How My Family Chose Healthy Road Trip Snacks at the Convenience Store

Road trips call for great musical playlists, memorable in car photo-ops and conversations and of course, plenty of snacks to keep everyone happy! As a family of 6, when we pile everyone inside the minivan for a road trip, we want to avoid bickering, whining and grumbling bellies. Having well-balanced, healthy snacks (that are still fun!) are important. Find out how my family chose healthy road trip snacks for everyone, aged toddler to adult on our recent drive to Palm Springs.

This post is sponsored by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). All thoughts & opinions expressed are my own. 

Family Road Trip Must-Haves

Recently my family headed out to Palm Springs for the weekend. It was supposed to be a 2 1/2 hour drive that stretched out to nearly 3 1/2 hours. We’d intended to hit the convenience store to fill up on snacks but were stuck in traffic, unable to get off the freeway. As you can see, at least one of the kids was not pleased!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Our hungry toddler was ready for a pit stop!

Why Are Road Trip Snacks Important?

Snacks are especially important for kids. Their stomachs are smaller and they burn off their food quicker. Healthy road trip snacks for kids can prevent dips in blood sugar as well as crankiness in the car! Keep in mind that snacks should not be replacing regular meals on the road. If you’re taking a very long drive, try to stop every 2-3 hours so that everyone can get out of the car, stretch and have a snack. Full meals should stay on your usual time schedule.

There may be times on the road trip that everyone will want to eat a snack while driving. Consider snacks that are less likely to make a mess (ie: choose applesauce in a squeezable pouch instead of a cup that requires a spoon). You’ll also want to think about the foods that may be choking hazards for younger kids, avoiding raisins, popcorn and nuts. My friend Becca at This Crazy Adventure Called Life has more tips on the best road trip snacks.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

You can’t go wrong with chilled cut fresh fruit

Choosing Healthy Convenience Store Snacks on the Road

My family and I recently took a road trip to Palm Springs, driving from San Diego. It took us over 3 hours driving there in traffic. We stopped at a convenience store to grab snacks for the trip. The NACS survey shows that convenience stores offer the top three reasons that most people stop on the road: 96% use the restroom, 95% get gasoline and 91% buy food and drinks!

I took my kids inside to see what kind of healthy snacks they’d choose for the road. The teens didn’t want to be on camera (figures!) But my 6 year old was all smiles while he took me around the store to show me which road trip snacks he thought were the healthiest.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

My 6-yr old headed straight for the cookies! Probably NOT the healthiest choices.

What Constitutes a Healthy Snack?

When choosing a road trip snack, aim for these general healthy guidelines: A snack should be around 150 to 250 calories, contain about 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and not have more than 12 grams of fat. The best snacks are low in sugar, fat, and salt. Protein and fiber will help you feel full and satisfied between meals.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Read the labels. Some of these trail mixes are more than one serving or have a lot of sugar.

We aim for choosing healthy snacks that have no trans fats and are low in sugar and sodium. We consider beverages to be a snack as well, since so many of them are high in sugar and we try to avoid this.

Take a minute to look at the labels before choosing snacks. The front of the packaging can be misleading but if you read the label on the back you’ll see the low-down on calories, fiber, protein, fat and sugar. Also look at the “serving size”. Some snacks are really intended for two people. This small “healthy” protein bar had 21 grams of sugar. Too much for us, so it was a “pass”.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Healthy Road Trip Snacks for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Within 10 minutes of hitting the road, our toddler was down for her usual mid-day nap. We pressed on, driving as far as we could while she slept. However once she awoke (earlier than we’d anticipated), she was hungry and ready for a snack! These are a few healthy snack choices for toddlers and preschoolers.

Pack a spill proof sipper cup with you to fill with your toddler’s favorite beverage. If you have a cooler, grab a bag of ice from inside the convenience store and fill it so you can stock up on bottled milk and water. Then when you stop for a diaper change, refill your toddler’s cup along the way.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

We grabbed milk to keep in the cooler for our toddler.

Use a “spill-proof” travel snack cup for toddler snacks on the road. I was able to fill my daughter’s snack cup with bite sized snacks, like dry cereal and the toddler favorite, Goldfish crackers! If they dropped onto the floor or in the car seat, these dry and mess-free snacks were easy to clean up. She happily snacked and then finished up her nap (thank goodness!)

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Tortilla chip in hand – this is one full and sleepy toddler!

Elementary Aged Kids Healthy Road Trip Snacks

When it comes to beverages, my 6-year old goes straight for the flavored drinks like Gatorade. We don’t allow him to drink energy drinks or soda but I agree, sometimes water is boring! Purchase flavored water enhancement, like Mio. This will add flavor to plain water without adding any sugar.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

My kiddo loves to eat chips for the salty crunch. I’m not a fan of messy cheesy-coated fingers in the car or the crumbs inside the booster seat! Consider these chilled pickle chips instead.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Cheese, crackers and deli meat is an easy grab-n’-go snack while traveling. These smaller sized Lunchables trays are great for sharing and ideal for road trips. Low in calories and fat but high in protein. Deli meat is higher in sodium so be sure to drink plenty of water. My kids also enjoy individual meat-wrapped cheese sticks for a protein-packed snack.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Healthy Road Trip Snacks That Appeal to Teens & Adults

My teenagers are generally healthy eaters on a daily basis. Naturally they also like to treat themselves to something sweet when on vacation. It’s not too hard to find something fun to eat on the road that won’t make them crash and burn with too much sugar. These are some good snack choices for teens and adults.

The convenience store offered wrapped hard boiled eggs, a perfect choice for my husband. My big kids went right to the jerky. There was a great variety to satisfy varying taste buds including teriyaki, jalapeno and sweet & spicy.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Protein bars are always the first choice of my husband and me. However many of them are high in sugar as well. I found this high protein bar that is also low in sugar (only one gram). It’s a fun treat that is also going to satisfy more than a candy bar.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Only one gram of sugar but high in protein and fiber – this ONE bar is a healthy road trip snack winner!

Healthy Snack Swaps

While we avoided the candy aisle completely, you may want to choose something like this for the family to share. Licorice is a popular choice and while it does have sugar, it’s also fat-free.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Choose wisely in the candy aisle.

Snacks that have a salty & sweet combo are what I gravitate towards. Certain trail mixes can contain a high percentage of candy or sugar, negating the healthy parts, like the protein-packed nuts. These trail mix blends had a nice mix of nuts and seeds with dark chocolate for sweetness.

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

When driving the long-haul, grabbing a caffeinated energy drink may be tempting. Be sure to check the label to see how much sugar the can contains. You’ll probably be better off with black coffee or diet cola to avoid the sugar high and then the crash!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Chips are a popular choice, but many are high in sodium and covered in artificial flavorings. Consider multi-grain chips, low-sodium popcorn or crackers if you’re craving a crunch. If you like a chip and dip combo, nix the fatty bean dip or sour cream mix and choose this savory hummus and pretzel combo!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

When snack time is over, everyone in our car gets a bottle of water to drink and I hand out sugar-free gum to chew (not for the toddler!) Sugar-free gum is a great after-snack choice. For my kids, gum signals that snack time is over. It also cleanses food from the teeth and can help with ear pressure when traveling through higher elevations. It’s a road-trip must-have for us!

Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

Choosing between bubble gum, peppermint or cinnamon sugar-free gum.

What are your favorite road trip snacks? Do you choose healthy or let-it-go on vacations? I’d love to hear your comments!Looking for the best healthy road trip snacks for toddlers, kids, teens and adults on your next family adventure? Find out what are the healthiest options to choose at your next road trip convenience store stop! #Snacks #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #RoadTripFood #RoadTrip @ConvenienceStore #JoyintheJourney #AD

50+ Cheap and Free Summer Staycation Ideas for Kids

Just one more week until I’ll have all four of my kids home for the summer. I need a bag-of-tricks ready to keep them occupied, entertained and to avoid the dreaded, “I’m BORED”. I’ve come up with a few summer staycation ideas that I know my kids will love and remember! Sometimes it’s just not in the budget for a big family vacation. The ultimate summer-on-a-budget staycation is easy on the wallet and still full of fun. It just takes a little creativity and planning.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, without any added cost to you, thanks! Updated and republished from a May 25, 2016 post

Summer Staycation Ideas for Kids

Sleeping in. No homework. Warm weather and a wide open calendar! Summer at home with the kids can be a lot of fun. I’m excited about being able to relax but also worried that I’m going to have four bored kids on my hands after the first week! My plan is to get the kids on board and schedule special at-home events on the calendar. Some of these summer staycation ideas could be spread out over the course of the week, leading up to the “big day”. It really gives everyone something to look forward to.

Tons of Budget-Friendly Staycation Ideas!

Looking for cheap, free and FUN ways to entertain your kids at home during their summer vacation? There are dozens of ideas that kids of all ages will love with these ultimate boredom-busting summer staycation ideas. #SummerBreak #Staycation, #FreeforKids #Summer #CraftsforKids #GamesforKids #CheapVacation #Summertime

1. Arts & Crafts Show

Kids love to get crafty and it doesn’t have to be pricey. You probably already have some craft supplies laying around that you could dig out. Set up an area outside where the kids can get messy and creative.

  • Local craft stores frequently mail out 50% coupons. Or you could search for one online or shop the dollar store for cheap crafting supplies.
  • Give everyone a Sketch Book and have a thirty minute session where you draw the portrait of the person next to you (this is sure to induce giggles!)
  • Save your glass jars from jelly or spaghetti sauce and use acrylic or Glass Paint to decorate.
  • Make sculptures out of craft Pipe Cleaners.
  • Decorate a plain box and transform it into a keepsake box (see this post with instructions on how to make a Memento Box)

Back-To-School DIY Disney-Style Storage Box is Perfect for Storing School Supplies or Disney mementos!

