Stressed-out millennial son and daughter-in-law

Being empathy-impaired as well as not getting out much, I need a little perspective here.
We’re a couple of 66 year-olds taking our 37 year old bachelor son, our 32 year old son and daughter-in-law, and our 1.5 year old granddaughter to WDW for a 10 day stay at OKW starting Jan 7. We’re in California; this is our first (and probably only) WDW trip; almost certainly our only one as a family. When we first started thinking about the trip about a year ago, I was thinking of it as a vacation for just my wife and me, but my wife thought it might be fun as a family (it IS Disney, after all), and it evolved into what we’re doing now.
Ever since we (meaning my wife and I) discovered TouringPlans, we’ve been avid followers of the forum, and have really gotten into the planning of the trip, and we think we nailed it as much as possible. We’ve got our day-by-day touring plans in place, our ADRs and FP+s set up using feedback from the entire party, and our MagicBands just arrived. All set to go. We’re not obsessive planners by any means, and we’ve tried to bake in plenty of time and flexibility (8 park days; park-hoppers; rental car) keeping in mind that we can’t be slaves to a touring plan when we’re hauling around a toddler. Quite simply, we just want this to be a vacation, not an ordeal. We get along great with everyone going.
With ROTR in play, we’ve been talking about the possibility that the boarding-group system might be operating at the time we’re there, and we’ve mentioned what we’ve been seeing about getting to HS early so you can nab a boarding group before they all disappear by the time the park “officially” opens.
Then this weekend, our son sat my wife and I down for a heart-to-heart about how stressed they are about the upcoming trip; specifically, the management and scheduling of a 1.5 year old. She’s a sweetheart, but hey… she’s 18 months old. We were told that my daughter in law has expressed concern over having to shoulder the burden of packing, feeding, and over-all maintenance of the baby, and that rope-drop and especially the possible ROTR process won’t be happening, because the baby won’t be able to endure long waits in a crowd or radical disruptions of her sleeping/eating routines.
Of course, we tried to reassure him that our planning is simply a guideline (and frankly, a lot of fun for us) and that nothing is etched in stone, and that, most importantly, we have no problem with being assigned baby duties so that the relatively-new parents can have a good time.
But it’s got me thinking… that last thing we wanted was to create this kind of angst. And now, although I admit it’s possibly an over-reaction, I’m wondering if this trip is a good idea. We live near Disneyland; so at some point, my wife and I could catch SWGE there. But we’d like to experience WDW once.
We’ve read posts about managing toddlers at WDW, which seems to boil down to using some common sense and not trying to jam an 18-month-old square peg into a round hole. But has anyone out there had any experience in trying to reassure stressed out millennials about a trip like this? Any best practices in sharing the load with the mother… especially one who doesn’t want to appear demanding by telling us what to do, but still wants us to shoulder the “burden?”

Planning and flexibility are sometimes confusing to our families! Is it possible to plan different groups going to HS on different days? You have park hoppers. Maybe show them in the plans days or nights you can stay with the baby? Or plan a couple of nights when you will babysit?


Don’t cancel your trip. Did he say that they don’t want to go, or that they want to be flexible for the baby and mom’s sake? It didn’t sound from what you wrote that they don’t want to go, just that they want some changes. I get it b/c I’ve been on the “mom and baby” side of things like this (although admittedly not as big of a vacation as this is). To me it seems like it would be enough just to have them sometimes do things differently than you–as in, you and spouse and other son rope drop if you want to but they arrive when they feel like it. I mean, it’s not like the 1.5 yr old is going to be riding ROTR anyway, so go grab a boarding group for just the ones who are present then. We just had a trip with my family of my husband and older kids plus an elderly friend. He often arrived on public transport many hours after we did, or went off on his own to do what he wanted to do while I catered to the kids. It did mean that some FP and ADRs didn’t get used as intended but overall didn’t matter b/c everyone was having a good time. WDW is a magical place for a 1.5 yr old (and the parents) but it is hard to deal with a little kid there sometimes. But WDW is also great as far as having what a 1.5 yr old and parents need to have a good time. I tend to think that with some flexibility agreed upon in advance the new parents and baby would have a wonderful time. If the young parents aren’t that familiar with WDW maybe you could look around on their website and send them a few links to resources they’d have in the parks and hotel that are intended to make baby’s stay good.


I forgot to say that baby will have the option of falling asleep in the stroller whenever she pleases. That is huge! I went to WDW twice with my daughter as 2 and 3 yrs old. She was often asleep and she handled everything well.

