Hi there! I’m Lily from the Blog Max and Ivy and we are a family of four based in Sydney, Australia. Our two kids are Max and Ivy, aged 3 and 2. I spend a fair amount of my time road tripping and enjoying the Van Life with the kids in our campervan while my husband flies in to meet us wherever we end up while we are away.
Van Life Families: Finding your village
I was sitting here thinking about the best way to explain how getting the van and getting out there has changed our life. It’s hard to put it into words as there have been so many little pieces of change that have made for a huge transformation to our lives. But really, at the end of the day, it’s simple. It’s freedom. The freedom to go wherever we choose, whenever we choose.
But really, at the end of the day, it’s simple. It’s freedom. The freedom to go wherever we choose, whenever we choose.
The van came about after I spent three years in suburbia raising two small kids who are twelve months apart. The whole concept of doing parenting a long way away from friends and family, within four walls and behind a fence was so foreign to me after growing up surrounded by community.
A light bulb moment happened one day while I was talking to my hubby and I thought to myself, if I can’t bring the village here, how am I going to get us to the village? A little tiny house on wheels proved the perfect solution.
Enter our wonderful VW campervan, our ticket to freedom, everyday adventure maker and general workhorse. I sold my old car to justify the cost and now we drive the van around every day.
While we would love to be on the road full time it isn’t possible at the moment. The next best thing is the kids and I getting on the road as often as we can and my hubby Geoff fly’s in to meet us on the weekends when we are away. Sometimes, if we are in a major city, he can stay for a week or so and work. We would all love to all be together on the road all the time but that’s not possible at the moment . For now this is our family’s best option.
We would all love to all be together on the road all the time but that’s not possible at the moment . For now this is our family’s best option.
We made a few small modifications to the van, which really changed it up for us. The best one was the addition of a bed rail on the upstairs bed so the kids can sleep up there safely. This has freed up the downstairs bed and living space for us to use once they are asleep.
We also removed the microwave and TV as we don’t have either at home and don’t use them on the road either. We gained back so much space! As anyone with a campervan knows, space is at a premium, especially once you add kids into the mix.
If I am completely honest sometimes it’s really hard. It rains for days or toilet training is happening and it sucks or things break and don’t go to plan. But generally it’s wonderful and exciting and invigorating. It turns out I would much rather be problem solving new issues on a daily basis than dealing with comfortable monotony at home.
My advice to anyone else wanting to do the same is, just start. You’ll work it out as you go and it’s way less terrifying once you are out there. I think I spent the first couple of hours of my first solo trip with the kids having a panic attack, and you know what, now I am more freaked out about staying home for a few weeks in a row!
On a practical level though, some things I have worked out that helped a lot are;
- Stick to the same routine as you would at home. Keep bedtime the same and the bedtime ritual the same.
- Take their familiar bedding from home, it’s worth the space it takes up.
- Try not to rush to your destination; it never goes well with little kids. I have been learning how to take my time and turn the drive into the adventure as much as the place we choose to stay.
- Stock up on audio books, they are awesome for keeping kids entertained on the road.
- Take snacks… lots of snacks! Ha-ha, never underestimate the power of food to halt a wobbly going on in the back seat.
- Take a potty or some sort of portable loo so you are not constantly on the hunt for a toilet.
- Plan ahead a little, jump on Google Maps and aim to stop about every two and a half hours. I find that 2 and a half hours is my kid’s breaking point and a lot of other parents have mentioned similar timeframes.
- Check out as many blogs and websites as you can and look for tips and tricks from people who have been there done that. They usually have a bit of gold that you’ll be so glad you found.
We have a few awesome adventures coming up…
All four of us will be at Woodford Folk Festival for a week after Christmas, which I’m super excited about. I grew up going there but this will be the first time we have taken our kids and we’ll be set up in the van for the week.
I’m also hoping to do a road trip between Sydney and Cairns sometime early in the year, stopping at all my favourite places along the way. The east coast of Australia is just stunning, no matter how many times I do that trip, it never gets old.
I’m constantly learning, mucking things up, changing them around and planning to try it differently next time. And… I’m enjoying every minute of it! I love that the kids are watching me in my element too since this is the type of role model I want to be for them.
I feel like I have finally found a way to keep doing what I love while mumming at the same time and it’s awesome. Life changing kinda awesome.
Blog Max and Ivy
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