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RVing With Kids – Managing It All As A Single Parent

RVing With Kids - Managing It All As A Single Parent 1
The last 50 amp spot

“Think we can fit in this spot?” I ask my co-pilot. It’s the last 50-amp, full hook-up spot in the park. This is just after a veteran RVer passes by us and wishes us luck trying to fit in it because he can’t. He tells us he’s taking the only other available spot and he’s smaller than we are. “I think we can,” my co-pilot says. Fifteen minutes later we are backed into the spot and are leveling, having successfully avoided the three low hanging branches, when the man from earlier comes back by and seems thoroughly shocked that we did it. He gives us a thumbs up. 

My co-pilot is 15. I am a single mom traveling on the road full-time with my two sons and our two Labradors. People are often shocked when they realize what we can do; how we live.

Many travelers in this lifestyle have a partner. They have someone to help with driving, kids (if they have them), finances, challenges, etc. But there is a growing population of us that do not. Traveling solo with your children presents its own unique set of challenges.

Single-Parenting On The Road

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I am very fortunate that I have primary custody of my children with a somewhat set visitation schedule with my ex-husband. He gets them for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, spring break and usually two months during the summer. They usually see their extended family during that time. The kids fly back and forth between him and me, so my goal is to be within an hour of an airport when they are scheduled to go visit him. I am grateful to have this arrangement because it helps make this lifestyle possible.

Another issue for anyone on the road is healthcare and dental. My children have insurance through their father’s job so I can take them to whatever health care provider I choose. Before leaving our home state, I made sure they had their visits up to date. Thankfully both my kids are fairly healthy and rarely get more than a passing cold from time-to-time. There are options out there for community plans through some groups as well as the Healthcare Marketplace. Choosing a plan that allows you to choose any provider as long as they are in network is usually the best. Sometimes it’s not always the cheapest and may have deductibles but there are different options available. Just make sure to check where there is coverage. Most insurance companies can give you a map and lists for each state.

Home educating my children has been something I have been doing since 2014, so this wasn’t a huge transition for us either.

We are domiciled in Florida and have to follow Florida laws but thankfully, Florida is relatively easy to deal with.

Still, this can be challenging as the only adult.

Some days it’s not easy making sure they are able to get their schooling in while getting to do and see what we want to.

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We like to visit obscure places and recently stayed at Moundville Archaeological Park. That became the focus of our schooling for the week, encompassing history, science, math, reading and physical education. Climbing those mounds and walking around the park was great exercise! This type of schooling is often referred to as Real World Learning, Life Schooling, and/or Unschooling. However, I do incorporate some “traditional schooling” into their week by having them do worksheets and/or workbooks, write about the state we are visiting, and read certain books that I feel benefit their education.

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Working on the road definitely has its challenges. I have to have internet. This week, at a rally, that’s not going as planned. I have to plan my travel days and let my boss know if they fall on a weekday. Thankfully, I have an awesome boss that works with me, but we had an open conversation about managing expectations, the challenges that I may face working on the road, and what my strategies were for overcoming them.

Trying to work with kids sitting just a few feet away can definitely be challenging. My “office” is my front cockpit because the dash is big enough for all my work supplies. I have to give warnings like “I’m getting on a call” or “Quiet, work call coming in”. It’s challenging but doable. Some days, weather permitting, I take my work outside to the picnic table. Work and Vitamin D, two birds; one stone.

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Living in close proximity was quite an adjustment for everyone. The boys no longer have a room to go to, but then, they had shared a bedroom previously, so this wasn’t too huge of an adjustment. They still bicker and fight from time to time. I have had to adapt my parenting as a result of this. But the great thing is, I can make them go outside more! Previously we lived in an apartment and there was nowhere safe to play outside. Now they can go explore mother nature, with a walkie-talkie and code words/signals for distress (safety is paramount), and I can enjoy the peace and quiet. Go build a stick shelter, here’s a scavenger hunt card, go set up the fire-pit for s’mores later, go take some pictures, walk the dogs, play with the kids nearby, go pick up the camp, or better yet, the area surrounding us. The possibilities are endless. 