  • Use torn pieces of tissue paper and a glue stick on velum paper to make “stained glass” images.
  • Using clean paint brushes and bucket of water outside, have kids quickly “paint” a picture on the sidewalk and see if everyone else can guess what it is before it evaporates!
  • Recreate a famous painting in your own style.
  • Pull out inexpensive Washable Watercolors and paint a scene from your backyard.
  • Rainy day? Set up a still life on the table and have everyone draw the same scene then compare your pictures.
  • Read these ideas for how to make two patriotic-themed crafts.
  • Cut out pictures from magazines and Mod Podge the images onto wooden frames or boxes.
  • Make paper bag puppet and have kids create a puppet show with their creations.
  • On Friday, display everyone’s artwork in the house and hang a handcrafted blue ribbon on each kid’s best work!
Art night for a staycation with the kids {Saving up for Disney}

Oh sure, honey, it looks JUST like me!

2. Under the Big Top

After we went to the circus (the animal-free variety) a few years ago, my kids were fascinated with the tricks and skills they saw.  Lots of great ideas here to get you off the couch!

  • Dress up like a clown in old over-sized clothing and costumes.
  • A strip of blue masking tape on the patio makes an acceptable “tight rope”.
  • See who can keep multiple Hula Hoops going at the same time (one around your neck and one around your arm?!)
  • Practice balancing a balloon on your nose…and then walk the tight rope!
  • Create an obstacle course in the backyard.
  • Use Face Paint Crayons to paint each child’s face like a circus animal
  • Enjoy a snack of peanuts and popcorn

3. Enjoy the Great Outdoors

  • Plant seeds into cardboard egg crates with soil. Water gently and watch them grow.
  • Take an early morning “sunrise walk”. This is especially great if you live where it’s very hot once the sun rises.
  • Local campsites have inexpensive overnight fees. You could try to catch your dinner in the lake!
  • Take a walk with Flashlights to explore the sights and sounds after nightfall.
  • If you don’t want to stray too far from home, camp in your backyard instead. Pitch a tent, barbecue dinner over coals, roast marshmallows and fall asleep under the stars.
  • Simply roll out the sleeping bags in the living room and “camp” in the house under the comfort of your ceiling fan!
Looking for cheap, free and FUN ways to entertain your kids at home during their summer vacation? There are dozens of ideas that kids of all ages will love with these ultimate boredom-busting summer staycation ideas. #SummerBreak #Staycation, #FreeforKids #Summer #CraftsforKids #GamesforKids #CheapVacation #Summertime

Enjoying the sunshine with a fishing pole

4. Get Wet 

  • If you don’t have your own pool, perhaps a family member or friend will let you “borrow” theirs for the day (especially if you volunteer to bring snacks!)
  • Our local YMCA has a great zero-entry pool, water slide and play area for just a few dollars per person. Check at your local pools and find out when open-swim time is available.
  • High schools often open their pools in the summer for a nominal fee.
  • Wash the car. There is always an opportunity for a soapy sponge fight!
  • Set the sprinklers or spray the hose and run through the water. Kids get wet & lawn gets watered…win!
  • I’m not crazy about water balloons because of the mess they leave behind. However sponges soaked in water are perfect for a good super-soaking.
  • Little ones love to play with the watering can. Fill it up and let them water the flowers (and themselves!)

Looking for cheap, free and FUN ways to entertain your kids at home during their summer vacation? There are dozens of ideas that kids of all ages will love with these ultimate boredom-busting summer staycation ideas. #SummerBreak #Staycation, #FreeforKids #Summer #CraftsforKids #GamesforKids #CheapVacation #Summertime

5. A Night at the Movies…in Your Living Room

  • Pull out an old favorite and host a themed movie evening complete with handcrafted posters, costumes and a themed dinner around the film. (ie: Watching Mulan? Make Chinese stir fry and rice).
  • Borrow movies from the library. If the library doesn’t have the movie you want, put in a request & they’ll contact you when it’s available.
  • Pull out the floor pillows, pop up some kernels and settle down together after the sun has set.
  • Give the kids a task of recreating a favorite film in their own interpretation. Come up with a script and costumes and present it to parents!

6. Backyard Carnival 

Gather up stuff from around the house for game play in the yard. Kids love to get in the silly spirit!

  • Craft blue ribbons for the winners of the contests.
  • Empty 2-liter soda bottles and a ball for a knock ’em down game. Or fill 2-liter bottles with water and use them for ring toss.
  • Toss a ball into a bowl or a coffee can.
  • Have a watermelon seed-spitting contest.
  • Pull out the face paint for added fun!
  • Have a mini-pie eating contest.
  • Serve hot dogs and potato chips outside, followed up with root beer floats.

7. Sweet Treats

If you have a budding baker on your hands (or simply kids who love sweets!), this is a fun way to get creative and maybe a little messy.

  • A bucket of vanilla ice cream, a few toppings and candy from the dollar store and you can all have amazing sundaes!
  • Find a recipe online for making your own ice cream.
  • Make a delectable over-the-top recipe from Pinterest. Did you “nail it” or was it a Pinterest “fail”?
  • Bake cupcakes and have fun creatively decorating them.
  • Spoon frosting into plastic baggies and snip off the corner for quick and easy pastry bags.
  • Make a summer-time themed “gingerbread house” that requires no baking with graham crackers, store bought frosting and candies.

Looking for cheap, free and FUN ways to entertain your kids at home during their summer vacation? There are dozens of ideas that kids of all ages will love with these ultimate boredom-busting summer staycation ideas. #SummerBreak #Staycation, #FreeforKids #Summer #CraftsforKids #GamesforKids #CheapVacation #Summertime

8. Build a Fort City

When it’s too hot to play outside, take refuge in the house under a homemade fort!

  • Sofa pillows and blankets are fair game for fort making inside.
  • Pull out the dining room chairs, drape sheets and use binder clips to hold them up.
  • If you want to get fancy, a string of twinkle lights would be fabulous.
  • If you have a few cardboard boxes, take the time to paint and decorate them, cutting out windows and a door flap.
  • A quiet evening of reading is in order under your forts because horseplay would make your city fall down!

9. Board Game Bonanza

One of our favorite family events is gathering around a few board games for a fun evening of competition and laughs.

  • Borrow some games that you don’t have from friends or family so you have a nice variety for all ages and host a game day at home.
  • Simple sandwiches make a great meal and have plenty to snack on between turns.
  • Write out your own Pictionary or Charades game ideas.
  • Find “Minute to Win It” games on Pinterest that use items from around the house.

MMHasbro7


10. Host An Elegant Evening

  • Every kid has a dress up box or can at least borrow something fun from mom and dad for the evening.
  • Have a pre-party pampering, including painted nails or mud-mask facials.
  • Time to pull out the sequins, get glamorous and have a fancy night at home.
  • Light a few candles at the table and elevate even the most boring weekday dinner.
  • Serve up a Shirley Temple (7-up or Sprite with cherry juice) in a fancy glass and the kids will feel so special!

Looking for cheap, free and FUN ways to entertain your kids at home during their summer vacation? There are dozens of ideas that kids of all ages will love with these ultimate boredom-busting summer staycation ideas. #SummerBreak #Staycation, #FreeforKids #Summer #CraftsforKids #GamesforKids #CheapVacation #Summertime


6 Things to Do With a Toddler

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I received product and compensation from Mead Johnson Nutrition to create this post written by me. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Mead Johnson Nutrition. You can contact Mead Johnson Nutrition with product related questions or comments toll free at 1-800-BABY-123 (1-800-222-9123).

My third baby was my little “surprise”. Several years ago I was “lucky” enough to be laid off of my full time job. The same month, I found out I was pregnant with my third child. That’s the surprise! It all worked out for the best because now, for the first time, I’ve been able to be home with one of my children. I’m just delighted to spend time teaching her and learning everything about her. Toddlers have such fun personalities with their adorable voices, at times-indecipherable language and all that boundless energy! You know, even the little tantrums don’t bother me (too much!)

Things to Do With a Toddler

It’s been a great few years and I love how we’ve been able to connect, play and grow alongside my toddler. However there are some days when I just don’t know what to do with her! I want her to learn through communication and age-appropriate activities but it can be a challenge to know just what a toddler will enjoy. My daughter has only just turned two, so she still needs lots of supervision and parental guidance with everything. How can you keep your toddler healthy inside and out? I’ve come up with a few simple crafts, exercise activities, brain-building games and ideas for proper toddler nutrition.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

1. Creative Play & Crafts for Toddlers

Many toddlers will insist that you either play with them or at least remain with them while they’re playing. Encourage the use of toys that are “open-ended”. Classic toys like wooden blocks, vehicles, colored silk cloths and stacking cups let toddlers play creatively and in their own unique way. Here are a few suggestions for creative play and crafts to offer your toddler.

  • Finger Painting with Pudding – If your toddler keeps trying to lick off the paint, try using pudding to paint with instead. I set this up outside where I can rinse off the concrete when my daughter is done painting.
  • Indoor Tent – Set up an easy “tent” by draping a towel over two chairs or angling pillows to create a crawl space. Don’t be surprised if destroying the tent each time you set it up becomes the game!
  • Magic Mirror – Sit side by side facing a mirror and make faces. See if your toddler can mimic your expressions.
  • Sponge Stamping – Soak sponges of various sizes with water and show your toddler how to stamp them on the ground outside to leave a wet impression.
Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Clay is a classic for toddler’s creative, open-ended play.

2. Fun Indoor Physical Exercise for Toddlers

Toddlers absolutely need physical exercise every day. If you can’t get outdoors or to the park, try these indoor exercise ideas with your toddler to help them strengthen their muscles and improve coordination.

