As a young family we made a conscious decision to embrace what matters most. For us it was living simply, away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life, being together as a family and connecting with nature.
We want to provide a hands on learning environment for our children and let them explore this amazing world by diving in head first, sun kissed and covered in mud!
Sounds dreamy? Well we think so, but we also know the reality of what it’s like living together 24/7! …just like everything, it’s not all smiles and sunshine and there is always an adjustment period as well as challenges along the way.
This is also a major concern for most families considering taking the leap to hit the road and travel. No matter what age your children are, or how many you have, there are a few things you may want to consider before you take on your adventure of a lifetime!
Let’s not sugar coat it – Amongst the amazing moments and road tripping highlights you will also have to consider the following:
– You will have your mini adventurers with you 24/7 …which means having no break. ie. no grandparents to palm the kids off to and no regular mummy/daddy friendship circles to plan a playdate with, to share the load and tire the kids out.
– Depending on your situation you may also have the added adjustment of getting used to having dad around full time.
– Your privacy and personal space will be non-existent as you’ll be sharing a small space together …and it’s even harder when the weather is bad!
– You may have your mummy/daddy radar turned on ALL THE TIME as you’ll have to watch the kids in case they wander too far, touch something they shouldn’t, fall into water, speak to a disconcerting stranger or a big plague of drop bears descends on your camp… you know, the usual parenting stuff.
So with all that, it’s safe to say there is going to be a period of adjustment required for everyone. We are lucky in that our kids are great at travelling, they have done it since they were born and like us, if they stay in the one place for too long they get itchy feet and crave an element of adventure. So our Lap of Oz adVANture started pretty smoothly. Even with all this in mind, we have a few tips to share to help you settle into your new lifestyle –
- Accept that you will now have the kids 24/7 and that you will all need some time to adjust.
Expect a few extra tough days as everyone adjusts to sleeping in the same room, bunk beds or tent. (You may want to stagger the kid’s bed times to ensure they actually go to sleep!). Another good tip if you are in a caravan is to make sure you have curtains for each bed which allows older kids to have their own little room.. as well as help keep out the light to encourage a sleep in.
- Don’t take on too much, especially in the first few weeks of your adventure.
Big stressful travel days will only make it harder on everyone. Give yourself time to get into the nomad ‘groove’, especially if you’re in a new caravan, camper or tent. You will need time to figure out how to tow, park and set up your rig, as well as cook your camp dinners etc.
- Keep up your routines.
If bubs has a day sleep, try and establish some sleeping cues early on so they know it’s time for a sleep. Like offering a feed/bottle, dummy or teddy so they get used to sleeping on the go. We like to plan our long drives around nap time so bub sleeps in the car and we can get some good km’s under our belt. Kids thrive on routine so keeping an element of routine about their day will benefit everyone. Saying that, the one thing we have learnt about being nomads is not to beat yourself up if the kids won’t sleep or you miss a day sleep due to exploring. Easy come easy go. Just ensure you provide some downtime
You have to be a team. If you are busy don’t assume your partner knows they are on ‘kid watch’ – ensure you let them know. Avoid any disagreements by discussing things openly. If you are feeling frustrated and exhausted take some time out to have a break. Ask your partner for some time out, and be sure to consider how your partner may be feeling as well.
- Book into a family-friendly caravan park.
Bike riding, jumping pillows, playgrounds, water parks and pools are a great way to keep the kids busy making it easier for you. It also gives the kids some freedom (depending on their age) and they may even make friends. Take the time to chat to other parents, as sometimes a simple chat with another mum or dad at the park can lead to a new friendship or some great tips towards your travels. Or – If you have been doing this a lot maybe you need to try some free camping, take away the distractions of all the kids activities and strip it back to sticks and stones, nature play and less stimulation… every child and family are different and at times we find our little ones happily potter along in the bush and don’t nag us to go play at the park/pool/games room as there is none!!
- Utilise what is around you.
If you are close to a town visit the local library, there is often a kid’s corner with puzzles and colouring in and sometimes a free story time. The local shopping centre or Bunnings may have a Saturday morning craft day. These are especially handy for rainy days.
- Involve the kids.
Explain your travel plans, show them some travel brochures and let them help choose some activities. Involve them in your daily ‘nomad life’ too by designating them a job! Sweeping the caravan floor, setting up the camp table for dinner or drying the dishes.
- If you are craving some ME TIME.
Make a point to wake up earlier than the kids and go for a walk/run, do some yoga, have a shower and a cuppa – it may be the only chance you’ll get
- Meal planning.
Take the time to plan your meals in advance. Cook double batches and freeze some extra meals whenever you can. This is great on those big travel or exploring days so you can simply reheat and serve up dinner to feed your family quickly, it also gives you a break with less work and cleaning up!
- Toy planning.
If you can, think ahead of a few activities the kids will love to keep them busy. Buy some new watercolour paints, sticker books or make a fresh batch of playdough before you hit the road! For older kids maybe a new book series or a game you could all play together. Aim for anything that is new and different to keep them busy.
- Schedule in some ‘Zen Time’ for each parent.
Being together 24/7 is not easy and not normal so you may want to make a point to put this into your mobile calendar to ensure it ACTUALLY happens. Alternate every couple of days with your partner. Aim for a couple of hours away from everyone. Going for a hike, fish or surf is great, or if you need some pampering the hairdressers is always a good one. You could even grab a cuppa at the cafe and call your best friend for a good old chin wag!
- Weekly debrief.
While you are scheduling be sure to have a weekly ‘debrief’ with your partner about how you are feeling and coping mentally. Even if it’s just a 5 minute chat. Communication is so important, especially when you are in a situation that is new to all of you. Take the time to ask your mini adventurers how they are feeling too. If they are missing home or their friends maybe a weekly phone call to Grandma or their best friend will help – if it helps, schedule it in too so they know it is locked in for each week.
- Take a breather
If things are getting too full on in general, and the constant travel and moving about is taking its toll, pull up for a bit and take a breather. Find a spot that is good for everyone e.g. shops close by, a play park for the kids and swimming pool etc. Staying still and having some time to just ‘be’ is always needed and we find a holiday away from the holiday does the world of good.
Travelling full time is an amazing experience, there are so many magical moments that you will treasure forever. This lifestyle is something we love and can’t get enough of and we hope you embrace it too. Do you travel full time and have any tips of your own to share? Please pop them in the comments below …and see you somewhere awesome on the wide open road.
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