Full-Time RVing with your family is amazing, but it is also a lot of work. I’m not even talking about figuring out storage in a tiny space, I’m talking about emotions and ensuring that everyone’s needs are being met. Once you pack everyone up and stick them in an RV, even the biggest motorhome or fifth wheel, you will soon learn a lot more about yourself and your family members. Find out how to successfully face these challenges together.
Dealing with Disagreements
Everything in an RV is intensified. If too many shoes by the entrance in your home drove you crazy, wait until you experience shoe organization in your motorhome, travel trailer, or van. Arguments about dishwashing duty? Now you actually have to wash the dishes, most RVs don’t come with dishwashing machines!
So now you are arguing about household chores with an audience. Your kids are sitting on the couch while you are standing in the kitchen. Sure you could go to the master bedroom, but unless you are whispering, your kids are going to hear every word. Every word you say and how it is sad is practically public knowledge. I don’t think this is a huge problem if handled correctly. Kids need to know that couples fight. The main thing is to make sure it is shown in a healthy way. One day, your kids are going to be entering committed relationships, and they need to know how to handle disagreements. We choose our words carefully and always let our kids see us make up and apologize to one another. Sometimes we even talk to our kids about the disagreement and how we are working to move past it.
Of course, if the arguments aren’t suitable for your kids to hear, consider taking the argument somewhere a little more private – outside, a vehicle, and or a clubhouse. None of these are totally private, but they can definitely help keep little ears from hearing things you don’t want them to hear.
Speaking of things you don’t want little ears to hear…let’s talk about sex. Oh my. It’s really, really hard to be discreet. Not only does your RV rock, but there is no insulation for noise and everyone is always just a few feet away from one another. Oh, and your neighbors might hear or see (all that rocking).
So, how do you handle all that?!
For us, we make sure those stabilizers are set up correctly (less shaking), the air conditioner/heater/dehumidifier are on (noise), and work hard to do so when folks won’t notice. The kids have asked why the RV was shaking, but we’ve been able to answer that one pretty well. We’ve only been walked in on a few times, no more than when we are in a house. No one has been seen nude or anything, sheets and blankets are right there and we have great reaction times. If you get caught and it’s a little more obvious, just be honest. Having confused kids or yelling at them for entering is more damaging than honesty and talking through things with them.
Creating Space for One Another
Space, both emotional and physical, is very important when you are full-time RVing with your family. Everyone in that RV needs to have space to deal with their emotions. Sometimes this means that they need to physically be somewhere else. Maybe they need to be in their room for some quiet time or to cool down. Or maybe they need to be outside at the picnic table to cool down after a heated debate, argument, or outburst.
Even your kids need this. Just because they are kids does not mean that their emotions mean less than adults. It can be hard dealing with raw emotions, especially from someone that does not have years of experience dealing with it or expressing it. It has to be done though to make it through as a stronger and closer RVing family.
As for physical space, the key to a healthy RV home is to respect one another’s spaces. Our kids have stacked bunks with curtains. When they go in their “rooms”, we knock and request permission to enter. If they do not want us to enter, we respect that and request that we share what we have to share without entering. Or sometimes, we request that they come out of their rooms to chat. We respect their needs and wants and emotions as long as no one is in any danger.
Since we give our kiddos space, physical and emotional, our kids do the same for us. They respect our needs for privacy and don’t just barge in on us. Mutual respect is extremely important when tiny living with others, especially children.
Unique Challenges we Face as Working RVers
If you are new to our RV journey, our family travels around our work lives. Robert still works full-time in an office. He commutes back and forth often to meet us wherever we are RV traveling. However, we do spend quite of bit of time within an hour of his job as well. We just switch it up as appropriate for our lives.
Since Robert has a long-distance commute 6 months out of the year, this introduces a long-distance relationship and days where I am the sole parent (and working from home). This adds stress and complications to an already complicated life.
We make it work by going back to basics – love and mutual respect. Sometimes it’s easier than others. What we have found is that open communication is key to our unique RV life. We are open about the good and the bad. It allows us to deal with things as they are happening and move past them. This has allowed us to grow together as a couple and family.
You are NOT Alone
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If you are currently RVing and in the midst of your own emotional journey as a full-time RVing family, I want you to know that you are not alone. Everyone that is in an RV right now with their families has these challenges and struggles too. OK, maybe not the same ones, but they are also going through something. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t magical moments on the lake or hiking or cooking together. There is plenty of that, but the reality is that we are all people and have needs, feelings, uncertainty and so much more that comes up in our lives.
I would like to invite you to the Full-Time RVing – The Emotional Journey Facebook group (created by my friend Camille Attell). It is an excellent resource to get advice and comfort from knowing that others feel like you do.
Yes, we should appreciate and celebrate the beauty of RV living, but we need to also acknowledge and deal with the icky parts. It’s the only way to move forward and grow as people.
I hope that this gives you some hope and inspiration as you and your family experience RV living together. If you need more practical stuff regarding living in an RV together, check out my blog post: RV Living in 26 Feet. Lastly, if you are interested in learning what it is really like to work from your RV with kids, you can read about it here.