  • Balloon Toss – Blow up a balloon and show your toddler how to tap the balloon gently with the palm of their hand to keep it in the air.
  • Stretching – The slow movements of stretching are easy for little ones to learn. Put on some peaceful music and use kid-friendly connotations like “melt to the floor like ice cream”.
  • Dance Party – Play some kid-friendly songs like the “Hokey Pokey” and “Ring Around the Rosy”. Instructional songs like these that teach the lyrics along with movements are ideal. Make up silly moves like, “wiggle like a dog after bath time” or “waddle like a penguin”.
  • Marching Band – Grab an old pot and a wooden spoon to beat out the rhythm. Teach your toddler how to march and clap and then how to synchronize both movements together.
  • Balance Beam – Tape a piece of blue painters tape on the floor and show your toddler how to walk on the line.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

3. Brain-Building Learning Games for Toddlers

Your little one probably isn’t quite ready for board games with lots of rules. Try these basic learning games that help your toddler make brain-building connections.

  • Basket Toss – Use a laundry basket and balled up socks to create a tossing game to improve coordination.
  • Bean Bag Balance – Show your toddler how to balance a bean bag on the back of their hand, their elbow, top of their foot or her head.
  • In and Out – One of my toddler’s favorite things to do is empty the kitchen drawer that holds her sipper cups and flatware. Give your toddler some kid-friendly general use items (like cleaned-out bottles in a variety of sizes with the caps removed) and a small box to let him load and unload.
  • Sing Along – Encourage toddlers to learn lyrics and sing along to a rhythm (you’re going to have to sing along yourself to facilitate this!)

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

4. Toddler Story Time

Turn off the device and television in favor of story books and snuggles. Toddler story time is a great segue between playtime and nap time. Sometimes the books that toddlers love aren’t the ones that you’re usually drawn to! If you’re bored of reading the same books over and over, head for the library to borrow new stories.

5. Restful Time for Toddlers

As much as they might protest, a proper rest and nap time is so important. Not only for your toddler but for you as well! Toddlers that have a nap schedule just seem to have better nighttime sleeping habits too.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Start by cleaning up toys, indicating to your toddler that playtime is over. I offer a sipper cup with Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™ and my toddler will sit on my lap while I read, and she drinks. Once I feel her relaxing, I’ll segue into singing some of her favorite songs and she’s ready to sleep. If she’s resistant to lying down in her crib, we’ll often go for a walk in the stroller instead, which usually helps her to nod off.

I’ve been flexible on the nap time lately, noticing that my toddler hasn’t been tired or doesn’t sleep as long with an earlier nap time. I’ve adjusted my nap schedule, pushing it back 90 minutes and finding that she’s falling asleep easier and sleeping longer. It’s all about watching and knowing your own child and what works for them.

Looking for fun things to do with a toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

6. Ensuring Proper Toddler Nutrition

Toddlers are fickle little people, especially when it comes to what they eat. One day they love peas and can’t get enough of them. The next day they’d rather toss peas on the floor than eat them! It can be frustrating and worrisome; when you’re concerned your toddler isn’t getting proper nutrients. My just-turned-two-year old is already a picky eater and I worry she’s not getting enough nutrition from the little amount of food she eats.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

85% of brain growth happens in the first three years of life, so help ensure your toddler is getting important DHA to help nourish this brain growth. Experts recommend that toddlers have 70-100 mg/day of DHA to support early brain and eye development, but most toddlers only get 25% of the recommended amount of DHA, leaving a gap in their nutrition. The main source for DHA is fish and unfortunately many toddlers refuse to eat fish. Most of the foods that appeal to toddlers (like cereal, cheese, bananas, regular milk, chicken nuggets, mac & cheese) have 0 mg of DHA.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

I was excited to find out about Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™. Enfagrow Toddler is a milk-based drink ideal for kids aged 1-3 years. It has DHA and complements a toddler’s diet to help ensure good nutrition for their changing needs and tastes. I had no idea that there was a product available that has DHA for toddlers! And my little girl absolutely loves the Enfagrow Toddler, she sips it right up!

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

Enfagrow Toddler is available in a convenient 32 fl oz. liquid bottle and 32 oz. powder can. Visit Enfagrow.com to learn more about Enfagrow Toddler, to receive coupons and to request free samples.

Looking for fun things to do with your toddler? Check out these ideas for brain-boosting games, indoor exercise, toddler-friendly crafts and healthy nutrition. #AD

This is sponsored by Enfagrow® Toddler Next Step™.

16 Ways to Surprise Your Kids (and Tips for When a Surprise Goes Bad)

SURPRISE!! You’re plotting and planning out the perfect way to surprise your kids. Maybe it’s a surprise party with all his friends for a milestone birthday. Or you’re surprising a kid with their first cell phone. I bet it’s a surprise Disney vacation!! That’s always fun, right? Ehh, maybe? Kids can be surprisingly sensitive and emotional about things that aren’t a part of their usual routine. As I’m sure you already know, sometimes the slightest thing can set off a kid’s mood. And that goes for surprises, no matter how amazing that surprise is. Surprises can make some kids cry. Or get mad. Or even be embarrassed or disappointed.

I have the tested and tried tips to surprise your kids, how to handle things when a surprise goes bad and some simply sweet ways to surprise your children.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way (without any additional cost to you). Thank you!

The Good and Bad of Surprising Kids

Last week, my daughter’s junior high school teacher sent me an email to let me know that my daughter would be receiving an award. My first question back to the teacher was, “Did you tell her she’s getting the award? We can’t make it a surprise”.

See, I’ve learned over the years that my daughter isn’t the kind of kid who enjoys surprises. Getting called up in front of her classmates to stand on stage and have the teacher offer a glowing review? That would be akin to facing the firing squad for this easily-embarrassed 14-year old. Several years back her 6th grade teacher insisted on surprising her with an award and the poor child stood in front of her schoolmates, crying openly. The teacher felt badly. And now we know: surprises just aren’t the best idea for this child.

Is there ever a good time to surprise kids? Should certain surprises be allowed? Is it a rite of passage to surprise kids and let them deal with it, even if it might upset them?

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Is a surprise birthday party ever a good idea?

WHY Do You Want to Surprise Your Child?

Whether is a surprise trip or a birthday surprise party, the temptation to plan a huge SURPRISE for kids is strong! The question you need to ask is “Why”? If you think that the surprise adds to the celebration, then go forward (after reading the rest of the cautions in this post!). But if the surprise is just your way of sharing the information then the actual event should stand on its own. Don’t diminish the celebration by tacking on the surprise beginning unless it’s adding that-much-more to the emotional punch. And if you think that your child can appropriately handle the surprise as well.

Who’s In On the Surprise?

Secret keeping. Little white lies. Sneaking. It can be hard to keep a surprise a secret. More often than not, the person getting surprised starts getting an uneasy feeling that something fishy is going on. If your surprise relies on being overly sneaky or telling your child a lie, you may want to rethink the surprise plan. No child wants that awkward feeling when the truth is revealed. And many kids won’t appreciate that you planned something special without them. They may have hurt feelings knowing that you were keeping secrets with their teacher/grandparent/friends behind their back. It won’t matter to them the reasoning, they may be upset all the same.

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

A surprise trip to the beach after church was a welcome respite.

Know Your Child Before You Plan a Surprise

My 6-year old son is a go-with-the-flow kind of guy. I could surprise him with just about anything and he’d go joyfully right along with it. I’ve surprised him with a Disneyland trip and he was just delighted. But not every kid is like that.

In fact, most kids (and some adults) are the opposite. Many kids need ample time to process before an event. Only you truly know your child and how they will react to a surprise. There’s no point in planning what’s supposed to be a FUN event and then having the initial reaction put a damper on the celebration.

Easing Kids Into Surprises

Not sure how your child will react to a surprise? Start small with little surprises and see how it goes. Little changes in the regular routine can help your kids to be more flexible. Try something like, “Today we’re doing something different! We’re doing/going to….” and then surprise them with something that’s unusual for your normal schedule. Make it something that your kid usually enjoys, like the park, library, movies, play date, picnic, baking cupcakes, etc. See how your child reacts to the change in routine and you’ll be able to gauge how they’ll react to a bigger surprise.

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Everyone’s in the car, but the destination is a surprise!

Surprises That Involve Friends

The very essence of a surprise is the reaction that it ensues. The reaction from your child after a surprise could be a squeal of excitement. It could also be embarrassment or overwhelming emotions that can’t be contained. And no child wants to cry in front of their friends.

What to Do Instead

While a surprise birthday party with your child’s entire class might sound like a blast to you, this may be incredibly overwhelming for your kid. Instead of a surprise, involve your child in the planning process so they have more control over the events. If you REALLY want to create a surprise that includes friends, choose carefully. Invite only one or two very close friends that are more like family.

Some kids even feel awkward opening gifts in front of their friends. The uncomfortable feeling of not knowing “What’s inside?!” and then having to gauge a proper response in front of a crowd can make some kids upset. Consider opening gifts after the party if your child can’t handle the surprise element of opening gifts in front of their friends.

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Disneyland or Walt Disney World Surprise

Living just 90 minutes from Disneyland, I’ve had my share of Disneyland surprise vacations. I have a vivid memory of my parents surprising us with a Disney day instead of going to school. I was about ten years old and the surprise was great! I’ve also surprised my son on his birthday with a Disneyland trip. We go to Disney frequently so he was familiar and excited about the day trip. And I think that’s the key. He’d been to Disneyland before so the place, events, rides, etc wasn’t a surprise; just the fact that we were going was the surprise. But once I surprised him with the day’s plans, he was thrilled because he knew what to expect when we got there.

