Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Training for Disneyland

I recently left Mark at home for a week and flew with Sam (turning 4 tomorrow) and Ben (turning 10 months in a couple of weeks) to San Diego to visit my family.

From there, my parents, the boys and I drove to Disneyland for two days, staying in a motel for a night.

First, let me say that I’m one of those adults who loves Disneyland. As a kid living in Southern California, nothing was more exciting to me than a day spent at Disneyland. We'd drive up to Anaheim for birthdays, special occasions, and because my dad (now 75) loves it just as much as I do…just as much as I did as a kid.

So now, with my own kids, I have this new reason (or, “excuse”), to go back to the Magic Kingdom. But that said, taking two young kids to Disneyland without my spouse – albeit, with my parents – is no easy task…to say the least.

It dawned on me mid-day: Standing in line for the Buzz Lightyear ride with both Sam and Ben, grabbing a half-eaten granola bar out of a specific pocket in my backpack -- I'd saved it and put it right there for a reason, earlier that day -- to curb a hunger meltdown, while simultaneously pulling out a toy for Ben out of a different, yet, also specific pocket in my pack without having to frantically fish around for either. All those years adventure racing made me well-prepared for things like tackling Disneyland with two young kids.

For one, there’s the living out of a backpack. Snacks in one pocket, Boogie Wipes in another. Diapers ready, plastic bag from the popcorn saved to stash stinky diaper. iPhone -- Disneyland map and wait-time for lines App installed -- in a diaper- and snack-free pocket, easy to access at any moment...just like my racing compass. (And subsequently, Sam is now interested in maps and navigating, due to the Disneyland map on my phone and memories of where rides are located.) Water bottle, sunblock, chapstick, more snacks, money, credit card, extra layers for all three of us, hats for all three of us... ready at all times, and in specific places in my bag that I can quickly access without wasting too much time, or losing my mind.

Another racing skill that comes in greatly handy as a parent: Being prepared for anything that could happen (and will happen), and not wasting energy fretting about things that do. Flat tire on my mountain bike mid-race? Don’t dwell, just change it and move on. Blow-up in Ben’s pants nowhere near a bathroom? Don’t dwell, just change it and move on. I've found that rolling with the punches is fairly imperative for staying sane as a parent.

Strategy also comes into play. In an adventure race, route choice is key...It's even more key at Disneyland, if you want to minimize crowds and fatigue, hitting as many checkpoints...I mean, rides...as you can before burning out completely. One of my biggest strategic moves was parking my mom in Toon Town with Ben, allowing him to crawl around for an hour and sitting her down with a cold drink while my dad, Sam and I hit the Peter Pan ride.

More strategic moves, coupled with endurance on everyone's part: My parents had taken Ben back to the motel and had gotten him to bed. (This I knew from a call made with my iPhone pulled from the right, diaper-free pocket of my bag.) Pushing Sam in the stroller at the end of the day, we walked by a food stand without a line(!). I decided right then and there that was dinner. We grabbed our hotdogs (him) and veggie sandwiches (me) to go and kept on walking. Success!

Thinking we'd head back for bed, too, I returned the stroller I'd rented for Sam. But as we started walking out of the park, I realized that the opportunity to stay out late at Disneyland with Sam at his age was rare, so we turned right back around -- both of us excited -- for a couple more rides and to watch the fireworks (which was incredibly awesome).

Very-tired Sam was a trooper. We (strategically) took the train around (instead of walking) to the other side of the park, and endured another line in waiting for the Astro Orbitor Rockets…And we were rewarded with views of the castle lit up at night, and all the sights and lights from high up on the ride, not to mention the fun of swooping up and down (and Sam proclaiming, "Mom! I can see everything!"). It reminded me of enduring a long trek up a mountain to be rewarded with the view, and then realizing that the journey to get there was special, too.

It was an awesome trip, and I can’t wait for Ben to be old enough to enjoy things like this as much as Sam and I do. And I'm excited to maybe pass on some adventure racing skills to both of my boys so they, too, can navigate Disneyland – and life – with preparedness and a sense of adventure.  

For a related post on adventure racing and family, and again being the “girl” on the team, see this blog I recently wrote for Skirt Sports.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! More than once, I've hurried my kids to bed and then later realized how much fun they would have had if I had just let them stray from the schedule a bit. We're planning a trip to Disney World next summer; I'll have to remember that lesson. Oh, and that theme parks and endurance races have so much in common : )