Six Things I Learned in the Camper

My family has spent the last 20 Days living in our camper. My husband was given the opportunity to work out of town and we followed him with our new travel trailer to a lovely campground outside of Alexandria. As we prepare today to get back to our normal routine I’ve already been thinking about what’s next for us.

We don’t really know for sure, my husband and I both realized that we haven’t missed anything about our house. This is causing us to question what we want to do, where we want to live and why we didn’t know this sooner. I’ve been asking my kids what their favorite part of camping has been and contemplating what I’ve learned. In an effort to organize my thoughts, today I am sharing my top ten lessons from a short-stint on the road.

1 Flowers grow in ditches too. I will admit that I missed my garden quite a bit. Being away when the peonies and iris were blooming loud made me a teensy bit sad, but lots of wildflowers grow in this state. Snapdragons, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Lady Slipper, Daisy…As I spent time wandering in state parks and campgrounds alike I realized how amazing the ditches could be. It was a reminder that my lovely, cultivated garden at home was not the only beautiful place and that I should get out and experience somewhere else.

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2 Fresh air first. When we are at home, I wake up, let the dog out, make coffee, attempt to sit in some quiet until some tiny comes upstairs. While we were away I woke, started the coffee and took the dog out. We would walk out to a grassy field and she would roll around in the dew. There is something to that. Breathing in the early morning air, watching the sun climb into the sky, listening to birds. It is a different kind of peace than what I get from sitting here, typing out my thoughts. This morning as I write, my doors are thrown open wide, Cardinals are chirping to one another, the Summer breeze is gentle and I breathe in the newness of the day.

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3 Swimming makes most days good. When I asked my littles what their favorite thing about camping was, they all answered “Swimming!!”. Thankfully we have a pool in our yard at home as well, but I must admit I was surprised by this. I mean, we did some pretty good stuff out there. Being in the pool made them all smile though. It seems almost too simple. Being able to bike to the pool only made it better. We gave our littles extra freedom while we were away and I know that helped them enjoy the time. While they weren’t allowed to swim alone, they were allowed to be at the park and in the fields without us. We even let the tiny bike around alone during the week when the campground wasn’t full. There is so much to be gained from even a little independence.

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4 Math is better, done at a picnic table. Okay, so we didn’t do a ton of formal school while we were away, but I did get the kids to sit down a few times with their math books. I found the sunshine and fresh air did distract them a bit, but really who can be irritated while sitting under a clear, blue sky? It was good to remember too, how much they learn while we aren’t doing school. Both of them learned how to empty tanks, helped hitch the trailer to the truck, and assisted with meals. They were left in charge of the tiny and were required to look after the dog. Life skills are important too, and a valuable piece of homeschooling to be sure. One of my main goals for my littlest girl this Summer, was for her to master her bike without training wheels. I knew she would be so much happier once she could do it by herself. Within three days of us leaving home she exceeded my expectations of her ability and left me wondering what I should “teach” the girl next.

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5 Shared space. While we did have some spacial requirements for our camper; a bunk for each little, an outdoor kitchen… It is still a small space. You can pretty much count on someone else always being in the room with you. I’ll admit that I was more than a little concerned about how this would go. As it turns out kids can sleep through me making coffee when I’m only seven steps away from their beds. They can climb into their bunks and ignore each other as if they were in separate rooms. We can, and did, go outside where there is plenty of room for each of us. The shared space helped us all respect each other. I’ll admit there were issues and instances to manage, but I don’t believe anyone really needed more square footage to spread out in. I really do like having my people so close, and so I am very thankful that they didn’t all hate it.

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6 Bedtime is still hard. Here I will admit defeat. My tiny girl does not sleep well, she never has and I can not seem to help her. It is just her and we deal with it as best we can. I was silently optimistic that the combination of hours of outside time and being in the same room with her siblings would help her to sleep better while we were away. I was wrong. Every night was a fight to get her to bed, keep her asleep, and keep her in her bed. This is really only one of two complaints I had about our experience and I was quickly frustrated by our bedtime routine. I know that while she may never sleep through the night, at some point she will be able to deal with it without needing me. I trust that a day will come when she lays down in her bed and just falls asleep, no songs or stories, or back rubs required. I am certain that we will eventually get to a point where she sleeps restfully, instead of the tossing and turning restlessness that is her every night…someone tell me this will one day occur!

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There are more lessons, more thoughts swirling around my brain. While I don’t believe we will be living full time in our camper just yet, I am hopeful that our eyes have been opened to something new. A different way we could live happily. Last night my tiny cried herself to sleep on our deck, she still woke a few times through the night but it was nice to not fight her to sleep. This morning I sat outside for a bit with my coffee and my people after we woke up. The clear, cool air reminding me of what I want to do with my every day. I think I might just go pick some flowers from my yard to remind me in the hectic moments that there is peace that is out there if I’ll keep looking for it.

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