I’m watching the sunset of life with a toddler in an RV. Two years old has always been a favorite age of mine, so this is something I’m mourning. Two is a beautiful year, full of vocabulary explosion, awkward moves, and generally feeling like I want to record every moment of this stage.
We’ve seen a lot of a change as a family since I wrote “Making Room for Baby in an RV” and “Making Room for a One Year Old in an RV.” In December 2018, right after Caspian turned two, we sold the 40-foot RV that had been our home for nearly five years. We lived out of our Jeep Wrangler for three months–most of that in the interior of Mexico. And then we bought a 25-foot Winnebago View.
Downsizing has been awesome. This RV model actually gives Caspian a dedicated space, which he calls his “own room.” In this article, you can expect to learn:
- What stuff do we need for our toddler in an RV?
- Where do we store all of our toddler’s things in our RV?
- What do normal, daily routines look like when you’re living in an RV with a toddler?
Let’s get started.
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What Stuff Does Our Toddler Use and Where Does It Go?
In the past year, we have eliminated so much “stuff.” This is partially because Caspian is older and doesn’t need the gear anymore, and partially because our new RV home doesn’t have the storage space we used to have.
Coincidentally, the Winnebago View has three overhead cabinets above the master bed in the rear. This is where Eric, Caspian, and I keep our clothing. Since Caspian has more clothing changes than any of us, his cabinet is the most accessible.
In his cabinet, I keep Caspian’s clothes, Pull-ups, hats, and swim diapers–all his apparel-related items. I use the shelving left by our friends the Holcombes, who were the original owners of our RV.
We’ve always tried to keep a handle on the amount of toys we have. From the beginning of owning this RV, I gave up my bottom kitchen drawer to be used as Caspian’s toy drawer. While it’s a dangerous and humorous challenge to use the stove in the middle of playtime, I love that Caspian can easily access this space that belongs to him.
As Caspian’s Lego collection has grown (the toys he plays with most often, by far), he’s also started to take up space underneath the kitchen table. Our “one in, one out” rule has eroded slightly, but only in reasonable ways.
Caspian’s outside toys are stored in the basement bay just outside our door. Once we unlock and open the bay door, Caspian can get his bucket, shovels, dump truck, and other things with wheels that are always dirty from outdoor play.
Caspian’s book volume may be greater than his toy volume. He has an Ikea basket full of books that lives in his “room,” the bed above the cab of our RV. His books don’t all fit in his basket, so it’s a constantly overflowing, wonderful sort of problem.
I’m thrilled to have a child who loves books, and keeping his library in his bed space helps him stay occupied when I’m trying to finish a work project, or it just isn’t time for him to get up yet.
There are some things I don’t want Caspian to be able to reach when I’m not looking. One of our cabinets above the dinette is devoted to these things, which are mostly education-related. Here we have things like:
- Washable markers and crayons
- Child scissors
- Stamp set
- School books
- Magnet map of the United States
Caspian has finished one preschool workbook and started his second.
When Caspian was one, we transitioned from a Graco infant seat to the Diono Rainier. The Diono will last him through his car seat years and we’ve loved using it.
It’s really heavy because it has a steel frame. But that hasn’t stopped us from switching it between vehicles when we’re visiting family and friends. The hardest part was flying to California this year and having to use a car seat provided by our rental car company. It felt so rinky dinky compared to our Diono.
We had an Eddie Bauer diaper backpack for nearly two years, but a strap finally broke just before Caspian turned two. We downsized to a United By Blue backpack, which is cute and more compact. At this point, all we consistently carry is:
- Water bottle
- Change of pants and underwear
- Pull-up for emergencies
- Small books and Matchbox Jeeps for entertainment when we eat out
Stuff We’ve Grown Out of in the Past Year
It’s wild to read last year’s guide and see everything Caspian has grown out of since he turned two.
- He stopped sleeping in a crib when we took our trip into Mexico. All of a sudden, he was sleeping in a full-sized bed out of necessity, and we never looked back.
- We didn’t have room for Caspian’s Inglesina table chair in our Jeep, so that’s something else we stopped using when we traveled through Mexico. Fortunately, most of the restaurants we ate at south of the border had high chairs, so it was a gradual transition.
- Though we used Caspian’s sound machine in Mexico, we stopped when we got our Winnebago and started dry camping most of the time. We just didn’t have the electricity to run a sound machine at night when there was no sun on our solar panels.
- This one really hurt. I had to leave the BOB stroller behind starting with Mexico, and then we had no place to store it in our Winnebago. While Caspian is now an awesome walker because he doesn’t have a stroller to fall back on, there are still times when I deeply miss the convenience. We would definitely still be traveling with that stroller if it fit in any of our storage bays.
- Diapers! I had to give up cloth diapers with all of our dry camping in 2018. But Caspian’s started potty training himself soon after he turned two, and switched to “big boy underwear” full-time in mid-October 2019. (He still sleeps in a Pull-up.)
- We did use a little potty for most of the year, especially when we lived out of our Jeep in Mexico, but Caspian has switched to using the toilet exclusively.
- While we still keep our Lillebaby carrier in the Jeep at all times, it’s stopped working for me with Caspian as heavy as he is. I used it in early October when we were in Washington D.C. (and sans stroller, there’s no other way we could’ve explored as much as we did), but my back was not happy. I’m wondering whether I haven’t adjusted the straps properly because it’s rated up to 60 pounds. For being nearly three years old and heavily used, it’s still in great condition.
What Is Our Daily Routine?
I’ve gone over the relatively short list of material needs for a toddler in an RV. Now you may be curious to learn about a day in the life of a full-time RVing two-year-old (and his parents who run five business ventures together)!
