How an Extended RV Trip Will Make Your Family Closer
Our family took a 5 week RV road trip last summer, and we did not kill each other! In fact, we would go again right now if we could (Summer trip 2017 coming soon.)! When we started telling people about the trip we had planned, one of the first questions they asked was, “How will you stand being together 24/7 for five weeks?” To be honest, I kind of wondered the same thing. I have always considered my family to be typical. Our kids can’t stand each other one moment and, then, are best friends the next. We give them directions and sometimes they chose not to follow them, which leads us to get “frustrated.” ( I am sure you know this feeling!) As the parents of a 9 and 11 year old, we could not get through an hour of being together at home, without a little conflict. So, how could we expect it to be different out on the road? To our surprise, it was very different. In fact, I would say going on a 5 week road trip was the best thing we have ever done for our family.
In the craziness of everyday life, we are all going 90 to nothing everyday. The kids have school, Blaine and I have work, and we all have activities that keep us busy. All of us like different things, and we don’t always appreciate what the other person likes. J would spend all day playing video games if we let him. Blaine and I have no interest in video games, so sometimes it feels like we can’t have an in depth conversation with him about the things he enjoys most. When we were on the road, everything we did was together. When you spend 5 weeks sharing good and bad experiences, it gives you something in common to have conversations about. E is our science lover. When we visited Yellowstone, she was in Heaven. All of us were able to share in her excitement as we toured the park and learned about the geothermal features. Both of the kids really wanted to see a bear in the wild. So, as a family, we began our quest to find a bear. We were on the watch everywhere we went. I cannot begin to tell you the excitement our family experienced when we finally saw a Grizzly Bear on our last day at Yellowstone. That one experience gave us countless conversations.
In those 5 weeks, we shared so many great experiences, but not all of our experiences were good ones! When we were at Mesa Verde National Park, we enjoyed a great picnic in their picnic area…then got back in the truck to continue our tour of the park. We started down a one way road leading out of the picnic area, but we had to stop when the road was blocked by the porta potty cleaning truck.
Let’s just say the time we spent waiting was quite the smelly experience, but provided us with many laughs. For the next several days, one of us would just start laughing and we would all join in. Still to this day, the kids will bring up having to wait on the porta potty cleaner! The good, as well as the bad, experiences we had on our 5 week trip provided us with not only quality time spent together, but hours upon hours of family conversations.
I am not going to lie and say each and every day was a bed of roses. We did have arguments and the kids did misbehave, but what we found was all of these things happened much less than they did at home. When you are busy having fun together, there is much less time for arguing. We found the days we had the most friction were the days when we were all tired. One way to alleviate our fatigue was to make sure we had rest days and time to ourselves. Rest days were the days I usually washed clothes. Now I would not usually consider time at the laundromat a fun experience, but I used that time to write in my journal and just have some me time. Blaine would run errands to the store by himself, so he could have a little time away. We made sure each of the kids had time without the other one around.
While at Mountain Meadow RV Park in West Glacier, Montana, I took J for a walk and we played a little soccer. We enjoyed the Mommy and J time, but it also gave him some time away from his sister. E likes to read and spent some of her alone time sitting outside or on her bed reading a good book. Giving each other a little time away allowed us all to enjoy the time we did have together much more and led to fewer arguments.
When you are on the road seeing so many amazing things it sounds crazy to say you focus on each other more, but really you do. For those 5 weeks, we made a pact to put down our phones. (Except for pictures, of course!) We tried to only make social media posts at night or early mornings. Some of my best memories of our trip were of watching our kids enjoy new experiences. Like the moment they walked through the spray of a geyser at Yellowstone, or when J had a chipmunk sit in his hand at Moraine Lake in Canada. I would have totally missed those moments if I had been looking at my phone. I can count on one hand the times we turned on the tv in the RV. Most of our evenings, we were either too tired to watch tv or we were too busy planning for the next day. Mundane tasks like fixing sandwiches for the next day, became fun when we spent the time talking about where we would probably picnic the next day.
We now have an answer for all those that asked, “How will you stand being together 24/7 for 5 weeks?” Not only did we stand it, we LOVED it and plan on doing it again! The time we spent together as a family made us appreciate each other more. For those 5 weeks, our focus was not on paying bills, homework, running errands or cleaning the house. We were able to focus on experiencing beautiful places and fun activities together. We laughed with each other. We stood in awe of the beauty around us. We cheered each other on when a hiking trail was difficult. We put down our phones, turned off the TV, and just spent time with each other. If you are wondering if your family should take an extended RV trip, I say go for it!
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