I’m a big fan of RV Living with your kids, but what is it really like to work in your RV with kids.
“Mom, I’m hangry”
Me: “Uh. I just fed you. Grab a cheese stick from the fridge.”
“Ugh, I don’t want a cheese stick!”
Me: “Well, there’s some yogurt and banana. Oh, and there are some apples in the fridge.”
“Fine, I’ll take the apple. Just cut it up.”
Me: “I’m working. Can you just bite into it?”
Me: “Ok, I’ll just be a minute or two.”
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Yay! Mom’s home!
Although this won’t be true for everyone, when you work in your RV with kids, the kids are going to be so excited to see you that they won’t realize that you are even working.
My kids are 6 and 9 and they can give me a good hour maybe two hours without interruption. After that, they are ready for some fun (well, hopefully fun) time with mom.
The key to happy kids and the ability to work in such a tight space is making sure that their needs are met before you start working.
For instance, I make sure they are fed, have fresh cold water, and know that I am going to work. I provide them with a simple timeline and what kind of work I will be doing. That way they know if I need quiet for phone calls or if they can play as usual, but without engaging with me.
Something that helps me maximize and structure my day is to keep office hours. I wake up before the kids so that I can get some work done before I have other’s to care for.
The middle of the day tends to be devoted to my family. We eat, we play, we share, we explore, we learn, we bond.
I also work at night. The kids tend to still be awake, but they have had me all day and are OK with playing together or chilling in their rooms.
Yeah, this isn’t working out!
Solutions for when you work in your RV with kids and need to focus for many hours without interruptions.
In an RV you don’t have too many options because if you don’t want your kids to interrupt you, it means that they can’t see you.
Locking yourself in the bathroom and balancing your laptop on your lap while sitting on the toilet isn’t ideal and eventually, they will need to use the potty…
So, what do I do? Well, I don’t have too many options, but here they are: go to my room, work outside, or drive to a coffeehouse.
Why I prefer NOT to work in my room
There is no desk. So the laptop feels like it is going to burn a hole through my legs and I have zero back support. I guess I could probably buy a lap desk, but…
I end up scrunched up under the covers and propped up with every pillow we own in the RV. The cat also shows up all excited to cuddle. Might as well invite the kids in…
Not only is it uncomfortable, but it’s way too tempting to just take a nap.
Working outside in the elements and with RVing neighbors
I’ll never forget being on an important conference call and suddenly a neighboring dog starts barking and doesn’t stop. I couldn’t even put the phone on silent because I was the one doing most of the talking. Not the type of image I want to be portraying.
And of course, most campers don’t quite get it when you are outside on your computer instead of roasting marshmallows with your family. They stop by and chat, invite you to their campfire, and sometimes offer you a beer. Really great, except when you are trying to get some work done.
Let’s not forget stepping outside to discover the weather report was wrong – too hot, too sunny, too windy, rain really? Now what?!
Did you know that not all coffeehouses offer WiFi? Yeah, I learned that the hard way. Nothing like camping somewhere without service only to find that the closest coffeehouse didn’t have internet either. So, always bring your hotspot if you can.
Last year we were camp hosts (you can read about it here) and there was zero service. Sure it was gorgeous and a free place to camp, but I spent over $400 on coffee and snacks during those 3 months just to be able to work.
Someone needs to hop off the internet
We can only have 5 devices on our hotspot at a time. There are 4 of us and 12 devices.
So that means if I’m on my PC, my son is on his PC, Netflix is on the TV, Nadia is on her tablet and Robert and my phones are connected to our hotspot, well…we have gone over the limit.
Usually, it means Robert and I disconnect our phones.
There was a time when we had 2 hotspots that were unlimited and this wasn’t an issue, but not anymore.
Aside from a limit on how many devices can actually be on the hotspot, we have had to limit how many devices can stream video while I’m trying to work. If mama can’t get her work done because the internet is being slowed down by the folks watching Pokémon…well…
Of course, when we are off adventuring this isn’t an issue, but there are rainy days and super hot days when everyone is inside and wanting a little online time.
I’m in my office
We have 26ft of living space, which is less than 250 ft2 . So to set up an office in that space was pretty interesting.
Since we never used our couch (it was way too awkward, the “leather” tore, and there was this whole mold thing) we decided to convert it into an office area.
It was pretty simple:
- Rip out Couch
- Buy a collapsible table
- Purchase a bench seat to replace seating and storage
- Put in storage contains for toys and office supplies
- More details here!
The space can be used as a play area, production studio, dining space, movie watching area, and on occasion a really awkward place where I fall asleep.
So even though it is my office, it gets used for other things and by other people.
I mean, it’s an RV. Every space doubles as something else, right?
Dining room = art space = bed = kitchen prep = computer gaming station = cat grooming surface.
Bathroom = laundry room = mud room = reading room = auxiliary storage = cat grooming space
Are you now looking around your RV trying to create your perfect office space so you can work in your RV with kids?
You gotta get creative
I think you can see that if you are going to work in your RV with kids, you gotta get creative and be really flexible.
If none of the options I mentioned above appeal to you, here are some other options for you.
Work at the campground/RV park Clubhouse
Most campgrounds and RV parks have Clubhouses with extended hours and room to stretch your legs.
It’s a great place to set up your office since they have plenty of tables and space for you to bring all your work supplies.
You can bring your own hotspot or use the campground’s WiFi if it’s available.
Depending on the campground they may have free WiFi or paid. If you are really desperate for good and secure wifi, you might want to go ahead and pay. I’ve done it a few times and it’s less expensive than going to the coffeehouse down the street.
The downside to working at the community center:
There’s often a TV with happy campers watching something at high volume.
It’s a gathering space so definitely not a good space for you if you are easily distracted or need to make calls, edit video, or voice recordings.
You might be trading your kids in for another set of kids.
Commute to work at a coworking location such as (not an exclusive list):
- Impact Hub
- Your Alley
- Serendipity Labs
- Green Desk
Please keep in mind that you may not find coworking spaces in rural towns and locations. Also, there may be privately owned coworking locations, I only listed some of the largest coworking companies in the USA.
The benefits to coworking spaces:
- No kids
- Social aspect
- Reliable internet
- Comfy desk, chairs, and work environment
- Ability to network
- Coffee (because you know it’s important)
You can find a quiet library even in rural locations. Of course the more rural, the smaller the place.
They have free WiFi and desks for your office supplies.
Libraries also have office equipment if you need them!
Downsides to working at the library
- No eating or drinking at your desk
- You can’t make or receive phone calls or conduct meetings unless you rent a space (which may or may not require a fee and other restrictions)
So what do you think?
Do you also work in your RV with kids?
If you aren’t yet, do you want to after reading this?