My friend and fellow blogger Jessica at The Happiest Blog on Earth suggests that parents Don’t Do a Surprise Disneyland Trip. Jessica brings up some great points, including my favorite – Kids should be involved in the Disney vacation planning. I’m totally against making your very first Disney vacation a complete surprise. I always cringe when I hear about parents taking their kids to the airport and getting on a plane to Disney when the kids don’t know where they’re headed. If your kids have been before a surprise may go over better because they know what to expect. But if it’s your first time, I recommend letting kids get involved in the planning before the trip.

A surprise birthday Disneyland trip for my son’s 5th birthday. It went over well because he’s been to Disneyland before.

Disney Vacation Surprise Twists

You can still make the vacation a surprise, if it’s handled in a delicate way. There are tons of cute ways to surprise the kids at home, several months ahead of your trip. If you’re planning a Disney vacation, I recommend ordering the Disney Video Planning Guide (it’s FREE!). Watch it together as a family and plan your trip.

CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO

Then check out these other tips:

Is surprising your kids with a Disney vacation ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids! #Disney #Surprise #TravelwithKids #DisneyWorld #Disneyland #FamilyTravel #TravelPlanning #Positiveparenting



Time to Let the News Soak In

Don’t think that you can’t EVER surprise your kids! Surprises are ultimately changes in what’s expected. Kids absolutely need to learn how to be flexible, how to roll-with-the-punches and how to adjust to change. But there are ways of doing a surprise that honors your child’s personality, doesn’t embarrass them and also builds their trust in you.

Make a Surprise Announcement

Instead of making the surprise happen right then and there, make the announcement the surprise. Avoid putting kids “on the spot” by making surprise announcements at home without an audience.

To Video or Not?

I know you may want to video the surprise but we all know kids act weird when we turn on the camera! Consider hiding the camera to show them the video later (and only share if you have their consent).

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids!

Surprise, we bought you a new bike!

Allow Time Between the Announcement and the Event

Processing thoughts and feelings can take some kids time. Personally for my kids, I try to inform them several months before a trip. This allows us to discuss the plans over and over, to talk about our activities, meals and schedule. Fortunately we’ve never had any travel meltdowns and I know that pre-vacation prep is a big part of that reason. When we know what to expect, we can relax and know what’s going to happen next.

When a Surprise Goes Bad

So what happens if a surprise goes badly? Your son screamed when you surprised him with the announcement that he’s going to be a big brother. Maybe your preschooler cried when you said you were going to Disneyland? And your daughter had a total meltdown when you threw her a surprise birthday party.

Resist the urge to admonish a child for their poor reaction. It can be difficult to contain our own disappointment when things do go as we planned! But your child doesn’t want to hear about how much your trip costs, how much work you put into the surprise, etc etc. They just need your reassurance.

A silent hug goes a long way towards comforting your child. Consider pulling them away to a quiet area where they can process and calm down. Later, you can discuss what happened and talk about why you wanted to surprise them.

Fun Ways to Surprise Your Kids

Little surprises are a wonderful way to show love and playfulness. These simple and sweet surprises will surely delight all children.

  • Host a board game night
  • Serve breakfast in bed
  • Put loose change inside the pocket of their jacket
  • Get out the art/craft supplies on a whim
  • Print out favorite photos of you and your kids and tape them onto their bedroom wall
  • Send them a letter in the mail
  • Cook their favorite dinner without telling them
  • Make a treat for after-dinner dessert

Pistachio pudding is a special surprise treat for my kiddo

  • Have a spontaneous dance party! Put on music and just start moving.
  • Serve their after school snack on a fancy plate
  • Take the kids to the park after school instead of heading straight home
  • Leave a note next to their plate
  • Build a fort in the living room to greet them when they wake up on a weekend
  • Create a treasure hunt at home for a small prize
  • Build a reading nook (a pile of pillows in a corner with a stack of books will suffice)
  • Rent a new movie to surprise them with on a Friday night

Is surprising your kids ever a good idea? These are the tips for how to plan a perfect surprise, what to do if a surprise goes wrong and 16 sweet surprises for kids! #Surprise #PositiveParenting #Family #Kids #Parenting #SpecialNeeds

 

“I’m Too Busy to Eat Healthy” and Other Excuses Moms Make

I’m a busy mom. But we’re all busy, right? So how is it that some moms seem to have more hours in the day to get things done than others? No extra hours are involved, these moms just have different ways of prioritizing. No matter how accomplished we are, all moms tend to bust out one of these excuses time to time. I’ve personally used *ahem* ALL of them! Overcoming these excuses is truly the little change that makes a big difference. So how can we kick those excuses aside and be a more improved version of ourselves?

This post is sponsored by DairyPure Mix-ins. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

"I'm too busy to eat healthy" is just one of the many excuses that moms make. What is YOUR go-to Mom excuse? #DairyPureMixIns #ad

“I Don’t Have Time for Exercise”

We all have the time to exercise. It just might require a little shuffling of priorities. Get up an hour early for a workout. Skip another episode on TV in favor of aerobics. Choose to take the entire family out for a walk on the weekends instead of to the movie theater.

For me, I tend to multitask when I’m exercising. I’ll take the baby for a long walk in her stroller. I might make a phone call on the walk while simultaneously exercising and getting my daughter to take a nap!

You can also squeeze in fitness here and there throughout the day if finding a larger chunk of time is a challenge. Elastic resistance bands are my favorite because they are lightweight and portable. I can take them in the car to do while waiting for my son to get out of school or in the kitchen while dinner’s in the oven. Sometimes this “I don’t have time” excuse is actually because I’m less than motivated to exercise. Getting someone to keep me accountable (a “Workout Buddy”) can really make the difference between exercise and sleeping in.

How do you stay motivated to workout when you just don't feel like exercising? I share 9 tips for staying on a routine when you feel lazy!

“I’m Running Late Again”

As a kid, I’d oversleep, struggle to wake up and dawdle over breakfast. Mornings were a big stressful mess. I’m very proud to say that now even with four kids, nobody has ever been late to school. That’s because we prep the night before, kids get enough rest and we wake up early. If I know I need to be somewhere, I work in plenty of extra time to allow. Sure, there are still exceptions, like freeway traffic. But that’s the exception and not the rule.

“I’ll Never Get Organized”

I’m a slob at heart. And I married an OCD neat-nik. Yep, it’s a daily struggle. But I’m going to tell you my number one secret for staying organized.

Deal with it immediately.

That means when the mail comes in, don’t toss it aside; while it’s in your hand, sort it and recycle out what you don’t need. Getting organized means tackling cluttered areas every single day. It might mean getting rid of a lot of things that are inhibiting you from staying organized. If I can get organized, you totally can.

“It’s Too Hard for Me To…”

You know what’s hard? Cancer. Losing a loved one. Having a sick child. You know what’s not hard. Losing weight. Dealing with bratty kids. Going to work. It’s all in perspective, planning and priorities. And I’m a proponent of research and learning as much as you can. If you want to lose weight, do your research on what might work best for your body type (for me it was eliminating certain carbs and sugar). If you’re struggling with your kids, talk to others, read books/articles and get deeply involved if you really want things to improve. It’s not too hard.

“I’m Too Busy to Eat Healthy”

So many times I’ve gotten busy during the day that I actually forget to eat. Then when the stomach grumbles finally get the best of me, I’m so ravenous that I just grab whatever’s in reach, whether it’s good for me or not. And of course it’s way too easy to drive through the fast food line when you’re hungry while running errands.

Having convenient ready-to-go foods is ideal to making healthy choices. It’s also important to plan my meals & snacks when I know I’m going to be out and about. I recently discovered new DairyPure Mix-ins. These individually packaged cottage cheese have delicious and fun mix-ins like fruit and nuts. I bought them all – Blueberry, Peaches & Pecans, Pineapple, Strawberries & Almonds in 5.3 oz. cups.

DairyPure Mix-ins are protein-packed (over 15 grams of protein) in a convenient on-the-go cup. Just like all of DairyPure’s premium products, Mix-ins have no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or growth hormones. So easy to pack in a chill bag with a spoon to eat while you’re running errands.

No excuses for not eating healthy when you have DairyPure Mix-ins in your fridge to grab when you need a snack. Plus, if you’re a mom you know there’s always going to be someone to share with (so pack two!)

In the San Diego area, I found these new DairyPure Mix-ins at Gelson’s Markets and Bristol Farms. Be sure to check the DairyPure website to see where these are available in your area!

DairyPure Mix-ins & Grocery Giveaway

The Motherhood would like you to try DairyPure Mix-ins for yourself and are sponsoring this awesome giveaway. One winner will receive a variety of DairyPure Mix-ins flavors plus a $50 gift card to Gelson’s Markets or Bristol Farms.

Giveaway is for U.S. residents only, ages 18 and up. Prize will be forwarded to the winner from The Motherhood.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disneyland in the Heat – Ultimate Summer Vacation Guide

How can you prepare if you know the weather is going to be really hot at Disneyland? If you already know there will be a heatwave at Disneyland, you can prepare in advance. You’ll want to keep cool so you and your family won’t be cranky, tired and wiped out by the heat mid-day. Find out exactly what you can see, eat and do at Disneyland in the heat. With these tips you’ll have fun and stay cool at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure park.

Please note that I have included affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

What Can You Do When It’s Hot at Disneyland?

Sure, summer in California is usually warm and sunny. However even though summer may wind down that doesn’t mean the temperatures start to drop. At Disneyland early August heat is when things start to really warm up! In Southern California, August, September and October are usually the warmest months of the year. There might be pumpkins on Main Street USA but the thermometer is still reading 100 degrees!

