3 Ways To Raise Happy Kids

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Before starting college, I had some ideas about what I’d like to study, but it wasn’t until a couple years in that I found what I wanted to commit to: marriage and family studies.  I knew that what I was learning could be applied to both my current and my future relationships, especially my future family.  Growing up, I would say that I was generally a happy kid.  I got along with my parents, I had good friends, did well in school, was involved in extracurricular activities and active in church.  But if you had asked me then how I became that way–happy–I don’t know that I would have been able to nail it down.  However, through my coursework, and now through practical application (aka parenting), I’ve seen three ways parents can raise happy kids: building connections, setting limits and encouraging independence.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

So often, I hear parents joke around that they wish their kids came with a manual.  I’ve even said the same thing myself, especially when going through a challenging period of time.  And while each child is different, I know that a combination of connecting, limits and autonomy will help my kids develop into happy, healthy kids.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Building Connections
Shortly after becoming pregnant with each of my kids, I felt a connection to them.  My husband on the other hand, didn’t feel connected to them until they were born.  But regardless of when you first feel connected to your kids, it’s important to recognize that each child has an innate need to feel connected, which causes them to feel loved.  For example, my daughter has never been much of a snuggler.  Even now, she’ll sit next to me or my husband when we are watching a show or reading a book, but she’s never wanted to really connect that way for longer than a few minutes.  But, one on one time and words of encouragement and affirmation go a long way for her.  She literally lights up. 

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

On the other hand, my son is a big cuddle bug.  He was more that way even as a baby and now loves to snuggle and hug and sit on our laps.  Additionally, if you can get him talking or telling a story, he loves to feel listened to.  When each child feels connected in the way that means the most to them, they feel loved.  If you’re not sure how your child feels love, I highly recommend the book The Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Setting Limits
A strong parent-child connection is important because it builds the foundation for lovingly correcting our kids (aka discipline).  When we set limits, or rules, for our children we are teaching them self-control and establishing socially acceptable behavior.  Right now, my daughter is struggling to remember that her first instinct when things don’t go her way should not be to hit.  We are working with her to help her understand that there are other ways she can express her frustration, but that being physical is not acceptable.  We are teaching her that she needs to think before she acts and to think about how others will feel if she hits them (the golden rule).  As parents, it’s our role to be an example, follow through and maintain a strong connection with each of our kids.  They will (hopefully) recognize that the rules are there because we love them and want them to be happy.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Encouraging Independence
Kids seem to have a built-in program for using some variation of the phrase “I want to do it by myself!”.  As they grow and learn more about their abilities, they want to test the limits we’ve put in place.  While this can be extremely frustrating as a parent, it’s helpful to recognize that their desire for autonomy (independence) is actually very useful as it will prepare them for future real-world responsibilities, as well as teaching about choice and accountability.  Obviously, we have to allow some degree of independence otherwise our children wouldn’t learn how to do anything for themselves.  My kids are still fairly young, but I try my best to allow them the ability to choose wherever possible and within reason.  For example, I will tell them what the weather will be like for the day and then allow them to choose their clothes.  I ask them what kind of fruit or vegetable they’d like with their lunch (giving them options).  Doing this helps my kids feel like I trust them to make their own decisions and gives them confidence in themselves.  In addition, I have to make sure that when there is an unwanted consequence to a choice they made, that they take responsibility for it and learn from it.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Parenting is hard work.  I was just telling my husband the other night, “It’s so hard to feel like I always have to be on top of everything all the time!  There is so much to remember and so many things I need to teach them and it can be so exhausting.”  But the moments of joy–when your child puts into practice a concept you’ve been working on or they do they right thing even when they think no one is watching or they start on their chores without being asked or a hug for no reason–really do make this whole parenting thing so rewarding. 

