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I think we can all agree that Disneyland is a magical place.
Whether you have been there one time or fifty, the charm and cheer hold strong. Disneyland is special. A real treat. And in my case, it was literally a dream come true.
Every other trip I've taken to Disneyland has been a family affair. Either a long, long road trip or a busy flight followed by a non-stop marathon through the park. When you're at Disneyland with your family everyone has an agenda, a favorite restaurant, a character they're aching to see. It's hard not to be pulled in multiple directions and often, tensions run high as everyone overflows with excitement. But this time, it was just a me and my 5-year-old daughter.
And a one-on-one Disneyland experience?
It was totally different. Magical through and through. A mother-daughter date I'll never forget.
I first had the idea to fly from Washington State to California with my oldest during the first trimester of my third pregnancy. I was napping every day in an attempt to survive and had the most crystal clear dream of my daughter and I walking hand in hand down Main Street. I woke up and in a hormone-induced email, wrote my husband. I just wanted to put the idea out there to see if he laughed, rolled his eyes, or momentarily considered the possibility of my dream.
Over the next few months my husband and I worked to make Disney magic happen. I so badly wanted my big girl to have a little celebration, a fun adventure and some solo mama time before we welcomed a baby, her second brother, into our family. And we did it!
Everywhere she looked, her eyes sparkled. I got to see it all because she was my only focus. I didn't have another child who needed the restroom or a baby ready to nurse.
I knew it would be special. How could it not be? But it was more than special. Seriously, the three days we spent on our mother-daughter date to Disneyland has been cemented as one of my greatest memories of all time.
During our visit, we shared The Mint Julep's famous beignets while riding the Disneyland train and experienced the amazing atmosphere at The Blue Bayou. We sang at the top of our lungs during the Frozen Sing-Along and Mickey's Soundsational Parade. Mary Poppins told us how to find the horse dedicated to her on King Arthur's Carousel and we had a little FaceTime chat with Daddy while enduring the line at Peter Pan. Once the ride was over she looked up at me and said, "That was a long wait, but TOTALLY worth it!" She fell in love with "It's A Small World" and pin trading, Minnie Mouse and The Tiki Room.
Everywhere she looked, her eyes sparkled. I got to see it all because she was my only focus. I didn't have another child who needed the restroom or a baby ready to nurse. We were able to take as many breaks as we needed, fit in mid-day naps, and catch all the shows that sparked our interest. She and I dictated our pace, how many times we wanted to ride an attraction and when it was time to stop for meals. Being at Disneyland, just us, was ten times better than I could have imagined. Frankly, I'm almost considering never going as a family anymore and alternating with my husband and taking our kids individually at various milestones instead.
If it has ever crossed your mind to take your child on a date to Disneyland, do it! One day, three, or five; a road trip, train, or flight … whatever you choose, whatever you can manage this year, next or five years from now, don't think twice about making plans. I promise, you will never regret the dedicated time with your son or daughter. It's priceless! And most importantly, they will never forget the magic and love of being at Disneyland one-on-one with their parent.