Things to Do on an Off-Day at Disneyland Without Leaving the Resort

Disneyland Hotel pool

We’ve also been known to get 90 degree temperatures in February, when the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. Unlike the moist warmth in Orlando at Walt Disney World, the heat in California comes in from the desert so it’s a dry heat you might not have experienced before. After scorching under the hot sun all day you’ll be wishing for Elsa’s frosty touch! Keep reading for all the warm weather survival tips at the Disneyland resort.


Read on for my tips on how to do Disneyland in the heat!

California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Princess Dot Puddle Park at Disney California Adventure park

Seek the Shade Inside at Disneyland & California Adventure

  • Get toddlers out of the heat and inside the adorable Disney Junior Dance Party!
  • Take the Bakery Tour, Hosted by Boudin Bread. That’s about ten air conditioned minutes and you’ll get a snack!
  • Watch The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. A restful theater and cool air. Some guests admit they come here to take a brief nap.
  • I love the Enchanted Tiki Room and it’s especially refreshing on a hot day. Pick up a Dole Whip before going inside (you can snack during the show).
  • Soak in a glorious Broadway-like production at the Hyperion Theater. It’s a Frozen-themed show, how appropriately cool!
  • In the Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough you can enjoy the a/c and take as long as you like to admire the dioramas.
  • The Disney Animation Building hosts a variety of indoor activities that can take up the hottest part of the day.
California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Little Mermaid’s Underwater Adventure at Disney California Adventure park

Survive Disneyland Heat and Stay Cool on a Ride

  • Hop aboard The Disneyland Railroad for an 18-minute grand circle tour. You’ll be shaded in the open train cars and get a great breeze as the train takes the trip around Disneyland.
  • Haunted Mansion offers a rest for weary souls with bone-chilling a/c. All thrills viewed from the comfort of your Doombuggy.
  • Take a long, cool walk in the shady queue for Indiana Jones Adventure.
  • “it’s a small world” – The happiest cruise that ever sailed. And it’s 15-minutes of lovely air-conditioning accompanied by music!
  • What could be more refreshing than going under the sea? The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Underwater Adventure.
  • A windy spin on the Silly Symphony Swings will cool off any sweat drops!
  • Yo-ho! 15-minutes of dark caverns and the swarthy Pirates of the Caribbean will have you rested and ready to take on the sun again.


Avoid meltdown at Disneyland when it's hot with these practical tips on what to do, see and how to stay cool at Disneyland when the temperatures soar. #Disneyland #SummerTravel


CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE A FREE DISNEYLAND VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


Places to Get Wet at Disneyland

  • If you’re really looking for a soaking, try Grizzly River Run. Rarely does anyone escape without at least one article of clothing sopping wet.
  • Princess Dot Puddle Park at bug’s land is the perfect play space for a good drenching. Bring an extra change of clothes!
  • Splash Mountain includes 3 dips and a massive waterfall…you will get wet!
  • Take a swim break back at the hotel pool mid-day. That’s definitely one of our family favorites.
California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Stay hydrated with bottled water that you bring into Disneyland park with you

What to Bring With You During the Summer at Disneyland

Park Tickets- Purchase your tickets ahead of time from my partner at Get Away Today. You’ll not only save a few dollars, you’ll avoid standing in a long line to buy tickets at the gate.

Sunscreen- Always. SPF 30 and reapply often, especially if you are sweating.

Deodorant- If you find that you need to reapply mid-day when the weather is hot, do your queue-mates a favor and bring in deodorant!

Frozen bottles of water Pour a little off the top before freezing them and pack them in your bag or soft-sided cooler.

Change of Shoes- In particular, it’s nice to have a pair of plastic flip-flops or sandals that you can change into before going on wet rides or in water-play areas.


What to Wear at Disneyland in the Heat

Chill Towel- So refreshing to rinse a chill towel in cool water and wrap around your neck. Doing this will lower your body temperature several degrees.

Hat- Wear one to block direct sun off your face and the top of your head (I always tend to get a burned scalp when I forget my hat and wow, does that hurt!)

Sunglasses- Nothing like squinting into the sun all day to give you a headache.

Warm-Weather Shoes – I’m a fan of open-toed shoes during the hot weather. For more tips click through for the best shoes to wear at Disney Parks.


Save Money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529


California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Cool off with a refreshing mint julep in New Orleans Square, Disneyland Park

What to Buy at Disneyland Park to Keep Cool 

Parasol Pop it open and you’ll be made in the shade! Sold at a cart in New Orleans Square. Price comes with handpainted name personalization and either hearts or flowers (additional designs offered for extra cost).

Mint Julep Stick around New Orleans Square and pick up a mint julep (or two) . You can get them either at the Mint Julep Bar and sit in the shaded patio of French Market Restaurant or seek the cool comfort inside the Blue Bayou Restaurant.

Misting Fan – These are sold in kiosks throughout the park. This is a squirt bottle with an attached fan and strap to hang from your neck. On a hot day, it’s priceless! I’d suggest saving a few dollars and buy one before you go on your trip (see this post for the other souvenirs you should buy before you go!)

Sundaes Eat an ice cream sundae (big enough for two) and catch a show inside The Golden Horseshoe (my favorite is the mint chocolate chip!). With 8 toppings and 8 scoops of ice cream, the Earthquake from Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop will chill everyone in your group! And the classic Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor is the place for people watching…and waffle cone ice creams!

Change of Clothes When the sweat is unbearable, seek shelter inside a shop and buy yourself a fresh new tee or tank. You’ll feel (and probably smell!) so much better.

California summers are fun in the sun! What can guests see, eat and do when it's hot at Disneyland.

Sunhat and sunglasses are a must when coming to Disneyland!

Things to Remember When It’s Hot

Water- Drink lots of water. You can always ask for free ice water at walk-up dining locations. I like to bring several empty bottles with me and keep them filled with water from the drinking fountains.

Stay out of the sun –As often as you can, keep in the shade. On busy days, a shady spot might be harder to come by. Seek out shady areas in out of the way spots.

Avoid High Noon Get to the Parks early, leave mid-day when the sun is hottest and return to the Parks after a swim and a rest in your room. Or simply retreat to an indoor show or shopping when the sun is blazing. Find out how to maximize the first two hours at Disneyland.

Heat Illness – If the heat has you feeling sick, stop by First Aid at any time. Symptoms include dizziness, confusion, nausea and cramping.


Avoid meltdown at Disneyland in the heat with these practical tips on what to do, see and how to stay cool at Disneyland when the temperatures soar. #Disneyland #SummerTravel #Disney #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids #California #Summer #SummerVacation #SoCal

What are your favorite ways to spend the day at Disneyland in the heat? Share them in the comments!


 

Laser Eye Surgery Checklist for Ideal LASIK Recovery

Four weeks ago I had my LASIK eye surgery. It was something I wanted to do for a very long time but had put off. I want to share all the details on what you need to know pre and post op about this eye corrective surgery for ideal LASIK recovery. I have included my own personal story experience so you’ll have an insider’s idea on what you might expect. Read the before and after checklist of LASIK tips that will help make your LASIK recovery smoother.

Read the first post in this series, Considering LASIK Eye Surgery? 6 Things You Need to Know.

I received a discounted rate from Clearview Eye and Laser Medical Center in San Diego to facilitate this post series about laser eye surgery. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Medical procedures vary between patients so please seek a personal consultation with Clearview to see if you are a candidate for LASIK.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

Last day with my glasses…so ready for LASIK!

Pre-Surgery Checklist for LASIK Vision Correction

In the days leading up to the surgery you’ll have several things you’ll need to arrange:

  • Scheduling Your Appointment – Take the latest appointment time at the end of the day. After the surgery you’ll go home, take your medication, maybe eat something and go straight to bed. Your eyes will heal best with long periods of keeping them closed. Plus you aren’t able to use your phone or watch TV anyway so sleep is the best thing for you!
  • Have a Driver – You must bring a driver with you as you’ll be unable to drive yourself home. You could have Uber or Lyft pick up but you’ll need to have someone else schedule the pick up because you won’t be able to see your phone! Your driver doesn’t have to wait with you the entire time. We live about 30 minutes from the Clearview office so my husband sat in the waiting room. When my surgery time was up, the staff brought him back to watch the procedure. There were other patients having the surgery whose rides didn’t come until after. The Clearview staff personally called the drivers to let them know the patient was ready for pick up.
  • Arrange Babysitting – The Clearview office is not a place for kids. Schedule a babysitter and do not bring the kids with you for the procedure. In fact, I recommend getting someone to watch the kids overnight (more on that later).
  • Pick Up Prescriptions & Medications – When you schedule your surgery, you’ll receive a list of post-surgery must-haves. This includes two eye drop medications (Prednisolone and Ciprofloxacin), preservative-free eye drops (I bought Stystane) and a bag of frozen peas to minimize swelling. Be sure to have them ready at home because you’ll need them first thing the following morning. Place your eye drops in the fridge; chilled drops feel good on dry eyes!
If you're considering ditching your glasses and/or contacts and thinking about LASIK eye surgery, read these 6 things to consider before planning surgery. #Lasik #Clearview AD

A list of post-surgery medications needs.

Every Surgery Is Different

Keep in mind that medical procedures and actual results vary between patients. This is my personal story about the LASIK surgery process and your actual experience will vary. I highly recommend talking to the doctors at Clearview Eye and Laser Center with any questions about the consultation and vetting process for prospective patients. 

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort AD #ClearviewEyes #LASIK #vision #eyesurgery

It’s my surgery day at Clearview!

LASIK Surgery – My Personal Experience

I arrived for my appointment at 5 pm and was told the process would take at least 2 hours. There were quite a few people in queue so it actually took about 2 1/2 hours. After check-in, I was brought back and given one Xanax to start the relaxation process. About an hour before the surgery, the staff put my hair in a cap, put booties on my shoes and my eyes and surrounding skin were cleaned. They place the cotton pads over your ears to soak up any liquid from the drops the surgeon applies during surgery (the pads keep the fluid from running into your ears).

