When we started talking about full-time RV living with kids we weren't sure if we would be living in an actual RV or if we were going to buy a tiny home on wheels. We knew either way we went it would be an adjustment for us.
Even though we already lived in a home that was 1000 sq. ft. or less we were still a bit scared to drop to less than 300 sq. ft. of living space. But, we did and I'm going to share from our first year in our RV camper.
It's not always easy, and there isn't much space to run and hide. The walls are thin and you can't block out the high pitched screams of a little girl who isn't getting her way. It can get cluttered really, really fast and the amount of lego blocks you can step on in 5 minutes still baffles me.
But, being that it is a small area that means the cleanup takes about 1/8-1/4 of the time it would in a 1000+ sq. ft. house.
*raises hands* Thank goodness for that! I hate cleaning, and I'll be the first to admit that. I clean when I'm mad, but hate cleaning any other time.
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Full-Time RV Living With Kids + How We Make It Work
Our house back home was pretty short on storage and I've always made due but moving into an RV… that was a different story. Storage is something you have to get creative with and maybe even create.
After being in our RV camper for 1.5 years I can safely say that Command Hooks are the bomb(dot)com. We have some that range from 0.5lb rating up to 5lb rating. They're super useful for things like hanging coffee cups in the kitchen, hanging towels in the bathroom, and hanging coats in the bedroom. Or you can start hanging Christmas lights around the living/kitchen/dining area for a little ambiance.
Another great thing about Command Hooks is that we've been able to put shelving into our cabinets. We just put the 5lb Command Hooks on the walls and cut up a sheet of plywood to fit in the area of our (now) pantry cabinet. Our next step is putting shelves in our cabinets to have more storage for kitchen items.
Aside from using Command Hooks to create storage space in spots we didn't have before, we're also going to be converting the space under our bed and my daughters bed into storage. We have space under our couch, but I'm not sure if the couch storage will be there much longer or how we're going to renovate it.
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Back home our kids had two houses where they had toys – our house and their grandparent's house. I include the grandparent's house because it was literally a stone's throw away. So, when we moved everything into the RV we had to figure out what to do with all their toys.
The toys at their grandparents stayed at their grandparents (says a silent prayer of thanks). However, we had to really pare down on what our kids had to bring. And, honestly, we're still minimizing the number of toys they have.
Right now we're using a space above their TV and a basket beside the bed to hold their toys. I'm still considering decreasing their toy collection and being very mindful of the type of toys come into the RV. I want their toys to be both educational and fun.
3 Play Time
Have you noticed how wobbly an RV can be? Yeah, imagine your children running back and forth in the living room or bouncing up in down with pure energy. It's crazy.
My kids get to moving in here and you'd think there was a Cat 4 hurricane going on outside. They're that spastic and energetic. Sometimes (read all the time) its really hard to contain their energy. That's when we go outside.
When outside time fails we try to find some other game that we can all play inside that doesn't involve running 115 mph back and forth in the camper (although there are times we just let them too).
I'll link a few posts I've written on activities you can do with your kids. They're not necessarily specific to living in an RV, but the activities can definitely be completed in an RV.
Here are the links:
- 19 Homeschool Activities You Should Try This Year
- Easy Cleanup Homeschool Preschool Activities
- Fun Earth Day Activities For Kids
4 Private Time
It's no joke when you're full-time RV living with two kids. Space is small and you have nowhere to run or send your kids that allow for “quiet” time or private time. So, how do people do it?
For us, our kids have a room and we have a room. But, even when we send them to their room if they're being disrespectful or bad we can still hear the screams. Again, how do people do it?
We're still figuring it out. Most days if we have to send our kids to their room for being disrespectful it can get under my skin. I just want to walk outside and leave them in here to scream and holler, but then I get worried about them tearing up the camper. You just have to breathe and let it all pass over.
Now, in regards to adult time, that can get either be tricky or fun. Depends on how many kids you have and how tight of living quarters you have.
5 Outdoor Activities
Get. Out. Side.
It makes kids less fussy and way more tolerable. Outdoor time is precious and shouldn't be seen as a pain or neglected. I can tell a huge difference when my kids get to play outside and when they don't.
When they're outside they get to run around and be crazy.
Rainy days are bad, but rainy weeks are the worst! These kids turn into villainous monsters hellbent on destroying my sanity.
I love days where it rains but then the rain goes away and the sun comes out. Those are the best! I have some mudbugs and they love stomping in mud puddles once the rain has gone.
6 Rainy Days
You want to aim for things that are small, fun and can entertain for a good while. Or, have a pretty decent supply of smaller games that you can rotate through in order to keep the kids from getting bored.
Since we have homeschooled we have a good supply of books and games that we can play when it starts to rain. And, if all else fails, we have Netflix and Hulu that can save the day. This typically means Moana or some Hulk show will be on the TV.
Thank goodness that isn't often.
Have you ever seen an RV bathtub? What about an RV that just has a shower?
Most RV's bathrooms are really tiny. As in, a foot tub/kitchen tub is almost the same size as the bathtub. I can get the water a little over my belly button on a good day in the camper. And, that's with turning the water off so the water can get hot again. -_-
Now, imagine 4 people needing to bathe and the hot water heater only being large enough to fill the tub halfway…. once.
If you're lucky you'll have a bathhouse where you're camping, so you'll be able to shower there to save yourself from the forever ending hot water.
I wrote an entire post dedicated to cooking in an RV or small space. Check out this post here: How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV.
Aside from space in the camper, cooking full meals for 4 people in a camper can be tricky. You get used to it though, and you get creative too. We're not too picky when it comes to the food we eat (unless your my son) so that helps out a lot. Generally, we go shopping once a week for veggies and then every two weeks for meat.
A big thing that we found very helpful was having a deep freezer we keep outside. It's not too big either. Just enough to put some meat in so we don't have to buy meat every week.
But, don't forget to check out my post and see how we've managed to cook full meals for 4 people in our RV.
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