My family and I began full-time RV living 5 years ago when our oldest child was 7 and youngest was 3. It was a long-held dream to show our kids the country while pursuing a non-traditional remote working lifestyle. While enormously rewarding, the transition has not been easy. As full-time travelers, we face exceptional parenting struggles compared to stationary families regarding education, safety, finances, child development, physical and emotional health, and family relationships while living in a confined space on the road. Take a few minutes and keep reading to find out all this and that about the parenting challenges I’ve faced along with my wife in our full-time RV living.
1. Providing Consistent Education
One major concern was how to handle our kids’ schooling. We considered all options from homeschooling to public schools. Ultimately we opted for a blended approach.
The Difficulty of Homeschooling in an RV
Originally we planned to fully homeschool. I researched curricula and joined RV homeschooling groups. But I soon realized teaching all subjects well at multiple grade levels alone would be overwhelming. While homeschooling gives great freedom and customization, the responsibility falls completely on parents. That’s challenging on the road while simultaneously working.
Though some traveling families do manage full homeschooling well, we could not make it work. My kids also strongly resisted losing socialization with other children. So we had to reassess.
Trying the Public School Route
Next, we attempted to use local public schools wherever we stayed for extended periods. I’d enroll the kids at the start of each semester and then pull them out when it was time to move on. It worked at first giving them structured education and peer interaction.
But the constant change took a toll – making new friends and adapting to new teachers every few months. My younger one began dreading starting over yet again. After the first year, we agreed public schooling full-time was too disruptive.
Finding the Best Solution with Roadschooling
Finally, we struck the right balance with road schooling – a blend of world travel, real-life learning, and formal distance education. The flexible roadschool model allowed us to experience new places and cultures while meeting core educational needs.
The kids get socialization and collaboration opportunities when we meet up with other nomadic families. I also arrange video chat study sessions with settled friends. For fundamental knowledge acquisition, they do accredited online courses using teaching apps.
It’s a patchwork system requiring coordination but ultimately works by playing to our mobile lifestyle strengths. The kids have advanced smoothly each year with this personalized approach. Now I can’t imagine raising them any other way.
2. Fostering Healthy Child Development
Ensuring proper nutrition, exercise, mental stimulation, and social engagement is vital for childhood development – a tougher proposition in limited RV surroundings.
Supplying Proper Nutrition
Though we have a functional galley, meal prep is more constrained. Storage space restricts carrying perishables or a variety of long-term. We end up eating a lot of canned, packaged, and preserved foods. Variety suffers too with difficulty finding favored ethnic ingredients on the road.
To provide wholesome balanced nutrition, we utilize mobile apps to locate healthy, affordable restaurants and grocery stores wherever we travel. I’ve become adept at whipping up nutritious meals from limited ingredients. We also allow indulgent treats occasionally so the kids don’t feel deprived. It’s a constant effort to ensure high-quality nutrition without a permanent kitchen.
Encouraging Physical Activity
The confined RV environment discourages active physical play. We consciously counteract this through outdoor activities. I make it a priority to stop at parks or playgrounds daily for the kids to run around. We also joined a community center on the road offering a kids’ pool and gym for when the weather restricts outdoor options.
We invest in quality portable equipment like bicycles, rollerblades, basketballs, and Frisbees to spur activity year-round. Though not ideal, with deliberation, I’m able to encourage sufficient exercise despite limited RV space.
Fostering Cognitive Development
The transient RV lifestyle could negatively impact long-term cognitive maturation if not managed right. Changing locales means disrupted routines – bad for developing brains. We mitigate this through curriculum consistency – the same daily road school schedule anywhere we go. We also minimize screen time for entertainment, emphasizing educational activities instead.
The enrichment from our adventures promotes intellectual development and authentic learning. But I balance it by nurturing technical skills too – reading, writing, mathematics, science, etc. Using desktop computers and tablets with educational subscriptions ensures wholesome cognitive growth despite frequent transitions.
