Planning a vacation as a Single mom

Many have asked me how I am able to travel multiple times a year and especially to Disney World so often.  Well for me traveling has always been a passion of mine.  So it was on natural for me to continue to do it as a mom and pass this passion down to my son. I hope to share some tips and tools that will help other single moms and parents in general.

The number one tip I can offer when planning a trip of any kind to any location is to research the destination read reviews look at websites. By doing your research this allows you to see what is not always mentioned or highlighted.  By researching you may also find a lot of deals that you didn’t know were out there. One key factor researching is finding out when it the least expensive time period for that location as this will allow you to visit this place at a cheaper rate. A place that I love to go often is Walt Disney World and I have been in all season and I have to say that Christmas is my favorite times to visit it is also one of the more expensive times. So here is where my research skill play a major role. I look for sales that Disney maybe having such as free dine or 25% off stays at certain resorts.

Another tip I have is by using gift cards for my spending. What I mean by this is I save money throughout the year while waiting on the arrival of the vacation. What I have saved for the vacation is all I allow myself to spend while on vacation and the easiest way to do this is buy gift card because you can only spend what is on the gift card. Making sure that when you get home you’re not looking at your bank account wondering what happened. This has happened to me several time in my younger years, I would go on vacation and shop or spend heavy and then get home and remember there were bills that needed to be paid. Also with this I make sure all major bills have been paid prior to going on vacation so that you don’t feel so stressed once you get home from vacation.

My final tip on planning a vacation is choosing vacations that I can prepay. By prepaying this allows to to make payments as the year goes by which takes some of the stress off when you arrive to your vacation. Examples of trips that you can prepay are cruises, when you book a cruise you will need to pay a deposit and then depending on when the cruise is planned they will give you a date for final payment. So if you plan ahead like me you could give yourself a whole year to pay for this. We have a cruise planned for August 2019. Another location that allows you to prepay is of course my favorite and that is Disney World with Disney you will also be required to pay a deposit but your final payment is not due until 30 days prior to your trip and if you include the meal plan then all meals and snacks are covered and they only thing you have to budget for is spending money.

It is my personal preference to not use travel agents as there is so much information online that can assist you with planning a great trip and there is no cost to this. Booking with travel agents you will incur a fee so if you are trying to save the best way to do that is avoid the travel agents. Most major travel destinations have their own customer service people that can assist you with your travel needs.  I am a huge Disney fan and planning a trip to Disney is one of the easiest trips I plan every year the staff is amazing and they can help you with your hotel and dining as well.  Also if you are going to a location that you can not prepay for look for activities that you can buy online tickets as you will get a discount purchasing online

I hope that you all found this helpful, Happy reading

SinglemomwithFLARE

All about Chef Mickey’s

Yet another one on character dining….

Chef Mickey is an all time favorite for most however I am not a huge fan of Chef Mickey’s. My son has loved this restaurant since his first visit so for us it is a must do but not a fave of mine, most will disagree with me.

My family has only gone to Chef Mickey’s for dinner so I can not speak for breakfast or lunch. One thing I recommend with is to check the menu prior to booking your reservation as the menu will change based on the seasons. With this being said the menu is the basic american classic such as chicken, salmon, pasta station and a carving station. The dessert at this location are a fave for me because they have a create your own sundae and the cakes are awesome.

During dinner you can meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck.  My son loves seeing Pluto as this is one of the few places that you can see Pluto and second to Goofy this is my son’s best friend in his mind. This restaurant has an atmosphere like no other children will truly enjoy this restaurant as they get to wave there napkins and dance with the characters at one point in your dinner.

So you may be wondering why this is not a fave for me….

The reason why this is not a favorite for me is because I do not like how loud it gets when the towel waving part comes it can get very loud which does not bother me because that is all in fun but because Chef Mickey’s is located inside the Contemporary and when the monorail comes through it makes it hard to hear the people at your table, it also gets very loud because there are no real walls as this restaurant is located in an open area so it always seems to be noisy to me. Aside form the noise this is a fun location for all the members in your family Chef-Mickeys-Sign-600x400

Character Dining at Disney World

Where to start…..  Part 1

There are so many options when choosing character dining at Walt Disney world, we have dined at several so I figured instead of trying to fit them all into one blog I will do several so that I can give each restaurant the time it deserves(LOL) I’m such a Disney fan.  So I have decided to start with two character dining inside of the parks.