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

As anyone who has been around kids can tell you, every kid comes with their own unique personality.  I love finding fun shirts for my kids to wear and graphic tees are some of their favorites.  When I saw these shirts from Cents of Style, I knew I had to grab a couple of them.  For my daughter, I chose the “Boys are EW”, although the “I believe in Pink” would have been perfect for her too.  My son is one of those funny, sweet, charming little boys and I got him a “Word to your Mother” shirt.  (I’m sure my husband will teach him all the words to Vanilla Ice’s song one day.)  My kids love their new shirts and I’m sure they’ll be wearing them for the rest of the summer.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Do your kids love wearing graphic tees?  If so, this weekend is the perfect time to snag some for Cents of Style’s Fashion Friday deal.  All their kids graphic tees are 50% off their lowest marked price, with clearance styles starting at less than $5!  Sizes range from 6 months all the way up to Youth XL (14/16) so there is something fun for all ages.  So go to Cents of Style, check out their kids shirts and then use the code KIDSTORY at checkout to take advantage of this deal, plus you’ll get free shipping!  This deal runs from 6/16-6/18

Have you seen these principles help you raise happy kids?

Hiking In Pioneer Park In St. George, UT

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

Last summer, my family and I did a big family vacation with my husband’s parents and all his siblings and their kids to St. George, Utah.  With kids ranging in age from 17 to 2, finding an activity that everyone would enjoy was a bit of a challenge, but ultimately we decided on hiking.  St. George and the surrounding area is famous for its beautiful and unique red rock formations.  I’ve visited St. George more times than I can count, but hadn’t spent much time hiking the trails found all around the city.  However, we did find an awesome little place called Pioneer Park.  We had so much fun that we visited two days in a row and it was a real hit with everyone in the family.

Pioneer Park is located next to the Red Hills Desert Garden (also a great place for kids to get out and stretch their legs).  There are a bunch of smaller trails you can take and most are easy enough for smaller children to navigate by themselves or with some help.  (Mine were 2 and 4 at the time of our visit.)  The park isn’t too far off the freeway so its easy access makes it a great place to visit whether you are going to St. George to vacation or simply passing through and need to let the kids run around outside and get their wiggles out.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

The portion of the park that we explored most with our kids is also referred to as a “mini narrows”, or small slot canyon, similar to those found in areas of Southern Utah.  A slot canyon is basically a crack in the canyon wall that is extremely narrow.  The entrance to this slot canyon in Pioneer Park is located near a parking lot and looks like a wide canyon with tall, sloping walls on either side.  There are nooks and crannies for the kids to climb into and take pictures.  If you walk farther in, you’ll be able to climb up some rocks to the beginning of the most narrow part of the hike. 

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

We had to help our kids as we climbed up this portion of the trail because they weren’t tall enough.  Either my husband or I went up first and then the other helped one kid up and then the other joined us.  I wouldn’t say it was dangerous, but red rock can be slippery so be sure to wear proper shoes (aka tennis shoes or hiking shoes).

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

Depending on your size, this may be as far as you go.  Some parts of the slot canyon are only 6 inches wide, so if you are claustrophobic, this probably isn’t for you either.  My daughter and I were able to make it through all the way to the top.  Once you make it to the top, you can climb back down on either side of the canyon to the base.  We hiked down both ways and found that the left trail took a bit longer, but was easier to hike for everyone, while the right trail was steeper and required a little more climbing and may not be suitable for younger kids.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

All in all, I highly recommend Pioneer Park for people of all ages!  There is actually more to explore in the park than the “mini narrows”, such as some old buildings and other trails, but our kids had so much fun here that we didn’t venture around much.  I really like that this park is near the Red Hills Desert Garden because they have drinking fountains and nice, clean bathrooms to use.

Pioneer Park in St. George, UT is the perfect family friendly hiking spot for all ages.

And if hiking with your kids seems a little intimidating, or you’re just not sure where to start, you can check out this post I shared about 7 tips for hiking with kids!  (Plus, check out the giveaway from Nuby on this post running from today (6/8) to next Wednesday (6/15) at 11:59pm.)

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Where are your favorite places to hike with your family?

