I have always said that to be a “fly on the wall” in our house would be very entertaining. Sometimes it would be great entertainment and other times, well, not so much! :-P When my friend Karen asked me to write about the details of our day to day life here in our RV, I gotta be honest, my first reaction was, “Uh, ya right! Are you sure you want to know?? Why don’t you just enjoy the pretty pictures of the scenery!” Hahaha! We sure have some really neat moments living on the road. Why today, for example, as I was driving over to my in-laws a bald eagle swooped down in front of our truck and crossed over the road to land on a tree beside me. It was awesome!!! But, tonight as I write this, stuff seems piled everywhere, and it is not so awesome (gotta love laundry day!) But, I will try to give you a peek at life in our tiny home as I answer some of the most common questions we get asked.
The first question of course, is "How do you do it?” followed quickly by the statement, "I could never do that!"
Well, let’s face it, we have shoved nine people into a space just over 300 square feet! It is squishy! It is messy and sometimes frustrating. Years ago, we learned about a man named Dave Ramsey and his “Total Money Makeover.” One of his famous quotes reads something like this, “You have to live like no one else, so you can live like no one else.” Of course, he is referring to becoming debt free, but I think the quote works for us living in this RV too. We are “living like no one else, so we can live like no one else.” Honestly, it can be hard on teens to share such a small space with younger siblings and sometimes ours are fed up with it. But, I hope they realize (and I think they already do) that they are experiencing incredible things they would not have the privilege of enjoying if we had not opted to take this opportunity when it presented itself, even if it is squishy! Also, I love that they are bonding as siblings. Although the teens might get frustrated with the younger ones from time to time, they also take great joy in their antics and cute behaviours. Those little ones look up to their big sisters and adore them in return. One of their favourite things this winter has been to go on a “date” with an older sister to get sushi, a bubble tea or candy in town.
Although we are living full-time in our RV, we are stationary for large chunks of time. This past year, especially so. We spent May through to October at a campground in Ontario and from November to March at a campground in British Columbia. In the summer our kids were busy with summer jobs and children’s programs and because of this, they were outside much of the time. Time with friends was a huge component of our summer. This winter is definitely very different than the one we experienced last year when we were traveling for six months. Just like when we were in our house in Ontario, this winter has been a quieter season as we busy ourselves with homeschooling and day to day routines.
“Tell me about your Routine"
What’s that?! haha! I guess everyone has a routine, but at this time ours would be seen as very loose. This winter, our weekday mornings are slow and usually start with reading and school work. Sometimes the girls will opt to sit on their beds under the covers to get their school work done and other times they will opt to sit at the kitchen table. It really doesn’t matter to me, so long as progress is being made. Wesley is not a big fan of school work. He would much rather play Minecraft, build Lego or play with Playmobil. But then again, what five year old would rather practice writing letters and numbers than play with his favourite toys?! He is only five so really we are not worried. :-) He is doing great in Math and is also learning to read. Rosie on the other hand, doesn’t really have any specific school work to do (she is only 3) and literally asks every morning if it is a school day and if she can please do school work…so funny!! By lunch, school is in full swing (hopefully) and we can plan a walk by mid-afternoon, a shopping trip, or a visit to Grandma’s. Life is pretty simple and although it is great to have a visit with Grandma every week, we all are missing the excitement of exploring new places like we do when we are traveling. This past week I spent an entire day planning out our trip back to Ontario. We are really looking forward to this upcoming trip.
"Food/ How can you possibly cook in that small space?"
Well, we do. Counter space is at a premium and often preparing for a meal involves tidying up and preparing the workspace first. We grocery shop mostly at Costco, Walmart and No Frills and I pretty much cook the same meals I did in the house. The only difference is our fridge is 8 cubic square feet (yes, I said 8!) so I have to plan out our meals a bit and I usually have a bin of vegetables on the floor in the corner. As I type, the bin has a couple of heads of cabbage in it, some sweet potatoes and onions. I don’t have enough room in the fridge and they will keep just fine where they are for a bit.
"How can you all sleep in there? Is there enough room?"
Our RV came with two bedrooms. The master bedroom has a king size bed. The back bedroom has double slide outs and in each slide out there was an upper bunk with a queen size sofa-bed below when we purchased it. The sofa-beds came with air-mattresses instead of spring mattresses which were destroyed in less than a month of our purchasing the RV. Instead of purchasing new air-mattresses we decided to build two twin beds into the spaces with a trundle bed underneath. The room sleeps six.
Any of you who have children will know, life is a constant adjustment. Ideas will work great for a while and then they have to be changed up a bit. Well, this was true in the back bedroom. The kids have played musical beds a bit and we have finally figured out the best arrangement of who sleeps where (for now!)
Our couch in the main living area also sleeps two, so we have reserved that place for our only boy. This way the girls get their own room and privacy. They also have a little powder room back there which helps with getting ready in the morning.
"Where do you put all your clothes?"
One of the biggest challenges with downsizing is determining how much you will need while on the road. I don’t know about you, but I always pack way too much stuff! I do laundry about once a week so each of us has about one weeks worth of winter-type clothing and one weeks worth of summer-type clothing, give or take a bit. When we left Ontario in the fall, we knew we were going to be in Canada most of the winter, so we did leave a few of our summer clothes behind to save space in the RV. However, that being said, we did bring winter coats, hats, and mitts. We ended up purchasing boots in BC when we realized just how wet and muddy (and snowy) it was out here. The girls winter coats are hanging on "Command Hooks" on their bedroom wall and Jeremie, Wesley, Rosie and my coats are hanging on our master bedroom door rack. I am already looking forward to putting these into a vacuum sealed “space" bag and storing them when we finally are back in warmer weather. They are hanging in a high traffic zone and are sometimes annoying.
The girls have two shelves and one drawer for their belongings. They tend to use one shelf for their odds and ends (like books, jewelry boxes, etc.) and the rest for clothes. Jeremie and Wesley each have two drawers in the master bedroom dresser and also some closet space. Rosie has two bins that sit on the floor of the master bedroom closet and all her little dresses are hung up. I primarily use the closet and a couple of shelves next to it. I probably have the most clothes but let’s face it, I have also been collecting them for the longest! Haha! I do need to fix this…perhaps another blog post could be one about a "Capsule Wardrobe.” I think I am almost there, but not quite. ;-)
When we lived in our old house the thing that bugged me the most was our front entrance. It was so small and I always felt there was never enough room for all the shoes! Hahaha! Well, perspective sometimes helps you appreciate what you no longer have. Talk about a small front entrance! During this past summer, I purchased black, stacking shoe-drawers from Ikea (http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/30110832/) They work great for flip flops, ballet flats and running shoes but not so much for winter boots. After seeing that we were overflowing with footwear this winter, we decided to purchase an ordinary shoe rack from Costco and limit ourselves to one pair of boots and store the rest of the footwear either in the back of the van or under the trailer in a bin for now. With nine of us, there just isn’t room for multiples of shoes. Sometimes Sunday mornings have the girls scrambling to find their more dressy footwear, but for the most part, this solution seems to be working great.
Well, those are all the questions that come to my mind. If you can think of any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask! It is a unique lifestyle for sure and we love it!