Auntie Tip: Emotional Highs and Lows

Up, down, and watch out signs in Alice's Curious Labyrinth in Disneyland ParisWalt Disney World is the most magical place on earth. You and your family will make some of your most precious memories there. There will be smiles and laughter, but there will also be tears, and sometimes tantrums. And I’m not just talking about the kids.

You see, the magic comes with a price. A financial price certainly, but also the toll that comes with abandoning routine. Your meals, sleep patterns, and miles walked in a day may vary dramatically from your everyday life. You may be spending a lot more time with friends and family members than usual, which can be wonderful, but can also diminish any sense of privacy you usually have. Add in issues like sickness or bad weather and your trip can quickly go off the rails.

On the same wonderful trip during which my nephew celebrated his first birthday, I have a memory of the terror on my 18-month-old niece’s face when meeting the characters for the first time. We’ve seen the kids wake up Tinker Bell, get first haircuts, and ride their favorite attractions over and over, but we’ve also strapped screaming children into strollers and had more bathroom accidents than I could count. (Not to mention the trip when one of the kids was terrified of automatic flushing toilets.) It’s times like those when you wonder, “Why do people take kids to these places?”

It’s not just the kids, though. We adults have certainly had our share of crabby moments, exacerbated by sick kids, hunger, cold weather, conflicting priorities, and lack of alone time. Sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it.

But it is. I wouldn’t give up all those wonderful memories for anything, and I’m still eager for more, even knowing that some emotional lows will accompany them. This November the whole clan is heading to Disneyland, and we adults will be evenly matched for the first time: seven adults and seven kids aged seven and under (totally violating my preferred adult-child ratio). It’s going to be insane, but there are things we can do to reduce (although never eliminate) the challenges.

I know I’m going to need to take some breaks from the family and go off on my own for a little while. I’m an introvert; this is necessary for my mental health. We’ll consider things like nap times and try to not completely obliterate the kids’ sleeping schedule. That means although it’s less than ideal for park touring, we might not be there at opening every single morning. (The ideal thing is to be there at opening, leave around lunch for naps, and then come back late afternoon, but we never have the discipline to make ourselves leave the park.) We will pack for a wide range of weather possibilities, because being too cold (or paying $60 for a sweatshirt) never put anyone in a good mood. We will take time for some of the simple things, like playgrounds, because sometimes the kids need to run around and make their own fun rather than experience a preprogrammed activity. We will take regular bathroom breaks (it’s shocking how easy it is to forget this). Your family may have additional preventative measures you can take to keep the emotional lows to a minimum.

So while I could easily make a list of our top 10 worst moments in Walt Disney World, I could just as easily make a list of our top 100 best moments. And that’s why I still love Walt Disney World.

One thought on “Auntie Tip: Emotional Highs and Lows

  1. It has been super helpful to have stickers and snacks while waiting in line as you mentioned in your previous Auntie Tip.
    I have also found that having conversations or playing games with the children makes the time spent in any line go a little faster. One of our favorite games is I-Spy. Now that the kids are a little older we actually do estimating and counting activities. (I just never seem to be able to turn off the math teacher thing.)

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