May In Numbers

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

Whoosh!  Did you hear that?  It was the sound of May rushing past! *wink*  But seriously, I feel like I just wrote last months summary.  A lot of fun things happened in May, but most of them happened in single digits.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

1 – Dance recital.  We celebrated the end of my daughter’s second year of dance with her studio’s spring recital.  She performed in two dances: jazz (Dynamite – Kid Bop version) and ballet (See the Light from Rapunzel).  I am absolutely amazed at the growth she’s experienced this year and her teacher said that she can move up a level to be with the bigger girls next year!  I was also able to pick up her dance pictures I posted about last month and they turned out absolutely darling!  Although I’m dying a little at how much she’s grown and changed in a year.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

4 – Books read.  Last month I shared my summer 2017 reading list and one of the books I wanted to read is called Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier.  It’s the first of a trilogy and I picked the first and second one up at the library.  My neighbor casually mentioned that she had the third book and that I was welcome to borrow it because she knew how quickly the series moves.  Let’s just say I texted her the next day and told her I was going to need that third book, haha.  So I finished the trilogy in about a week.  Just prior to picking up this series, I read the assigned reading for my neighborhood book club called The Knight of Redmond by Jennifer K. Clark.  I’ll be picking up more books from the library soon!

9 – Years since we got married (aka Our 9 Year Anniversary).  My husband and I had so much fun for our anniversary this year.  We didn’t do anything really big because we are hoping to go somewhere really cool for our 10 year anniversary next year.  My mom came out and watched our kids for us.  First, we went to dinner at P.F. Chang’s and ordered their lettuce wraps to share, then the crispy honey shrimp and Mongolian beef.  Afterwards, we went to a little place called Provo Beach Resort.  It’s one of those places that has a bunch of activities all in the same place.  We got a pass and did the obstacle course, bowling (my husband won both games), mini croquet and some arcade games.  Our favorite arcade game was a Pac Man air hockey where it would drop about 20 pucks onto the table at the same time and you had to try and block them and make points (I won!).

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

1 – Amazing Mother’s Day.  While I’ve enjoyed all of the Mother’s Days I’ve celebrated being a mother myself, this year was probably my favorite.  My husband got up with the kids so I could sleep in as long as I wanted.  Then he made breakfast for all of us.  Afterwards, the kids gave me the cards they’d made and my present: a new DSLR camera!  I’d had my old one for about four years, but it didn’t quite have all the capabilities I wanted so my husband had been on the lookout for a new one at a great price and he found one!  I was really surprised and so happy.  (Be on the lookout for some videos!)  After church, we had family over for a big dinner.  It was a wonderful day.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

168 – Amount spent on new tires.  Seriously, who likes buying new tires?  They are so dang expensive!  But I had to buy them in order to get our car registered so it was a necessary purchase.

11 – Types of plants growing in my garden.  We decided to upgrade our garden boxes this year from the two smaller beds to one big U-shaped raised bed.  My husband did a great job building it and I’m so glad we did it.  Our garden seems to be growing the best it has since we started it four years ago.  We planted peas, pole beans, tomatoes (two types), carrots, radishes, raspberries, strawberries, green onions, pumpkin, rosemary and cilantro.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

2 – Blogger events attended.  When I started blogging back in October 2015, I honestly never expected to find so many new friends.  Some I’ve met in person, others through email or social media.  It’s kind of like having a pen pal who you feel like you know because you’ve interacted with them so much, but sometimes you never meet them.  Well, I am lucky enough to live in an area where there are quite a number of bloggers so blogger events come up pretty regularly.  The first one I went to was a blogger conference the second week of the month.  The second one was just last week where we got to visit a newly opened events area at a unique little place called Gardner Village.  I rode up with Julia from The Quiet Grove and found out she knows my sister in law!  Honestly, meeting other bloggers has become one of my favorite parts of blogging.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

1 – Preschool graduation.  My daughter completed her second year of preschool last week and she starts kindergarten this fall!  I am kind of in denial about it.  But I know she will love it.  She is a very sweet and social girl who makes friends with everyone, but also loves learning.

