Growing Pains

September 28, 2021

I wish I could write about how great the last two months have been since we packed our 3500 square foot life into a 40’ motor home. In some aspects, it has been wonderful. Honestly, though, RV living with kids is hard.

Not a lot of people talk about the ugly side of full-timing with the family, so I will.

Monica’s Top 8 Complaints About Full-Time RV Living With Kids

8. We Look Like We Live in a Trailer Park… Because We Do

About the second week in, and realizing that laundry would be a larger expense than we originally thought it would be, I decided I would hang our laundry on the clothesline outside our motorhome. I couldn’t find a good place to hang the clothesline, so I ran it from the motorhome mirror to the back seat in my car.

Here’s the Photo.

I soon realized the embarrassment of having our clean-ish laundry out to dry (but not soon enough). This scheme also meant that every time the wind blew we were picking up red clay dust on our clothes. They were no longer clean-ish. So, my spendy side won out and now I dry everything at the laundromat.

A perk of RV living with kids is you can spend more time outside. We brought a heavy-duty tarp and an outdoor rug, as well as camping chairs and a barbecue.

I also soon realized that we needed a large garbage can outside in which to regularly empty our small inside garbage can.

Also, we wanted the kids to have wheels, so we brought their bikes. After a good ride in the storm they are covered with that same red clay as their clothes. One of the bikes has a flat tire because our daughter can’t keep her tires inflated to save her life, and one of the bikes has a broken kick stand so it won’t stay up.

If you combine our really bad looking bikes, the garbage can, the tarp, the camping chairs, our tabletop bbq, and dirty gray rug, it can paint the picture of an ugly outdoor living space.

Oh! I forgot to mention the winter clothes that had to dry out when the water pump sprung a leak and filled the storage tub with water. The leak hasn’t stopped, by the way, which means we are also living in a red clay swamp.

And did I mention the shoe bucket. That’s out there, too.

Our spot looks the most trailer of all the spots despite currently having the most expensive rig in the campground. We brought the trailer to the trailer park.

7. I Said Less Dogs, Not More Dogs

We don’t see nearly enough of this.

We rehomed our little chihuahua before we left. We knew RV living with kids and dogs would be hard on her, and a friend of ours wanted to take her.

Two months later, we found out that her new living situation was not going well. It cost us $700 for the hubs to fly back to WA and get her.

When she arrived it was a great reunion… until she had bowel issues adjusting to our food. The issues were manifested in spreading diarrhea in the front of the rig, under the table and in our room. Patties of slimy diarrhea.

So. Gross.

Imagine waking up and walking out into the living room. Squish. That happened day after day after day.

We had both boy dogs neutered before we left so that we could avoid peeing in the rig. And they have been great! We did not anticipate that our sweet girl dog would come back and undo all of the effort we put in to avoid accidents in our home on wheels. That issue seems to have resolved, but it was a really crappy week. Literally.

Another dog related issue: There are three dogs and two adults in a queen short bed. When someone moves, everyone feels it. So, when Layla claws my face to let me know she needs to go outside, the boy dogs think they need to go out, too. I don’t leash them, I just let them go hoping they will stay close.

Last night they took off and were barking at the neighbors rig a couple spaces down. Once I finally wrangled them back in, Frank and Gus spent the rest of the night in their crate. And I think that’s where they will spend the rest of their nights from this day forward.

I love them all, but they have added an exponential amount of work to our lifestyle. It’s too much.

The kids don’t like having to walk them, either.

Help.

6. The Wifi Sucks

We rely heavily on our wifi connection because the kids’ school is our top priority. The primary reason we joined Verizon and purchased a hotspot was so we could always be connected.

I’m told the internet works better if you are not in a valley surrounded by mountains and trees.

Our school connections lag, and we can’t stream a movie without it needing to buffer a million times.

The library has been a big help in this department, but this has become a double edged sword. To learn more about the child that would abuse his library privilege, keep reading.

