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Why We Chose to Do Disney in Shifts


I’m writing this on Thursday morning (1/17). Tomorrow, at this time, I’ll be in Hollywood studios with two of my four kids. In the planning and anticipation of this trip, I’ve gotten many reactions when I say, “We’re not all going.” Through genuine smiles, friends have said, “You’re not making it a family thing?” Well, yes and no. My oldest two kids are my family, but no, the whole family isn’t going. 

Let me start by saying, “Doing Disney” is a huge privilege. We feel completely blessed to be able to take such an amazing vacation, even if it’s just for a few days. There are people who will never get to do Disney, and I can’t lose sight of that. 

In the early stages of planning for this trip, we were thinking about what things each of the kids will want to do. It felt like there would be a lot of splitting up. One of us taking the two Littles somewhere while the two Bigs did something else. That’s when Ryan said, “Let’s actually just split it up. In different trips.” I imagined the freedom of tackling the park with just the older kids. Not spending the day waiting in line to meet every princess. Staying in a cheaper room instead of a suite for our enormous family. And I agreed immediately. 

Of course, the Bigs are thrilled, but how did the Littles take it? If you know Nora, this arrangement sounds like a recipe for disaster. We often say, “Nora likes things the way she likes things.” (This phrase actually started with me, so I have a deep understanding of this position.) Knock on wood, she’s been really great. She keeps looking at our countdown app. and telling us how many days we have left. She’s helped us pack and hasn’t thrown one fit. Grady’s just kind of clueless and doesn’t really know what Disney World is. Turning on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse may be all he needs to feel like he’s doing Disney. 

I’ve said before, I find time with one or two kids at a time precious. Not just because it’s easier, though it definitely is. I love it because it brings different things out in each kid. My days with just the littles is awesome. They are roommates, and best friends, and take care of each other like an old married couple. 

When I just have the bigs, it’s a different dynamic too. We get to throw out any expectation of them helping with the littles and they get to just be the littles again for a bit. Except they’re not little. So I don’t have to hook them into their carseats, or zip up their coats, or ask them if they have to go to the bathroom. We’ve had some of the best conversations during times with just the two of them. 

I think they see this time as precious too. And I know they’ll remember this trip even more since it was their special time. I definitely will. 

For this to work though, we actually have to do the second shift. It may just be Nora and Ryan until Grady’s older. It may be both of us with the littles, since they require more care. We’ll figure it out. Because Nora will make sure we do. If I have time today, I may comment and let you all know how things are going on our “big kids only” trip. I know it’ll be amazing. 

Anyone else do something like this for a major trip? I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Blessings! 

Shannon