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace is inside Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park, this is a family favorite for my family. This restaurant is a different type of character dine from most as it is center around Winnie the Pooh and friends and everyday is Friendship day.  This restaurant has an amazing breakfast and lunch I have not had dinner at this location however there is not much of a difference between lunch and dinner.  At breakfast they have a Scrambled Egg and Omelette station which allows you to choose whatever toppings you would like, pancakes,  Mickey waffles, breakfast meats, baked pastries, an assortment of cereals and fresh fruit but my all time favorite is the Pooh Puff which is like french toast.   My son loves eating the Pooh Puffs and Mickey waffles.  What my family normally does is have a late breakfast which allows us to get in some rides prior to having breakfast and beat some of the lines, we normally ride at least 4 rides prior to breakfast. However having a late breakfast allows us to have breakfast food at the same time the restaurant is preparing to set up for lunch. The lunch choices at this location are by far some of my favorite the salad choices are AMAZING if you love salad this is the place for you as you can create your own salad. Other lunch options are soups, different carved meats which change often, salmon, shrimp, chicken and an assortment of desserts.  While the food is one of the top reason we choose this location to dine it is not the only reason. My son enjoys going to The Crystal Palace because he gets to participate in the Friendship Parade with Pooh and the Gang. This parade allows children of all ages to get up and walk with Pooh and friends around the restaurants.  I have even jumped in the on the Friendship Parade before with my son after eating and doing the parade at least twice my two year old ends up sleep.  I will recommend looking at the parade schedule that day in the Park as Pooh and friends may have to leave to go and participate in the parade and then they come back to the restaurant. Over all this location has always been an AWESOME experience.

Hollywood & Vine

This amazing restaurant is located inside Disney’s Hollywood Studio on Echo Lake. This was a restaurant that my family and I picked as a secondary option one year and since that year it has never been a runner up again.  During breakfast they have the Disney Junior characters like Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sofia the First. At dinner they have Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy, which is one of the few restaurants other than Chef Mickey where you will see the Fab five. We enjoy the food selection here especially during the holidays. My family has only done dinner here so I am no expert on how breakfast at this location is. At dinner they have the american classic food such as pasta, salads, chicken and salmon and an array of vegetables. The dessert table has almost any dessert you can imagine and soft serve ice cream. The characters at this location continue to circle through the restaurant during the course of your meal. I can say there has never been a point in any of our meals at this location where we have not seen one character or another. This creates an amazing experience for the kid as they truly feel like they are having dinner with their friend or at least that is how my son feels.  Dining at this location will also give you the opportunity to get passses for the Fantasmic show also located in Hollywood studios which is an amazing show.

 

Over all I feel that the two restaurants mentioned in this blog are both kid and adult friendly. As an adult these are two of my favorite character meals both in the parks and at any of the resorts.

Disney dining plan vs no dining plan.

When planning a vacation as a single mom my number one concern is cost. How can I get the most hang for my buck. When planning our most recent Disney vacation my two sister came with me and had different views on the dining plan.

I was all for the dining plan as I had taken my niece to Disney for her seventh birthday and had not used the dining plan. When planning that trip I felt like I could manage meals and keep cost down. I quickly found out that was not the case. When I returned home I compared my receipts against what the cost of the meal plan would have been. I spent more than that and only had quick service meals.

On our most recent trip to Disney we had the Disney dining plan which includes one quick service meals, one table service meals per day with two snack per day and a Disney refillable mug. We were able to have character meals using our table service meals for the day. The only thing we paid for was gratuity at each table service meals. For breakfast we used a snack credit and grabbed muffins,crossiants, beignets and other snacks. Which still left one snack per day.

Overall having the dining plan provided my family with more than enough food as on check out we had tons of snack credits later. I also find that having the dining plan makes it easier to plan and enjoy your trip. Your meals are already covered and you can still do character meals and not have to choose a breakfast as they are cheaper than dinners unless you prefer. As a single mom it took a lot of stress off how much additional money I would have to spend.

I would say when booking a Disney trip book the dining plan if you are staying on property it makes for a more stress free vacation once on vacation as well as in the planning phase when creating your vacation budget.

Happy reading hope you enjoyed

Keeping Disney Alive in our house

As a single mom it is hard for me to plan several trips to Disney a year. For my son and I we may be able to go once a year with that being said I try to come up with ways to keep us both connected to the Disney magic all year long.