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I second the specific times to babysit. That would take a large load off the new mom. Maybe they could do a date evening while you babysit? They could choose something like a Disney Springs restaurant and / or shopping or a show (Cirque comes to mind but I don’t know if that is still playing or how early you have to get tix).

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Maybe she feels like you expect too much of her and the baby. I think reassuring them that you don’t expect them to do these things with you (like getting up at 4:30 to get to ROTR). Doing those things by yourselves is fine. Splitting up into different groups is fine. Find out what’s important to her and try to make those things happen (like having the whole family together in MK for the baby’s first ride on dumbo or whatever, or a date night while you guys watch the baby, or lots of time at the pool, whatever).


I would like to remind you that you do not have to spend all your time as a family.

You and your husband can rope drop and they can join you when they wish. Yes they will miss stuff but they will be less stressed.

Remember your grandchild will still be on Pacific time and will not adjust to eastern time as easily. It is best to keep the toddlers schedule as best as possible for all involved

The suggestion of babysitting is also a good one


When I was a new mom, this would have stressed me out too, and I’m not a millennial (or a Boomer…lol…Gen Xer here). Thinking of trying to get myself and a baby ready for the day while everyone else only has themselves means me double timing, only to be followed by me hustling to keep up once again with those who’s first priority is fun, while mine is momming. Those thoughts on top of the fact that as a mom, I rely a lot on routine for my peace, and this is way off routine…oy!
I agree with the previous post that suggests separating. You plan for you and your other son. Help them plan for themselves and you can coordinate meals, agreed upon times of day in a park, pool time, etc. Let mom see this as a relaxing journey with flexibility and no pressure. Also, yesssss to a date night or two for her and dad!
I’m sure they realize your intentions are wonderful, but in not wanting to seem ungrateful, it’s hard to push back and say “Thanks for the Big special trip, but I’m not gonna do it your way”.


All the suggestions given are great. I would add, get one of them, if they want to be, involved in the planning. Stress the different plans and splitting up some. Scheduled some time for the new parents to have time alone, and maybe even just a little time for the 3 of them. HS could be a great one. You and your older son RD and do RotR and do your own thing. Help them plan a day there with a late arrival that will let them sleep in, take it easy, and do some toddler things. Maybe offer to take your dgg after a couple hours when your ready to head back and that will give them time later in the day to do some things at HS’s without the toddler stress.

Be flexible, get them involved, and give them control. I think you’ll be fine.

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I don’t have experience of providing reassurance to a stressed out mom about WDW, but am/have been the mom recently in this situation.
I enjoyed having a generalized schedule of what the goals were to try to accomplish each day since I am a planner myself, but I feel making it clear she can do all or none of those things with the baby so that she won’t feel she is letting anyone else down. As others have said, making it clear that the expectations are just to have fun and splitting up and taking a much slower pace when needed is perfectly acceptable.
We had time built in to our schedule to go back to the room for naps, and then my daughter decided she liked napping in the stroller instead. She also was in a terrible mood and miserable on one of our park days once and we just decided to cancel the plans for that day and go back to the resort and splash in the pool, which was perfect. I think setting the expectation that this is a loose idea of what we would like to do, but also it is ok if we accomplish only one or even none of those things is fine and takes the stress off.

As your daughter in law, she may be more reluctant to ask for help as she would with her own parents, so I think being aware of that and offering to help as I’m sure you would will go a long way.
I love the idea as someone had mentioned about a baby free date night for the parents, that is a really nice gesture.
For me, the times where I felt like I needed the most help was the little things throughout the day that are more difficult in WDW that are easy to overlook - like trying to get through the bag checks and juggling everything, bathroom breaks with a toddler, trying to rest and eat at meals while feeding your child with the hustle and time crunch- and is just more stressful than at home in normal surroundings. It is also a nice opportunity to help. It was a nice break for me when I was able to run to the bathroom myself and not have to worry about a toddler even if it was for two minutes, little things like that go a long way over the course of the day to help maintain your sanity when things are a little chaotic and out of your normal routine.


I haven’t read all the post but I would suggest talking to son and daughter in law. Maybe you are just together for FP and a few meals? Maybe offer to babysit so the parents can have a meal or two alone. As for HS, I get where they are coming from. I wasn’t looking to stand in any lines when my child was about that age. But it should be you guys go and do it and they will meet up later. Not that you can’t.

I would tell them you are not looking to stress them out, you get they need to take it easy. Here are our plans. See what they want to do together. Then go from there. No hard feelings, just see how much together time they want.

