Living in a motorhome is a fun adventure; most people would agree on that one, but living the vanlife with kids? And with a three months old baby? That’s where most people say stop – that’s getting a little too much here! But guess what? I think there is nothing better than taking all the babys and kids out there and put them with their parents into motor homes to discover the world 😀
In today’s post I am sharing my own experiences of living in a motorhome with a four year old girl and a (now) five months old baby boy. I am sharing what I learned so far and a few tips that I have for all the other crazy parents out there who are living this wonderful lifestyle!
We started into our little vanlife adventure when our big girl was 4 1/2 years old and our boy was 3 months (on the day!). And we had NO idea how they would like it, how we would like, or what to expect. We just went for that idea of living in a motorhome and travelling Europe. We did ask ourselves a few questions before starting though: would it be too much “instability” for our baby when we are travelling from one place to the other? Would our girl miss her friends and other kids? Can we give both of them enough attention between planning where to go, driving, working, and exploring new areas?
It’s not that we just thought “everything will be cool”; no we did ask us a few questions as well.
Before getting more into how we experience vanlife with kids, I want to say that
1. our girl was not attached that much to her friends in Germany anyway. She liked hanging out with them but her favorite thing is to be with her two parents. So it was easy for her to say goodbye to everyone. She didn’t even really care, to be honest.
2. our girl has been used to travels beforehand: we went with her to Iran and the Phillipines when she was a baby and we travelled loads of destinations in Europe when she was a little older. Since she is 2 1/2 it is HER saying that she wants to move to Portugal. So again: not that attached to home or Germany in general.
3. our baby boy is everything but demanding: put him somewhere, anywhere, give him a toy, and he is happy. Even happier when he also gets something to mumble on; then you can basically leave him there for hours (almost).
Given those three points, I have to say that the overall conditions have been rather good.
Now what I vanlife with kids like?
IT IS AMAZING!
Why? Because vanlife comes with EVERYTHING that kids and babys love:
1. Being close to their parents all the time (maximum feeling of security)
2. Exploring constantly!!! (is there anything kids like more?)
3. Being “at home” whenever needed in no time (diaper disaster at the beach? Doesn’t matter! Our home is on the parking and we can wash and change there!)
4. Finding ALL the playgrounds all over Europe (oh we found so many amazing playgrounds and chasing for new ones became a fun things to do for all of us!)
5. Learning SO MUCH! Yes, kids love to learn and there is no better way to learn then by doing/seeing/discovering – seeing a million different seashells, tasting how the bread tastes different in every country, understanding that the weather is different on the other side of the mountains, getting an idea of what regions and countries are, ALL OF IT!
I have to elaborate a little on the last one: It is UNBELIEVEABLE how much our four year old learned every since we started travelling. Seriously, this lifestyle is better than any school! And not only that she learned how the mountains have been made, and that a country consists of different regions; she also wants to understand more and more the more she learns: today I had to explain her in detail what a town hall is because we looked at one once again (as we do in every village). Would she be interested in getting to know that when we wouldn’t have been seeing a ton in the lat few weeks? Maybe yes … but maybe not.
But it’s not only that she is learning what things are and how things are made – she is also learning so much about herself! She learned that even though she THOUGHT that she is afraid of riding a horse she actually isn’t (since it happened that we stayed at a few poney farms with the motor home and she got to try horseback riding a few times) , she learned that even though she THOUGHT that she is afraid of jumping over a stream she actually isn’t, she learned that even though she THOUGHT that she is afraid of playing alone outside while we are in the motor home she actually isn’t. Long story short: she is currently finding her self-confidance here on this journey! And that is only possible to the current extent because she IS in new (and sometimes challenging) situations again and again: when we hike, when there are other kids that ask her to play with her in different languages, when she wants to go outside but we have to work, when we are at the beach etc. etc. etc.
But besides all the amazing advantages of taking a kid out there to live the vanlife – isn’t it difficult at times as well?
As a parent you always have the choice: do what you like, do what your kid likes, or find a balance in between. This doesn’t change when you move into a van! You wanna go out in a cafe to get closer to local coffee culture and hang out a little. Sounds good to you but …. boooooring in the ears of a kid! Your kid wants to look at that aaaaamazing bulldozer all day and enjoy all the beauty of this construction site? Sounds great to your kid … but awful to you!
These kind of things do not change, they are part of vanlife as well: but since we have been parents before moving into a motor home, we knew about them already. Finding compromises so that everyone is somehow happy is part of being a family, here and there and everywhere!
The same applies for situations like: the baby sleeps and the big one screams: yes, the baby wakes up and that’s an unpleasant situation. But this happend back in our apartment as well. It’s just parents-life not particularly van life.
So what are my ultimate tipps for living a happy vanlife with kids/baby?
- Whenever possible, park close to a plaground – that one makes life SO much easier!
- Keep your family traditions from home – having breakfast, lunch, and dinner together is as important as sticking to traditions such as the “advent calender” that we always make for our girl the 24 days before Christmas.
- Have your kid being part of the game – where to go next, where to sleep, what to see: it should be family decisions not parents-only-decisions.
- Talk with your kid! What have we been doing today? What did we see? What is it that makes the Mediterrean beach different than the beaches at the Atlantic coast?
- TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF! When you are a happy parent you will have happy kids! That one isn’t about vanlife only; but when living the vanlife it is sometimes more difficult to find time for yourself and to take good care of you. But it is f-r-e-a-k-i-n-g important! If you don’t believe me, just try it! There is NOTHING that makes more of a difference than two happy parents!
And about the baby: get a sling and just carry it close to your heart at all times – that is pretty much all a happy baby needs!
And that it is for today. The words from a happy mother living a happy vanlife. Today is a Monday – the rest of the family is currently playing at the beach, I went for a run this morning and got some work-time in the motor home now so that I will be all reset and ready for more adventures this afternoon when we will explore new beaches, go for a small hike and discover more of this beyond beautiful planet earth!