The number one way we stayed connected is by doing the hot dog dance everyday once we get home from school and work,( if you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s the ending song on Disney’ Mickey Mouse clubhouse show).  My son has been dancing like coffy since he was about 18 months old and I of course dance Minnie’s part. That’s our little way of destressing and letting go of the cares of the world as we enter into our own little world together. It’s also a great work out since my son has to do it at least 10 times (LOL)

As a parent we all like to reward our children when they do something AWESOME like pick up the toys they pulled out or go to the potty by themselves(check out my potty training blog to see why this one is important) So I created the Mickey Rewards. How it works is every day that my son comes home on green from school he gets a Mickey chip, when he goes to the potty by himself or just not in his undies as we are potty training, he is also awarded a Mickey chip, there are several other ways he can earn the chips and they vary by activity and by day but these are the main focuses for us right now. At the end of the week on a Saturday evening as he tends to earn a lot of coins on Saturday I let him choose from the Disney box. In this box are rewards such as a trip to the Disney store, small toys and trinkets that I find at the Disney store, a all things Goofy day which is when he gets to dress up like Goofy and we do silly activities of his choice and we always have a Goofy picnic no matter what the weather outside is like. We done it several times inside our home on our favorite Disney blanket.

Last but not least my favorite way of keeping Disney in our house by simply making the small things count we have Disney cups and plates that can be ordered from Shop Disney which is an app that I have on my phone you can also purchases items at any of the Disney Parks and Disney Springs. This keeps us connected and allows us to feel like we have dinner with Mickey whenever we want. It is not an everyday dinner set up but I do it at least once a week and my son loves it he can even bring his Goofy and Mickey stuffed toys to the table to have dinner with us.

These are just some of the simply ways that I stay connected to the magic even when I am not able to visit the parks. Another way I stay connected in by including Disney activities in other family vacations or day trips we may take. I’ll go in further detail about this in another blog.

Hopefully this will help someone else who wants to make Disney a part of their lives that may not be able to go to the park often or not at all, or even if you go often this could be another fun way to stay connected

Happy Reading All

SinglemomwithFLARE

Potty Training a boy

Who likes potty training….

NOT ME (LOL ) 

I honestly think that this is the worst part of raising a son as a single mom.  Don’t get me wrong I think potty training is hard either way. I looked at all the books I have listened to all the advice and still he will stand in front of me and just go in the pull up. I am always like son why didn’t you tell me and his response “mom I busy” (huh what 2 year is busy). 

If you’re in this chapter in your life even if you’re not a single mom I have found one method that works and that is to leave his bottoms off I have found that when he has nothing blocking him from going to the bathroom then he is more apt to tell me he needs to go and also head to the bathroom on his own and call me. Some may say well how will he learn once he can’t have his bottoms off, at this stage it’s important to build habits and I understand the concerns this process is teaching him how to feel when he needs to go and knowing to go to the bathroom and not in his pants. The next stage once this has been accomplished is to test the waters with putting on the big boy underwear and seeing how well he does with that. 

For me this has truly help get us to the point of him acknowledging that he has to stop what he is doing and go to the bathroom we have been successful in this method and are now wearing bottoms and continuing our success, now on to the good stuff showing him how to stand and aim. 

Well that is a blog for another time stay tuned for updates on single mom teaching a boy to aim. 

Becoming a single mom

When I found out I was pregnant I was overjoyed and filled with so much hope and love for the child that God has blessed me with, but minutes after celebrating the life that was coming I had to stop because I realized that I was going to be raising this child alone, and I had just enrolled back in college (and I was 31 at the time) and of course was working a full time job.  There was a time when I thought I’ll just drop out of school and continue to work the job I had and take on extra shifts to make sure that I was financially secure once the baby got here.  So for a few weeks I didn’t log into class and one day my counselor reached out to me and asked me why I had not been submitting my assignments and I explained the whole situation to her and she was more than happy to reach out to my professor and get me set on a program to catch up and complete the term.  In that moment I knew that I could do all of this I knew I could be a great mom, a great employee and a full time student. Fast forward to September 26,2015 my son came blazing into this world at 8:20 am on a wonderful Saturday morning, it was so ironic because just like when I found out I was pregnant I had just started a new term at school and here comes the baby. I had to laugh because I knew in that moment it was game on. (LOL)  Coming home from the hospital was probably the most fearful I have been in a very long time but I knew that my son and I would have an amazing life. I say to all women doing it alone EMBRACE the gift of mother no matter how it comes and enjoy the BLESSING of having a child. 

Continue to follow me and read how amazing this journey has been for me and my son.

Calil baby picture