RVing As A Solo Adult

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I’ll admit, there have been many times where I have struggled juggling everything. That’s when I know it’s time to step back and reevaluate the situation. Why isn’t this working and what can I do to make it work, or do I need to scrap it and find a different way? Another thing I do is talk to my kids by calling a family meeting. They roll their eyes and groan but it’s their lives, too. I want their opinions and their ideas. They often have great suggestions.

I like to plan and see things in writing so I use a month-at-a-glance dry erase calendar where I write where we will be that month. I also have a year-at-a-glance calendar that I use to keep track of plans, such as reservations I have made in advance, or when the boys will be gone to their dad’s for visitation. I have a small dry erase board on the fridge where I write down the daily tasks and have a to-do list up there where I can keep track of projects, repairs, etc, that need to be done.

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Something that helps me immensely is that I meal plan for a week. I have a binder with sheets of paper labeled breakfast, lunch, dinner. On those sheets are all our favorite meals. I use that to fill in a dry-erase meal planner that has a spot at the top for what’s going on that day. This is where I write what affects our meals. 

Are we traveling and will we need to pre-make lunch? Is it going to rain or be cold (I like to cook outside and have discovered knowing the weather is just as important as knowing what I am going to cook). Are we going on a hike or field trip? Are we going to eat out or pack a meal? I usually do this on Friday or Saturday and then I order my groceries for pick-up from the store, if it’s available. This saves me so much time but it also saves me money because I don’t buy things I don’t need. I also try to plan whatever other shopping and/or errands I need to do around this time so I can get them all done in one fell swoop. This saves me money on gas.

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Meal Planning Calendar
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Cooking Outside

Being single on this adventure has definitely been a challenge. I don’t date. I don’t have a lot of “me” time. Heck, I rarely remember where I left my coffee until it’s cold or a day old because I am busy. I do not have family, so, other than my children, I am the epitome of alone. I do have a few friends I confide in but no partner. That can be hard. When something happens, a breakdown, an issue with kids, dogs, RV, I am the one that has to handle it. But that is not always a negative.

There is a sense of accomplishment when you can look back at something that most people can’t handle and say, “I did this by myself”. 

Getting The Whole Family Involved

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One of the things I have done to help our family get used to this lifestyle is to join groups on Facebook and online. We are members of Fulltime Families, RVillage, Escapees, and Xscapers. We attend events put on by these groups in order to connect with others.

So far, we have made friends with a few families and keep in touch through Facebook and Messenger. At one event, we were “adopted” by an older couple. We often check in with them and they asked the boys to send them post cards of their adventures. Having these relationships, to me, is essential to us being able to continue this journey. 

We have had to learn how to handle repairs and minor mechanical issues because I am frugal. This is a family event where everyone participates and helps. We changed our generator oil in a parking lot while boondocking because we needed to. We have also fixed our awning when it was not retracting properly. The bonus is this counts as shop class and life experience, and many times, it covers a wide range of educational topics. 

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Generator Oil Change
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Helping with breakdown of camp

My favorite places to learn from are the University of YouTube, Facebook groups specific to my RV, and RV forums. We also have an emergency repair kit we’ve slowly been building for issues we know we can handle but inevitably, there are things we just cannot do. In early October, we did spend a week boondocking at a repair facility getting quite a few things fixed.

On travel days, which have a lot of set-up or breakdown, everyone has tasks based on ability and we all have checklists. My 10-year-old is still learning the ropes, but I am working with him on adding some more responsibilities to his list. Right now, he is learning how to set-up the water and sewer system. My 15-year-old can back me into a spot and help me level better than some of the well-seasoned RV couples! We can also get our Jeep set up or removed from tow mode in about five minutes because we have a routine. Everyone knows their job. 

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Checking latches on storage bays
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Filling up the tires

We have definitely made our fair share of mistakes, like not locking the slides, having an unlocked compartment come open on the highway, or driving with the emergency brake on, but we learn from it and adapted our routine to avoid making the same mistake twice. And that’s just it, to be successful in this lifestyle, you have to be willing and able to adapt. 

