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There is no denying, RV life is a unique, exciting, adventurous, fun, and laid-back way to live. Not only is traveling in an RV a great lifestyle, but the act of living tiny with fewer material things to weigh you down is freeing. But what about doing it with a family? Is it possible to transition from a sticks and bricks stationary home to living small and traveling in an RV with kids? Well, yes, yes it is! But just like parenting in a traditional lifestyle, RV living with kids comes with its challenges. Here are 12 ways to make RV living with kids less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone:
Depending on the age of your kids, their bedtime is probably earlier than yours. You might like to watch a movie or enjoy time with your spouse after the kids are in bed. You may also want to wake up early in the morning before the chaos of the day begins to get in a workout or warm cup of coffee alone. So the kids can get a good night’s sleep, and you’re able to enjoy some adult time, get an RV with a separate bunk room. Better yet, a bunk room with a door! If your kids are sleeping in the living area or hallway, you’ll have to be extra quiet or go to sleep when they do. A bunk room with a door allows you to enjoy later nights and earlier mornings without waking the entire family. A bunk room with a door is also great because it’s an area just for their things. Toys can stay in their room, with the door closed, and not in your tiny living space!
When downsizing to full-time RV living with kids, you’ll probably want to get rid of the Barbie dream house, and life-sized stuffed animals. But, there are plenty of toys that are great for tiny living! Think of toys that take up little space but provide hours of entertainment. Toys that can be easily packed and stored on travel days. Some of our favorites include Legos, Magnatiles, puzzles, books, art supplies, Hot Wheels, and Barbies. So kids don’t get too bored with the same old toys, store some in the “basement” and switch them out from time to time.
If you are new to RVing, you might be surprised by how much storage room there actually is in most rigs. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much space there is for all of your family’s “stuff.” But given the overall size of your tiny home, it can quickly feel overwhelming when things start to clutter up and take over a space. To feel comfortable and peaceful in your home, keep your kid’s stuff organized. Keep toys and games low so tinies are able to reach their things without your assistance. If you are traveling, everything will need a place where it’s able to be put away securely. Use stackable storage bins as they are durable and travel well.
Living in an RV is different from a sticks and bricks house. Depending on the hookup situation, you might have to be more thoughtful with electricity and water usage. Ensure the children understand why the family needs to be conscious of the water and the power you’re using and how they can help. Remind them to turn off the water while brushing their teeth and washing hands. Teach them how to do dishes without the water continuously running. If they like to sleep with a nightlight, get a rechargeable light or a lantern they can use in their bunk.
Feeding a family takes a lot of food. Unfortunately, some RVs don’t have much pantry space and even less fridge and freezer space. To ensure you’re smartly using your precious kitchen space, meal plan. That way, you get only the food you need, and you know you’ll eat it. Depending on how many mouths you have to feed and the size of your refrigerator, meal planning also means fewer trips to the store. Meal planning is usually good on the wallet as well, as it leads to less waste!
There are endless ways to homeschool, worldschool, roadschool, or unschool your children. There are so many options. It can actually feel overwhelming deciding how to educate your family while RV living. You can do formal online schooling where your children sign into a virtual classroom each day. You can purchase a bundled curriculum that gives you everything you’ll need for the school year. You can work with your child to figure out what interests them most and focus there. You can use your travels to drive what the kids learn. Or, you can do something completely unique. The most important thing to remember is that what works for one family might not work for another. Don’t worry if your school day doesn’t look exactly like your RV friend’s household. Don’t overthink if you’re “doing it right.” Figure out what works best for you and run with it. The kids are OK!
One of the hardest and easiest things about RV living with kids is meeting people. While spending quality time together as a family is a huge benefit of this lifestyle, both kids and adults need other people in their lives. When staying at an RV park or campground, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and introduce yourself to other families. Chances are, they want to be friends just as much as you do! Simply taking walks through the campground, spending time at the playground, or playing at the pool are great ways to meet others. You can also connect with other families online through organizations such as Fulltime Families to see who will be in the area even before arriving at your destination!
When you and the kids do make friends, make sure to keep in touch. It’s funny how small the RV community is and how often you see the same people throughout your travels. Social media is an excellent way for adults to stay connected, and kids can use apps such as Messenger Kids to keep in touch with friends.
A lot goes into moving a tiny home on wheels. Not only do you have to pack up and physically move to a new destination, but you have to acclimate to a whole new campsite and area. This can be daunting when done every few days. When RVing with kids, try to stay at each place as long as possible. We like to stay 2-4 weeks which gives us time to fully unpack and settle in, get to know an area, and enjoy plenty of days where we stay home and don’t feel the need to jam-pack exploring into every day. Traveling is tiring for adults. Think how much it can take a toll on kiddos.
One of the best things about RV life is we make our own schedule for the most part. While jobs can dictate when and where you need to be, chances are you too can have some control over when you’re able to leave one spot and arrive at the next. If you’re able to, keep travel time to a minimum as much as possible. Try to keep each destination relatively close to one another and if you are doing a big haul, break it into multiple days. Rest areas and parking lots make for great stop-over spots when driving over one day. Keeping travel days to a comfortable length will keep the kids from dreading them and keep your driver from burnout!
As mentioned, lots of family time together is one of the highlights of RV living. But, too much of a good thing can lead to issues. To keep fighting at bay as much as possible and give kids some one-on-one time with a parent, separate siblings from time to time. Take one child on a special outing while the other(s) stay at home with your spouse. Encourage the kids to read a book or play on their own once in a while. However it may look, do your best to make sure everyone has their own space and can do their own thing when they need a break from their brothers and sisters.
Even though you’ll have less stuff and less space while RV living, messes will still be made. They might even feel worse than dealing with messes in a sticks and bricks house. 300 square feet gets cluttered a lot quicker than 2000 square feet! Being outdoors more often while living in an RV also makes for more dirt/sand/gravel indoors. Rather than stressing out about clutter and dirt, embrace it as part of the lifestyle. Messes mean life is being lived! And remember, cleaning up your tiny home takes a fraction of the time it did before RV living!
RV living with kids is going to look different than stationary life in a house. No matter how much you research and prepare before launching into RVing, there will be lows mixed into the highs. The best thing you can do is expect that challenges will come your way, and you will get through them. Figuring out a new way of life while parenting is not easy but it is doable. You and your kids are more resilient and adaptable than you may think. So, sit back and enjoy the ride that is RV living with kids!
Want more information on RVing with a family? Check out the The RV Atlas podcast and blog! Jeremy and Stephanie offer great advice on RVing with kids in tow!
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