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We (mid-30 year olds) just came back from a very similar trip yesterday, and we also took one in February. On our most recent trip, we took a 2 year old and a 3 year old, plus my parents (70s). On our February trip, the kids were 16 months and 2.5 years old and we split the stay, half with my parents and the other half with my husband’s parents (60s) and his sister (late 20s).

With that experience, my advice would be to go on the trip! Yes, it will be stressful at times, but the easiest place to travel with a young child is Orlando. People in the airport and in the parks will be exceptionally kind and understanding when your family needs help or when the baby is losing it. It’s an excellent testing grounds for travel with a baby, and your whole family will make wonderful memories that will offset the stressful or uncomfortable moments. I love that we have all these photos of the kids with their grandparents and that someday the kids might go to WDW when they are older and see the same things they experienced with them as toddlers.

Here’s some of my best practices as a parent you can share that will reduce stress:

  1. Schedule a mid day break every day to return to your hotel for the baby. Maybe the grandparents can take the baby back while the parents stay in the park or maybe the parents can leave for their own break. It will give you a mental break, the baby some downtime, and a chance to refresh on supplies. My touring plans all were scheduled through 1-2pm, then the evenings were left open so we could base our plans off of how the kids were doing. I also stopped scheduling dinner because I found that our kids were more likely to be cranky then, so a quick service usually worked better.

  2. Our kids are typically up early, so we were able to make lots of early morning plans with no issue. That said, after about 3 days of this, rope dropping can be a bit much for parents. Try not to plan several rope drop days in a row or any rope drops after late nights. ROTR sounds particularly stressful. Could you do it on a separate trip to Disneyland and just enjoy GE on its own?

  3. Bring a good stroller that rolls well over rough surfaces and folds and unfolds easily (one handed open/close if possible). Bring a backpack for items you want to take on rides (any valuables) and a separate baby bag that can be left in the stroller so you don’t have to haul everything with you on rides. Let the stroller do the work of carrying things for you.

  4. I really like having a diaper clutch that can be quickly grabbed for bathroom visits. Pack with 4-5 diapers and wipes and replenish during the mid day break and at the end of the day and it makes packing really easy. The parks have baby care centers for anything you forget to pack as well as feeding areas.

  5. Pack lots of snacks (goldfish, veggie pouches, apple sauce pouches, puffs) for waiting in line. Sticker books and bubbles are also great. Our first trip, we made a few Target runs (staying off site with a rental car) for these items, and on our second we used Prime Now (staying on site, no car).

  6. A pacifier strap (if still using a pacifier) is really nice to have so the pacifier isn’t constantly getting lost or ending up on the ground. Similarly, a bottle strap that can attach to the stroller.

And here’s some things that you can do as a grandparent:

  1. Schedule a nice dinner out for just the parents so they have a firm time to leave the baby with you and enjoy themselves. Maybe even treat them to the night out. Epcot in particular was fun for our date night and I looked forward to our dinner out while we were planning.

  2. If cost in the parks is a concern for the parents, could you give them a Disney gift card for any incidentals, to help relive stress? That could give them some peace of mind that if they forget something, they are covered and it’s just a matter of buying it and moving on with the day.

  3. Reassure them frequently that you don’t mind taking the baby or splitting up the group. You don’t have to do everything together and they don’t have to worry about ruining your time. You’re there to enjoy family and make memories, and spending time with the baby is part of that! Also, touring plans can look very intimidating to a non-planner, so frame them as “this gives us an idea of what we CAN do, not what we HAVE to do”

  4. Get a crib for your room and offer to pack some backup clothes/swimsuits/diapers/snacks for the baby. That can help relieve the airport packing for the mom and also give you supplies for babysitting.

  5. Acknowledge that this will be stressful but also worth it! Traveling with a baby has a lot of moving parts and you can just keep offering to help out in specific ways. Saying “Let me hold baby” during a fit, “I’ll go buy a snack”, “We can walk around with the stroller while you guys ride this”, “Can I help with this diaper change?” are all good examples of how you can offer help to the parents with a clear directive. Let mom know you see this as a group effort and not just her burden.

That’s all I can think of for now! Let me know if you have any more specific questions. I really hope you make the trip because you will leave with great memories!


Adding to everyone else’s comments, not everyone has to everything together.

Why not review the plans yourself first. How spread out are they? If Mom wants to spend the afternoons back at the resort, will she still get to ride some of the big attractions?

If you’re local to DL then prioritise the things that aren’t there. Epcot, AK and the family-friendly rides at MK. The little one is too young to need to meet lots of characters, for example.

