National Siblings Day is April 10th!
The wish for a Disney vacation is that your kids will just get along. That they'll make happy memories, smile, tell funny jokes to each other; just like you’re in a Disney-esque sitcom.
And your older kids will be like Winifred, Mary and Sarah (Hocus Pocus) and they will wander off together, frolicking alone through the parks and when they return, share funny stories with you of the Disney adventures had while you hung back and rested on a bench.
Younger siblings will share the stroller, they’ll hold hands, sit together peacefully...but this isn’t a TV show, it’s real life.
When my three children were small, they often did not get along on our Disney vacations. I would wonder if I was the only parent who had kids squabbling in the parks. I wondered why sibling issues couldn’t be placed aside that week just for Disney’s sake. It’s DISNEY!!! Why are you fighting?!!! But instead, they would bicker over who gets to sit in the stroller (if I only rented one that day), or hurt the other’s feelings, or tease. I would question if vacationing is too stressful to be together for so long as a group and just not worth it. I would even buy matching t-shirts for that iconic family picture so we all looked the same. Why can’t they just like each other while at Walt Disney World? Is it so hard?!
Lessening the Conflicts: Finding their Inner Anna and Elsa
After many years of taking the three mouseketeers on numerous Disney vacations, I got a little better each time at lessening and, at times, preventing some sibling discord. Throwing money at it is sometimes worth a little peace and quiet. For example, rent (or bring) a second stroller or double stroller, reserve a second connecting room if you can afford it, and if your kids are older, reserve a character dining experience. Buying them their own fanny pack to store their own special items helps create boundaries of their material possessions because sometimes some things are not for sharing. Throwing less money at it, or possibly reconsidering adjusting your length of stay to a long weekend, may be just enough for the sibling dynamics. Know your own limits and understand your place in those sibling dynamics may be contributing to the conflicts. Walk away, take a breather, let someone else in your party deal with their issues can often assuage the situation. Splitting them up is always a good tactic. If you are proactive, know when things are just about to heat up. Take one of your kids and leave the area to enjoy one-on-one time. Seek out Disney’s activities that you can do together. Some of our favorite activities on every Disney vacation is gathering together for a group scavenger-type hunt. We can’t wait for Epcot to bring Ducktales Adventure to the World Showcase. Other activities include finding pressed penny machines, searching for eggs or Spike's Pollen Nation in Epcot during a festival, or hunting for Menehunes at Aulani - A Disney Resort and Spa. These adventures bring them to a common goal working together.
Don't Force It: We're not Jack-Jack, Violet or Dash; We are Human
It took me a long time to just accept what is normal. You pack your problems with you on vacation; they don’t stay at home. And if that means kids fight at home, then they fight at Disney, too. Putting on a fake smile or yelling isn’t going to change that. So if you know that and accept it going into the trip, you can move forward. Being prepared will help; lots of snacks and drinks and a sense of humor are a packing list must! This is not Leave it to Beaver, it’s not the Brady Bunch, it’s my messy normal life. And frankly, sometimes those fights they had in the parks made for the funniest memories years later.
Be the Butt of the Joke: Huey, Dewey, and Louie
The best way siblings get along anywhere is laughing together at mom or dad. Oh, it was real funny when I went flying out of my innertube at Aulani’s Tubestone Curl Waterslide. I’ll never live that down. You see, they all seem to get along when the grown-up is the one in the hot seat! So don’t be afraid to be the self deprecating knucklehead, it brings the kids to one team and creates something to have in common: laughing at you!
Really, not much has changed since you and your brothers and sisters had those epic fights on vacation on those long car rides to Disney. Only now, the roles are reversed, and now you are the parent of those squabbling sibs in the backseat!
Good luck on your adventure, you can do it!