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

May in Numbers | A fun monthly review using only numbers!

40 – Pounds of chicken ordered.  Yes, you read that right.  I ordered 40lbs of chicken and it’s set to be picked up in a couple of weeks.  We have a deep freezer so we have the space for it, but holy moly!  I’m pretty sure we’ll be set with chicken for the next few months.  I ordered it through a company called Zaycon Fresh and they are a meat co-op.  I’ll be sharing a post about them later this month but if you’re interested in checking them out before then, you can use my link here.

5 – (more) Pairs of underwear destroyed.  We are still dealing with potty training issues over here.  Please send prayers.  And chocolate.

2 – Items crossed off our summer bucket list.  The kids and I made a summer bucket list a couple of weeks ago and I put it all on a big poster board that is now hanging in our front room/kitchen area.  We were able to cross off a hike to Battle Creek Falls on Memorial Day.  Afterwards, we made a visit to a local pet store called The Puppy Barn where they sell just puppies.  You can go in there and hold them and play with them and it is my favorite way to get my puppy fix since I don’t see us getting a dog any time soon.

My kids love this fun summer bucket list!  Just some stickers, scrap paper and a marker are all you need!

You can check out my other month in numbers posts below:

February Month In Numbers
March Month In Number: Orlando Edition 
April Month In Numbers

Also, I’m linking up with Deena from Shoes to Shiraz who hosts the month in numbers link party.  You can go see who else is linking up and see what their May in numbers looks like.

My kids are just getting over a cold, but I’m looking forward to a fun June coming up!

7 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

This last week we went hiking as part of our Memorial Day activities.  We live close to the mountains and there are a lot of canyons and hiking trails to choose from, so we are always finding fun new places to explore.  My kids especially love hiking and it is one of mine and my husband’s favorite activities as well so we do a lot of it.  With this being the case, I’ve learned a few tips along the way that have helped make hiking a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

This post is sponsored by Nuby.  All opinions are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

It’s Not A Race
As we were walking along the trail with our kids this last week, they inevitably got side-tracked by different things: climbing on rocks, a flower, a stick.  My initial reaction was along the lines of: “C’mon, let’s go!” but then I realized that the point of the hike wasn’t about making it to our destination as much as it was about spending time together doing something we enjoy.  So if you go into your hike expecting that it will take longer, you can cut down on frustration at the so-called interruptions that are going to happen.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Bring Backpacks
This one has been a lifesaver for us when we go hiking.  I bought each of my kids a small backpack that we pack whenever we go on a hike.  Included in their packs is water and a couple of snacks to eat along the way.  They love having their own backpacks and I think it also helps them feel big and gives them a little bit more autonomy.  Even if your child says they will just carry their water or snacks in their hands or pockets, have them bring the pack because almost without fail they will want you to carry it for them or it will be put down and forgotten.  Here are a few good backpack options I found: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Create Teaching Moments
At one point in our hike, we stopped for a little snack break and the thought occurred to me to talk to my kids about littering.  I asked my daughter what we should do if we are out somewhere and there isn’t a garbage can for us to put the wrappers or plastic bottles in.  She replied that we should put it back in our backpacks and then throw it away later.  Then we talked about why that was important (keep trails clean, showing respect, etc).  It was a really simple lesson and one of those things that makes a bigger impact when we are actually out in nature rather than trying to explain it at some other time.  A few other teaching moments you could incorporate into your hike could be talking about plants and animals in the area, how rivers/streams are made, bring a nature journal and collecting leaves/flowers.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Research the Hike
Anytime we go on a hike, I make sure to find some basic information about it: Does it have bathrooms at the trailhead or along the way?  How long is the hike?  Difficulty level?  Directions or landmarks for finding the trail?  Best time of year for hiking?  Stroller or wagon friendly?  The list goes on and what you want to know will obviously depend on your own family.  I recently found a really helpful website called AllTrails.com, where you can search by state and it will come up with a list of hikes and a helpful description of what you’ll find.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Sunscreen, Wipes, Hand Sanitizer
Even if you put sunscreen on before you start the hike, odds are that you’ll need it again at some point before you get back to your car.  There are plenty of travel size containers of sunscreen that there really isn’t an excuse not to bring some.  Also, nature is dirty and kids seem to gravitate towards dirt so having something to wipe their hands off with is a good idea.  Just grab a travel size package of baby wipes and throw them in your bag.  And lastly, grab a small bottle of hand sanitizer to disinfect everyone’s hands with before eating or after playing in the water (if your hiking to a waterfall or by a stream).