5. Remember When We Had Two Bathrooms?

Full-time RV Living With Kids

Ah. Two bathrooms.

And remember owning a shower that was bigger than a telephone booth?

Those were the times.

Most campgrounds have a bathhouse, but this one doesn’t. So all of our poops go down the one and only poop tube we have. Sorry, y’all, but it’s true.

I’ve never known such rage as when I needed to go and someone was reading on the toilet!!!

… It’s always Ryan.

When it comes to RV living with kids (and Ryan), the bathroom is a major issue.

4. Ugh. Parker.

Full-time RV Living With Kids
Do they make Chinese finger traps for the face?

Yesterday, all the kids were supposed to go to the Buffalo Round Up and then afterward we would reward them with a trip to an old fashioned arcade. When it was time to load up the car, we caught resistance from Parker and Halea. We said they could stay home as long as they walked the dogs, cleaned up, and kept order in the house.

Let me take a step back. All teens go through times when they want to spread their wings and maybe watch a few R-rated movies. The problem is, we don’t allow that kind of media in our home, so Parker has started going to the library with his laptop to check-out DVDs.

We found out from an unnamed source that Parker left the motorhome and walked to the library while we were at the Buffalo Roundup. Apparently he met some “cool guy” that gave him a ride home. The guy also gave him a pair of binoculars, because that’s what weirdo creepy groomers do when they meet sixteen-year-olds at the public library.

The unnamed source who ratted out Parker is a friend we’ve met at the campground. Parker likes to confide in him –- also a little weird and creepy — but I know and like this person, so it’s ok.

However, yesterday was such a ridiculous series of mistakes.

Parker left the rig — breaking rule number one — and left his 12 year old sister alone in the process.

He met some “cool dude” that didn’t give him the “creepy serial killer vibe”, and then accepted a ride home from that guy.

Now that “cool dude” that gives 16 year old autistic boys a ride home (and a pair of binoculars) knows that his parents left him home alone and he knows where he lives.

So. Many. Bad. Things.

Full-time RV Living With Kids
Poor Frank. He’s like a living stuffed animal.

Early in the trip, P had an incident at church that created a situation with another teen, which resulted in that teen’s mom getting upset with P and me. I’ve since learned that the teen’s mom is crazy and likes to target certain people to unleash her crazy. It takes all kinds, so I’m not mad about it. I just realized that since church shouldn’t hurt, I would not force P to go.

So, that’s one side.

The other is that P is really drawn to all the things we don’t want for him: Drugs, violence, R-rated movies and M-rated video games. He doesn’t do drugs, and he’s not violent, but I don’t like those influences and he finds them fascinating!

This same child that can’t figure out how to raise his bike seat, or do his school assignments independently, is the same one that manipulated me into getting him a library card, and used the library card to rent rated R movies and watch them at the library while he was “using their good wifi connection for school”. There may be some evil genius going on, of which I am oddly proud.

But I hate liars lying to me.

I’ve had to concede some of my control to save my sanity with this child. We’ve had many fights over his need to spread his rated-R wings. My resolve has wained because I realize that I can only control what goes on in my 40’ home.

3. “I Miss My Room

With three teens sharing an 8×10 toy-hauler room this was bound to come up. The queen-sized bunk beds take up a lot of their space, and underneath the footprint of the bunk beds is a grid of tubs that house their shoes and clothing. When I posted pictures of it on facebook, I got many compliments on how well-organized my kids room is.

The ugly underbelly of that organization is that it’s a lot of effort for our kids to move the beds up to get to their clothing bins.

Solution: they don’t change their clothes.

They have been living in the same few outfits for the last two months because they are too lazy to swap out their clothes. With online school, there is no one to impress, and since they don’t care for personal hygiene they’ve become little filth monsters.

South Dakota is nice and accepting of everyone even if they never shower or change their clothes. However, this will not do for our next assignment in Charleston.

