What Disney World Teaches us about Parenting…

I’ve been away with the family for a few weeks, taking a break from the cold and giving the kids their first Disney vacation.

It was a hit for all of us and both my husband and I grinned through the whole experience.  I think I may have even had a tear in my eye when the parade came through and saw the performers giving every ounce of personality and joy to the bedazzled crowds.

Disney seems to have mastered the art of catering to every need that could exist for parents and kids, from the moment you drive through the gate where the attendant greets you, to the design of the colorful, artistic display tables in store.  Absolutely every thing is designed to delight….and they don’t miss a beat.

Even a crowded restaurant with a 45 minute wait was handled expertly by a staff employee who volunteered options that would reduce our wait times and meet our needs.  It was like a  well oiled machine.  Now if a company as large and extensive as Disney World can inject so much enthusiasm, consciousness and dedication to people that aren’t even related to them…then I wanted to know the secret?

Surely it’s not just money and obligation that was creating this type of enthusiasm??  How did these employees give their best everyday and still manage to reduce or remove any sign of frustration or exhaustion. There was something interesting to be explored here.

How do we embrace that type of thinking in our everyday interactions with our kids?  How do we inject magical experiences into the ordinary day, when we are bone tired and have little to give? Where do we take our minds, as parents, when we want to triumph over the feeling of  “Oh god, I need a break, I don’t think I’m cut out for all this!” conversations we have?

I’ve spent a great deal of time since that day thinking about the training these employees may have been through…but regular instruction alone does not a good employee make.

I imagine if I was creating the staff training, I would say something like this….. your first duty here is to close your eyes and picture a Mom and a Dad.  They saved their money….most likely bought flights and hotel.  This was a trip anticipated for months and months….so many hopes were created for this moment.  Sacrifices were made.

Now I want you to give them different faces, different colors, different shapes, I want you to describe them, tell me what they do for a living, tell me what they like to eat, tell me about how much they love their kids.

Now climb inside them and feel their pain, their joy, their hopes.  Clap for them.  Embrace them in your mind.  Become them.  Now…..open your eyes and when you go out there everyday, remember that you are them and they are you.  Just a different color, shape, size but all struggling in their own way and wanting to give their kids and themselves the absolute best they can.

Connect your heart and mind to their joys and fears and give them an experience you would want…one they will NEVER forget.

This is our both our pleasure and pain as parents.  To find a way to climb inside our children and see the world from their perspective.  To connect with them emotionally first and then and only then, redirect to what’s practical, logical and necessary if you must.

That is how I took a little piece of magic home with me.

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