We have been living on the road for 2 months now.
Overall, we are loving our new lifestyle and don’t even want to talk about it ending, especially not any time soon but I’d be lying if I said it was all sunshine and rainbows.
I had planned to write an update every month, until I started writing 'Month One' and realised I was just repeating what we had done and where we had gone, which we already posted on Facebook and Instagram, so I stopped. Aside from the reality of being away from our family starting to sink in, we pretty much felt like we were on a holiday.
It didn't all come crashing down like the Cedar Creek Falls in Airlie Beach QLD after a storm; it was more like a slow glide towards our new reality.
Our Cubs starting teething, yes all 3 at the same time, plus our twins hit the 9month sleep regression and my job took a very stressful turn all in the same week.
As we battled long, sleepless nights followed by long stressful days, the fatigue and frustration built up. It took a couple days of Mr Snippy and Mrs Snappy before we kind of just stopped and were like hold up, this isn’t us.
COMMUNICATION PEOPLE – we had lost our communication, something we were normally very good at. We had made comments like “I’m really tired”, “work is stressing me out”, “this caravan is cluttered” but we kind of just brushed it all aside as life, as you do sometimes but in such a small confined space and only having each other it's harder to brush it off.
Once we realised, we sat down for a “Family Meeting” (we’ve actually never had one before, but we plan to make it a regular thing, it was refreshing).
Families had shared this with us, offered advice about teamwork, routine, chore lists etc. but it’s not something that can really be sorted out until you are actually in the van, living the life and going through the motions.
Also, everyone’s dynamics are different. I will face different challenges with my 10month old than your 10year old; my 3 children compared to your 5 and not many families have to worry about one parent working a full-time job.
We just needed to make some adjustments and find a nice balance that worked for everyone, so we listed all our issues and came up with solutions. The main ones were:
1) DOING TOO MUCH
We realised the contributing factor to EVERYTHING was we were burning out. Between lack of sleep and constantly keeping busy it was just too much.
There is just so much to see of this beautiful country and whilst you want to see and do everything, you just can’t.
Allowing ourselves to do nothing has actually been harder than we thought. Our lives were so full-on that I think we forgot how to relax; something we are happy to keep working on.
So we have started to slow down, stay longer in places and have more recovery days.
Whilst we appreciate suggestions from people, we have also started doing more research and choosing the activities we want to do and that better suit us.
As much as we don’t let having 3 babies get in the way of our lives, we have to be honest with ourselves that we do have 3 babies. Going on a 30km hike or spending the day kayaking down a river isn’t exactly a day well spent for us right now. One day we will get back to doing those things, but for now playgrounds, libraries, waterparks, beach visits, short hikes and museums are top of our list of the things to do. These make US happy and that is our goal.
2) FAMILY / WORK BALANCE
I personally found working from the van more challenging than I initially thought and I really struggled with finding a balance between family & work. I had worked from home for 2years but at home I didn’t have the constant temptation of our beautiful country, places to explore and sights to see. It was so easy to put tasks aside to do later and go off an adventure with my family, but this resulted in my to-do list getting longer.
We stopped for a few days and focused on catching up on everything and started working on a better plan to find a good balance.
We discussed a few options, one being Cameron taking Keira and the twins for a walk in their pram during their nap-time to give me time to focus.
We realised we need to discuss work more often - where I am up to, what I have going, what my deadlines are - and from there we work our plans around.
Although this will be a continuous learning curve we are in a better routine and as much as I do still miss out some things, I don’t miss out on anywhere near as much as I would going to work and it is so much more motivating because once I am done, we can explore as a family like a little reward.
3) CARAVAN NEEDED SOME SORTING
We minimalised 10years of living in a house into a caravan. It was never going to be perfect the first time, in fact it will probably never be “perfect”, but it was a starting foundation.
It wasn’t so much that it was messy, it was more the amount of stuff we had that required sorting like work files, clothes given to us and we also hadn’t counted on getting so much stuff for Christmas. Despite us really asking for nothing, our families still spoiled us all so we ended up with more than we thought.
As we started to live out of the van, on the road, we started to see what worked where and what didn’t, but then never really took the time to reshuffle. The biggest issue was I would do a little sort and thought this should go here but then Cameron would do a little sort and thought it should go there. I would go looking for it a few days later and not be able to find it in my spot.
Things were thrown out when we realised they were not needed but it needed a good and proper sort through and better organisation to make life easier.
So, once again the whole slow down and take a few days out came into play and after a little rest and catching up work we set our sights on the van.
We started at one end and went right through everything.
Each cupboard and draw stripped and repacked, once we both agreed that’s where it should go. If it didn’t have a place or no longer served a purpose it was thrown or donated, depending on its condition.
I know this won’t be the last, especially as the girls grow up and out of things but as long as we all stay in the habit of putting things back in their place when finished using, it won’t feel as cluttered in such a small space.
We have experienced, seen and done so much in just a few short months and we are excited to see what the next few months bring. I have no doubt we will continue to do have some hard times, we are only human, but day-to-day things are easier now that we are in a better groove.
As long we keep communicating, support each other and work as a team, the good times will always outweigh the bad by far and it sure does beat the rat-race we used to think was living. Travelling Australia, watching our girls grow up & making these memories is real living.