RVing with kids is amazing. It is a natural way for families to bond, explore, learn, and grow. The transition, however, isn’t always so amazing. The emotional adjustment of leaving old friends behind can be quite difficult, especially for children. Let’s talk about what you can expect as your family transitions from home life and RV life and how to help your children during this time.
Keeping in Touch with Old Friends.
Children like adults need friends. However, sometimes, RVing means days, maybe weeks, without spending time with other people. Of course, you will be with your family, but finding friends and socializing with others can be tough. Everyone assumes that RV camping is very social, but it isn’t always that way. You have to make an effort to connect with other RVers and work even harder to make those connections turn into friendships.
This can be a difficult transition for the whole family. Not only have you left your old friends behind, but now you are on your own.
Your children may have a really rough time with this transition.
You can help your children keep in touch with their friends back home with modern technology. Use Facetime, Kids Messenger, Digital Pen Pal, etc. to keep those friendships alive. Our kids have now been on the road for nearly 4 years and they have been able to maintain long-distance friendships (both new and old) thanks to these platforms.
In addition to online apps and resources, you can keep in touch with friends in the old fashion way: visit them often. Each year, we are able to go back home. Not only do we reconnect with our old friends, but we also take care of doctor’s appointments and homeschool evaluations (bonus!).
If you are RVing due to work (on-site contract work), it may be harder (0r impossible) to head back home often. Don’t panic. You and your children will make it through this time. Keep reading to find out how.
Understanding your Children’s Feelings.
Children’s feelings regarding moving from traditional living to RV living can be intense. The best thing for your RVing kids is to talk about this move and encourage everyone to share their feelings about it.
Talk about what it will be like on the road before you leave. Watch videos of other RVing families together. Share all the amazing places you will be visiting. Emphasize the good, but don’t ignore the challenges.
Once on the road, keep those lines of communication open.
Be there for your children. Spend time with them, play with them, watch movies, go hiking together. Do the things that they love.
Find ways to connect with other RVing families. Not only will you make new friends, but you will have a support system. Every full-time RVing family has had to deal with finding new friends on the road and the sadness of leaving the old ones behind.
If you aren’t sure where to look for other kids, check out this blog post I wrote about it.
In addition to the places I listed in the blog post above, we have met and connected with other families via Fulltime Families, Full-time RV Family Life, The Road Life Project, RVing Whole Life Unschoolers, and Instagram.
Once you’ve met RVing families that you really connect with, you might consider caravaning with them throughout the year. Some families actually caravan from event to event, spending months at a time together.
Holding the Space for Your Children
Somedays you might find that your family is “back to normal” and then suddenly those sad, angry, confused emotions may return. This is a process and some days may seem better than others. On those rough days, remember that your RVing kids need extra support. Be patient with them.
What might be seen as “acting out” may just be them trying to process or express how they feel. They may not know how to express themselves properly. Work on understanding where they are coming from. It will take a lot of patience and time, especially if you have very young children.
Treat your new RV lifestyle as other moves. RV kids are not the only ones that move away from their friends or hometowns. Share your own feelings and experiences both now and as a child.
Be as open with your kids as possible.
Explain why your family is RVing full-time.
Validate what your children are feeling, even if you think they are over-reacting.
Help them know they are loved and supported during this transition.
Kind words and hugs can go a long way to helping your child cope.
In other words, “Hold the Space for Them”. By doing so you walk alongside your children as they transition to RV living without judging them, making them feel inadequate, trying to fix them, or trying to impact the outcome. Open your heart, offer unconditional support, and let go of judgment and control.
When we first started RVing in 2015, our son had a really rough time. He couldn’t understand why we had left, he was angry, and he acted out violently. It was a bit scary, but we didn’t give in to the fear. We supported him. He knew we understood his feelings and we let him know that he wasn’t alone. We missed our friends too. With time, we were able to work through it and now, he is a well-adjusted 10-year-old.
In time, your children will adjust to RV living and you will too. You will learn how to make new friends and keep those old friendships (or long-distance new friendships) alive. Don’t forget to be open and available to your children and their feelings. Be kind and patient. Lastly, take a deep breath, drink a glass of wine, pray for guidance, and light a campfire.
If you need extra support, join our Facebook Group: RVing Radical Unschoolers. Not only is it a place for Roadschooling parents that are looking for an alternative to traditional homeschooling, but it is also a place where we talk about parenting in a new way. We encourage and help people hold the space for their children.
Are you on the road now? Did your RVing kids have a hard time leaving their friends behind?