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Flip-Flops/Water Shoes/Extra Socks
I don’t know about you, but after a long hike, all I want to do is take my shoes and socks off and let my feet breathe.  A lot of times, we will go out and get some food or stop by a store after our hike and it’s nice to have the extra pair of shoes to change into.  Depending on the hike, we will bring water shoes so we can wade around in the water and cool off, plus they protect our feet from sharp rocks and give us traction.  Along with this, consider bringing an extra pair of socks.  The shoes I use when we go hiking double as water shoes, but I hate wearing them without socks, so I like to bring an extra pair that I can change into before we start back.  Same goes for your kids.  Throw the flip flops or water shoes or socks into their backpack and let them carry it.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
And last, but not least, bring lots and lots of WATER.  This is one of those things that you absolutely do not want to skimp on.  Who cares if you have to stop along the trail 10 times so your child can relieve themselves?  It’s much better than the alternative.  Whether you’re hiking when it’s cloudy and cooler or hot and sunny, you need to keep yourself and your family hydrated and cool.  Little kids can overheat pretty easily so stopping and reminding everyone to get a good drink is essential.  Throw some ice cubes into everyone’s bottle or cup or even freeze the whole water bottle for a refreshing and cool drink for your entire (or at least most) of your hike.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

We brought our kids’ Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens with us on our hike and they were perfect.  The plastic is made of durable tritan from Eastman and the push top could be pushed down and covered by a plastic latch so it stayed clean.  The 12-oz size was perfect for our kids and how much they normally drink.  You can find these cups in store at Target and Babies R’ Us.  (Shop the water canteens online HERE.

(For my local Utah friends, the hike in these pictures is Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove.)

What tips and tricks have you found helpful when you go hiking with your family?

And now, I’ve got a fun giveaway that you can enter to win four (4) of these Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens for your kids!  See below to find out how to enter!

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Recognizing Joy in the Small Moments

Would you believe that a journal and a phone app have helped bring so much joy to my life?  It's the small things that make the biggest difference.

My day to day life is pretty ordinary and often consists of fixing food, cleaning up the house, running errands, playing with my kids and other household tasks.  At a glance, it doesn’t feel very glamorous and there are days when I can’t wait for my husband to get home from work so I can turn the kids over to him while I escape to the bathroom by myself or go for a short walk around the block.  A break from everything I have to manage and be responsible for.  Does anyone else hear themselves in my words?

Even though they lack a lot of excitement, most days are good.  The laundry, the dishes, the chauffeuring kids back and forth to school and other activities, homework, chores, fixing meals, buying the second pair of shoes in as many months because kids grow so fast.

But if I stop and take a look at the moments in between, what do I see?  My kids pretending to be a baby animal, laughter at made up knock-knock jokes, my daughter getting me a yogurt out of the fridge for breakfast before getting her own bowl out for cereal, a hug from my son for no reason other than he just wanted to.

I think there is a difference between the real life that is essential to every day living and the real life that is in the small moments in between.  The ones that we just might miss if we’re not looking for them.

I will be the first to admit that I lean more towards being a realist.  But I don’t think being a realist excludes me from being optimistic about what’s around me and seeing the good in people and situations.  Over the last few months, I’ve implemented two small practices into my daily life that help me recognize the small moments: a joy journal and a phone app.

