• Disney World Tips

    Hello! We are back safe and sound from Disney World and I can tell you what I found worked really well, and what really didn’t from all the prep work I put in. Here are Disney World Tips by Miriam Laundry.

    What Worked Really Well 

    1. Don’t follow the crowd. 

    We planned to get to the Magic Kingdom early. When we went in everyone was going towards the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Instead, we went the opposite direction. There was nobody! We did tonnes of rides with no lineups and were able to use a fast-pass for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train later on. In contrast, on the second day we went with the crowd to the Slinky Dog Dash ride (it is super popular right now at Hollywood Studios). It was a 40 – 60 minute wait, even though we were there first thing in the morning. What I learned: Go against the crowd and maximize your fast-passes for the most popular rides.  

    Fast-pass tip: Fast-passes are available 60 days in advance if you are staying at a Disney resort, and 30 days if not.

    2. Be prepared to abandon the plan. 

    Did you know that 53,000 people enter the Magic Kingdom every day on average? It's no wonder that with the amount of people, the heat, and the extra sugar kids hit their limit.  I knew I had to watch for signs of wavering energy with my kids, and I am so glad I did! We were at the park at 8 am and Aiden was done by noon on the first day. So, we sat down for lunch, did a few more rides and then left. Instead of pushing through for the full day as planned, I adjusted to roll with his needs. What I learned: Being prepared to abandon the day’s plan worked really well and prevented meltdowns. 

    Meltdown Tip: Kids aren’t the only ones that get overwhelmed. Watch yourself as well as your kids to see if you need a break, too. 

    3. Plan your spending money in advance.  

    I knew that I was going to spend a little on a trinket or a souvenir, but anything else the boys wanted were going to have to buy themselves. My kids brought their own money and were able to buy a couple things they wanted. Lucas bought a Mickey Mouse bubble maker and Aiden bought himself a fan that you spray water with to cool yourself. I ended up carrying it because he didn’t want to carry it. I ended up using it more than him. After a while he said “Mommy, do you think you should pay for half of it since you are using it so much?” Hahaha

    4. Take a day off parks.

    This was my first time trying it, and it was one of the best decisions I made. There are four parks and it is easy to get caught up trying to cram everything in. For our day off I let the boys sleep in and play on their electronics. We had a lunch with the Mickey Mouse and friends. We weren’t in a hurry or on a schedule. In the afternoon we took a nap and quiet time, then we went to our dinner reservation. Afterwards, we took in fireworks from one of the hotels. What I learned: The Magic of Disney wears off (you know what I’m saying) so planning a day to rest is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your kids. What completely shocked me was this ended up being one of Aiden's highlights of the trip!

    Fireworks Tip: There are several hotels where you can just go and watch the fireworks from. The Grand Floridian, for example. Several hotels have firework viewing spots.

    What I Wish I would Have Done Differently.

    5. Leave the park and return later in the day. 

    This is something I didn’t know: you can go back to the same park as many times as you want in the day for no extra charge. The first day we started at the park at 8 am and my plan was to stay until fireworks later in the evening. Guess what? That was way too long of a day for the boys. Here is what I learned: the first 2-3 hours at the park are the best. After that, the heat sets in and the crowds increase. The solution is to take breaks. If I had known we could return to the park, I would have gone to the park for the morning, had our lunch, then gone back to the hotel for a nap and some downtime. Then we could have gone back later in the day for more rides and fireworks. It just isn’t realistic to plan to stay the whole day, especially if you want to keep your sanity. I would rather my kids have 3-4 hours of solid fun and leave it at that, then try for the full day and have bad memories and meltdowns.

    6. A locker isn’t necessary. 

    My idea for using a locker to store stuff wasn’t as useful as I thought it would be. If you remember, I had it crammed full of “just-in-case” items, most in case of weather emergencies. It was nice to have that back-up in my  mind, but because the weather was good we only ended up using it the first day. What I Learned – Getting a locker for the first day was good because it gave me that “just-in-case” peace of mind. Once we knew the weather was good and knew what to expect, it wasn’t necessary for the rest of the trip. 

    7. DO MORE LYFTS. 

    I wish I would have booked more Lyfts for transportation to and from the parks. It was only $11! That is so worth not waiting around for a bus, especially when you have multiple buses to take! Or cranky kids. Or you’re in a hurry. Or if there are a lot of people and it is super busy. Just over-all – I would have booked more Lyfts or the Minnie Van they offer. 

