and Ferb get that, Why not go classic with a Mickey.  Do whatever works best for you and your crew!

2. Get creative with a delivery and the note.  I think it would be awesome to deliver your Disney Magic Maker (yeah, I just thought that name up) when you tell your kids about the upcoming vacation.  It would be so cool  to have your pal and a note written especially to your children.  I would go with a whimsical font and tons of pixie dust (glitter)!  Get creative and write from the perspective of the character.  Here is my example...

Glitter to put all in the note.  It's like Mickey had Tink sitting with him while he wrote the letter... a little pixie dust from her helped it be "air mail".

I would also put some in a cute container for the kids to use at Disney World!

                      sparkly paper, a pop of color, gold glittering stickers, and a few Mickey Cricut cut outs makes it seem magical!
How else would the Mouse write?

3. So, what now?  Okay, write the note!  Here is what I would write...

Dear Mollie,

Oh boy!  I am so excited that you are coming to see me at Disney World!  I am counting down the days until we get to see each other!  I just can't wait!  I am including in this package a magical pal of mine, you might recognizer her...meet Tinkerbell!  

Tink's job for the next few weeks is to help me keep up with all that is going on in your house as you all get ready for your big trip! Every night, Tink flies back to the castle to tell me how things are going!  I can' t wait to hear all the good things she will have to say about you!  Make sure to listen to your Mom and Dad, do all your homework, and help the family as you prepare to come visit me!  

This is Tink's first time being one of my helpers so, I've let her know what to look for.  I know you'll do a good job!  I just hope she behaves herself!  She can be a bit strong-willed...and hopefully she won't set to tinkering on your toys (just to be on the safe side, I wouldn't leave anything laying around in a mess!  Who knows what she might make!).  

Anyway, I can't wait to see you!  Gosh, I almost forgot, Tinkerbell has a vile of Pixie Dust around her neck.  You can pick a moment (or many moments) to sprinkle the pixie dust when you need a bit of magic!  

See ya real soon!
Mickey (and the gang)

So, there you have it!  That's what I would do, but I am sure it would be neat if you sent a Mater or a Buzz or Goofy "magic maker"!  Just think of the fun you'll have!  You could include Magic Bucks to spend on the trip, a Disney autograph book, or whatever else you can dream up!  Now, I just need an experimental prototype family of tomorrow...  :o)  

OR...you could just test it out and tell me how it works for you and yours!  What did you tweak to make it yours?  How did your kids like it?  

Have a magical day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We're All in this Together: Partaking in the Planning!

I am a huge fan of vacation anticipation!  I mean, I love planning, talking possibilities, and dreaming with my family/friends I am going on vacation with!  I love researching my destination to find out more!  And I am queen of the countdowns!  As you probably have guessed, I am a fan of a known vacation.  Okay, so by known vacation, I mean a vacation where everyone knows about the, vacation (sorry for my redundancy).  I know everyone has their own preference with this and believe me, I have seen some pretty great "reveal" videos; you know the ones, the parents devise some creative way of revealing that the family is loading up the mini van and heading to Disney World...like right then...the kid does exactly opposite of what the parents think and everyone is rushed to said mini van and in a confusing dash you make your way to Orlando! 
Okay, so I think that would be a fun thing to do like at least once... but, I am proposing that the big reveal and video capture are made with a little room for family prep and planning!  I would hate to miss out on the fun, that is, the build up before a Disney trip!  For this first post of the series, we will be taking a look at what kinds of fun you can have with prep and planning for your Disney trip...

Call a family meeting!
I love the idea of calling a family vacation planning meeting once a month (or more if that is your thing) to talk planning!   I've determined that while these meetings were once innocently designed to aid in the prep and planning they have secretly transformed into a way for me to squeeze every last drop of vacation goodness out of my trip.   I plan these pep rallies meetings, on the following topics...
Everybody in!
In my book, no matter how old you are, if you are going on the vacation, then you have a say!  Think about it, from teeny babies who decided to nap midday, to temperamental teenagers who want to have the park to themselves, this theory holds true! I say, that when you are planning a vacation get some input from everyone.  There are many ways to do this, from deciding which ride each person wants to make sure to ride to discussing meals to eat.  One of my favorite, tips here is to let every person in your party pick a restaurant.  I find this really easy when dining is included because, when I go without free dining I tend to not eat as many expensive meals in the parks.  I like to pull up sites with lists of the menus like Chip & Co.  and All Ears  let my family members pick a restaurant.  The coolest thing about this idea is that each family member's voice is honored (oh, it's Molly's restaurant night!) and you get to try out new restaurants!