Would you believe that a journal and a phone app have helped bring so much joy to my life?  It's the small things that make the biggest difference.

A little over a month ago, I started a joy journal with the sole purpose being to write down at least three things every day that brought me joy.  It might be something to do with my kids, my husband, something I saw that made me laugh, a personal success and so on.  One of the benefits of this journal in my life is being able to take a step back and see what’s happening in the in between moments of life.  I have started looking for things to write down in my joy journal each night that my kids or husband do or say.  I look for the positive aspect of a negative situation and focus on that.  I work to create joy in my life, my family’s lives and those I associate with, rather than just expecting it to be there.  Overall, I am becoming a happier person.

Would you believe that a journal and a phone app have helped bring so much joy to my life?  It's the small things that make the biggest difference.

In February of this year, I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook where she had compiled a short video of one second clips of each day of her life for the previous month.  Many of them were similar, some were out of the ordinary, but all of them together brought a smile to my face.  Right then, I downloaded the app she used to create her video called 1 Second Everyday. (It’s free!  Download from the Google Play Store or iTunes.)  Since I have my phone with me most of the time, all I have to do is pull it out and take a video.  Then I open the app, select the day and choose which part of the clip I want to represent that day.  And at the end of the month, I had a short video of clips from my family’s lives.  (If you’re interested, you can watch a TED Talk from the creator of this app on why he created it.) 

Having these two things–a joy journal and the 1 Second Everyday app–have become wonderful tools for me because they capture the little moments of joy in every day life and reminds me that my life, ordinary as it may seem, is pretty darn good.

How do you find joy in the small moments of your life?  Do you write them down?  Take a picture or video?  I’d love to hear what benefits you’ve experienced from focusing on joy.

Best Snacks to Pack for Disney Parks

Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

School’s getting out soon and that means vacations for a lot of families.  Time to get away from the stresses of life and spend time together creating memories.  Of course, some of the most popular places to vacation are theme parks, such as Disneyland and Disney World.  Everyone wants to know the cheapest place to buy tickets, the best place to stay, which rides to go on first, and the list goes on.  About a year and a half ago, my family went to Disneyland for the first time and it was so fun!  I learned a lot about planning and what I wish I’d known before going and the next time we go, I will be even more prepared!  However, one question that I see asked all the time in groups and on Facebook is “what food can I bring into the park?”

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on it and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

Disney’s Outside Food and Drink Policy

Taken directly from Disney’s website concerning outside food and drink:

“Guests are allowed to bring food items—such as snacks or foods that do not require heating—into Disney theme parks. Inform a Security Cast Member of any food items when you enter the park.”

That’s pretty broad if you ask me!

What This Means For You

As a visitor of the park, you are welcome to bring any food or drink (except alcohol) into the parks that doesn’t have to be heated up.  This gives you a huge variety of options!  When my family went, we knew we wanted to save money by only eating one meal inside the park each day.  That meant we ate breakfast at the hotel and packed ourselves a lunch to take with us into the park, along with snacks and drinks, which we replenished when we went back to our hotel mid-day.  Now, this could be a little overwhelming depending on the number of days you’ll be at the park and how big your family is.  But my goal is to provide you with some options of what to take into the park and how to pack them and then you can pick and choose what will work best for your family.

Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

Pack It Up

Cooler: Before we left home to drive to California from Utah, we picked up a small cooler from the store.  (We bought this one.)  When choosing it, we looked for one that had a hard plastic insert, zipper/mesh pockets on the outside and big enough to hold an ice pack.  It also had to fit in our stroller since we didn’t want to carry it around on our shoulder all day, nor did we want to have to put it in a locker.  (Check HERE for size restrictions.)

Plastic Containers: This was a suggestion I saw on Facebook and I thought it was genius!  If you are going to be bringing any snacks that are easily smashed or need to be divided up into smaller portions, you can grab some small plastic containers with lids to put them in.  We have some from Rubbermaid (like this) that would work perfectly and you could easily refill them.

