“Where’s home? Point to home when you see it,” Brandy tells her daughter Macy as they make another lap around the RV park.
“Therwitis!” Macy says through her binkie.
Home for 2-year-old Macy and her 1-year-old sister Paige is a 42-foot toy hauler, but instead of fourwheelers and dirt bikes, kayaks and snowmobiles, the only toys this rig hauls are Elsa’s and Olaf’s, Elmo’s and bouncy balls.
Like me, Brandy is a “linewife,” traveling with her husband, Steve, as he takes contract power line work throughout the state of California. Brandy and Steve are also from Washington, but started out working in Texas — that’s where Macy came into the picture. While they owned a home in Texas, the move to on-the-move contract work in California called for a lifestyle change. As Brandy and her husband Steve hit the open road, they welcomed another change with Baby No. 2.
I may not have kids of my own, but I’ve been around trailer babies and know that the lifestyle is incredibly practical, especially before the kids are in school. This is some of the advice I’ve wrangled up and observations I’ve made from on-the-road moms.
What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Hit The Road … With Kids
- Make sure to buy a RV that has a good separation of parent and child. Converting a toy hauler space into a bedroom is a viable option. Buying a fifth wheel with a bunkhouse is also another option for the kiddos if they are old enough to sleep in beds. With two girls still in Pampers, there was no need for a second bathroom, so Brandy converted the bathroom in the girl’s “bedroom” into a closet for more storage space.
- Organization is key. Buy stacking shelves and make sure everything has a home. It’s hard enough to keep rooms clean and diapers in their drawers when you own a home, but when you live in less than 500 square feet, staying organized will save your sanity.
- Keep it compact. Besides maintaining structure, it is important to buy compact baby items. Invest in strollers and Play Pens that are collapsible and can get small for storage purposes.
- Make purging a priority. Kids are constantly getting new toys: for Christmas, for birthdays, for pooping in the toilet instead of the sink, for eating their peas. It’s hard enough to keep a 2,000-square-foot home de-cluttered, but when you live in a RV it’s especially important to keep rotating through those stuffed animals and dolls, cars and blocks. Purging also creates a learning opportunity for your child; get something new, give something to charity. It’s that or live in a rolling pet net (you remember the pet net, right?).
- Stay connected with fellow mommy friends and family. Life on the road can be daunting in itself, but once you add kids to the equation, it’s a whole new bouncy ballgame. You might not have the same network of built-in babysitters and support groups on the road, but staying connected through online groups and local mommy-and-me groups can make the transition easier.
- Set plans in place for doctor visits. Seeing one doctor is not always an option on the road, so be prepared to jump around. Get advice from your medical provider on how to maintain consistency and keep the kids up to date on check-ups and immunizations.
- Hit the books. If your children are school age, make sure you have a plan for online schooling or homeschooling. Fortunately, there are many options in this world of technology; not to mention, living on the road is a lesson in itself.
- Get them out of the house. Here’s the thing, your home is the size of a backyard playhouse. Not only is it vital for mom’s sanity to get the kiddos out and about, but little ones need to expel energy, and there’s only so much running space in a RV. Daily trips to the park will be a saving grace. Also, keep your eyes peeled for reading events at local libraries and kid-themed activities in the area.
- Find a reputable local daycare or other children’s group. Kids also need socialization, so make sure they are getting out and interacting, even if they are just enrolled in a daycare once a week. Plus, it frees up mommy for some alone time, which makes everyone happy.
Whether you are hitting the road with your kiddos out of necessity, convenience or just to shake things up, it can be an incredible opportunity to open up your child’s eyes to the big, beautiful world that exists beyond their front porch. What a memorable way to instill a sense of wanderlust, encourage questions, and teach your child about everything from nature to history, culture to creativity. Forget the classroom—the road is the ultimate learning and growing environment.
But, don’t take it from me! Here are some families who are full-timing on the road:
Keep up with Sarah Reijonen’s nomadic lifestyle in her column called “Home on the Road.” If there’s a topic you’d like her to cover, please comment below or email her at email@example.com. Twitter: @spankyandsarah. Instagram: @countrygrlswrld. Happy Trails!