A Day in the Life of a Full-Time (Traveling) Family

 We might be traveling full time, with new sights, smells and sounds surrounding us daily, but we are first and foremost a family.

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We still have 3 little kids, 2 of whom are still in diapers. We still have to wipe butt, clean noses, feed these small people (2 of whom can and do try to throw food when they feel the urge).

IMG_4777Traveling doesn’t change the fact that we still have to chase after them, comfort their small wounds, resolve the indignities of having their special block stolen by another. Or dealing with the daily hell of naps, bedtimes, too-early mornings – all that – while we take in what the journey of the road. Like my Mikus likes to say, ‘same shit, different scenery‘.

This is what a pretty typical, generalized day looks like around here:

4-5am: Mikey and I wake up. He goes outside to make coffee and smoke his cigarette; I nurse MacQuinn

5:30 or so – I am outside too, Mikey and I drink coffee together. I then either exercise or write. He hangs out and reads or contemplates the nature of the universe or something equally big and profound. Or maybe he just sits and thinks about nothing.

6:30-7ish – kids wake up. KIDS WAKE UP. The forces are UNLEASHED. We get going with feeding, diaper changes, clothes put on, pj’s away, cleaning and all that. Mikey and I work as a team – both of us are usually at it – we’ll either take a child each and diaper/change/clothe that one, or one of us will do both diapers and the other will do both change/clothes. We like to shake it up like that. We take our kicks where we can get ’em! – Micah does everything on his own with just a little prodding from us.

From here on, there isn’t so much a time as a flow – it’s something like –

Breakfast: Mikey almost always makes breakfast. It’s either yoghurt/fruit or something with eggs. All kids eat together. Sometimes I am still writing/exercising and Mikey handles breakfast on his own. Mikey and I eat on the side, quickly, usually standing up or something.

If we are hitting the road that day, I’ll start packing up the things I take care of (- all electronics, all cords, cables, etc; books, clothes, toys, etc). I also – and this is important – get the road snacks ready, get Mac’s bottle for the road ready, water for all and a pack for layers (sweaters for everyone). I also make sure Pugsily’s food is someplace easy to reach. Then I’ll wrangle the kids while Mikey puts EVERYTHING else away, lowers the camper, disengages the propane, water, locks the boxes and secures the bikes.

We will be on the road by 10:30, 11 at the latest.

If we are not leaving that day, we play until 10:30/11 – walk around

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yeah…. “walk”

…or explore, do artwork together, build something, play in the water. Good, enriching stuff. Then the kids usually want a snack or a drink, so we break for something very small before hanging out while Mikey makes lunch. Sometimes Mac-Q needs to nap around snacktime, and I’ll take him into the camper to nurse him down.

After lunch, we definitely engage in the nap hell. We try to get them to nap in the camper, which is the best solution, but only possible if everything lines up perfectly and if they have run around enough in the morning. What I mean by “everything lines up perfectly” is: if Moxie doesn’t scream and kick Mac in the face, if Micah (who usually just reads during this period) doesn’t decide he needs to poop right when the other two are closing their eyes, if Mac doesn’t thwack and re-rouse a drowsy Moxie, if someone doesn’t decide to come by and knock on our camper, if the wind doesn’t knock down the table outside – oh man, ANY of these things! All of them have happened and then some. It’s dicey.

If it doesn’t line up, well, we try to walk them to sleep in the Burley double, or we will carry one each in the Ergo/Kelty and walk.

this was a walking-in-the-Burley-day...
this was a walking-in-the-Burley-day…

We joke about putting them in their car seats, strapping them in, turning the engine on then turning it off – but we haven’t actually done it. Yet.

The nap part is such a pain in the butt – MAJOR BITCH – but without it, we will face two screaming banshees from HELL later, so it’s worth it to get them rested. If we are on the road that day, naps are taken care of. The kids always sleep part of the way. Definitely a plus for the road.