Bags: Sandwich or snack sized bags that zip at the top are a handy way to divide up portions for those things that don’t need to go in a plastic container.  I’d recommend just bringing a box with you that you can fill up with snacks at your hotel or the larger cooler in your car.  We try to save and reuse these as much as possible.

*Tip: Pack your snacks the night before you go to the park, if possible.  This will save you a lot of time in the morning when you’re trying to get out the door!

What Should I Bring?

I’ve divided this next section into categories to make it easier for you to choose what your family likes to eat.  Try to choose a variety of options so you’re not eating the same snacks all day long.

Fruits/Veggies

  • Grapes (frozen)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Peppers (cut)
  • Broccoli (cut)
  • Cauliflower (cut)
  • Cucumbers (mini, sliced or spears)
  • Cuties
  • Plums
  • Blueberries
  • Apple slices 
  • Applesauce 
  • Ranch/PB/Hummus in individual portions or small plastic containers
Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

Crackers/Cookies

  • Crackers (w/hummus)
  • Pretzels (w/PB)
  • Graham crackers
  • Goldfish
  • Cheez Its 
  • Snack size cookies (individually packaged)

Dried

  • Granola bar (ones that don’t have chocolate because they will melt and make a mess)
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Craisins/raisins
  • Jerky
  • Fruit rope/Fruit leather
  • Trail mix
  • Fruit snacks 
  • PB Bites 

    Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

    Dairy

    • Frozen Gogurt
    • String cheese or Babybel cheese
    • Hard boiled eggs

    Lunch

    • PB and J sandwich
    • Frozen Uncrustables (will be thawed by the time you’re ready to eat them)
    • Bagel w/cream cheese
    • Lunch meat 
    • Tortilla wrap with lunch meat and cream cheese

    Drinks

    • Powerade/Vitamin Water
    • Juice Box
    • Water bottles
    • Crystal Light flavor packets or liquid flavoring, such as Mio

    *Note: You can ask for cups of ice water at any location that has a drink station and just fill up your empty water bottles from that!  Also, having flavored water really helps you drink more and tastes better even if it’s warm.

    Disney parks allow you to bring outside food and drink in, but what should you take?  Click here for the ultimate list of snacks to pack for your next Disney trip.

    Other

    • Plastic spoons, forks, or knives
    • Napkins or wet wipes 
    • Gum
    • Mints

    I hope you got some ideas about what to pack for your next (or first!) trip to one of Disney’s theme parks!

    What do you think of this list?  What else should I add to it?  I’d love to get your suggestions and continue updating it to create an ultimate snack ideas resource!

    9 Lessons Learned In 9 Years of Marriage

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    9.5 years ago: It was a Monday morning and I was heading into work at my on campus job when I made a quick detour into the bathroom to put on some mascara.  Another girl from a different department was in there doing the same thing and we chatted briefly before she asked me a question that would literally change my life, “Do you ever go on blind dates?”  I was a little taken aback since we’d only been talking for about two minutes, but answered with a “yes” before she explained that she wanted to set me up with her younger brother.  Three days later he called (after much pestering from his sister) and we set up a date for that weekend.  To make a long story short: our first date was a huge success, we started dating exclusively a week later, got engaged two months later and married four months after that.  Today, we are celebrating our nine year wedding anniversary (yay!) and I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned during our time together.  (Plus you get to see cute pictures of me and my hubby. *wink*)
     
    You and your spouse are going to change  Maybe this should go without saying because it seems obvious, but the truth is, people are going to change over time.  I am not the same person I was on the day I got married and neither is my husband.  We’ve grown as individuals, as parents and as a couple.  If you go into marriage expecting that everything will stay the same, no matter what, I think you will be disappointed.  These changes are natural and to be expected because life happens and life doesn’t stand still. 