Encouraging Healthy Social Interactions
Limited interactions with same-age children were concerning when we started. We prioritized collaborative activities by coordinating with families met through RV social media groups across destinations.
Monthly camping meetups provide consistent friend exposure – the kids look forward to reunions. My eldest also does sleepovers with nomad friends when possible. For nutrition, I mimic school cafeteria menus using camping gear to spur group play at mealtimes when isolated.
Despite constraints, our kids have formed close bonds with fellow nomad children. These meaningful relationships nurture their social development.
3. Maintaining Safety From Accidents and Extreme Weather
Life on the road has amplified safety risks compared to settled living. Our mobile home introduces unexpected hazards needing preventative measures.
Avoiding RV Accidents
A fully loaded RV is hard to maneuver and prone to accidents. I took special driving courses to learn tricks like precise backward navigation. I have also become adept at spotting potential collision risks like abrupt dips or inadequate room for turns on roads.
Annual maintenance checks ensure mechanical issues don’t cause breakdowns en route. We additionally invested in premium roadside assistance coverage for all emergencies.
Following rigorous safety procedures minimizes accident probability while on the move. But with an RV as our permanent abode, we also need emergency preparedness for extreme weather risks wherever we temporarily settle.
Protecting Against Extreme Weather Fallout
Storms, floods, extreme colds, or heat constitute serious threats to living in a recreational vehicle. We’ve faced all these over the years on the road. My biggest fear is a direct tornado or hailstorm strike that could destroy our RV.
I upgraded to a rig designed for all-season resilience. We also proactively avoid areas with weather alerts. I continuously monitor multiple forecast apps and am part of community warning groups across social media. At any sign of upcoming storms, we evacuate the location to identify reinforced shelters nearby.
For other risks like floods or blizzards, the RV allows us to drive out of danger assuming roads are passable. We once had to hastily depart rising waters from a creek overflow and barely escaped getting stranded. Having an emergency preparedness checklist and go-bag with essentials ready means we can rapidly respond to any adverse weather despite the extra vulnerability of RV living.
4. Affording Constant Travel
Financial viability is imperative to make the nomadic lifestyle sustainable. However, finding stable income sources while always on the move has been testing.
Buying an Economical RV
We couldn’t splurge on our mobile home. I purchased a used RV in good condition instead of a new one – saving 50% over a new rig. We also chose a mid-range travel trailer rather than a large luxury motorhome which requires pricier ongoing maintenance.
Though cramped occasionally, our trailer meets essential needs without costing a fortune. But the real savings come from avoiding pricey RV park fees.
Saving Through Boondocking
Boondocking instead of staying at traditional RV parks curtails our biggest expense. Boondocking involves freely camping at public sites without hookups. We rely on solar panels and strict conservation of resources. It requires effort to ration water, power, and waste capacity carefully when boondocking but allows us to fund travel indefinitely.
When possible I pick up freelancing gigs. But reducing unnecessary costs is the main reason we’ve survived financially thus far. As long as we can restrain spending, this lifestyle remains tenable.
5. Fostering Positive Family Relationships
The difficult adjustments when we started placed strain on family relationships being together 24/7 in confined quarters. Private space is critical for positive interactions.
Respecting Personal Boundaries
The kids share the bunk room where they also do schoolwork. I take the couch to give them a door dividing us. Noise and lack of privacy brew tensions though. We created a loose schedule where the kids spend an hour outdoors in good weather so I get work done.
We take walks individually when pressures escalate. During rides, we take turns choosing music stations. After a rocky initial transition, demarcating personal space preserves harmony most days.
Divvying Up Responsibilities
Starting out, all daily tasks fell to me while also overseeing the kids and work. Quickly I realized involving the kids was essential.
They now take turns assisting with pet care, helping plan/cook meals, and doing dishes. My eldest can assist with laundry using park machines. They handle tidying the common living area and their bunk room. Giving them age-appropriate contributions fosters accountability without overburdening kids.