    8. Schedule a Massage. 

    I was walking so much and my legs hurt so much. My problem was the boys. Who was going to watch them? If you have a partner with you who can, great. If not, there are camps you can book them into and baby-sitting. I’m an introvert, so a couple hours to loosen up my muscles and have some time to myself would have been worth its weight in gold. What I Learned: quiet time for mommy is also essential. 

    9. Next time I will bring these things:

    Good walking shoes. I can't say that enough.

    A way to charge our phones. You know those wireless charging things you can bring with you to charge your phone when you don’t have access to an outlet? It's like an extra battery you can carry. Those. I would have brought one or two of those OR made use of Disney's Portable Phone Charging System Kiosks. 

    Highlight for Aiden (age 11) – He said his favourite was the first couple hours of the Magic Kingdom and our Day Off! Go figure. 

    Highlights for Lucas (age 6): The Animal Kingdom. When you go into the park you get this book, The Wilderness Explorer Handbook. The idea is to go around the park and collect stickers. When you get all 25 stickers you become an official Wilderness Explorer. For every sticker they teach different things and there is a short and easy activity. For a competitive six year old, this is super fun. Aiden was not as thrilled, haha, but you should have seen Lucas’ face when he was announced as a Wilderness Explorer at the end. 

    Highlight for Me: Watching Lucas’ face when he saw the Disney Castle for the first time. (see the video on my Instagram story) and the Animal Kingdom. It is by far my favourite Disney Park. 

  • Building Strong Mental Health in Children – 6 easy tricks

    Being pro-active about building strong mental health in children doesn’t have to be difficult, OR take up all your time. These are my tips and tricks to make it easy. 
    Our mind, like our bodies, relies on many of the same things to remain healthy. Exercise and food have a huge impact on our health – both physical and mental. We often focus on these areas for physical fitness, but why not mental fitness? Why is being mentally fit so important? Ups and downs come to everyone. The truth is, the more tools you have at your disposal, and the more “fit” your mind is, the easier it will be for you to deal with pressure. We all know that kids deal with a LOT of pressure! Everyone does. 

    Physical Exercise

    It’s no secret that exercise improves our mental state. Aside from all the physical benefits, movement produces endorphins which is a huge part of mood regulation.

    • #1 For the Kid with a Competitive Streak: These guys can be easy to motivate since they are naturally active. Basically, they like anything competitive. If your child likes a challenge, then give them one! Are they already in sports? Work to create a place where they can perform and compete. 
    • #2 For the YouTube Junkie: Have they tried Pokemon Go? It was a huge fad a few years ago. You literally use your phone to “find” and collect pokemon by walking around the actual world. It gets you outside and moving around AND it's a video game. 
    • #3 For the Curious kid: Try a Nature Scavenger Hunt, which is basically a walk to the park with a checklist of things to find. Try a new park or trail. Do you know my local St. Catharines has over 108 different parks? Find a list of those parks here. What is your favourite park in your city? Are there some you haven't explored?

    Food.

     Eating the right food has a great relation to our mental state. I know that whenever I eat junk food, I am in for an unpleasant aftermath. It sits in my gut like a rock and saps my motivation. Have you ever noticed that?  Of course it is going to affect our children as well. *Disclaimer* There are some days when getting food fast and easy is way more important for mental health than doing a Pinterest recipe while your kids destroy your house. (I have been there, my friend.) 

    But, for the days when I can plan and have the time, my favourite healthy food for my kids is avocado! When it comes to young children, avocados are a naturally soft, healthy fat source with a pleasant flavour that doesn’t come on too strong. Young kids will eat it straight, but if you are looking to jazz it up, here are some tips:

    • #4 For my easy-going teen: Avacado on toast. Yep – that’s it. She can make it herself and it keeps her healthy and happy. 
    • #5 For the sweet tooth: Have you ever had a chocolate avocado smoothie? Ok, yes, there is chocolate and sugar in it…. but it is DEE-licious and, technically, you are eating something healthy…..
    • #6 For picky eaters: Pasta salad. (No onions, MOM!). It doesn’t take too long to prepare, and I can easily make a large batch and pack it for lunches. What you need: cooked pasta, paul newman's oil and vinegar dressing, tomatoes, coriander/cilantro and feta. There's no avocado in this one, but hey, it works. Things you can add: cucumber, bell peppers, chicken, It really is only limited to your kid's preferences. 

    Hey parents! If you think your child's school could benefit from an author visit from Miriam Laundry, consider sharing this special discount with your child's teacher or principal.