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    Sometimes you go to bed angry  A few months back, I shared the worst marriage advice I ever received (and what we do instead).  It was from a well-meaning, older relative who said, “Never go to bed angry.”  I didn’t take her advice.  I’ve found that there are some conversations that happen late at night when neither of us are fully able to discuss things rationally and one or both of us go to bed with the problem unresolved.  My husband and I can both be very passionate about expressing our point of view and sometimes it’s just better to stop talking and go to sleep.

    Seeing your spouse become a parent is beautiful  We tried for a year and a half to get pregnant with our first child and then waited another nine months until she arrived.  I felt like a mother from the moment that I found out I was pregnant, but my husband didn’t feel like a dad until she was born.  Because I had a c-section, he was actually the first one to hold her and he went with the nurses while she was cleaned and weighed.  Seeing the anxious concern on his face during the surgery and then the joy and excitement once she was born was priceless and beautiful.  When we had our second baby, a boy, he was so excited for his little buddy to finally be here.  I loved watching him with our kids moments after they were born and seeing him become a parent each time.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    Date nights aren’t just going to happen  When my husband and I were dating, we went out on dates all the time.  Over the years, going on dates has slowly become something that takes a little more effort and planning.  Unless we actually make the time for them, they don’t happen, especially not with two little kids at home.  If I notice that my husband and I seem to be getting on each others nerves or more grumpy, it is usually tied to not getting enough time together away from the kids to connect.  We are still working on going out consistently.

    Working together to solve a problem  The more time you spend with a person, the better you get to know them.  You know how they think and what makes them tick.  You learn how each others strengths and weaknesses compliment the other person.  My husband and I are much more efficient at identifying and solving problems than we were when we first got married.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a parenting problem, family problem, work problem, relationship problem or putting together IKEA furniture. (amiright?)  I’ve learned that my husband is good at looking at a situation from a larger scale and identifying problem areas and coming up with solutions.  I am good at planning things out, keeping us on track and identifying potential issues along the way.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    You keep learning new things about each other  I remember sitting with my husband one day eating some cookies and he said, “I like these, but oatmeal raisin are my favorite.”  Um, what?  I didn’t actually believe him.  We texted his sister (the same one who set us up) and asked her to tell us what my husband’s favorite cookie way.  Her reply: “Oatmeal raisin.”  How did I not know this?! (Clearly I never made cookies for my husband while we were dating…)  I think sometimes I feel like because my husband and I know each other so well that we forget there are a lot of things we don’t know about each other or have never done together.  Just last summer, we went water skiing for the first time together.  I’m actually a decent water skiier, but he didn’t believe me until I popped out of the water no problem.  Doing new or different things with your spouse, like on date nights, is so important because it gives you the opportunity to know them better and love them all over again.

    Build dreams, make goals, achieve together  One of the best things my husband and I have done for our relationship is to make goals.  It’s given us something to work on together.  We believe that if we are moving forward in the same direction that we’ll have less conflict and more success in life.  Whether it’s reevaluating a budget, planning to go to Italy (one day!) or redoing our yard, we are better together.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    Don’t stop doing the little things  Along with dating, doing the small things in a marriage really make such a big difference.  Because so much of our day and week is repetitive, it can be easy to fall into a routine with each other.  When my husband and I take time to connect each day, it rejuvenates us and we feel more whole.  When I hear my husband praise me in front of someone, it makes me feel happy and appreciated.  When I sincerely thank him for taking out the garbage so I don’t have to, he feels loved.  I think a big key to this is discovering your spouse’s love language.  It’s those little things that they do in your love language that lift you up.

    Love them more than the day you married  On the day of our wedding, I truly think my husband and I felt like we couldn’t love each other more than we did that day.  But we were wrong.  Our love grew as we put each other through school, struggled to make ends meet, got new jobs, built a house, had kids and so many other moments.  Each year on our anniversary, we look at each other and know we are still in love and that love is deeper than we could have imagined on that sunny spring day in May nine years ago.  It seems impossible and yet, here we are.

    9 lessons about love, parenting, marriage and life after 9 years of marriage

    How long have you been married?  What lessons have you learned?