As a working mom, I often feel guilty about not staying home with my boys or being there when they get off the bus.  I miss being the parent to take them to after-school practices, or in Reagan’s case, therapies.  As hard as it is, I know that I am doing what I have to do to provide for my family.  I’m blessed with a good job and a great boss who lets me have the time I need to go to their school functions, doctor’s appointments, and yes – Disney World!

But guilt has often found me trying to make up for not always being there, and I find myself giving them material things or overdoing the simple things.  For example, I plan over-the-top birthday parties for them – you know the kind – where you take care of every minute detail and elaborate decorations, only to see them having more fun playing tag.  Or buying them an awesome Hot Wheels track with loops, bells, and whistles, only to see them pulling the wrapping paper tube out of the trash and using it for a tunnel.  (By the way, cardboard tubes also make cool swords that make a great sound without the pain when you whack your opponent.)

However, I’ve learned that just playing with them and giving them my undivided attention is all they really want from me.  They are super happy spending a Saturday at the park and ending the day snuggled on the sofa watching a movie.  For me this means that I don’t turn on my computer, and I leave my cell phone in my purse. No emails, no calls, no tweets, no texts.  In fact, most of my friends will tell you that my cell phone often dies on the weekends because I forget to charge the battery.  But this simpler way of life has relieved me of a lot of stress, and allowed me to focus more on my boys who are growing up way too fast, for they won’t always think their Mom is the coolest person in the world.

Photo Credit: Allison Valdes

Warning:  This next paragraph is not for the faint of heart neurotic Disney fanatics.

I’ve also learned to apply this philosophy to our trips to Disney World and not over-plan every minute.  For example, we were in Orlando during the Christmas break visiting family, and I knew that I had to be in Disney World on January 1, 2011 to start off the new year right, but I had no specific plan.  I asked my six year old, Jake (who is Disney-crazy which makes me so proud), which park he wanted to visit.  He chose Disney’s Hollywood Studios because he wanted to see the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.  So I packed up my two boys, and the three of us headed over to the Studios.  We didn’t get there right at park opening. We had no Advanced Dining Reservations, and we didn’t have an action plan.  Scary – I know!

I let my boys lead the way all day.  Whatever they wanted to do, we headed in that direction, and when we finished with an attraction, we checked the Times Guide to see what was happening next.  If we made it, great.  If not, we did something else.  I didn’t get to ride Rock-n-Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith which is my favorite attraction in the park – but I was okay with that.  We didn’t even try to get seated at a table service restaurant; we ate whatever was convenient when we got hungry.

On that particular visit I looked for the Bare Necessities, as I now do in my everyday life. And at the end of that day, as I was sitting with both of my boys in my lap watching Fantasmic!, I realized that we’d had the perfect Disney day.

Contributed by: Allison Valdes (NDM#367) Allison is a DDL Parenting Blogger and proud member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. Visit the Walt Disney World Moms Panel for help planning your Magical Trip. She is not a Disney employee. The postings on this site are her own and do not necessarily represent Disney’s positions or opinions.


  1. Oh, Allison, I just love this! We used to be crazy planners when we flew in from Seattle but I REALLY LOVE the way we do it now. We do like you described, just flying by the seat of our pants. We don’t have ADRs and we just sort of play everything by ear. We were amazed when we walked up to Tusker House 3 weeks ago at 6pm to see if we could eat there and they got us in! I love your perspective on slowing things down. Life moves way to quickly as it is. Thanks for sharing your perfect Disney day with us! 🙂

  2. Thank you Jackie! Playing it by “mouse ear” can be a lot of fun because there is always pixie dust around every corner that you might miss when you are so focused on a tight schedule 🙂 Have a magical day!

  3. Allison, Even without kids, I know where you’re coming from. People will be visiting and don’t understand when we let the answering machine pick up the phone calls. All life is way too hectic so it’s nice to just “go with the flow”. I think is a great reminder to everyone to slow down and enjoy your life today – right now!

  4. Thanks for rhe info. We are planning a Christmas trip this year with both girl’s families. Joanne

  5. Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

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