The Pre-planning stage
Hubby and I decided when Willow was approaching 2 years old that we’d really like to do one big trip with her before we thought about having a second child. Florida was always somewhere we’d wanted to go, especially as I’m a big theme-park junkie, but it was tricky to visualise when exactly we’d make it out there.
There was no way we’d want to go during school holidays – not simply because of the much higher cost, but also because the thought of waiting hours and hours for one ride kinda sucked. I’d been spoilt in the past having visited European parks before they became popular, and it just seemed that Disney was only getting more and more busy each year. I did my usual hours and hours of research, and we decided to focus on November 2014 – when queue times were at their lowest, and the weather was still pretty good. Willow was exactly 2 years, 8 months old when we flew out.
When we told people we were taking an under-3 to Orlando, we were met with varying degrees of ‘are you mad?’ Some people hid it and some didn’t – but it was clear that people thought we were stupid. ‘She’s not old enough’, and ‘She won’t remember it’ were just some of the statements we encountered, along with ‘Are you going for you or her?’
So here’s the thing. Our trip was about us as a family – so it was right for both us as adults and our daughter as a toddler – and I think this is the way it should be. If you go on holiday somewhere ‘for the kids’, but you are going to hate, then I’m pretty sure your child won’t have a great time either – and vice versa. Of course travelling as a family is about compromise and sacrifice, but I do think it is important to find a middle ground – somewhere that all of you will enjoy and not begrudge one another.
One thing I’ve learned since becoming a mum is that children live very much in the moment. They do what makes them happy here and now, which is why it can be quite frustrating trying to teach them about consequences. Trust me, I spent ages tormenting myself with the thoughts of ‘are we wasting money if she won’t remember it’ but I kept coming around to the same conclusion – we weren’t going on this holiday simply for the memory. We were going because we would – like children – enjoy it in that very moment. Anything Willow remembered of it would be a bonus, but what was important to us was seeing how much fun she would have while out there. We knew she would love spending time with mummy and daddy, uncle Scotty and grandma – If there were some cool slides, a carousel and train ride in there too, well they were a bonus!
I genuinely believe that you will *know* if a big trip like this is going to be right for your family. If you have the sort of child who simply cannot cope being out of their routine, or cries at the sight of a new place, then perhaps you’ve not quite reached the right moment yet. For us, Willow has such a good level of understanding and excellent communication skills, that we are able to explain and reason with her. We were confident that if there is a ride she wasn’t able to go on – whether it be down to heigh restrictions, queue time or good old fear factor, well we knew that we would be able to talk about it with her and she’d listen.
Ultimately, we wanted an amazing family holiday – somewhere warm – somewhere that my mum could have a great time and enjoy her granddaughter’s company, and somewhere that all of us would have a blast. Orlando was it.
The next part in this series is – How to book