PARENTING ON THE ROAD
Firstly, Let it be known - I LOVE my kids and I'm totally blinded by my love for them. Be it so, that I think the sun shines out of their cute little bums. However, yes there's a however. Living on the road with three boisterous, lively bundles of joy can be bloody HARD at times.
Do you ever have those days where your constantly refereeing, disciplining, breaking up arguments, toddler tantrums, toileting accidents, feeding, bathing the list goes on and its exhausting. Ok, so this typically doesn’t happen all in one day… But, what I’m trying to say is, it can be chaos!
So 'Caravan Parenting' is slightly different to your at home parenting, you do find different ways to discipline your kids. They learn new boundaries and rules once your life on the road begins. What I have learnt is that it's different for everyone, depending on the age and gender of your kids. Whether your working (like I am), schooling your kids and your own temperament.
We soon figured out our own situation and the first 6-8 weeks were by far the toughest, seriously, so tough - we nearly turned BACK! That was an adjustment period I really don't want to ever have to do again. We all had to settle into our own groove & some took longer than others. What we did realise was that all five of us needed to start the day with our own 'needs' met which meant we continued to have a great day!
For me, that was a morning coffee, Justin needed to be up at 7am, fishing or enjoying a cuppa with eggs on toast. Jack, 5, needs his cuddles with mum and dad, porridge ASAP and know whats happening for the day. Billy, 4, needs to be dressed the moment he wakes, do some jumping on the bed and watch ABC Kids lying on my feet. Charli, 2.5, needs to tell me 300 times how much she loves me and have cuddles on her own, no one else can join in, just her and mum and dad. Then demands food and "pocket shorts" to wear for the day.
This has been an evolving journey (I hate that word journey) for us. We set off with 3 kids under 3.5 years, so I'm sure you can envision the toddler/baby tantrums we've had. Initially it was scoop the kid up and deal with it inside the van. We were worried about disturbing other holiday makers. But, as they've grown older it has become easier and it's really hard to lose your temper in a caravan park full of people. We learnt very quickly to tone down our frustration (awks)! So, we soon realised that the bunk beds were not only for sleep, but they doubled as a 'naughty corner'. When they were all feral (did I say that?) the only way to resolve the conflict was to have some quiet time on their bunk - Or the occasional bribe with a lolly or icy pole....
It really is all about balance, like everything in life we cant overdo it. This is with kids too. They need there down days as they cant possibly go go go. After starting our trip we figured out early on, the perfect mix we needed for happy kids. Because happy kids equals happy parents yeah!!!
So the routine goes like this -
After a solid 12 hours sleeper the kids, 7pm- 7am - We are up and they all head straight for mum and dads bed.
Cuddles for way to long, then we must get up as there're sooo hungry.
Breakfast, coffee, another coffee, dishes, make beds, washing and the days plans.
8-9am - We all get dressed, sort snacks and head off for the days adventures. Hiking, swimming, beach, playground - just some sort of physical activity.
12pm - Lunch and a sleep for the 2 year old, eldest 2 have quiet time and we wait for Queen Charli to wake.
1-2pm She's awake, plan outing number 2 which is much the same as the first.
4pm - Finish activities, return to camp and gear up for dinner. Kids are still burning energy.
5-530ish Dinner time!!
6pm(ish) Bath time, PJ's, yoghurt, some TV, story time, brush teeth AND....
The best time of the day, 7PM - Kids are tuckered out and off to sleep!!
7:30pm - Justin and I pull out the laptops and work for a few hours.
This routine works for us, it ensure we've all have enough physical activity, sleep, work and chill out time. The perfect balance!
As challenging as our dynamic home can be at times, it sure beats dealing with the all same challenges in a stagnant home. Plus I have the added bonus of having my husband around, another parent to help with the chaos!
In a nutshell, I remember to remind myself that we live a lifestyle that many envy & we are on the ride of a lifetime. Spending all this time with my kids (as difficult as it can be at times), caravanning around Australia is an opportunity to really get to know them, love them and be there for them in ways many other parents cannot be.
MOST OF ALL - I REMEMBER TO BE GRATEFUL!
TO SUM IT ALL UP
Parent your own way, I definitely won't judge you. Figure out how to keep it together, get your 'me time', grab a coffee - on your own of course, have a drink, fist punch the air when you're having a parenting win! As this is a sweet parenting gig you've got going on here and the chance of a lifetime you'll treasure forever!