Life in a camper…with kids…during a pandemic…while building…not as crazy as you’d think.
It all began with a dream to build a home that fits our family perfectly. So we did what any family would do; we talked to builders, decided on a design for our home then we purchased land. Seems simple right?? Listing your home at the perfect time when building is a difficult decision; surely you can’t find yourself homeless. So the decision was made in January that we would list our home by owner in February. Looking at the housing market in our neighborhood and area we would hopefully sell in the spring so that we could just move from the house to the new house.
That was plan A. We didn’t really have a plan B until we accepted an offer within the first week of listing our home and having to be out almost 30 days later.
Plan “B” looked like this:
•Storage unit close to the new house
•Move the camper from the campground to the lot we were building on; first getting permission from zoning.
•Move everything we knew we would need to the camper.
•Keep everything we thought we MIGHT need in front of the storage unit.
•Plan lots of fun weekends away to keep us all sane.
•Move to camper March 4.
Then….the pandemic hit…so Plan “B” became Plan “C” which looked a lot like plan B but cross off lots of fun weekends and add in “plan not to lose our minds and still love one another”.
When searching for tips and tricks on life in a camper there’s not a lot out there that doesn’t involve going to other places and traveling. So when you’re looking for economical things to do while being stationary and practicing social distancing or quarantining you’ve got to get creative! We ordered lots of puzzles and challenged each other in time trials. We made crafts, we played tons of family games, we talked a lot about what it was like when mom and dad were growing up, we made s’ mores and acted like we were really camping, and we went on lots of walks that included scavenger hunts and bike rides.
We even made some new friends with our new neighbors. We wrote letters to our friends and drew pictures for some too. We even planted a garden together. We made our own fun, we just flew by the seat of our pants most days. If it sounded like it could be fun or entertaining we did it.
Meals: yes you can still cook almost every night.
That was a question we got a lot. We still meal planned it just looked a little differently. Do what works for your space and your family. Since we have a bigger family and limited pantry and refrigerator space, I had to grocery shop each week. I made sure we had a variety of breakfast & snack foods. This helped the kids not get bored with food choices. We made a family decision each week to have Asian food, Italian, Mexican & Pizza. Each week one of the kids got to plan a dinner; they really enjoyed this and looked forward to their week. Meals were simple 1-2 pans per night and we grilled a lot. Now that we are in the house the kids wanted to keep this part up and it gives me a night off and gives them something to have fun with and have pride in.
Time for mom and dad?? Absolutely!!
When you make a camper purchase…may I offer you some advice; be sure you have actual doors and not curtains (wink wink). We still included our date nights of frozen pizza after the kids went to bed, we still ordered pizza or Chinese and we still had mommy and daddy time. We enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, we even made meals and drove to a secluded parking lot and ate, talked, and laughed oh so much. It can be done, I promise.
Now you might be asking but how in the world do you stay organized living in a camper, with children and their belongings. You MINIMIZE!!
Then it’s like Christmas when the “old” toys come back out or you realize what you don’t need and you can either donate or sell. Each of our three kids had 1 canvas bin for shoes, 1 bin for books, and 1 bin for toys or electronics. We used the closet in the camper for undergarments and PJs and used a shower rod for hanging clothes. Each week, we chose one day to do laundry at the laundromat, the kids helped fold and put away everyone’s; this helped to pass the time that day.
The question everyone asked: Did we get fed up with one another? YEP!
But it made us so much closer, we had real talks as a family, like deep conversations, and reachable moments. One thing I think we can all take away from living in close quarters is that while we each need our own space we need to take the opportunity to learn about each other, respect one another and their space and lifestyles. With this in mind, it made it easier to get along.
When those moments of tension are there, you need space or quiet or sometimes both. We took naps, watched movies, in the car we went, outside we went, (goodness so much fresh air was a blessing), driving to new places, driving and just talking or just listening to your favorite music allows you to be in your own little world, even the kids enjoy this. All of these tips from our experiences helped each day to enjoy and make the most of our life for the last 5 months. We are so thankful for the memories we made and we hope if you’re ever tasked with life in a camper that you too can enjoy the moments and make the most of your family time.