We just got back from a long weekend vacation in Orlando. Most of the time was spent at various Disney places, with one stop at Universal Studios. We decided not to take the toddler for various reasons. He wouldn’t remember it, and his presence would have made the entire trip a lot more complicated. So it was just my husband and me and the three older kids, now 9, 7, and 5 — in other words, pretty close to perfect Disney ages.
It was not exactly relaxing, though that’s not really the point with amusement park vacations. It was, however, fun in a way that travel with a toddler is not. It gave me a glimpse of what life with big kids is going to be like, and it was pretty exciting.
For one thing: I slept through the night. I got up with my alarm. We stayed out way too late last night — back to the hotel at 12:30 and up at 7:30 to catch our flight — and we paid for it in terms of a cranky 5-year-old (she was actually throwing crayons on the plane). However, the fact that we could stay out until midnight and didn’t have to deal with nap schedules was incredibly liberating.
Also liberating? Packing! I put everything for the 3 kids in one carry-on. I put my stuff in a backpack. I put their in-flight entertainment in another backpack, and made my 9-year-old carry it. No need for bottles, diapers, or special food. On the plane flight there (when I was the lone adult) they played with their Kindles almost the entire time. I was able to read Real Simple in peace with only occasional pauses to referee fights (until the last 30 minutes when they were out of battery but…oh well).
There were fights in lines, but we could stand in lines without disaster. They did not run away from me in crowds. I could send the 9-year-old to the bathroom by himself, or leave him and the 7-year-old outside the ladies room while I went in. They had a lot of fun. My 9-year-old was the kid selected in the wand selecting show in Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. My 7-year-old’s picture was flashed up on screen in the Star Wars ride at Hollywood Studios as the rebel who was a stowaway on the plane. My daughter sang at the top of her lungs in the Frozen sing along.
It felt doable in a way that travel hasn’t in a while. We have traveled as a family over the years, but it always feels like there are so many ups and downs. We have had someone under age 3 for the past 9.5 years. On this trip, we didn’t. It has made me start daydreaming about the trips we might take when they are all older. Or at least the Disney trip we will take in 4 years when the little guy might appreciate it!
Photo: Out the window at Animal Kingdom Lodge.