We are just over two months into our adventure. I have had one day where I wanted to quit. Then, I thought about what so many talk about in this lifestyle, my “why”.  What is your reason for doing this? What is your “why”? 

And so, the adventure continues.

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Holly Blake

Holly Blake is a single mom who travels full-time through the US with her two youngest sons and two labradors while homeschooling and working as a Transaction Coordinator for a Real Estate agent.

As a former military child and military spouse, being a nomad is deeply engrained in her.  She and her children set out in September of 2019 from Jacksonville, Florida. She chronicles their adventures on their Facebook page, There and Back Again with the Blake Clan. 

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20 Responses

  1. I applaud you and congratulate you. What you do requires tremendous effort and we pray the rewards will be more than adequate. You and your children are living a lifestyle I dreamed of when I was younger. Enjoy all the fruits of your efforts. In ten months, look back on the last year and congratulate yourselves! It will get easier.

    1. Thank you Judy! Some days it’s hard to believe it’s only been 3 months since we started. So much has changed!

      The roads are vast and plentiful…..but not every road is for you. Find yours and follow your heart!

      1. I’m not sure how I want to begin this. My situation is a big complicated. My wife and I sold our house at the end of 2020 and went full-time rving as of July 1st of 2021. A lot of that came to a screeching a hole as of October 19th 2021. My wife was struck and killed buy a reckless motor driver hit herat 107 miles per hour.

        And that process I lost my two stepsons to their biological dad and that leaves me with our three youngest kids. At that time was 10 months three and five. Soon our daughter our only daughter turned one in December and my two boys their birthdays are coming up in May and June so they’ll be four and six.

        She was the income bringer for this adventure she wanted to really do and be a traveling nurse. Our first contract was supposed to be December and we were making our way to Livingston Texas at the RVs escapees. We are also members. I’m not sure if at all I can continue this journey not with the RV that we have currently can’t do it. But I’ve been trying to desperately figure out if it would even be ideal with children as young as I have to try something like this to live something completely different than the normal lifestyle.

        My wife and I were very adventurous she died at 33 and I just turned 41 actually just turned 41 two days before her accident. I really cannot stomach or stand Pennsylvania any longer and I need to manage to figure out how to get out of here. We were going to do full-time rving for about to 3 years tops to figure out which state we wanted to live in and call home. We moved in the end of 2019 to South Carolina. But we end up not liking where we lived and we did a lot of traveling while living in South Carolina and found ourselves liking other areas too but I’m sure wherever you wanted to call home.

        This is where my injury came into play to my leg and being left go at work and Cassie wanting to really do traveling nursing now that we are no longer held back by the ex-husband. So that’s what we did now I’m in a place where the rain is taken care of for us until the end of June but after that I really have no idea what to do. I’ve been debating on using some of the insurance money and maybe selling the truck an RV we have for a different type of RV I figured a motorhome kind of similar to what you have would probably be more ideal than the older one that we have. I’m not exactly sure if that’s wise or not. My wife started to have a crazy love for Colorado and that’s not hard to believe because Colorado is beautiful but if you do my wife knowing how much she wanted to live south in warmer weather and preferably by the ocean her favorite place to be I found it very peculiar and that’s what started our talks on our way home where we took three additional days and talks went back to let’s do rving again it was something we thought about doing it 2016.

        Stories like you give me inspiration but I just not sure with children being that young in the responsibilities with homeschool we chose Texas as our state because Texas has better homeschooling laws than we thought of Florida and I think the other RV location is I want to say Nebraska I could be wrong on that. But if you have any suggestions or thoughts I would appreciate hearing from somebody that’s actually living it and doing it. I don’t mind doing hard work and putting in effort. It’s very rare we get to see my stepsons because of their dads and ass but I can’t base my life just off of that.

