I walked through the arch, and tears stung my eyes. The sights, sounds, and smells… they were all simply magical.
The conductor of the Hogwarts Express greeted us and asked where we were from. “Ah, America. I’ll see you on the special platform,” he said to my stepdaughter with a wink.
As the taste of Butterbeer touched my lips and I caught a moving “Have you seen this wizard?” poster of Sirius Black out of the corner of my eye, I realized all of my childhood dreams were coming true.
I had made it to Hogsmeade, and I was surrounded by witches and wizards. Simply put, I was a child again.
What Universal Studios Hollywood Reminded Me about Stepmomming
I remembered what it was like to think, feel, and live as a child, and all of the extreme feelings that go with it: uninhibited excitement, belief in the unimaginable, paralyzing fear of the unknown, and the desire to have some control over a life that’s otherwise completely out of your control.
Understanding the Child of Divorce
Children of divorce are caught in a world created by adult choices as a result of adult feelings, and they simply can’t process it all.
The only love children have ever known is inherent love, not chosen love. They don’t understand why Mommy and Daddy don’t love each other anymore – doesn’t that mean Mommy or Daddy could stop loving me?
They don’t understand why they have to live in two homes and why there are two different sets of house rules. Trying to remember two different routines and two different lists of rules can be challenging and stressful for children. If Daddy says not to do something that Mommy says is okay, who is right??
Further, it can be challenging to understand why they have more parents than two once stepparents get involved. Why is my family different from my friend’s?
Children face a lot of new situations, like potty training, meeting new friends, and starting school. Children of divorce have an entirely different, complex set of challenges on top of those.
Empathizing with your Stepchildren
“The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways” ― Russel Barkley
If you find that your stepchild is asking why Mommy and Daddy can’t live together for the umpteenth time, empathize with her inability to grasp an adult concept of love. Relate to her feelings of being lost and confused, and remind her that she is so loved and her feelings are valid.
Instead of getting frustrated that your stepchild isn’t following your house rules or he didn’t remember to do his morning chores, take a deep breath and remind yourself that frequent transitions between environments are stressful for adults – let alone for littles! Extend a little grace and gently remind him of the house rules and expectations.
If you’re finding your stepchild a little hard to love—or to like—right now, that’s okay. All parents’ patience is tested from time to time. But once you’ve had your break, remember the importance of empathizing with your stepchildren.
Remember what it’s like to be little again.
Universal Studios Hollywood helped me to remember.
Sometimes, it just takes a little magic to get you back to your childhood.
At The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I was transformed back in time and remembered exactly what it was like to live those stories for the first time. I truly grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermoine.
You can actually walk through Hogsmeade, taste Butterbeer, and explore stores like Honeydukes™,
Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges™,
Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium™ of Confiscated Goods.
We were THIS >< close to purchasing a wand at Ollivanders™ so we could experience the magic throughout The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but we proceeded throughout the rest of the park instead.
And can I just break for a sec to tell you guys that the Universal Express™ ticket is worth every penny?! You essentially get to head to the front of the line on every single ride/attraction once throughout the day. Instead of spending hours in line (sometimes up to 3 or 4 hours long!), you get to enjoy everything.
We were able to visit every single attraction, and it helped us to thoroughly enjoy our day. We didn’t stress about running from ride to ride or worry about long wait times. It was honestly a pleasure from start to finish at “The Entertainment Capital of L.A.”
Universal Studios Hollywood lets kids be kids.
My stepdaughter, Krista, is 9, and she had the BEST time at Universal Studios Hollywood. Her favorite attraction of the day was Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, an incredible ride inside the Hogwarts castle.
She was initially terrified of Revenge of the Mummy —The Ride and The Walking Dead, a haunted house-style maze, but she loved them both so much she went back a second time!
For even younger guests, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Super Silly Fun Land, and DreamWorks Theatre featuring Kung Fu Panda Adventure, feature fun but age-appropriate attractions.
Other can’t-miss features include: Jurassic World—The Ride (my personal fave!), Special Effects Show (mind-blowing!), Studio Tour – Behind-the-Scenes Tram Ride (a classic!), Universal’s Animal Actors (we saw an owl from Harry Potter!) and WaterWorld—A Live Sea War Spectacular.
We sat in the soak zone for WaterWorld—A Live Sea War Spectacular, and it did not disappoint!
I’m so thankful we decided to end our summer at Universal Studios Hollywood because we all acted like kids for the day. It gave us an excuse to let loose and forget the stressors of everyday blended family life. Plus, it also gave me an important reminder on the importance of empathy as a stepmom.
Have you been to Universal Studios Hollywood? Is it on your bucket list?! Let me know in the comments below!
P.S. A great first step in practicing empathy as a stepmom might be a refresher of this list of things your stepchild wants you to know.