Count em' down!
I love a vacation countdown and with the invention of Pintrest, you can't escape the chance to exercise your inner Martha!  In fact, I created a board approrpiately named , It's the Final Countdown!!! Disney World in ___ Days!   on Disney Done Right's Pintrest page (on a sidenote, you should follow!!!)  I love that everyone in the family can help create and keep track of the countdown!  I love that it helps keep the momentum for the vacation to come and I love how stinkin' cute those things are! 
Research isn't what you remember from your school days.  With the simple click of a mouse you can be transported into worlds away in seconds!  I love searching through pictures and websites and I especially love looking at maps, reviews, and my personal favorite, Youtube videos!  I love the sense of excitement that comes with looking at the possibilities and seeing them come true as I make my way through the park gates!  If you read this blog, you'll probably know that I went to the Garden View Tea Room on my last trip to Disney.  I was so pumped for that tea!  I looked up reviews, pictures, and even the menu in order to find out more! The build up to my vacation only increased my excitement for that day!  Also, it helped to seal in wonderful memories!  I look at reviews and videos now and think "I remember that!" 

Set the tone!
 One of the best meetings my family had to prep and plan for a trip, was for our Hawaii trip just last year.  My brother-in-law prepared a full luau for us as we looked over preliminary itineraries and information.  I love this idea for a Disney World planning family meeting!  One of my favorite bloggers in the Disney Sphere is Disney in Our Blood's Christina.   She has the wonderful talent of putting together Disney themed movie nights.  Complete with coordinating food and activities...if I wasn't a grown woman, I'd ask her to adopt me.  You should really check out that link to find more great suggestions to make your Disney Trip (hhh, hmmmm...official family meeting here friends) even better by playing up the magic and wonder of Disney!
Save it up!
Okay, every penny counts when you are saving up for Disney...Right?  I remember thinking that when I was little.  I would store coins away for trips to the beach or Disney World!  I still believe this!  And, to make matters even better, I think this is a good economics lesson for your kids.  Clearly, pocket change collected in a matter of weeks isn't going to be enough to get you to Disney (if it is enough to get you there, again this grown woman will be up for moving in as your slightly older child).  I can imagine a family meeting to make a jar for all the random coins and bills you come across.  Just think, a penny found is another cent closer to Disney fun.  And, why not let the kids in on the spending?  You can put it toward a souvenir or dinner.  That sounds like fun to me!

                                                                                       source: wdwfanzone.com via Ashley on Pinterest

What are some of your ideas for family planning sessions?  Share them below and be sure to check back for the next post in the series soon!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

We're all in This Together!

Family vacations.  What does that make you think?  Did you smile with fond memories or cringe with fright?  I guess it is all in how you look at the glass. Half full, half empty, half way insane with too much togetherness...

No matter how you look at it, family vacations are something to be treasured.  At the root of it all, the time we spend on family vacations are the building blocks of our bonding and memories to last a life time.  I love family vacations.  Always have.  Always will.  So, in honor of all things family vacation, we are kicking off a brand new summer series for families!  The goal of this series is to help you and your family make the MOST out of your magical vacation in the most magical place on Earth, Disney World!  We're talking prep and planning, ideas and suggestions, and more all for your family...because after all, we are ALL in this together!  If you have any special requests for this series, leave them below in the comment section! 

Oh, and today you should totally check out my friend Terri's site, wdwhints.com and her Facebook page.  She has loads of great tips and suggestions that are sure to make your trip amazing!  Head on over and like/follow my friend from Chip and Co.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Share the LOVE! Chip and Co. Friends!

Hello Friends!  I am working on a brand new summer series called "We're All in This Together!" I hope you'll check back soon and read up on some Disney tips and tricks for making your family vacation the most magical! Today I would love for you to head over to my friend Lesley's Facebook page and show her some love!  She writes with me over at Chip & Co. and she is pretty much amazing!