| from Melissa Hannigan |

I’d like to think of myself as a fun mom, always ready for an adventure. To be honest, however, I didn’t start out that way. As a brand-new mom, with a brand-new son, I almost let anxiety and fear steal our first family trip. 

Joey was only a few months old when some of our sweetest friends offered us an all-expense paid trip to Disney World. It was an incredible blessing to be invited, but instead of seeing the trip as a gift, all I saw were overwhelming obstacles which put me on high alert. 

No doubt the stereotypical new mom, I was worried about everything! I stressed about how many extra outfits to pack and precisely what to pack in the diaper bag. I worried about how I was going to make the nursing cover work, especially in the Florida heat. I was filled with anxiety over the need to find a place to nurse every three hours. I was not looking forward to the exhaustion of carrying everything but the kitchen sink! Instead of anticipating this trip, I seriously considered just canceling the whole thing. 

Thankfully, my husband John was eager and excited for our first big trip with our brand new little one. Where I saw details and stress, worries and inconveniences, John saw adventure, excitement, and opportunity. He always sees the glass half-full and sees obstacles as opportunities. That is most definitely not my natural outlook —  especially  early on as a worrying mom. 

John’s optimistic perspective and willingness of jump into life without hesitation has led our family into adventures we would have otherwise missed. We have had so many opportunities to experience new and exciting things. Like that first Disney trip that never would have been. I am so glad we went because it opened my eyes to the joy of family trips!

That Disney trip, and so many family trips since then, help create amazing, memory making times for all of us. On that first trip I got to watch little Joey experience the world around him with wide eyes and wonder. I slowed down enough to actually watch him watch the world. And I realized that all of my worrying was unnecessary. Yes, I needed to plan and be prepared, but I couldn’t let any of that deter me from being willing to take the trips. The trips — the adventures — are where the magic usually happens.

It takes getting out of our daily routine for us to notice the magic right in front of us! And that is what that first trip did for our family, it taught me to prioritize getting out of our daily rut to make lasting memories. And I am grateful that God taught me that lesson early on. Most parents eventually learn time is precious and memories are priceless because eventually memories are all you have left. 

Joey is now a 15-year-old young man. He started his very first job and his days are filled with school, work, friends, and church ministry. These 15 years have flown by, and I know they will keep speeding up until the day he leaves the house for good. As hard as that day will be on my mom heart, I am so very thankful for the many memories we made as a family, watching him explore, learn, and grow. I am thankful that John encouraged me to stop worrying so much and simply enjoy our time as a family. And I am thankful for the many memories we have made on family trips and look forward to many more to come. 

So what about you? Are you the worrying mom who hesitates to take the trips because of all the details? Or are you like John who is always up for an adventure? I I encourage you to take the trips, make the memories, slow down and notice the magic right in front of you. I promise you, it is worth it in the end. 

As a homeschool mom of four kids, Melissa Hannigan uses her background in child development and counseling to keep her family from going completely off the rails. Melissa discovered her passion for helping kids meet their fullest potential over 15 years ago. As a therapist, she has worked with children in head start, foster care, and in detention facilities to provide them the tools they need for success. Melissa has also served hundreds of young people through her local church. Her unique sense of humor, paired with a desire to make tough topics easy to talk about, makes her relatable to most parents struggling to keep their head above water in today’s cultural climate. Whether she’s serving the “Happy Hannigan’s” or the “Hot Mess Hannigan’s” (it depends on the day!) she does it alongside her best friend and partner in life, John. Melissa is an Associate with Celebrate Kids where she writes and speaks about a variety of topics.