        Thank you

        1. Hi Jim! Congrats on pulling things together and planning ahead, researching options for your family. Sounds like your family has really been through the wringer, but you’re going a great job of making the best of the situation.
          I’ll make sure Holly knows you’ve commented, in hopes she may have some advice for you. In the meantime, though, you may want to take a look at some of the articles on our Xscapers website: https://xscapers.com/category/rving-families/ Xscapers is a lifestyle group of Escapees RV Club members who work full- or most-of-the-time while traveling, many of them bringing their young families on the road with them. You’ll find more articles from Holly as well as from others in our community who have faced questions similar to yours. Feel free to join our Facebook group for Xscapers, too https://www.facebook.com/groups/xscapers You’ll find others like yourself.

  2. Hi, Holly! I loved reading your story, and I also applaud you and your sons for embarking on your adventure. And the best part is, they’ll remember this time with Mom forever…they’ll be telling their grandchildren about it in 75 years!!! I admire your attitude of “How hard can it be? Let’s do it!!!” Keep on campin’ !!!

    1. Miss Frizzle said it best….”Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy” and I live by her words. Although maybe a bit too much of the make mistakes….

      I hope my sons do remember and talk about it! We talk about our mishaps now and laugh. We also talk about our favorite adventures.

      We are still going strong 1 year in!

    2. Hi there!

      I am a single mom and am considering venturing out on the road with my 12 & 2 year old. I am a nomad in heart and spirit but have allowed myself to be sucked under high mortgage payments, bills etc. I have had this thought of hitting the road with my kids for years. Due to Covid and other out-of-my-control mishaps this year, I feel all the signs to market my house and buy an RV are staring me in the face. I’m ready. My son is ready. He has been homeschooling for over a year and so far so good.
      I have lots of questions, so any suggestions you have in all areas, please share. I googled single, homeschooling, Rv traveling moms and you were the first to pop up. Love your inspiring story. Hope to have one of my own soon.

  3. I think you have more guts and bravado than most men out there, to do what you’re doing which is living life to the fullest despite the challenges involved. I can say with certainty that when you look back at your life in the future, you will not have many regrets that most of us do that include “would have, could have, should have…”. One tip I would like to give to help you in your travels is that if you ever get to a place with no cell signal, an RV cell booster can be very helpful.

    1. “Would have, could have, should have….” this is actually part of my “Why”. I see so many people wishing they had and I already was wishing I had earlier. I may be broke by the time our journey ends, but I will have one heck of a story.

      Thanks for booster tip!

  4. How lucky your children are to have such a courageous Mom! The life experience you are giving them is invaluable. I envy you that you do not let fear get in the way of living life, especially as a single Mom!

  5. Thanks for the great article!! I could be a “ditto” there, I’ve been searching for 3 years for the right RV…which is probably the wrong way to go about it. Fear is the stop…but we’ve downsized and are so close to just making it happen. Was going to start with a 24 foot with me and my boys and a cat and guinea pig.

    1. I see so many people start out in one rig and end up in another. You won’t know until you get out there. I just took the plunge, and while there are things I would love to have, overall, I really like our choice in RV.

  6. You go girl! I’m about to buy my first RV and travel with my 3 kids. I have 7 year old 3 month old twins reading your article made me feel alot better traveling on my own

    1. You can do this! Just keep your chin up. There are always going to be bumps in the road but remember, it’s the adventure of a lifetime that many can only dream about!

  7. I searched ‘single mom RV’ on google, expecting to find nothing. I’m planning a cross-country move at some point in the next year or two and realized it would be the perfect time for my now 6 year old daughter and I to travel the country. Glad to see I wouldn’t be the only single mom out there. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Reading this article gave me hope and the courage to take my 15 year old on the road. My mom just passed away so we have nothing holding us here anymore. I’m glad you wrote this. Thank you?

  9. Hello…single mom of a soon to graduate HS kid and I am just buying our first RV to hit the road for a crazy adventure. Needless to say I’m terrified but excited…never done anything like this. All my vacations have been get from point A to point B and nothing in-between. I live in Southern CA and would love to connect and maybe do some traveling with other single moms or parents out there.

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