Full-Timing in an RV with Kids

RV life has been such a blessing for our family! This is everything I learned from full-time RVing with kids.

Living the Full-Time RV Life

Whether you chose the RV life or the RV life chose you, it’s incredibly important that you embrace the lifestyle completely.

Yes, there will be challenges, but there will also be some pretty unforgettable moments mixed in there as well!

Living the Full-Time RV Life with Kids

To get the full scoop on how RV life chose us, take a few moments to read how our story began with tiny camper living.

Before You Start Full-Time RVing with Kids

RVing with kids is definitely not the easiest thing I’ve tackled in my 18 years of being a mom. However, much like homeschooling, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life!

Before you start your new journey of RV living with kids, make sure you have lots of open conversations with your children to get an understanding of their emotions and/or excitement for the upcoming adventure you are about to embark on.

Full-Time RVing with Kids Can be Such a Joy

Are they sad about leaving their current home? Do they fear living in something so different? Are they are upset about leaving friends, schools, or activities behind? Touch on anything and everything that might be holding your little one back from embracing this new adventure.

Address these concerns before moving forward with your decision.

Then, make sure everyone in your family is on the same page (more or less).

With that said, sometimes plans can’t be put on hold and children have to face a harsh reality. When put into that position, just keep reassuring your children and help them fully embrace the lifestyle in whatever ways you can!

This will simply help them learn to love it just as much as you do.

While I’m all about encouraging my kiddos to think outside of the box and try something new, I would never want to force them into something they aren’t totally comfortable with.

However, life sometimes has twists and turns we don’t plan for and RV life was one of those unplanned moments for our family. 

It took us a little extra time to find our bearings, but I can’t even begin to describe how much of a blessing this change has been for us overall.

Is it always perfect and easy? No. 

Is it sometimes messy? Heck yes!

You know what though? It’s totally worth it.

If the idea of this lifestyle keeps tugging at your heart but you just aren’t sure it’s right, these are the 4 things you need to know before you RV.

6 Ways to Make Full-Time RVing with Kids Easier

Parenting isn’t always easy and to put it simply, RV living with kids isn’t either!

Sometimes I am 100% in love with RV life and other times I’m hanging out on the struggle bus because doing this with 4 other people can be hard, you guys!

I’ve got my ideas and expectations and they’ve got theirs. 

Start with a Simple RV Bunk Renovation

With that said, I’ve found a few simple things to lean on that make this lifestyle just a tad bit easier.

If you are seriously considering RV life for your family or are about to dive in head-first to full-time RVing with kids — this list is for you!

  • #1 Give Them Their Own Space

Sometimes children can be apprehensive about leaving a home where they have their own room and getting tossed into a new lifestyle where they have little to no space to call their own.

I know that in our situation my children needed their own space — I have 2 teenage boys & a 9-year-old daughter.

Purchasing a 5th wheel with a bunk house simply wouldn’t have worked for our family. My daughter needed a space to call her own and my boys both needed adult-sized sleeping spaces.

We ended up with a toy hauler where my boys each have a queen-sized bed of their own and my daughter has a tiny loft space.

Create Kid Friendly Bunk Areas When Full-Time RVing with Kids

This was one of our first projects in my daughter’s bunk. She helped build the shelves, pick the paint color, and paint them. Involving children in simple activities like this one can help make the transition to RV living even easier.

Keep your children involved every step of the way by encouraging them to help design or set up their new space in the RV.

I know from recent experiences that stirring up some excitement when things are about to change is always the way to go.

Over the past 2 years, our family has moved cross-country, lived in a rental house, lived in a tiny camper, and now we full-time RV — it’s been a crazy ride full of change!

Change can be totally scary if we don’t point out the positives and lean on the adventure side of things!

With all that said, some children can thrive in a shared space. If you have children close in age or children that are used to sharing a space, don’t fret. Shared spaces can work — especially if your children are younger. 

  • #2 Keep What’s Important to Them

Before we get knee-deep into the subject of things, you need to know that I am not a fan of storage units & truly believe that people place way too much value in things.

With that said, our family actively has a storage unit stuffed to the brim.

Unfortunately, RV life hit us suddenly and we already had our life tucked away into moving boxes from our big move 6 months prior. We were originally looking for a house with a foundation and simply didn’t have the time to go through and get rid of things before life landed us in a 5th wheel.

If I had known our family was going to take this detour in life way back when we first sold our home, I would have sold all the things then — because let me tell you, trying to sort, sell, and donate things out of a storage unit when you have no space is hard stuff!

Especially since it was all packed nearly 2 years ago!

Storing Things While Living in an RV is OK

Now, to the good stuff.

Purging is essential when it comes to living life in an RV. With that said, sometimes children struggle with the concept of downsizing. Kids form attachments to everything from stuffed animals to clothing and it’s our job to help guide them through what’s worth keeping and what’s not.