  • How to Prepare for a Great Disney Experience

    Here are my top tips to getting a great Disney experience. I am taking my two sons, aged 6 and 11, to Disney this week by myself. This year I am splitting the four kids according to interest and age. This makes sure each one gets the most out of their vacations and some solid one on one time. (Stay tuned for my trip planned with the girls in August!) I am super excited, but doing Disney on your own is definitely a challenge. How do I plan for a great Disney experience instead of an exhausting and stressful Disney experience?

    I have one word for you: PREPARATION. 

    This isn’t my first rodeo, and I know that if we want to do the things on everybody’s wish-list, being prepared is the only way it is going to happen. Here are some little tricks I have learned that will (hopefully) give us a smooth trip.

    In two week I will let you know how it all went and exactly how useful I found everything. >.<  You can follow me on Instagram for daily updates.

    #1) Research.
     I am doing my research and my boys are doing theirs. I found this really great YouTube channel,  DFB Guide, that gives you SO much information, and it has been my bread and butter for the last couple months. My boys aren't as familiar with Disney as my girls are, so I have them watching the classics. When we get there, I want them to be familiar with the iconic characters and movies. 

    #2) My Disney Experience App is King.
    When you book your vacation you get access to this planning tool that you can open on your computer in a browser AND have on your phone while you are at Disney. It’s called My Disney Experience, and it is the greatest thing ever. It helps you plan out the trip down to the minute, if that is your kind of thing. It gives you options for booking fast-passes (not only in advance, but also once you are at the park), AND, it gives you real-time knowledge of how long the wait times are for rides and what their height and age restrictions are. It will even let you know how long it will take you to walk over to that particular ride. If you like doing things on the fly OR if you like having everything planned, this tool is CRUCIAL.
    #3) Mobile Order Your Food. 
    At Disney, you can book reservations at different restaurants, or get food in a fast way. Let me tell you, if you have ever done the mobile order with Starbucks, it is exactly like that. Another reason why My Disney Experience App is so important. If you want to sit while you eat, you can make reservations 180 days in advance through the app. 
    #4) How Will You Carry the Essentials? 
    You know with kids there is going to be stuff to carry. I am having my oldest boy carry just the essentials, like water bottles and sunscreen, in a small backpack. I like to travel light but I need to also have a large number of “just in case” items, so I will be renting a locker at the park entrance. I would love to just use a stroller to tote everything around, but my guys are past that stage. If you don’t like the idea of a locker, make sure you check out the new restrictions on what strollers can be brought in and what you aren’t allowed at all (like wagons). 
    #5) Hydration
    You will need to stay hydrated. Instead of buying drinks, I bring water bottles and use the free ice water coolers to keep them filled. Most food locations will have one easily accessible, and if not, you can ask. They always offer free ice water.Tip: Glass water bottles are not allowed in Disney.
    #6) Transportation
    When it comes to getting to and from the parks there are lots of choices: mono-rails, busses, and boats. But now, there is a new option that I have as a back-up plan in case we don't want to wait. You can book a Minnie-Van. No I didn't miss-spell that, it is actually dressed up as Minnie Mouse and it can be booked through the Lyft App. If the kids are too tired and I want to get to the hotel fast, I suspect the Minnie-Van is worth the fee instead of waiting.  
    #7) Stay Loose. 
    Be prepared that things may not go as planned. Whether it is too much sugar, not enough sleep, or tantrums, these are things we don't plan for but happen to us all. If at some time you need to drop the plan and just sit or sight see… do it! Your kids will remember you being happy there, and them being happy there. Remember, (I am talking to myself now), the point is to have fun and make memories.
  • Children and Mental Health

    When you need a Professional

    There are lots of things we can do to be pro-active in having positive mental health for ourselves and our children, but sometimes the struggle is beyond our control and we need that extra help. It can also be overwhelming trying to find the right professional to talk to. As a parent, it can be hard to know what is perfectly normal or age appropriate, and what is not. If you think your child may need professional help, the flow chart above can help you figure out where you need to go.

    Whatever your concerns, what you need to do is talk at length with someone who can answer your questions. This flowchart is to help you find that person. 

    Disclaimer: The resources referenced here are all available in the Niagara Region. If you are NOT from the niagara region, you can use the same logic to find where to find the help you need. For example, there are crisis lines available all over North America that serve a wide range of geographical locations. Find the one that works for you.


    It is CMHA Mental Health Week! To find some great resources and how you can help go to https://mentalhealthweek.ca

    Hey educators! The biggest discount for author visits is now available. Email us to inquire team@miriamlaundry.com