Like many families with children, Disney is a large part of our world (♪♪ see what I did there? ♪♪). Minnie Mouse dolls are strewn across our living room, Puppy Dog Pals seems to always be playing on at least one TV in the House, and my husband routinely breaks out into a song from Moana.
When I was pregnant with our daughter I would daydream about her first trip to Disney. How our first vacation as a family would be spent seeing the magic through her eyes. When I would talk about this with others, however, I got a lot eye rolls in response.
A baby is too young. They shouldn’t be away from home.
What’s the point—she won’t remember!
That sounds like a nightmare. Vacationing with an infant is the worst.
It wasn’t exactly the positive reinforcement I was looking for. Was I crazy for wanting to vacation with my six month old? By the time I was sharing the details of our trip, we had already purchased the tickets and booked a hotel. We were at the point of no return.
It was around this time that I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post from one of my friends: “After a three hour car ride, with Amelia screaming and crying non-stop, we’ve made it to our hotel!”
Say what?!?I decided to dive into hyper-planning mode. I committed myself to doing everything I could to set us up for success. We would not have a crying Amelia on our trip. Our trip would be magical.
The first thing I did was re-wire my brain. I knew I had to leave all my expectations at the door. Babies are unpredictable and one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned is that you have to go with the flow.
I remember telling my husband, “Listen. I know you want to get there as fast as possible, but if baby starts getting really fussy, or needs a break. . .. we’re taking one.” He looked at me like I had ten heads, but I stood firm. What was more important—keeping baby happy and calm or making good time?
As we got closer to vacation time, I started making the packing lists. I began to think about all the things baby uses on a daily basis, Diapers, wipes, changing pad, diaper cream, puff snacks, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, bottles, formula, a cover for the stroller in case of rain. . . the list just kept growing and growing.. I included everything—even the obvious.
Looking back, ok, I may have gone a tiiiiiiiiny bit overboard. About two days before, I suggested to my husband that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to rent a car. I told him it would avoid putting wear and tear on our vehicles, but really it was because I knew we needed more space for the craziness of my packing. We rented a Suburban. Which is essentially a boat on wheels.
Then, finally, it was here—the first day of vacation. Our three hour road trip indeed turned into four and half, not because of baby, but because of a wild fire along the highway and then a Special Olympics race on the detour back roads (talk about timing, right?). Luckily, because of my overpacking, the car toys were enough to occupy our little munchie until she fell into a deep sleep.
The vacation itself was amazing. Baby LOVED hanging out somewhere new with mommy and daddy. The days were so packed with excitement that she slept like a, well, baby, at the hotel. I kept reminding myself about expectations and really just let baby and her mood lead our activities.
So many times, as a mom, I feel this pressure with my family to make those picture-perfect memories. I had to remind myself that baby doesn’t know I’m trying to get the most amazing family photo in front of Cinderella’s castle. All she knows is that she’s tired from looking at all the fun lights and colors and now she wants to take a nap in her stroller. We let her mood dictate our trip and it was a blast. My photos don’t have to be influencer-level perfect. The more I would allow myself to relax and let it go (♪♪ couldn’t help it ♪♪), the more fun we would all have.
It turned out that, just like so many other elements of parenting,the unknown and newness of everything is the most scary part. Once we pulled the bandaid off and got our first vacation as a family of three under our belt there was no looking back! In the past year since that first trip, our baby girl has spent at least a dozen nights in hotels and each trip has been a blast.
When I think about the people who said things like She won’t remember it! or scoffed at the idea of vacationing with a baby, I laugh. Sure, she may not remember every detail, but, we as parents will! And when she is older, she will be able to look back on all the pictures we took and know that we have always had fun as a family.
So if you are debating whether or not you should make the jump and do that first family trip I would tell you, without hesitation, do it. Whether it’s going to Disney with a toddler, or taking a cruise with your one year old, do it. Going on vacation with kids is an experience no matter what age they are, but there is a special kind of magic when you go with your baby.