If you have a kiddo that leans more on the sentimental side, leasing a small storage unit for those extra special items may just be worth it in the long run.

Believe it or not, there are some benefits to keeping a storage unit.

You can still live the minimalist lifestyle with the added perk of hanging on to extras.

Our ultimate goal with our storage unit is to have an organized library-type system allowing my children to hang on to toys, books, and games that we simply don’t have room for in the RV. Plus, this helps give me the neat and tidy package I so crave!

  • #3 Teach Them to be Responsible

Not only is it good for the kiddos, but it will be a sanity saver for mom!

Hand out jobs, make chore charts, or encourage your children to just take care of their own space — whatever you gotta do to make this tiny living with people thing work, do it!

Set Expectations and Create Responsibilities When RV Living with Kids

Just make sure you set clear expectations and include picking up after themselves on the regular as a part of your children’s daily responsibilities. Trust me on this one, it is not, and never should be, your job to constantly pick up after your kids!

For example, my older boys keep the living area tidy (since it doubles as their sleeping space), take care of trash duty, and help with simple RV maintenance such as emptying and flushing tanks. While my youngest takes care of her bunk, picks up all the dirty clothes, and tidies the bathroom each day.

This works for us.

With that said, I have 2 nearly grown boys (15 & 18) that work full-time. Sometimes this means they leave for work in a hurry and their space isn’t quite as tidy as I’d like. These are the moments where I simply just have to take a deep breath and let it go.

Handing out responsibilities doesn’t just apply to everyday stationary RV life though, it also applies to travel days, and setting up!

When we travel I have certain people in charge of certain pets, my boys help outside with parking and set up, while my youngest is in charge of setting up inside with me. We all also have specific tasks/areas we are in charge of before travel!

Create a plan and stick to it.

  • #4 Include Them in Decision Making

If you truly want to make RV living work for your family, start doing this today!

Kids are much more likely to enjoy a big lifestyle change if you include them in the decision-making process.

Start by taking them with you while looking at RVs. Dream together as you look over different layouts, talk about what you could do to make their space unique or fun — simply keep things light and positive.

However, if you have itty bitty ones, this may not be 100% essential. 

I just know in our case, it was. My daughter was 7 when we sold our home and 8 when we moved into our RV — she needed to be involved every step of the way.

Including her simply gave her a sense of security that she craved.

Include the Kids When Planning a RV Road Trip

With all that said, keeping your kids in the loop and hearing their opinions shouldn’t stop once your RV is purchased.

Encourage your kids to help with trip planning — everything from snack ideas for the road to pit stops.

Brainstorming together every step of the way is where it’s at!

  • #5 Help them Stay in Touch

This was a hard one for my daughter at first — she is so incredibly social!

I’m a huge introvert, so I find it difficult to wrap my mind out this sometimes, but making a point to help her stay in contact with friends has and always will be one of my main priorities.

Keeping In Touch with Friends and Loved Ones While RVing

Full-time RVing with kids is a challenge in itself, but keeping kids connected while traveling all over the world is a whole other ball game.

Luckily, there seems to be no shortage of full-time families, so finding friends for your kiddos should be a pretty easy thing to tackle if you do long-term stays. My daughter has made good friends at every single long-term stay we have had in the past year.

However, if you plan to move often, you may find it slightly more difficult for your child to create longer-lasting relationships. Simply make sure you assess your children’s needs when it comes to making new friends.

We consider ourselves part-time stationary/part-time travel and this truly allows us to have the best of both worlds. We make plans to stop off and visit friends and family every time we plan out a trip, but we also enjoy lots of downtime.

With that said, there are moments when we find ourselves far away from those we love for longer periods of time and that is where technology comes into play!

My daughter stays connected with grandparents & other traveling friends via Facetime & the Kids Messenger app and it has been such a blessing for this lifestyle.

  • #6 Be Patient and Give Them Time

THIS! Your child may adjust to RV life quickly, or they may struggle through it.

Either way, give them the love and support they need to come to terms with such a huge lifestyle overhaul.

Allow them to conquer it in their own time.

Give it Time When Full-Time RVing with Kids

If you are a routine-loving mama like I am, this will be easier said than done.

However, it’s incredibly important.

Take things slow the first few weeks to allow your children some time to adjust. This will also give you a chance to take a deep breath and figure out your new normal.

If you homeschool, don’t jump right back into things from the get-go. Take some time to ease back into a your homeschool routine instead.

Also, talk with your kiddos about a number of the fun things you might encounter while doing RV life together. Simply focus on the positives and spending quality time learning how to navigate this new life together.

Must Haves When Full-Time RVing with Kids

While full-time RVing with kids can be both incredible and stressful, I’ve discovered a few things that make this life even more doable — from safety items to fun must haves!

Check back soon for our upcoming post on must have items when RV living with kids.

Love this post about full-time RVing with kids? Take a moment to share it on social media today!