How do you survive in a 320 square foot space with a toddler? It feels like these little people require a lot of stuff. From toy organization to mealtime, what is it like living in an RV with a toddler? Is it even possible? Here are 8 tips that I’ve learned from living full-time in a fifth wheel with a one-year-old!
When my husband and I first talked about living in a fifth wheel, I didn’t think it was possible to raise kids in this tiny space. My initial response was “where is all their stuff going to go?”
So, I know how you feel. But after 6 months of living full-time in an RV, I absolutely LOVE IT. This lifestyle is totally possible, even if you have a toddler.
What’s it like living in an RV with a Toddler: Our Story
Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to live in an RV with a toddler. After we downsized and moved in, I realized how little our daughter really needed. Obviously, there are some basics like a crib, tub, and some toys, but overall they don’t require as much stuff as you might think.
Something I learned, while going through the course On Track Baby (NOEL Method), was that the consumer industry makes us believe that we need a lot of things for our children. When in reality they don’t NEED much.
How do we live with minimal stuff?
When we started living with just the essentials, I found us using our imaginations and playing outside with my daughter more. She’s learned so much just from playing with spatulas, pots, and pans.
You definitely have to think outside of the box because, after a while, their toys become boring. I like to rotate her toys so she always has something different. This has helped us minimize the number of toys she has!
We also are intentional about getting outside daily. Sometimes this looks like letting her crawl and walk in the grass or taking a walk in the park to the swing set.
I think ITEMS are the biggest hurdle parents struggle with when trying to decide if the RV lifestyle is right for them. But once you get in a rhythm that works for your little one, it will feel like the best decision you’ve ever made.
Where does our toddler sleep?
After wondering what in the world would my daughter do without all her toys and stuff, came the question of “where will she sleep?” Which was my next worry. But after a little research, I realized that many fifth wheels and travel trailers come with bunk rooms. So, we converted that into a nursery.
I’ll go into more detail about this in the tips to thrive below.
Where do we eat with a toddler?
When we first moved into our fifth wheel, our daughter was nine months old. So, we used a clip-on high chair that attached to our island. Pretty quickly, we got tired of cleaning the cloth chair every day (I’m sure you know how messy babies can be).
So around 11 months, we took our high chair out of storage and used the booster seat on a chair. This has been a game changer. It’s way easier to clean and she’s much more comfortable! I also like that we can bring the high chair outside, so she can have dinner with us. And on the occasion that we have guests, we just detach the high chair booster and we have another chair available!
What does our daily life look like?
As far as how our day-to-day life goes, that hasn’t changed much. Naptime, mealtime, and playtime all look the same. There is a little more intentionality due to less space. But, we make it a point to take our daughter out and about almost every day.
All in all, I think this is the best time to make this lifestyle change because toddlers are pretty good at adapting to change. For us, this was the best decision we ever made! I think you will enjoy it, too.
8 Tips to THRIVE While Living in an RV with a Toddler
Now that you know that you CAN live in an RV with a toddler, I’m not going to say that it’s all rainbows and butterflies. There are some adjustments you will need to make so that everyone is happy. So, here are 8 tips so your toddler will thrive while full time RVing.
1. Get a Bunkhouse
I think you must get a camper with a bunkhouse. This will make you and your little one happier. We chose a mid-bunk because I wanted my daughter closer to our room and I liked the living room floor plan (more on this later).
But after living in it for six months, I wish we either had the mid-bunk you enter through the kitchen or a back bunk room. Having her door where the entry door is wakes her up mid-nap which can be frustrating.
2. Renovate the Bunkhouse
This is definitely optional, but when we renovated the bunkhouse we took out the bunk beds and put in a crib. This gave her the comfort of home and some peace of mind for us.
Giving your toddler a little space to call their own will help them to adjust better and get more sleep. We all know a happy toddler is well-rested.
3. Get a portable Tub
Our daughter has always loved bath-time and when we moved I was worried she would really miss her tub. So, I bought her a collapsable tub and it’s been the BEST investment we made. It was $50 on Amazon!
It fits perfectly in the little cubby in our bathroom. But it’s pretty flat, so it can fit almost anywhere.
4. Living Room Space to Play
The reason we went with the mid-bunk floor plan was to give us a bit more space in the living room and kitchen. It had made a HUGE difference that we’ve been able to have room for some toys and even the pack n’ play when we need it. She really enjoys being able to crawl around and play on the floor.
I would recommend going through several different floor plans so you can get an idea of what will work best for your family.
5. Set up a Baby Gate
Getting a baby gate is one of the best things we’ve done. Where it’s located will obviously depend on your camper layout. But, ours is between the kitchen and the front door. This keeps our daughter from making a beeline outside and separates her from the stairs that lead to our room.
I’ve seen this done many different ways. One that sticks out is a family who took a screen door and added it to their back bunk room, so the kiddos could play in there safely.
6. Install a Washer
I’m a huge believer in having a washer in your RV. For the first month, we didn’t have one because it was on backorder. The process of going to the laundromat, waiting for the clothes to wash, and then dry, was not fun.. especially with a toddler.
You will be grateful that you made the investment to have the washer in your house on wheels.
7. Get Outside
One of the best ways to get your little one’s energy out is by getting outside! Whether that’s taking a daily walk or just crawling around in the grass, this will help big time. Kids need the space to explore and fresh air will just tire them out more!
I like to plan different activities like a trip to the park, a daily walk, or even an afternoon by the lake! A change of scenery is always exciting for them too!
8. Get an Outdoor Rug or Mat
Outside the trailer, we have a nice outdoor rug that our daughter can play on. We bring some toys out here and this allows her the freedom to crawl and walk around without getting too dirty!
It also is great because it’s meant to get wet, so you don’t have to worry about spills and messes….. we just hose it right off!
If you are wanting to full-time RV but aren’t sure if you can do it with a toddler, I hope this article helped you to see that it’s totally possible. Although it’s not always easy, there are some awesome benefits to raising a child in this lifestyle. When you implement these tips and tricks you and your family are sure to thrive while living in an RV with a toddler!