Moving on, the afternoon: we tend to do more play/walking around in the afternoon. If we find other kids to play with, we go for it.

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When it comes time for Mikey to make dinner, we let the kids “play” on the their iPads – which is kind of a trick since their iPads are only decked out with highly educational apps, so “play” for Moxie is going to be her working on her handwriting (- and by the way, she is clearly teaching herself to read, just like Micah did) or reading a book or working on her phonics or sign language (- both are big favorites of hers) while Micah will “play” by completing a crossword puzzle, work on his Spanish or read. Moxie and Micah read a lot; we don’t particularly encourage this. It’s just one of those things. Mikey and I both read a lot, we’ve always had a lot of books available for the kids and the kids naturally take them up. I wish we could take credit for it, but… nah, who am I kidding?!

Moxie's signing "pretend"
Moxie’s signing “pretend”

I spend time with Mac-Q while Moxie and Micah are tethered to their electronic friends. I play with him or read or do signing song things like ‘itsy bitsy spider’ or ‘row row row your boat’. His signing is coming along nicely and it’s so cute to see his chubby little hands trying to make the hand shapes!

Then we all eat.

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Meals are something we are firm on. We all sit down for dinner. Same chairs, same table. We all sit down for lunch. The kids all sit down for breakfast. We need the things that we can be consistent about to be consistent. We need the kids to feel safe in the small rituals of daily life, even if their world around is almost constantly changing.

Meals are a constant. Meals do not change. We might eat out ocasionally, standing up at a taco stand to scarf down some delicious adobada but we are eating at the same time and we are eating together. This is very important to Mikey and I.

After dinner, we usually hang out and clean up a bit then I take the kids into the camper while Mikey finishes cleaning up and smokes. Then he comes in and we all watch an episode of Star Trek (or Magnum PI) and have some fruit or something sweet before we brush our teeth, get into pj’s and diapers and go to sleep.

If we are on the road that day, then what happens is, we arrive at a place after a few hours of driving (- we try not to drive more than a few hours a day because more than that is hard on the kids). I hang out with the kids while Mikey sets up the camper. This usually takes about an hour. From there, he cooks something quickly and we eat and relax.

Mikey does all of the cooking. He also does more than this fair share of cleaning up the dishes and stuff. I tend to do the bed making, clothes organizing, electronics organizing, organizing anything actually. This ship is too tight to have stuff not well organized at all times, so I am pretty busy with keeping things charged, wired, ready to run, put away and so forth.

So there you have it! Day in the life. Do you have any questions? Anything you want to know? Shoot!

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a deaf artist, tech-junkie, Counselor (and sometime teacher), mom (one with Down syndrome), cat-lover, Trekkie, yurt-dwelling off-the-grid farmer's wife. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done.

5 Comments

  • Wow – wow – wow. my heart traversed back to the happiest moments for me as a family and of your childhood – which I see you reliving – with I’m certain – more wisdom and unity and honesty and sweetness. I’m feeling so happy for you all – and grateful you are having this rich life together – in spite of the fact I miss you all soooo much. Sooooo much. Love you. Prayers ongoing.

  • Loved this, and the “sits and thinks about nothing” comment cracked me up. I even told my husband about it with a long back story about what you guys are doing. His question was “Why Mexico?” So I’ll put that in as a question : ) What made you decide to go there and not stay in the US? My FIL is taking us on a cruise this summer. We’ll be in some parts of Mexico, but I’m not familiar with where things are.

  • What a life! It sounds hard, but also amazing that you are liberated from the sameness of life in a house with a mortgage and a crap job. How about some pix of the camper and how you have it packed? How often do you need to wash clothes and stuff? Do you use paper diapers?

  • Ohhh the nap situation is critical in this house too… while on vacation is hard to get Manolo to nap well…. we’ve done the “strap him on his car seat and drive around until he falls asleep” trick with him… works everythime 🙂

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