This time last year, we were in negotiations to sell our house. Not just any house but THE house- the dream, the goal, the one that my husband and I both grew up with our sights set on, the house that would signal we had made it.
It was beautiful, and we had plenty of room for our family of 6 to grow into it. It was in a nice neighborhood and high-performing school district, but it (and all that came with it- the yard maintenance, the suburban drama, the little league schedules, the homework and test prep) was sucking the life and the fun out of our family.
We decided to opt out of that dream that was sold to us as the definition of success and chase a new one- one that a lot of people feel strongly about one way or another. When people find out we sold our dream house to move into an RV with 4 kids and travel the country, they are either super excited for us, or they accuse us of child abuse and being irresponsible. There really doesn’t seem to be much in between.
Luckily, the overwhelming majority seem to fall on the super-excited end, at least to our faces, Internet comments excluded.
We’ve been on the road since January 5th, and after 10 months, I’ve learned a lot that you’d probably expect, like how to majorly purge live minimally, and what makes a great RV park. There have also been some unexpected and some funny life lessons along the way, too.
Our kids really don’t need much.
I know that a lot of parents know this deep down. It didn’t take selling a 5 bedroom home for me to understand this, in theory, but seeing it play out in practice has been moving. We made room for their favorite toys and books in the RV. But now, even in this small space, we find that a lot doesn’t get played with.
The same goes for clothes. We have the luxury of an on-board washer and dryer. (Don’t let anyone tell you RV life has to mean roughing it. We have a dishwasher, too!) So we wash clothes every day, and that means the favorites always end up at the top of the pile, and they get worn over and over. Nobody complains, and we keep making stops at donation drop off centers as we travel, unloading what gets stuck at the back of the closet.
It’s been freeing to take myself out of that cycle of keeping up with the latest must-have toy, or refreshing their wardrobe frequently, only to then need to declutter what they are no longer interested in.
Speaking of laundry, the spin cycle of the dryer makes the whole RV shake, so we do a lot of “laundry” after the kids go to bed.
I know everyone’s poop schedule. We all do.
You really can not live together in an RV for long without becoming intimately familiar with every person’s natural poop rhythm. We could probably pick each other out from a lineup by fart-smell, too. I mean, that truck is not set up to ventilate well as we’re driving, and we spend A LOT of time together in the truck.
This country- all of it- is really, really beautiful.
The places that we expected to take our breath away didn’t disappoint, but the sights that surprise us seem to bring the most joy. We knew Yellowstone National Park would be a stunner. And it was.
But how could we have lived this many years and not realized Glacier National Park is truly heaven on earth?
“Flyover state” Iowa was summer perfection with some of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen and one really incredible state fair, and that says a lot coming from a Texas girl.
Even the rundown places, the small towns, the stretches of flat highway- to fresh eyes, there is so much beauty in them and their humanity.
This trip hasn’t fixed us.
We are still stressed out some days. We still struggle with managing our time as a family, and managing our expectations of each other. We still yell and get frustrated. We still have to discipline our children and work on our marriage. The only thing this trip did was give us more time together to put in the work to make US- our family unit- a priority.
What we talk about on this trip will be more important than what we see.
Listen, I get that a lot of this comes off as the epitome of privilege. That’s another comment I get from time to time, and I totally agree. In many ways, this lifestyle is a luxury, but it’s also born of sacrifice and a ton of hard work. (We are not funding all of this from some huge profit off our house or a trust fund. I work full-time remotely from the road and we live off one income.)
One of the upsides to all this time together with our kids is being present to have important conversations about hard topics, like racism, inequality, inclusivity, and sexism. We’re not perfect at it, but we are trying to use this time as an opportunity to shape our children into better world citizens. And you know what? I think it’s working.
I don’t think we’ll live like this forever. I think there will probably be another house in our future, and another neighborhood, and another little league team (or 4). But we’ll have this chapter in the story of our family that will undoubtedly move our stories, both together and individually, to places they never would have gone if we hadn’t said goodbye to that old dream and hit reset on our life.