We are leaving tomorrow to drive to Disney World with four kids. I swore two years ago that I would never drive to Disney with the kids again. But here we are. That’s because something I care about more is at play: my mom. I have been trying to get her to Disney with us for years. But she works hard and is never available when we’re going (which also completely stinks- she shouldn’t have to work so hard.) Somehow this time she can go, but it had to be over Thanksgiving (yikes, busy!) Flights were so expensive and so were rental cars so we decided to drive. I was sort of cringing inside from the moment that decision was made until now. Four kids? One of them needs to nurse every hour while we’re home…
Why did I swear off driving to Disney you ask? Well let me give you the condensed version: two years ago we decided to drive to Disney. I was going to be on Maternity Leave and we weren’t 100% confident on our dates because of the baby’s arrival, but we booked a vacation home through a very nice man that said he’d waive the cancellation fee if it was because of the baby, so we went ahead and booked it. The airlines would not be so accommodating, I knew. And we’d just moved to Kentucky a mere 12.5 hour drive from the most Magical Place on Earth. I thought it would be fine. I read up on it. I talked to friends. One of them said to drive all night while the kids slept, wake up at Disney. Sounded great. Wasn’t. I wasn’t even able to catch a nap before we left and…. Oh my gees, this is a long story and I should totally write it up in another post. Ok, I will. But long story short for now: we managed to cram a 12.5 hour drive into 20 hours. Without stopping to sleep. And I drove 18 hours of it myself. Sooo. Yeah. Wasn’t eager for that again.
But this time, I’m smarter. Mommy has wised up. Look at me. I have my own blog. But seriously. I booked a hotel halfway. And we are driving 7 hours tomorrow and then stopping to enjoy a nice hotel with a pool. Then we’ll drive 5.5 hours the next day and arrive at Disney in the early afternoon. In addition to this, I went basically nuts purchasing items to keep the kids busy in the car. Yes, I could hand them their iPads and let them watch Finding Dory three times in a row each day, but I’m really not that kind of mom. I don’t want their brains fried. So I scoured the internet for some good busy items and I’m going to show you what I’m taking and then when we get back, I’ll tell you what was a success and what was a let down. Save you some time. (I’d put a winky smiley face here if I knew how to do that on this webpage. So just pretend.)
I counted up the cost of these items and I spent about $55 on everything for all three kids. I did get some good deals so these items probably cost more like $100 if you paid full price (but don’t do that, ok?) But $55 for happy engaged kids seemed completely worth it to me. I bought all the Melissa and Doug stuff from Holler. It was $27 even with tax and there was no shipping. I’d heard that they might take a long time to ship, but they were lightning fast for me and I was very happy with their service. Most everything else I got at DisneyStore.com. I’m always watching for sales on small items because I like to get things for the kids to play with in lines. This is incredibly important for my Disney trips. I never spend much money on them (garage sales, Dollar Tree), but they are worth their weight in gold when we’re still 20 minutes from the front of the line and my 3 are getting antsy. That’s just not the memory I want to make. I want them to remember Disney as a magical fun place, not as the place we stand in line a lot. I’m a lot better about planning so that we don’t stand in line now, but back when I was a novice, (or times like this when we have to go at a busy time due to scheduling) the toys really helped. In fact, Seth just said to me last trip, “Remember how we used to play in line together? We should do that. We never stand in line anymore.” Well, he’s going to get his wish this trip, because some days crowd levels are supposed to be a ten out of ten! Having something to do in line, turns the wait into precious quality time together. Instead of handing him my phone (to run my battery dead!) we’re making memories. I also have tons of crafts this trip, they are all Thanksgiving themed. They’ll have a blast making stuff with Grandma. I never take stuff that needs glued or messy stuff. I do self adhesive and beading etc. Maybe I’ll do another post about that when I do the Christmas crafts for our Christmas trip. I would do it here, but I just don’t have time before we’re supposed to leave!
So I’ll include where I got everything and email me at LJ@SmartMomsPlanDisney.com if you have any questions!
If you have kids and you are unaware of these little pieces of magical quiet time in a small package, you need to wake up and get to Target. Actually, the Melissa and Doug ones are from Holler, but the others are from Target and I also get them from Amazon. My 5 year old loves to just color the pages in and see the “magic”, but Seth can burn through an hour doing a puzzle in one of these. I highly recommend the Finding Dory ones if you can find them. I buy these for $2-$5. Worth every cent.
I’m in love with these and want to do them myself! They are fairly difficult (counting to 230) dot to dots, but they have stickers that you put in to help. The stickers look very cool. I’m hoping it will help Seth with counting past 100. I got this at Mindware.com The full price was $7, but I had a coupon code.
I really have no experience with these seven things. I usually steer clear of glitter, but I’m taking them at their word: “No mess”. Will report back. I think it’ll be great that they’ll have an adult nearby, probably Daddy or Grandma since I like to drive. These will make the time pass and they’ll have some fun and maybe learn something.
Alex Crafts have never failed me. They are always a hit. I buy them as Add-On items on Amazon. There are expensive ones, but I just look for the less expensive ones and they’ve proven to be great. I took them out of the boxes and put them in ziplocks to save space.
I know you’ve seen these. I love them. 99 cents at Target buys me entertained kids for at least 20 minutes.
Ok, this was a total splurge for me. I think it was $12 full price but I got it for around $7 which is more than I usually pay for anti-boredom toys, but I have this memory of my mom with finger puppets and singing songs and I knew we would have a blast with them. We have some other finger puppets and I can get a really good story going with a couple of them on my fingers and the kids are dying with laughter. It’s worth it. Confession: I got the Mickey ones too.
My two year old is going to flip over this. I’m planning to bring it out when it gets dark. It was like $11 full price and I was eyeing it for a WHILE before it went on sale for about $5.50 I love that it shines his face. Super Cute.
This is sort of for me. I LOVE Belle and Chip and this it a brush that has it’s own mirror. So it’s a little for my 5 year old, but mostly for Mommy.
So that’s it! I’ll have to let y’all know how it goes. And just so you know, I’m not one of those moms who is just throwing merchandise at her kids in hopes that they’ll behave. You know the one. The one whose kid is screaming at the grocery store and the mom is saying, “Here do you want a cookie? Take the cookie.” Begging him to stop crying. I’m not that mom. I would say, “Boys who are having a fit do not get cookies. If you straighten up, we’ll see about a cookie.” I used to be that other mom and I’ve learned. Fourth time is a charm. I always look at that mom and wish I could help her because I remember how hard that was. With these toys I’ll say, “If you play nicely until the clock says 12:00, I have another surprise for you.”
Comments or questions? Email me at LJ@SmartMomsPlanDisney.com
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