The waiting room and especially the surgical room are kept very cold. This is for the protection of the equipment. Dress in warm, comfortable layers as you’ll likely go straight home and flop into bed. Consider a shirt with a wide neckline that will be easy to remove without rubbing across your eyes. I wore leggings, a tee and a loose sweatshirt. I still needed a blanket over me during the actual surgery because I was shivering. Each patient was given a Clearview teddy bear to hug during the surgery.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

Who care that you’re wearing this? Everyone has their glasses off and can’t see you anyway!

I had remained blissfully ignorant on the actual LASIK procedure. I’m sure if you REALLY want to know all the details of every step, you could find it online somewhere but the less I knew about the surgery, the better! I’ll give you the basics: The surgeon places a lid retractor on the eye to retract the lids and hold your eye still when the laser cuts the flap. After the cuts are made the surgeon tapes your eyelashes open and another laser reshapes. The corneal flap is replaced and that’s it, you’re done. The entire process takes most patients about 10-15 minutes.

Does LASIK eye surgery hurt? Not at all in my case. I was given eye numbing drops and could feel a bit of pressure, but that’s all. I have very small eyes and there was a bit of issue getting the lid retractor on my eye. That was the most uncomfortable part of the entire process and likely something that a majority of people would not have an issue with.

My Personal LASIK Surgery Post-Op Story

Immediately after the surgery I was led out to the sitting area where my husband was waiting. He’d watched the entire procedure on a live television screen. It showed him the magnified view that the surgeon Sandy T. Feldman had during the procedure. Can you see after LASIK surgery? My immediate vision was watery and cloudy. I still needed help getting around because vision was not yet clear.

We were given instructions for what to do that night and process for the following day. They placed a pair of plastic goggles on my face and over that, plastic blackout glasses (like the elderly wear after cataract surgery). This was funny to me, wearing sunglasses since it was now dark outside! Once we stepped into the night, I truly couldn’t see anything. Streetlights were dim but had enormous halos and everything else was black. My husband helped me into the car and I kept my eyes closed for the ride home. My eyes felt very tired and heavy, I could hardly open them even when I wanted to.

Once home, my husband helped me to bed and gave me the first dose of Halcion. This was a pain-relief medication given to me by the doctors at Clearview.  I was instructed to wear the plastic goggles every night for one week, to make sure that I didn’t rub or bump my eyes in my sleep.

I woke once in the night and my eyes seemed to be glued shut, they were so heavy. After opening them, a flood of tears poured down my face. My husband brought me the second Halcion and I went back to sleep.

I was very glad that I didn’t have to worry about my kids. We’d arranged for them to stay with Grandma overnight. I highly recommend having your kids taken care of elsewhere because the combination of sleep-inducing medication and the limited vision would have made it very hard for me to care for a child.

Following Day after My LASIK Vision Correction

I woke up the day after the surgery with my eyes sealed shut. Dried tears had glued my eye lashes together. I was carefully able to open them but the light made them very sensitive. I put on sunglasses and let my eyes slowly adjust. It felt best to just keep my eyes closed.

My vision on the first day was still very watery and cloudy. I had my first follow-up appointment scheduled and discussed this with the doctor after the exam. She explained that I had some fluid under the flap and that this would dissipate in time over the course of the next few days. Each day I would see more clearly.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

LASIK Recovery Must-Know Tips

The first few weeks after the surgery you may want to use these tips for ultimate healing and comfort:

  • Hands-Off- The plastic goggles should be worn each night for the first week to prevent you from rubbing or bumping your eyes. During the day, there should be absolutely no eye rubbing. You’ll also be instructed not to wear eye make-up for the first week.
  • Get a Very Dark Pair of Sunglasses-Your eyes will be extremely sensitive to light. For the first week, I wore my sunglasses everywhere, even indoors because any light was too bright. Though I always wear sunglasses outdoors, even at four week post-op I still find that my eyes are watering when in bright sun.
  • Minimize Screen Time – You may find that watching television, being on a computer or looking at your phone screen may irritate your eyes. It’s recommended to limit screen usage and to remember to continue using eye drops at least four times a day.
  • Be Diligent About the Eye Drop Medications – You’ll be instructed to apply your medicated eye drops four times a day, at breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtime. This does make it easier to remember to take them. The eye drop medications must be taken five minutes apart (or else you’ll rinse one medication out with the application of the other). To remember to take both, I would take the drops out of the fridge and apply one (doesn’t matter which one you put in first), then put it back in the fridge. I’d return five minutes later to apply the second medication and put it back into the fridge.
  • Avoid Dry Eye with Drops In-Between- In between the medications, you’ll need to apply preservative-free moisturizing eye drops. This will greatly minimize any irritation, as dry eye is a major complaint after LASIK. I would apply these drops twice in between the medicated drops, a total of six times a day. This means you’re putting in eye drops 14 times a day! However I never suffered any dry eye side effects so I recommend using the drops as much as possible.
  • Drink Up! – Have a bottle of water with you at all times. The drops will drain down the back of your throat, so having the water to drink frequently will keep the bitter taste at bay.
If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

A bit of eye redness is normal and this will go away.

LASIK Recovery – Better Each Day!

As the doctor had mentioned at my one-day follow up, the fluid under the flap dissipated and the watery vision started to clear. In the first week I was still experiencing vision that would get sharp and then cloudy again. I was told this was completely normal and to be expected. I had some red spots on my eye that went completely away after about a week.

Each day I was able to see more clearly and sharply. It was a gradual process and something that everyone should understand about LASIK surgery. Not every person is going to heal at the same pace. Some may have very clear vision within a few days and for others it may be longer. Every patient is different and you can’t compare.

My Three-Week Post LASIK Recovery Follow-Up

At my three-week follow-up at Clearview, Dr. Sandy T. Feldman was delighted with my vision progress. She tested my eyes and said that healing was going wonderfully. She then showed me what my vision looked like before the surgery and I was blown away. I’m thrilled with my new vision, you can’t even believe it!

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

Every night when I go to bed I still have the strange feeling that I’m forgetting to do something. 30 years of washing contact lenses before bed has been ingrained into my routine; it’s so weird that I don’t have to do it anymore! I wake in the morning seeing the alarm clock clearly. I’m able to jump right out of bed and not stumble around, looking for my glasses. After a four hour drive to Pasadena for the Mom 2.0 Summit, I experienced no vision fatigue (like I always did in the past) while driving for an extended period.

This summer my family and I are planning a week long trip to Disney World. For the first time, I’ll be able to enjoy swimming and water parks without concern that I’ll lose a contact lens. I’ll be able to pack without lugging a giant bottle of solution! I can’t wait to tell you how wonderful a vacation will be without having to worry about glasses or contacts.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort

I loved going on a trip & not having to mess with glasses and contacts!

Checklist for LASIK Recovery

To follow this post series, read the first post, Considering LASIK Eye Surgery? 6 Things You Need to Know.

I highly recommend Clearview Eye and Laser Center, they’ve really exceeded my expectations. Don’t take my word for it, schedule your own complimentary consultation and see how LASIK vision correction will change your life.

If you're considering laser vision correction surgery but not sure what to expect, read this before and after checklist for LASIK so you'll know how to best prepare and see clearly without discomfort during LASIK recovery AD #ClearviewEyes #LASIK #vision #eyesurgery

Image Credit: Pixabay

 

 

 

Restaurant Hacks for Kids That Make Eating Out Easier

Eating out with kids can be an ordeal. You just want an enjoyable meal but often feel rushed and busy cutting food, entertaining the kids and wiping up messy faces (all while trying to eat a hot meal yourself!) What if you have a picky eater and have to pack food that they’ll actually eat? Then there’s the potential for mess. A BIG mess. Is it better just to eat at home? I like to eat out, especially when traveling, but sometimes I dread it with all the kids! Here are my travel dining hacks for kids, including products that can make eating out with kids easier!

I received free product for several of the items mentioned in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

How to Take Young Kids to a Restaurant – Travel Dining Hacks for Kids

To be fully honest, when we’re at home we don’t really eat out in restaurants very often. Restaurant dining with kids is reserved for times when we’re traveling and far from our kitchen. Being able to enjoy a special meal out is something we don’t do often, but absoutely plan for when we travel. Since we have a toddler, kindergartener and two teens, I have a bag of tricks to keep them entertained and happy until the food arrives! (Hint: This doesn’t have to include electronic devices, keep reading!) I’ve included my travel dining hacks for kids with lots of tips on eating out as well as the must have travel items for babies, big kids and toddlers when restaurant dining is in your plans.

Choosing the Best Restaurants for Kids

Sure, you can take your kid to just about any restaurant you want, but do you really want to? I know I don’t want to eat in a fancy place with my noisy toddler and feel like I’m needing to shush her every 2 seconds when she uses her “outside” voice indoors! Personally when I’m eating in a restaurant with my kids I choose a place that might be just a bit more noisy and more on the casual side.

Before you step inside, check out the ambiance and weigh whether you think it’s a good place for your kiddos. Second, peek at the menu. If there’s something there that your kids will eat, then proceed! If you have a picky eater in the family, see my post with practical dining tips for at home or on the road.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

What to Order Kids in a Restaurant?

When we go out to eat (which isn’t very often), we usually encourage the kids to order something they don’t usually eat at home. Why get buttered spaghetti noodles when you can order steak and baked potato with all the fixings?!