Aside from what gross people my children are, they miss having their own rooms. Before we left, all three had their own room. They also had a rec. room above our garage when they needed a change of scenery. There was space for them and all of their stuff. In the motorhome, this is not the case.

And guess what?!? I miss my old room, too! I miss shutting the door and not having anyone pass through to get to the kitchen.

Imagine you’re laying in bed at night. The rig is calm and quiet. You are just drifting off to sleep when the bedroom door opens and there is a naked man walking through your room. In your sleepy stupor, you wonder “How did he get in here?’ No need for alarm. It’s just your nudist 16 year old son.

We did this to ourselves.

You know what else I miss? I miss knowing that the twinkle in my lover’s eye meant it was sexy time! Our love life has become very, very quiet — It’s not very sexy when your children are in the next room with only a thin wall between you.

2. I Miss My Sisters and Friends

Full-time RV Living With Kids
Monica will lunch-date with literally anyone these days

We all miss our friends and cousins. I have made some good connections with a couple of people at church but they live their own lives really far away from us. It’s been great to see them at Zoom church over the last couple weeks, but that’s about it.

I’ve made some connections with other campers, but they leave as fast as they come.

I miss my girl crew. I miss our nails and lunch dates. I miss being a part of their lives.

I miss my sisters and their kids. I miss our lunch dates, too.

Wow! I must really like going out to lunches. I do love food, a lot, but I love human connection more. I miss that feeling where my soul fills up because I connected to someone else.

The kids miss their friends, too. They call their friends sporadically, but I’m sure they feel the same loneliness that I do.

1. I’m Getting Fat

Full-time RV Living With Kids
Ryan chose this photo to show Monica amidst a six-mile hike while looking good.

Our family had Covid. The hubs and I were vaccinated. So there’s that.

I lost my sense of taste and smell, yet, I didn’t lose any weight. One perk I was looking forward to with covid was losing some weight. But nope.

My two youngest have each lost 10 lbs since we left on our adventure, and P has lost 20 lbs! Not me, no. I’ve gained six mean-spirited pounds since we left.

Maybe I’m stress eating. That’s funny. It’s not a maybe. I am absolutely stress eating. RV living with kids will do that to you.

This might be the first time in my life I haven’t had the motivation to work out. And despite knowing that I need to workout for my own mental health, I can’t seem to muster the interest to do it.

We bought a gym membership (actually two) to ensure that we could stay in shape, but one of us isn’t doing well. It’s me. I’m not doing well.

The worst part is I know all the things to do! I have taught classes on all the things to do! Yet, I am not doing them.

Maybe when I gain another six lbs I’ll have that “I can’t believe I let myself go, AGAIN!” moment and then I’ll find my motivation. Or maybe I’ll start running races with my girl because she’s showing some interest.

Conclusion:

Full-time RV Living With Kids
Monica laughs at the idea of stealing a Harley and leaving the kids.

Well, is RV living with kids worth it?

Probably?

I’m not someone that likes to give up when facing a challenge. I like to come up with solutions and try different things until we can find what works best.

When I can keep a good perspective, I remember that everything fell into place for this experience to happen. We felt elated to get this opportunity.

Of course there are going to be growing pains! Look at what we are doing!

I’m optimistic that as we solve each problem, we will learn and grow and become what Heavenly Father wants this experience to shape us in to.

To read the previous update in which Monica and Ryan discuss what is working and what isn’t after a shy two-weeks living full time on the road, click here.

Until next time, God Bless and enjoy the adventure!

Full-time RV Living With Kids

2 responses to “Growing Pains”

  1. Rachael says:

    We miss you and I’m sorry it’s hard. Just remember living at home “normal” is hard, too and soon you’ll get past the hard parts and it’ll be more comfortable and I’m sure it’ll be an experience you won’t regret.

    • rudolf says:

      Thanks, Rachael. We appreciate the sentiment. Living with dogs and children is hard wherever you are (especially when they all want you all the time). We’re learning to live in a smaller space, which is a legitimate challenge.

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