I’m Rose, you can find me on Instagram @rosehenges
Living in such a small space with little ones is no easy task - ask anyone who has done it. Little to no privacy, amplified sounds, and oh, the mess! But it doesn’t have to be difficult - truthfully, I did not obtain the tips I’m about to share with you from experience living in an RV - I simply brought my already established philosophies of life and parenting with us into our tiny home on wheels and it has worked out so beautifully and made our transition to RV living with kids easy and frustration-free. I want to share some ideas with you that may challenge you to make a few changes to bring more peace into your home-on-wheels!
Tip 1: Simplify
I know, you already know this one, you moved into an RV after all! But I’m talking about a much more extreme level of simplicity involving all your child’s belongings, clothing, toys, etc.. This is the key to eliminating the frustration and stress of living in a small space with kids. Too much stuff is overwhelming, adds stress and is nearly impossible to contain and keep orderly. This is not a good situation for RV living. And guess what? Even if you think it does, that stuff doesn’t make you happy. The solution? Get rid of whatever is not useful or does not bring joy. Children especially should have very few belongings and the belongings they do have should each have a proper place that the child can access and store on their own.
Tip 2: Quiet Activities
Nurturing a love of books in children is essential to childhood and development, but it is especially beneficial for a tiny home or traveling lifestyle. In our home, we have books displayed on picture ledges along with two cubbies full of our library stash. Displaying books with the cover facing out is an amazing trick to entice young readers to take interest. With less clutter and toys to choose from, books take center stage. A child’s psychological development and imagination will soar, and you get the bonus of the peace and quiet. Yes, screen time works like an absolute charm, but leaves children overstimulated, disillusioned and studies show that it does the developing mind a major disservice. Unlike television, reading does not swallow the senses or dictate thought. Reading stimulates the ecology of the imagination.
Audio books are a great way to transition from screen time. My son got an old school CD player and children’s headphones for his 4th birthday and it’s been a huge hit! We utilize the library for story book and music CDs. Not only does he stay quiet and still for a remarkable period of time, he will usually fiddle with something or play with toys while he’s listening. This is incredible for brain development.
Tip 3: Designated Space:
We only have two children, ages 4 and 1, and I am very inspired at the families I see who are doing it with 4+5!
With two, something that has been very helpful is giving our older son his own space that the little one can’t get to. The top bunk is Eden’s special place and somewhere he can go to play or be alone without a toddlers interfering presence. Each child should have a small place where they feel they can retreat to if needed.
Tip 4: Nature:
Another benefit of limiting or eliminating screen time is that it gives children an opportunity to connect with nature without the draw of wanting to go back inside for a more stimulating or interesting television program or video game.
I highly recommend that every parent read a book called ‘Last Child in the Woods’ by Richard Louv to gain a sense of why it is imperative to give children a taste and love of nature while they are young. Their future health, happiness and mental well being are dependent on it. If in an RV park or another location with not many natural spaces, even the smallest bit of natural space is beneficial, be it a small strip of grass or a lone tree. The simple act of being out in the fresh air and sunshine is beneficial. Buy the kids a sketchbook and some watercolors and have them start a nature journal.
It might seem like I am getting off topic, but this is all relevant to having healthy happy kids, who will then be much easier to live with in a small space!
Tip 5: Mealtime Routines:
It is hugely beneficial for kids to have an established mealtime rhythm. This preparation can help to avoid behavior issues that may occur when the child faces unexpected change. Mealtime should be a time where a family consciously comes together to connect. If there is peace and love, instead of hurriedness and stress, it creates a warm and happy atmosphere that will surely make for happier and more secure kids who then don’t need to whine and display unpleasant behavior. When a kid feels better, they behave better. Making a kid feel worse will only make them behave worse.
Tip 6: No Blue Lights After Dark:
There’s not much that is more frustrating as a parent as when your kids are not having it at bedtime - you’ve got plans to hang out with your spouse or get some alone time and they want to bounce off the wall and tell you every thought they’ve ever thunk. Blue lights (artificial lighting) tell the brain that it’s still day time and not time for sleep. Simple solution! Salt lamps! We have two in our main living area and salt lamp night lights in the bathroom and kids room. It’s perfect for a small space like an RV - it lights up just enough that you can see decently and doesn’t alter your kids circadian rhythms. The brain can shut off without interference! Add on top of that some magnesium oil on the bottoms of their feet and bingo! Less frustrating bedtimes and you get the recharge you need.
Thanks for reading! I hope these tips were helpful to you!
Follow along on our journey at @rosehenges and hopefully one day we’ll see you on the trail!