What I Learned at Disney (this time round)

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Well, we did it again. We took four of the kids to Disney World over Spring Break. Here is a rundown of my top ten lessons from this year’s road trip.

  1. 33 hours is still a LONG time. That’s how long it takes to drive from Steinbach Manitoba to Davenport (just outside Orlando). We do it in one stretch, right through the night. Why do we do this? 1) Because the gas costs less than half the cost of one plane ticket. (And I figure the hit to my sanity was about on par with flying with kids as well.) 2) Because stopping at a hotel adds even MORE to the cost of travel. 3) Because it would hardly be restful to drag all our stuff into two or three hotels, plus the four kids (including a baby), only to NOT sleep and then keep going the next day. 4) Because I’m likely not going to do extreme sports and I need something to brag about to my friends.
  2. Disney World at Spring Break is AWFUL. I’m never doing that again. TWO lines took 135+ minutes to get through. That is time I will never get back. Fortunately, I had my phone and Disney has wifi. At least the boys and I made some good memories.
  3. Sensory Processing Disorder is a real thing. I know sometimes people who don’t understand SPD think it’s kind of a cop-out for kids who just don’t behave. But nope, we lived with the reality of SPD in our foster son every minute of every day. I’ve added a little video at the bottom of this post so that you can watch and learn about it and grow in compassion for kids who live with it and the parents who look like they have lost control of their kids in public. (And if you need help for one of your kids talk to me!)
  4. The ocean is as amazing as ever. On the way home we added an hour to our trip and swung out to the Atlantic coast and it was worth it. I just never get tired of watching waves crash in. (Or looking for seashells… am I turning into an 80-year-old Oma or something?) There is a reason that mountains, oceans and the night sky are in so many of the worship-theme Psalms. Creation on that grand a scale elicits worship, every time.
  5. We didn’t need to invest in a media centre for the new van. Seriously. And it’s not because my boys read so many books or played so many games on the drive. Kids bring their screens along with them now. Good grief! Their heads were lowered so far down over their iPads/iPods/iPhones in the back seat that we sometimes had to do a roll-call just to see if they made it back from the last gas station bathroom. But for the record, I’m totally ok with the fact that they had a ton of screen time in the car, we all have to tap into our coping mechanisms when you’re in a van with a baby and 5-year-old for 33+ hours.
  6. My wife can budget like nobody’s business. We ate out, did theme parks, bought souvenirs (see next point), had fun, and were still so far under the budget she set that we were able to add two nights to our trip. If I hashtagged out my admiration for her with #TaraIsABudgetGuru, it would trend on my tweets alone.
  7. I HATE SOUVENIR CUPS! ‘Nuff said.
  8. In my old age, I have finally learned to use sunscreen. I had a sun-burn free trip. Possibly the first ever.
  9. 12 days of vacation time is not enough. I will book a minimum of 14 days from now on. Especially on the road-trip type vacations. I need to give myself and my family, time to get into vacation mode and enjoy it before packing up and heading home.
  10. Disney World is still one of my favourite places in the world to visit. I know it’s expensive and there is a definite spirit of humanism there (I’m a bit tired of the “The magic is within you” songs), but the creativity, joy, laughter, and fun of a place like that, I believe, reflects God’s heart. Strange how we can meet God in the spiritually darkened places of the world.

Those are my Spring Break 2018 lessons. I’m already dreaming of heading back to Disney in a few years!

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About the Author

Thom Dick

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Thom is an Associate Pastor at Southland Church in Steinbach, Manitoba and has worked with children and youth for 17 years. He and his wife, Tara, have 5 kids; 4 boys, and a daughter. The kids are spread across 20 years too, so that gives him plenty of experimental material to write about! They have also welcomed 27 foster children into their home over the past number of years. He's on Instagram as @thomaswdick.

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