My middle son always orders chicken nuggets and fries because we simply don’t feed him that at home. For him, that’s his special restaurant meal. I’m not going to spend dinner out arguing with him to try something new, especially if I may get push back. Restaurant dining isn’t the time to pressure your kids. And if nuggets and fries is something he’ll eat (and usually finish!) then that’s what I let him order!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Give ’em what they want! If ordering nuggets & fries will get them to eat, then so be it!

1. Table Covers Keep Food From Touching Dirty Tables

If you’ve been eating out with kids before, you know that the food doesn’t always stay on the plate. In fact, if given a plate of food my two-year old will immediately dump all the contents directly onto the table! Instead of giving your toddler an entire plate to herself, dole out a few pieces here and there to minimize mess. I use disposable table covers so I know her food stays away from germs.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

The moment right before the pizza hit the table – thank goodness for the disposable table cover!

2. Portable High Chair for Babies and Toddlers

Dirty restaurant highchair? Skip toting around the bulky cover and consider the Totseat Chair Harness. Quickly convert a regular chair into a secure seat for babies on the go.

3. Drink Up! Kid’s Travel Cups That Are Easy to Clean

My baby daughter used to make the biggest mess when she tried to drink out of a cup. She never grasped how to drink out of a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup had been equally challenging. Fortunately she learned how to drink out of a straw very early on. But that still didn’t minimize the mess (she tended to let whatever she doesn’t swallow dribble down her chin!)

When we went on vacation, I brought along a set of Silikids Siliskin Silicone Sippy Tops. These silicone tops stretch over your own cup, turning it into a child-friendly sipper. While in the hotel room, I was able to convert a small drinking glass into a sippy cup for milk. And when taking her in the stroller, I placed a Siliskin Sippy Top onto a plastic cup filled with water.

The Siliskin Sippy Top has tiny holes that do not leak out liquid. The child has to gently bite on the top and suck to drink. This made it much less of a mess because my daughter only took in what she was swallowing. I really liked having these on-the-go to convert any cup into a sipper. They are dishwasher and microwave safe, though I just washed by hand in the hotel bathroom sink.

I also have the Silikids Siliskin Silicone Straw Cup. I’ve always been hesitant to purchase sippy cups with straws because of the cleaning aspect (tiny parts are challenging to get totally clean, even in the dishwasher).

This cup is only three simple parts and all can be boiled in water to sanitize. The straw is really quite big for my toddler daughter to use but my preschooler drinks from it perfectly (and I don’t have to worry about spills in the car).

4. Entertaining Ideas for Baby

I’ve taken my baby on a few trips by myself, including traveling alone to Walt Disney World. If you don’t have extra hands, make sure to pack a few things that will make your dining experience more enjoyable. A few toys for entertaining baby and a clever strap that keeps the bottle or sippy cup from falling to the floor.

If your baby is in the loud screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs phase request a seat on the patio where the extra noise may be better absorbed. If Disney is your destination, check out this post with additional tips for dining with a baby.

5. Keep ‘Em Clean with Disposable Bibs

Other than taking extra clothes with you (always a good idea anyway, I guess), a bib is the best way to keep clothes clean when eating out with kids. A disposable bib is even better! Pop it on, fold in the bottom to catch any food that falls and then toss it when done with the meal. So much better than toting around crusty clothes!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Disposable bibs are a must in my travel bag!

6. Best Travel Snack Ideas for Kids

Despite your best efforts for choosing kid-friendly restaurants, some kids just won’t eat. Consider packing in a few of their favorite snacks that you know they’ll eat. I like the b. box Snack Pack. There are two separate compartments. And it comes with a child-sized utensil that snaps in to the lid!

In between meals or while on the road, try the Munchkin Snack Catcher. I use it in the car with my toddler and big kids! You can fill it up with an age-appropriate snack (fishy crackers for little ones, trail mix for older kids). This really helps to minimize spills and mess in the car when they drop it (because you know they will!)If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

7. Kid’s Restaurant Busy Bag (Aka: The Device-Free Dinner)

We went to a restaurant a few years ago and before my kids were even in their seats they were each handed an electronic tablet to play games. We weren’t even asked by the waitress if it was okay. Our kids don’t use devices at home so naturally it was a special occasion. Was the wait for the meal really quiet? Yep. They had their noses pressed against the screens the entire time, silently playing their individual games.

There are times that having the devices come in handy during travel (like on a boring road trip). But for me personally, I’m not a fan of having electronics at the dinner table. We let our kids play with them at this particular restaurant for about ten minutes before removing them and asking the waitress to take them away. My husband and I enjoy chatting with our kids together and while it was certainly quiet, it didn’t connect us as a family to have the kids playing games alone. However do what you have to do – if the kids are bickering and all you want is 10 quiet minutes, then maybe letting the kids use a device is what you need to do.

Waiting for food to arrive can make young diners impatient. Some restaurants will offer paper and crayons but not all. Consider having a restaurant “busy bag” to occupy kids. The contents inside the bag can be items that the entire family would enjoy. Supply a grab-bag of goodies to keep kids entertained while you wait. Here are a few mess-free ideas for different age ranges, from babies to big kids! Grown ups, set your phones down and pick up one of these family favorites.


If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families! #Restaurant #TravelWithKids #FamilyTravel #EatingOut #Dining

All You Need to Know About Disneyland Tickets

One of the major expenses of your Disneyland vacation is your Park entrance ticket. Disneyland tickets are paper (no Walt Disney World MagicBands here!) They are also your “ticket” so-to-speak for grabbing FASTPASS throughout your vacation. Naturally, with something so important there’s a lot to learn. Here’s the scoop on what you need to know about Disneyland tickets including how to use FASTPASS, buying discounted Disneyland tickets and more.

This post was originally published July 16th, 2016 – Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

You’re Here Because You Want Cheap Disneyland Tickets!

Everyone planning a trip to Disneyland wants to save money on Disney tickets. Why pay full price when there are places that sell discounted tickets?Keep reading for the best ways to save on Disneyland admission, then check out these other money-saving Disney tips.

My number one tip on buying Disneyland tickets is….

Don’t wait to buy your park tickets when you get to the park.

Seriously.

You are able to buy park tickets on the Disneyland website. Buy Disneyland tickets from travel agencies, AAA, credit union or at Costco. They even sell tickets at the Disney Store in the mall. Some of the Anaheim Good Neighbor hotels sell them. You can even buy them at Southern California grocery stores. I recommend purchasing online through my affiliate partner Get Away Today because they are an authorized seller of discounted tickets.

Do not buy tickets at Disneyland…that is, unless you like to stand in line for 30+ minutes when you could be getting into the park. Or if you like paying full price instead of getting a possible discount by doing a little shopping around!

If you buy your tickets elsewhere, read the fine print that comes with it. Sometimes you can go directly to the front gate and they will trade your ticket in whatever form it is (it might look like a plain print-out or like a plastic gift card) for an official park ticket right then and there. Other pre-purchased tickets will request that you go to the ticket booth in advance. If you have to do this, I suggest trading them for your actual park tickets on the day before you enter the parks to save time.

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

Lined up in the morning at the box office…when they could be in the Park!


CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


What a Park Hopper and Should I Buy One?

A Disneyland ticket with a Park Hopper option allows guests to visit both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park on the same day. “Hopping” between Parks is generally quick (they are just across a short esplanade from each other) though re-entry to Disneyland specifically can sometimes take longer on busy days.

Park Hoppers do add a bit more cost to your ticket price. If you are staying for only 1 or 2 days, I would highly recommend a Park Hopper option. This way you’ll be able to make the best use of your mornings by hitting popular rides, grabbing FASTPASS and going back and forth between the Parks. If you are staying for 3+ days, I would purchase non-Park Hoppers because you’ll be able to spend more time exploring each Park thoroughly by staying in one each day. You’ll also get a better rate on 3+ day tickets.

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

Inside Disneyland (on the train) and you can see the entrance to California Adventure – that’s how close it is to Park Hop!

Are There Cheap One Day Disneyland Tickets?

Generally the more in-park days you purchase upfront, the better discount you’ll be getting. Consider one of the Annual Passports if you plan on going back at any point during the year or if your vacation is going to be longer. If you purchase a Signature annual pass, you’ll have no blackout dates, receive free parking, food discounts and some retail shop discounts as well.

Where Can You Get Discounted Disneyland Tickets?

Can you get cheap Disneyland tickets at Costco. Yes, you can also purchase Disneyland park tickets at AAA, but often the cheapest way is via authorized ticket sellers online.

I highly recommend purchasing tickets from Get Away Today online as they are an authorized seller of discount tickets for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios and LEGOLAND . They also offer the SoCal City Pass which includes tickets to Disneyland as well as other Southern California theme parks. You’ll save buying the set of attraction tickets versus buying individual tickets for each park.

Stay at one of the Disneyland Resort Hotels and book one of their travel packages, which can include park tickets at a discounted rate. Of course, staying at a Disneyland resort hotel is going to cost more than an off-site hotel. Get Away Today also offers discounted vacation packages, so I’d definitely request a quote from them first! You can even place your vacation on layaway with Get Away Today and pay in installments.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529

If you are a Southern California resident you often have the advantage of receiving discounted prices on short visit tickets during certain times of the year. You’ll need proof of residence upon entry to the Park. Military, teachers and some other professionals may receive discounts through your employer.

Keep in mind that a 1-day ticket price has seasonal pricing based on when the Park crowds are “peak” (more expensive ticket), “regular” or “value”(less expensive ticket). You’ll pay more to visit on the weekends and holiday seasons. Unless you are very tight on time and only have one day, you should definitely avoid the 1-day ticket.

How Do I Use My Ticket for a FASTPASS?

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

First I should answer, “What’s a FASTPASS?”

