When Mama Needs a Break in < 300 Square Feet
Living in an RV fulltime with kids can present a few challenges when you add kids to the mix. Time alone is one of those challenges. Last year, while travelling in Canada and visiting family, one of my awesome cousins took the kids for a slumber party so Tom and I could have a date. And while I'd like to say that we had an awesome date, the fact is Tom flew in that day from Dallas, having a full week of on-site client visits and was so exhausted he fell asleep while I dropped the kids off at my cousin's.
By the time I came back to the RV, I woke Tom up and we went out for a simple dinner where we both nearly fell asleep while eating! But, at the same time it was a quiet dinner alone which was appreciated!
This year we left our homebase of Dallas in March after about a month's respite and knew it would be a long haul without alone time. In that time, Tom has been studying night and day for his CCIE (networking certification) and I have been working hard on a number of projects, including a planner, some mini-courses for Teachers Pay Teachers, writing a book and re-defining our homeschool and re-vamping all of our curriculum. All while travelling and trying to see the country.
Tom is doing what needs to be done for the time being to provide for our family and while I'm trying to help him out by creating multiple streams of income to take some of the pressure off of him, it's been a long several months. The kids and I have done several fun trips along the way including Noah's Ark and the Creation Museum in Kentucky as well as visiting the John Deere Pavilion in Illinois, the Chicago Symphony, we took a boat on the Mississippi River and we've had several awesome moments. Without my favorite travel buddy Tom.
All of this has put some strain and exhaustion on all of us, and while Tom has been able to spend a few days here and there away on business trips, it's been me and the kids 24-7 for a long time without a break.
So this summer I got creative and remembered our time back in our house where I would volunteer and the kids would participate in Vacation Bible School. A week long camp for kids. And while the budget wouldn't allow for any big camping experiences, it would definitely allow for Vacation Bible School. So I did a lot of research and seemingly all of them in the areas we were travelling just didn't line up with our travel schedule or were too far away from where we would be. Several were in the evening and I was really needing some daylight mom time.
And then I came across Salem Lutheran Church in Moline, Iowa that had a week long Vacation Bible School and was only 30 minutes away from where we would be staying. They had a simple online registration system and I signed the kids up. Rachel was stoked and Ethan was a bit nervous but came around and was eager to attend. While nothing is 100% safe, the volunteers had background checks on file with the church and I stuck around for awhile on the first day just to make sure everything was on the up and up.
The kids had a blast, and I had some time to sit in the sun and get some much needed vitamin D. I had time to think and plan ahead for the new school year. There was a few moments to just breathe and sit by the river and do absolutely nothing but take it all in.
The time wasn't all blissful, however, as Tom got a call to go to Atlanta the next week for work, just two weeks before his next attempt at the CCIE Exam. It seems that every time he gets close, work piles up and takes the focus off of his studies. And I was almost finished my planner and was trying to get it ready to sell at the Winnebago Rally. All of this needless pressure finally came to a head, and I melted down in those moments.
Maybe it was time for us to stop travelling. Or maybe I just needed to exude patience to get through this exam and move forward. In any case, the time away from the kids allowed me to process some of the stress that had been building.
About two weeks later, the opportunity came around again, while Tom was in Raleigh taking his exam and I was in Forest City, Iowa at the Winnebago Rally, we were able to sign the kids up for the kids program that had them going to some fun places like a roller rink, a pool, a movie theater and they had parties at the rally for the kids.
Knowing that I cannot always rely on family when we are at home, I have also planned for the kids to go to their favorite gymnastics gym in our home base and sign them up for their weekly open gym and their monthly Parent's Night Out. ASI Gymnastics in Keller and Allen have wonderful coaches and professionals and have an awesome program set up for parents to get a break.
So What's a Mama to do when she needs a break, while travelling fulltime or living away from family and close friends:
1- Find a Vacation Bible School and research if it aligns with your beliefs and ensure the volunteers are vetted
2- Find a week-long camp with your child's interests in the area you'll be and sign them up
3- Attend a rally with a kid specific program, like the Winnebago Rally or Xscapers Convergence (Fulltime Families Rallies are Awesome, however they are designed specifically for family involvement)
4- Attend Mom's Night Out or Dad's Night Out and Connect with other Adults while the kids spend time with the other parent
5- Find a gymnastics center or sports center that offers Parents' Night Out. Our kids love going to ASI in the DFW area as well as Metroplex Gymnastics
6- Tutoring Centers will offer a win-win for parents and students
7- Go to Care.com and seek a qualified, vetted babysitter who can attend to your kids in a safe environment
8- Go for a cup of coffee or a short excursion (not errands) while your spouse watches the kids, and reciprocate the favor for them to have some alone time
9- Get a gym membership to a gym such as 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness or Lifetime Fitness where they have a kids' center! (the times we've used this have been so good for both Tom and myself and the kids always enjoy having fun with other kids)
10- Travel to family members who would love to visit with the kiddos while you take a moment to spend some time alone. But don't assume your family members want to hang out with just the kids. Inquire first and don't take advantage.
There are ways to get some much needed time away, and not all of them cost a lot of money. Thinking outside the box and being creative can help you come up with opportunities for a brief respite while traveling fulltime.
What ways have you found to find some "mom" time while on the road? We'd love to know!