I've heard and read all the stories and studies: vacations = stress. But, in my humble defense, this was our first family vacation since EJ joined the party. All of our earlier family vacations (also known as just A and myself indulging in Disney for a week) have been pretty stress free.
The first time I took A, when she was 3 years old, I made the statement (and adhered to it) that I'd done Disney for myself already. Heck, I lived and worked there for a semester in college. Our vacations would revolve around what SHE wanted to do. Seeing her face light up was enough for me. And that plan worked - each time we went to Disney World. Vacation revolved around making magic for my daughter.
This strategy works well in an only child environment. It does not work as well for a single mama with a twelve year old daughter and a three year old son. Disparate interests is an understatement. Combine this challenge with those of bringing together the varying expectations of two different families and - honestly, I'm impressed our vacation wasn't a huge disaster.
There were challenges - lots of challenges. A twisted ankle, blisters, heat exhaustion, a spider bite, deflated air mattress (remember, we were camping), dehydration, oppressive heat, sunburn, lost bags, lost tickets, and a lost phone were just some of the plot twists that occurred on our vacation. Yet our last night still involved this kind of frivolity:
It all came together. The older ones enjoyed a certain amount of freedom - and, I think most importantly, we went into the vacation agreeing to talk, to not take anything personally, and to split up and meet for meals and fastpasses when interests didn't all mesh.
This year's trip to Disney World was a learning experience for me. Family vacations are getting a facelift, now that our family has a new face - but they can still be absolutely magical!