Thursday, June 5, 2014


My husband and I just returned from an anniversary trip. We were celebrating our 35th and as any child-at-heart couple might, we decided to visit Walt Disney World for a couple of days during our journey.

We've never been to WDW alone. In the past, our visits have included extended family, friends, children and grandchildren, so we decided that it might be fun to see how much "world" we could cover if not navigating the park with strollers or a large group.

What we learned was invaluable. Yes, we were able to cover three times the territory in one third the time and as mercy would have it the weather was unseasonably mild and cooperative, so it was an exceptional leg of our trip.

It's interesting how much more you observe when you're not wrangling small children or looking for a place that can accommodate ten people for lunch. For instance, I saw the great divide that separates how families should vacation from how too many families do vacation.

Why take your children to the most magical place on earth only to yell and scream about schedules or their misunderstanding of the commands you've barked at them while in the swimming pool?

The chasm that exists between the fond memories some fortunate children will have of their trip versus those kids whose parents consider vacation another job to complete is a sad thing to ponder.

If you're going to spend the money and take the time to create a memorable holiday, may I offer a few suggestions? As one who has seen the years fly and would take nothing for the precious times our family enjoyed before our nest became empty, I think I may have a few ideas that could serve you well.

1. Either schedule enough down time to allow your children to rest or stop yelling at them for doing what children do when they are exhausted.

2. Stop managing your vacation like it's a chore list. Breathe! This is supposed to be FUN. RECREATE! Don't treat your children like robots or little lackeys. If you want/need an adult vacation, don't bring them. If you bring them, take off your "selfish" hat.

3.  Don't force a terrified child to endure the Haunted Mansion (or anything else scary) by lying to them. You are teaching them to become the liar that you apparently are.

4.  Laugh with your children. Be silly. I remembered at almost every attraction in the Magic Kingdom the hilarious things my own father said and did as he provided his "analysis" of the rides and shows. To this day the Country Bear Jamboree brings a smile to my face because I can picture my dad and his crazy rendition of the song they sing. "There was blood on the saddle" makes me giggle like a girl--and while walking through the park it was almost as if my dad was present because he so enjoyed making his daughters laugh as we vacationed. Will your children remember you with such fondness when you're gone? I hope so.

5.  Model courtesy. When you push ahead, break in line, act like the world revolves around you, don't say please or thank you, your little ones are watching. Don't be surprised when they are disrespectful to you after they've watched you be disrespectful to others.

6.  Discipline them appropriately when needed. Yes, sometimes they behave like little animals and need to be reminded that their behavior isn't acceptable. But please don't 'beat' them in public, don't scream at them or call them names, don't berate or insult them as if they have no feelings. There are always restrooms or private areas that can be utilized for corrective conversations. Humiliation is not discipline! Mistaking the two will not likely yield cooperative kids in the future.  Instead, you may end up with bitter, rebellious or emotionally wounded children.

7.  Please stop ignoring warning signs or posted rules. Do you honestly think that a reading child who sees you breaking rules won't become a rule breaker? Maybe these rules aren't such a big deal you think. Again, you're setting yourself up for future heartbreak when you model to them that you (and they) are the exceptions.

8.  Enjoy your children. God blessed you with a priceless gift. They will not be little long. As one wise mother said, the days are long but the years are short. Don't miss the magic.


You won't regret it when your nest is empty, but if you miss it, you'll never get it back.

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