And as well as giving them a couple of nights to themselves, what about giving them time to wander around WS one afternoon? Between you and your eldest son, offer to give them some time together without the toddler.

So, have a look at the plans just the two of you first to look at it with fresh eyes.

I never went to WDW with very young kids, but our first trip with the boys aged 5 and 8 we rarely started before 10am, and rarely lasted beyond 6pm. We stayed offsite so some days were non-park days. I’ll hazard a guess DIL wants later starts, maybe around 10am / 11am, with breaks in the afternoon on other days. And no late nights.

But ask them what they want to do. They may want to simply be able to leave the park when they want to without feeling they’re breaking up the party. They may want to be left on their own in the mornings to get ready in their own time and meet you later.

Reassure them they can do their own thing, that you do not expect them to go with your plans, and neither do you intend to be hovering around like limpets.

(1) I would suggest making sure your son and daughter-in-law have a separate rental car so they can go at a different pace. Some 18 month olds (like mine at 18 months) will not nap in a stroller so breaks at the hotel are needed. And the car would allow the to come late, take breaks, leave early, etc.

(2) Make it clear that it’s ok for the family to split at various times to do different activities. You and your wife should get to enjoy all the attractions you would like (like RofR). And your son should not feel obligated to join for everything.

(3) I think it would be a nice gesture for you to offer to babysit for 1 night of the trip so your son and his wife can go out for an evening of dinner/parks just the 2 of them. But, I would offer and discuss this in advance so it doesn’t end up where you and your wife become babysitters for much of the trip.

(4) You said in your post … “my daughter in law has expressed concern over having to shoulder the burden of packing, feeding, and over-all maintenance of the baby”. Your son should be helping with the bulk of this, not you and your wife! :slight_smile: Your son should be taking turns with his wife to do all this stuff. I hope your son’s plan is not to leave his wife with all the responsibilities while he joins you and his brother for all the fun stuff!


I’ll add a few thoughts from the perspective of the parents of the 18MO who is also empathy impaired :slight_smile:

DW and I have a DS8, DS5, DS4, and DD1. We’ve been to WDW with my parents (in their early 70s now) 4 times, each time with our youngest at the time between 12 and 18 months old.

I agree with most of the advice given above. You’ll benefit from having this and more conversations between now and when you go on your trip. If it were me, I wouldn’t cancel the trip, but I’d make sure everyone gets on the same page on how the trip is going to go look before you leave.

#1 - Communicate. #2 - Be flexible.

We found that expectations and communicating them were the most important part of the process.

Figure out what your boundaries are and what you’re trying to get out of the trip. Figure out what their boundaries are and what they’d like to get out of the trip. Figure out where everyone (including the bachelor son) overlaps and make those the things you do together. If their concern is that you’re expecting the group do do everything together and they don’t think that is practical (TPs for eight days with a group of 5 including an 18MO sounds pretty intimidating to me), I’d suggest you loosen those expectations and communicate that to them. If their concern is that the two adults will be missing out on doing things because of the baby, discuss options available to help them out with that (if you are willing to help out).

We found that once we communicated honestly about what we all needed, everything fell into place. For us it was the freedom to do whatever our situation demanded at the time without feeling like we were putting my parents out. For my parents it was knowing they had the freedom to do the stuff they wanted to do with us but could leave and go do their thing when they wanted without DW and I feeling like their were abandoning us. Both families went home and for the last year have talked about how the last trip was the best one of all (and we’ve planned to do it again this spring).

Be open to calling an audible when you’re there (or let your DS/DDiL). We thought our kids would sleep in strollers. Only one did. The others needed a bed and it was best for us to get them back for a nap every day. Every family is different; trial and error will bridge the gap between what you think you should do prior to the trip to what you should actually do while on the trip.

One note about something others are suggesting. I’m sure the parents would love a date night or some time alone. But don’t allow yourself to be guilted into doing that if it doesn’t work for you. If you haven’t, I’d suggest you all talk about issues like this ahead of time. If they are expecting you to do more “parenting” than you are willing/able to do, they could always decline to go on the trip. They had the baby, not you.

Overall it sounds like you have the right idea (plans are a guide, not a directive), but with the time change, schedules, and the fact that 18MOs are wild cards in every way, be happy if/when you find a few things that are magical & create lasting memories.

Hope that helps.


Everyone has given such fantastic advice so I won’t try to reinvent the wheel. I just wanted to say that you sound like such thoughtful And caring grandparents! What a joy for your son and DIL to have someone to come alongside them as new parents and encourage and care for them so well.