Promoting Open Communication
When irritations inevitably emerge in the tiny shared space, we employ a few rules to maintain positivity. No silent treatments – we talk out issues respectfully before resentments get bottled up. Weekly family meetings ensure everyone shares feelings and requests.
With these simple practices, we’ve prevented bad days from ballooning into lasting bitterness despite trying conditions. Our confinement has ultimately strengthened family trust through mutual understanding.
6. Caring for Our Well-Being
The all-encompassing demands of mobile parenting leave little time to care for my own emotional or physical health. Yet nurturing personal wellness is vital to avoid burnout.
Seeking Community Ties
Lacking long-term community connections and routines often sparks loneliness. I cope by intentionally forming support groups everywhere we visit even if brief. Attending local mom meetups maintains adult interaction for me while the kids socialize too.
I also have monthly virtual happy hours with my best friends to stay caught up despite not being physically present. Prioritizing these social engagements provides mental stimulation and relationships despite constant uprooting.
Avoiding Parental Exhaustion
Stecy’s on-the-go lifestyle with twin duties of childcare and work causes immense fatigue over time. I manage work-life boundaries by logging off early to prevent burnout even if it means longer hours on weekends.
We enrolled our kids in mobile adventure day camps when feasible so I get full weekdays for uninterrupted remote work. I also leverage parenting support tools like meal plan apps and digital chore reminders for the kids. Outsourcing what I can while focusing efforts where it matters most keeps stress contained.
Staying Physically Healthy
Life on the road has more discomforts that negatively impact health over time – odd hours, restless nights of sleep, and physical strains. I counteract by maximizing nutrition from limited ingredients in the RV kitchen. We prioritize quality family time instead of screen entertainment.
I invested in a customized mattress and ergonomic furniture suitable for small spaces to optimize comfort. We built regular exercise into our lifestyle through outdoor activities. Despite less control over my environment, consciously structuring healthy habits while embracing the positives makes long-term roaming sustainable.
Overcoming Key RV Parenting Challenges
While rewarding, RV living intensifies virtually every aspect of raising kids – from meeting educational needs to providing nutrition, fostering development, managing safety, earning a steady income, and nurturing family relationships within limited space.
Cultivating consistent routines, being meticulous planners, and proactively troubleshooting help us overcome obstacles along the journey. Though it forces more upfront effort compared to stationary parenting, the experiences gained traveling together bonded us closer as a family.
Our kids are receiving an unconventional upbringing with exposure to diverse places and people. The camaraderie of shared adventures nurtures their independence, adaptability, and cultural appreciation. Despite difficulties, we have all grown resilient together on the road allowing each member to thrive. For our family, the profound rewards of RV living greatly outweigh the struggles of mobile parenting.
Important Related Questions
What do full-time RV families do for health insurance?
We chose a private, ACA-compliant health insurance plan domiciled in South Dakota which offers affordable tailored coverage for full-time RVers moving between states. Several reputed providers like SD Health Network cater especially to mobile families.
How do traveling parents earn money?
Common remote work options include freelancing gigs, IT consulting, virtual assistance, web development, graphic design, writing, etc. Some also run location-independent online businesses selling digital products or affiliate marketing. Choosing portable skills with digital income potential makes full-time travel feasible.
How do you homeschool on the road?
Roadschooling blends world travel learnings with a formal curriculum. Portable tech helps access online education platforms. Joining local and virtual communities provides support. Co-ops coordinate meetups to facilitate group lessons. Scheduling structures the educational environment despite frequent relocations.
How do you safely manage your health on the road?
Carrying well-stocked first-aid kits including Rx meds for known conditions is vital. We use telemedicine apps for minor issues. For emergencies, we mapped nearby hospital routes everywhere we stayed. Health-sharing ministries provide major medical cost support also when hospitalization is required. Staying vigilant helps secure health despite mobility challenges.
Is RV living with kids lonely?
It can be a lack of friend interaction or community ties. We proactively nurture bonds at every stop through social media connections to arrange meetups with other traveling families. Prioritizing in-person social commitments provides adult interaction for parents while giving kids peer playtime.