FASTPASS is a way for you to get a “reservation” in a shorter line for a particular ride. FASTPASS is free so there’s no reason not to try it! Each of the following attractions have a FASTPASS Distribution Area where you will scan in your park ticket and in return be given a special FASTPASS “return” ticket. This will have a window of time printed on it for you to come back to the attraction and be able to take a “short-cut” by using the designated FASTPASS line instead of standing in the regular line-up.

You’ll be using your Park tickets to redeem FastPass – Keep your Park tickets close at hand inside a coin purse on a lanyard, like these:  Mickey and Minnie Mouse Lanyards with Detachable Coin Purse


Tips and Rules About Using FASTPASS

always use FASTPASS whenever possible. Of course there are days you won’t need to use it, like if the park isn’t terribly crowded. I’ve even encounted days when Disneyland doesn’t offer the FASTPASS because the lines are short enough already.

However there are certain rides I absolutely will not wait in the regular line-up and will only use FASTPASS for. Radiator Springs Racers is one ride that you should grab a FASTPASS for first thing in the morning. Any newer attractions, like Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! will have a long wait in stand-by so nabbing a FASTPASS if you want to see it is imperative.

The best use of FASTPASS is to have a game plan of things to do until the FASTPASS time is ready. For instance, the Star Tours line is always long and I always get a FASTPASS for this. You’ll have about 40 minutes to wait until your FASTPASS is valid so you could ride the Disneyland Railroad all the way around the Park, go on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, watch the Star Wars show that’s close by or go inside the Star Wars Launch Bay for a while. The point is to do something else while you are waiting for your FASTPASS time to come up. Make the best use of your time and find something else in that area to occupy you until your FASTPASS time is ready!

How To Use Your Tickets for FASTPASS

When you approach the FASTPASS Distribution Area for a particular ride, pay note to the time frame that you will be asked to return. If the Park is really crowded your return time might be a few hours out. There is even a chance that FASTPASS will not be available on extremely busy days because they will be “filled up” very early in the day. This happened to us for Soarin’ last time we visited on a busy weekend. It was about noon and the FASTPASS times weren’t available until after 6pm!

Each person in your party will need their own FASTPASS. This means you’ll have to individually scan in each person’s ticket so they will each get a FASTPASS.

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

What About MaxPass?

MaxPass eliminates your need to use paper tickets for FASTPASS, booking them on your smart device instead. You’ll still need your ticket (or to scan the app in your device) when you return to the time at your scheduled time. For more tips on MaxPass, read Top 21 Disneyland MaxPass Questions Answered by my friend Leslie at Trips with Tykes.

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

Do Babies Need a Disneyland Ticket?

If your child is under three years old, their admission is free! Check out these posts with tips for traveling to Disneyland with a baby –

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

Kids under three don’t need a Park ticket.

Annual Passport

You may decide mid-vacation that you’d like to upgrade to a Disneyland Annual Pass. You can apply the amount that you paid for the ticket (so long as it hasn’t expired) to the cost for the Annual Passport. If you buy the AP, consider which pass makes the best sense for you and your family. Different AP have certain blockout dates so check the calendar before deciding which one is best for you.

Keep in mind that you can mix and match AP within your family to get the best deal that works for you. When I had AP, my boys had the SoCal Passport and I had the Premium (now called Signature). This meant that I could get free parking and a discount on food and some merchandise. There was no reason for the kids to have the Premium because they would never be at the park without me. I would be making all the purchases, so I was the only one who needed to have the higher costing AP with the best discounts.

Annual Passports have a monthly payment option (after an initial down payment) so you can take the year to pay the price of the Passport off.

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

My husband having his photo taken upon entering the park for the first time with our multi-day Park Hopper ticket.

What NOT to Do When Buying or Using Tickets?

  • Don’t buy tickets on Craigslist or on Ebay. You have no way of looking at the tickets and knowing if they are valid or legal.
  • Don’t buy tickets from anyone selling them outside the Park. Buy only from an authorized dealer.
  • Don’t buy anyone else’s multi-day ticket from them. You have no way of knowing how many days are still valid on that ticket! Also your photo will be taken the first time you use your multi-day ticket and verified each time you enter.
  • Don’t lose your ticket!
Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids

Take a photo of the backside of your ticket in case it gets lost.

Your park ticket will allow you entrance in and out of the park for the day. You’ll also use it frequently for FASTPASS  -So don’t lose your ticket! I recommend that you take a photograph of the backside of your ticket. Capture the bar code/date stamp. You’ll be able to get a replacement at Guest Relations should your ticket go missing. Make sure everyone in your group and all the tickets that were purchased are with you.

Everything you need to know about Disneyland tickets, from discounts, FASTPASS, Annual Passes and where NOT to buy your Disneyland tickets! #Disneyland #Disney #DisneyTickets #DisneyonaBudget #FamilyTravel #TravelwithKids


6 Life-Lessons My Mom Taught Me the Hard Way

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I received compensation from Hefty® to create this post written by Julie Bigboy at Mom Rewritten. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Hefty®.

This Mother’s Day I’m reflecting on my mom and the life lessons she taught me that challenged me to stay strong. Whether it is creative ventures, trying something new or even doing housework together, moms everywhere are supporting their kids in whatever they do! Keep reading for the hard life-lessons my mom gave me that have shaped me into the strong mom I am for my kids.

1. Be Yourself

I was a creative child, constantly drawing, singing, and daydreaming. And the creativity simply oozed out into how I dressed and presented myself to the world. Even if that meant paisley pants and a plaid shirt (hey, it was the 70s!) Moms only rule? No mixing and matching of plaids, even if the colors were the same. Other than that, if it fit, it was fair game!

I can remember layering two skirts on top of each other, rocking three ponytails on my head and wearing a floor-grazing skirt that was made from an old quilt. I was sooo confident in my young self and I have Mom to thank for that!

It never crossed my mind that anyone would think I was strange or weird for dressing so interesting – Mom felt that it was important for me to have a strong self-esteem. She also knew I’d eventually figure it out myself that maybe I’d look better without peacock blue eye shadow from lid to eyebrow!

2. It’s an Adventure

I was just barely 14 and my brother only 12 when my mom allowed us to take the bus to the mall. It was our first time navigating public transportation and apparently we did a lousy job of it, because we didn’t get to the mall! As soon as we realized we were miles in the opposite direction, we hopped off and found a pay phone. We were in tears, scared and worried about being in the completely wrong place. My mom laughed and reassured us we’d be fine. She told us to get on the next bus back and said something I’d never forget, “As long as nobody gets hurt, it’s an adventure!”

Going on adventures to places I’ve never been is one of my favorite things as an adult and I’m so grateful Mom taught me that getting lost was part of the fun.

3. Try New Things (And Don’t Whine About It)

I was the worst picky eater as a kid. I would refuse foods and to make it worse, I’d whine about it when my mom would ask me to just TRY it. I actually told my kids this story the other day at the dinner table (pointedly towards my own picky eater!) and they thought it was hilarious. One morning when I was about 12 my mom had made me a protein breakfast shake with malted milk. Malted milk has never been palatable to me (even now) and I refused to even take a sip. Looking back, I know I was a complete brat and deserved what was coming to me, but wow was I mad. My mom, in a fit of frustration, told me, “Eat it or wear it” and dumped the shake on the top of my head!

Two things learned that day; 1. Moms do have a breaking point. 2. What would it kill me to take at least a little taste? I can proudly tell you now that my picky eating days are over and I eat so much more now (but malted milk still isn’t a favorite!) Thank goodness my kids are better eaters than I ever was!

4. Shifting Focus

As the busy mom of four, I often find myself saying and doing things that I regret. It’s a trait that many moms share, I know, internalizing more about the things that we’re doing wrong rather than all the things we do RIGHT! That’s something my mom has pushed me towards – a focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses. It’s not about perfect, or even just being “good enough”. It’s being the best mom for my kids, being an advocate, a leader and a teacher. About being a good example through my words and actions. That means sometimes the dishes get done. And sometimes they don’t. But I try not to beat myself up about it either.

5. The Job’s a Game

Oh, how many weekends I spent cleaning my messy room! I’m an organized spirit at heart but sometimes my creative side gets the best of me and clutter ensues. Mom taught me to tidy up before I tackle a project and to put things away as I use them to minimize the mess. When we did family chores around the house, Mom always played loud Sousa marching music! This kept things lively and made me move and dance around the house. Even today, I play music as a motivator when housekeeping with my kids. My mom can’t even believe how tidy my house is now when she comes to visit.

This Mother’s Day, Hefty® is helping to celebrate strong moms by teaming up with John Cena and his mom Carol Cena.

Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags help me and other strong moms tackle messes on a daily basis. With kids from toddlers to teens, I know messes! And when I use Hefty®, I know the mess will stay where it belongs. Triple Action Technology resists tears, punctures and leaks and there’s a break resistant grip drawstring to prevent the bag from falling inside the can (I hate when that happens!) Plus, Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags offer that strength at a low price.

6. Share Your Stories

My mom’s childhood was a mix of hardship and joy. Music and singing got her through many of the difficult times. My mom is also an ultimate storyteller. I’m certain that a vivid imagination helped her stay strong when things were rough. The tales and life-lessons of her own childhood were my nightly bedtime stories. I’m blessed to have this library of memories brought to life in her re-telling. Mom had a way of taking something that was challenging for me at the time and telling a story about it that helped me to work it out. I’m sure that’s why I became a writer myself. Mom passed her love of stories to me and now I’m thankful to be able to share them with you.

This Mother’s Day, what stories do you have to share with your children? I urge you to tell your childhood stories with your kids and see what life-lessons you can teach them from what you’ve learned over the years.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hefty®.

Our moms are always teaching us things, whether we want to learn them or not! Hefty® Partner Here are some life lessons my mom taught me. #MothersDay #LifeLessons