We took our first trip when my youngest was 21 months old. She is my fourth and I think by then I was over trying to maintain a schedule on vacation with her. We just did what we had to do, were flexible with schedules and had a blast. As a first time mom, remembering how schedule crazy I was, it would’ve been a much different trip and I’d have had to let some things go or would’ve been miserable.

Encourage everyone to pack lots of extra patience and to be generous in giving one another grace. Y’all will have a FANTASTIC time!!

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One thing to keep in mind is that daughters in law are different than sons in law. A son in law can visit and just hang and relax. Sure, he may have baby duties, but no one expects the son in law to manage the laundry or help making sandwiches or doing the baby-packing. Sorry, but it’s true. I’d rather visit with my mom than my mom-in-law (who is a great person, btw), just for the comfort level.

So that in mind, cut your DIL a little slack. First, you’ve offered to babysit and help in any way you can. Maybe you can even be in charge of ordering/bringing the diapers for the room, if she tells you what she needs. If there’s a stroller rental necessary, can you arrange that for them, so they don’t have to think about it?

Second, let them know this is supposed to be a fun vacation for everyone. You’ve set a high-level plan, but they don’t have to follow it. Tell them they are welcome to participate in any plans you have and you’ll change their FPs in whatever way they want, but other than, say dinner together every night (or whatever you want to choose), it’s their vacation as well and you want them to enjoy it. They don’t have to be joined at the hip with you and if they want to head back to the room every afternoon or never want to do a RD, that’s fine. Let them know you’re happy to build a plan for them to accomodate how they want to tour, or they can wing it or just come with you guys whenever they are up to it.

Finally, assuming you get along with your DIL, how about building in a bit of shopping time with just her and let your son know he gets to look after the baby at that time. Would she like that or see it as one more stress.

I have to say, packing for young ones is hectic. There’s the toys and the sippy cups and diapers and the laundry because you just can’t pack enough clothes for them. Maybe your son can take that on, rather than just passing off to you that his wife is stressed about it. He is the dad. Can he not be responsible for baby packing? Maybe she can make a list and he can make sure it’s in the suitcase?

I hope you all have a great trip.

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So much depends on personalities. My kids handled traveling easily (though never that kind of time-zone adjustment) at every age. We are flexible people by nature and had kids who slept anywhere. Your DS, DDil and toddler are the only ones who can truly estimate how this is going to work out.

Can you just let them be in charge of their own days and meet up when it fits? Like one ADR per day?

I am the millennial mom with a toddler at the parks (two next time). Since I’m the planner, I’m very comfortable saying ‘that won’t work for us’. Next trip the grandparents are coming and we’ve made it clear that we will be touring our way and if they want to do something else, they are more than welcome to. :blush: If I was in your DIL’s shoes and not the one “in charge”, I would be stressed. Others have mentioned great advice. I would sit down with her and explain that they are welcome to tour however works for them. And I would ask what she thinks would work best for your granddaughter and try to set her up for success (plan fp for rides they want at times they think will work and give advice like snacks in line and such.)
It sounds like an amazing trip and you’re going to have a great time!


I have taken multiple trips to WDW with that age child and honestly, it’s one of the easiest times to go with young kids. They aren’t baby-babies so they eat regular food and can survive on easily packed snacks plus they are still young enough to be carried when needed and typically nap in the stroller whenever they need it. That being said, when we had 18-month-olds, we rope dropped, planned for easy afternoons, with shows, wandering, and potential walking/hanging in shade during regular nap time, had an early dinner and then headed back to the resort. I think if you plan the days around her usual schedule (no advice for jet lag/time change), you will be amazed at how much fun you all have once you arrive. Also, if she is active, plan in time for her to explore Casey Jr, Tom Sawyer, little playground by Splash, Dumbo area.

As far as family dynamics, maybe set a period of time each day that you want to be together—3 FPP and whatever happens in between from 9-12 and then lunch ADR or swimming at the resort from 3-5 and early dinner ADR, etc. and then let the young family be free to do what they want/need to do without judgement the rest of the day. Maybe take your granddaughter for a morning in a park and let the parents have some freedom to ride some things she is too small for or maybe offer to put her to bed one night and let your adult kids/DIL have some free kid-free time. I think if you communicate that, these are our plans (that were made with little one in mind), lets make every effort to do x, y, and z together, and then join us when you can during the other times, they will be relieved and won’t feel like they have to be stressed to ensure that YOU have a great trip. I suspect that it’s the expectations that are stressing them out and not so much the logistics since you say that you all get along fabulously :slight_smile: Have a wonderful trip.