- 5 a.m. – I get up and start work.
- 7 a.m. – Caspian gets up. He wakes closer to 6:30 a.m., but knows he needs to stay in bed until I say it’s time. While he’s waiting, he may play an imagination game with his stuffed animals, sing songs, or turn on his reading light and look at books.
- 7:30 a.m. – Eat breakfast. Usually yogurt and berries, and always milk.
- 8-10 a.m. – Adventure with Mommy. We like to find a local donut shop or coffee shop where we get a pastry, work on Caspian’s schoolbook, and read. Afterwards, we might find a playground, library, or Barnes & Noble (because train table). Books are definitely an obsession. On other days, we grocery shop or go to the laundromat. While we’re out, Eric has quiet time to concentrate on work.
- 10 a.m.-12 p.m. – Nap/quiet time. Though the time is pushed back ever so slightly, Caspian has had this nap time since he was one. It’s still working, so I’m riding the train as long as I can. I often really need the time to finish work (otherwise I’m working at night after he goes to bed). As he gets closer to three, Caspian doesn’t always sleep during this time–at least, not right away. But it’s a precedent I set a long time ago, so he’s content to play quietly, talk to himself, and read books.
- 12 p.m. – Lunch. Ham and cheese rolls, little oranges, bell pepper slices, baby tomatoes, and avocado are current favorites.
- 1-5 p.m. – Drive time or adventure with Daddy. We increased our travel pace this year, and many afternoons have been spent driving. Caspian travels with Daddy in the Jeep, while I drive the RV. Eric is intentional about picking teaching topics for each drive, like the directions on a compass or how wind turbines work. I’m hoping to find some kind of age-appropriate audio language course they can go through in the coming year.
- 5 p.m. – Dinner. I try to cook at home as much as possible, though it’s not my favorite thing! We usually eat out a couple times a week, at minimum. Eric is still on keto after more than two years, so we always keep that in mind.
- 6:30 p.m. – Bedtime routine. Sailor shower (if we have enough water and it isn’t too cold), pjs, and teeth brushing downstairs. Once we’re in Caspian’s “room,” we read, say prayers, and sing.
- 7 p.m. – Bedtime.
Final Thoughts on Making Room for a Toddler in an RV
Caspian is thriving as a full-time RVer. This lifestyle requires self-deprivation, and he’s learned that early. But it’s such a beautiful thing to witness. When we go into toy stores, he asks questions about what he sees. I usually let him pick up a “lovey” (stuffed animal) while we walk around. But he knows when we leave, everything is going back where he found it. He has no expectation of getting anything.
Funny story. We were recently at the National Zoo in Washington D.C. Eric was in the gift shop, looking at really cute stuffed animals and thinking about getting one for Caspian. Caspian walked right up to him and declared, “Daddy! I don’t need any more lovies!” So that was that.
Restricted space in an RV is one thing, but living in a Jeep in Mexico upped the ante:
We invest in experiences and treat every moment as a teaching moment. Though I love to be silly with him, I normally speak to Caspian at a language level much higher than toddler talk. If he doesn’t know what a word means, he just asks. And because he’s with us around 10 hours a day, every single day, his range of vocabulary is shocking.
Last but not least, we drastically limit Caspian’s screentime. This is partially because most of the media out there is worthless, modeling unwanted behavior or provoking negative emotions. But mostly it’s because screens negatively impact the developing brain. More of my thoughts here:
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My child, the one who never goes far without his weight in books. 📚 I’m usually about a decade behind everyone when it comes to reading books about current events. So right now I’m reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser. Circa 2001, so make that two decades behind. 😂 Anyway, I’m just getting started, but I’m in the middle of a terrifying section about how the fast food industry was one of the first to market to children. The book talks about marketing firms that study child psychology and exist to manipulate little minds—and their parents, by extension. I may be spending two weeks enjoying Disney World, but my minimalism goes with me. I love the magic. I love the music. I love Nomad Lounge at Animal Kingdom. But we don’t buy the t-shirts, toys, or bubble blowers. And I’m always wary. At this point, Caspian has less than half an hour of screentime a week. It isn’t just the content, though I do believe most of it is worthless and models less than ideal behavior for an impressionable toddler. But beyond the content, the mere mode of media consumption impacts the developing brain. Caspian’s attention span is massively long compared to many of his peers. He isn’t used to being bombarded by moving images. He isn’t addicted to that. He doesn’t need it. Instead, he’s accustomed to the slow, deep pace of reading, and the intricacies of human conversation. Film, television, mobile phones, tablets, and computer screens aren’t going anywhere. Well, they probably are, but only to be replaced by something we’re even more addicted to. I don’t need to teach Caspian anything about that. He’ll pick it up when it’s time. But how will he learn to look someone in the eye, read a room, speak confidently in public, or empathize? It’s my job to teach him those things, and make sure his mind isn’t crowded by worthless things right now. Oh yes, this is a soapbox for me, but don’t even try to get me down. 🧼 #rvwanderlust #caspiantheodore #littlenomad #rving #rvlife #homeiswhereyouparkit #rvliving #rvadventure #rvroadtrip #rvlifestyle #homeonwheels #fulltimerv #fulltimetravel #rvtravel #lifeontheroad #fulltimervfamily #rvfamily #rvingwithkids
I love Caspian as a two-year-old. I’m going to miss this little him. But I’m so excited about the child he’s becoming, and I can’t wait to see how he blossoms through our travels during his next year of life as a three-year-old.
As always, I want to be a resource to you. Don’t hesitate to comment with your questions or send a contact form with something you’d prefer to discuss privately. We need each other, and definitely don’t need to waste energy reinventing the wheel.