At the risk of seeming ‘so 10-years ago’, I’m willing to admit that no van trip commences without our ultimate TV series: 24, (it’s kind of an annual thing, hence why were only on series 7, or so I thought!)
24 in short, is the story of a now rogue CTU (Counter-terrorist Unit) employee: Jack Bauer, who against all odds, somehow manages to survive ‘the day’ having encountered death, terrorism, savage plots and relationships all whilst inevitably being exhausted.
Super excited to be watching the next series, I gave it to Paul as an early birthday present, to find out that our sacred movie time lasted all of 10 minutes until we realised I’d bought him a previously watched series…
Therefore, seeing as travelling with children- in a van, somehow seems to resemble aspects of his life at times, I thought apt to write our own version.
Events occur in real time…
We’re all awake (bear in mind we’re on European time) so it’s breakfast in the van. Yes it takes two hours! Nabbie eats with Daddy whilst Mommy gets baby ready. Nabbie carries her spoon around, and shares Mommy and Nuksi’s breakfast. We’ll then shower in our ‘wet room’, slightly awkward being a glorified cupboard- I have a thing about wet shower curtains touching me too; gross! Maybe this is why it takes two hours?
09.00 – 17.00
Exploring. Everyday consists of exploring, or visiting some place new. If the children don’t do a full day, they’re inevitably out for most of it. To make this work, we have taken a pushchair, sling and a leash (sorry, backpack with reins attachment) with us. Baby has a morning and afternoon nap and Nabbie still has an afternoon sleep too; win! On a good day, we can get both children to sleep at the same time, on a bad day, it’s an opportunity for intense family time, with increased trips to glorified cupboard to steal some much sought after, ‘me’ time!
Although there is a close age gap between the children (22months) we opted against a double pushchair, purely because Nabbie had expressed no interest in it from being 18 months, preferring to walk and explore. Therefore, a buggy board, especially when solo-ing the parenting lark has become invaluable. However, since Nuksi’s arrival, Nabbie has discovered a new found love for the buggy so is more than happy to take an afternoon nap in it whilst I wear the baby, if both children are sleeping at the same time and we’re out!
When visiting places where pushchairs aren’t appropriate, Nabbie has slept in Daddy’s arms and even whilst on his shoulders. We’re incredibly thankful that she is such an accommodating little girl, and is the perfect gift to our family. Yet, understandably, we would never give her two consecutive days like this as she would struggle to function!
This is echoed with road-travelling days too. The days we need to move from place to place, we travel during their nap times. A long day would consist of a two hour trip in the morning and a two-three hour trip in the afternoon. We don’t travel longer than this and again, we don’t travel consecutively like this; leaving a few days in between.
It goes without saying, but knowing your children is crucial to a trip like this. It’s their adventure too so unquestionably need the time, to play, explore and rest. Perhaps it would be easier for you to travel at a different time? The first time around we travelled at night, for the first part of her bed-time. Now, that isn’t appropriate as both of them are older and in a firm bedtime routine. It’s a case of considering timings and making them fit to your family.
17.00-18.00 – down-time
This time is so precious and so needed as our toddler gets chance to reflect on her day. It’s a time for playing and discussing our day’s journey. Naturally, we’re doing this constantly throughout the day but play-time gives Nabbie the opportunity for child-led expression and for us as parents to hear about the day through her eyes.
Following tea, (dinner / supper; depending on your geographical remit) ‘Mission Bedtime’ commences. It is when the parents are seemingly at their most tired and the children relish exploiting their vulnerability…
Praise God for bath time – that will restore peace!
Hair-wash night requires Nabbie to have a shower, but both kids are usually found sitting in the bathroom sink to remove the days sweat, mud, pond water and food particles! Paul baths the kids whilst I make the beds…
We convert our side-facing bench seats into ‘a bed with a barrier’, as we have a wiggly toddler and a roly poly baby. Mommy sits in Nabbie’s bed for a bed-time story, whilst Nuksi listens and then, bed!
Golden hour – although probably more 9ct than 24ct for the first two hours as Nabbie talks, and talks, and talks, to her toys!
We’ve always been set with having a bedtime sleep routine for the children as from our experience, kids need sleep! Both girls put themselves into a bedtime routine, Nabbie by 4 months and Nuksi by month 1 (home-birth baby, used to her surroundings?) We understand Nabbie needs to process her day though and she’s more than happy to lie in bed and quietly chat to her toys until she finally drifts off. Nuksi will generally feed to sleep, if not, she will also happily lie awake before she too, drifts off!
This is perfect for Paul and I as we get some much required, quality time. Romantic, eh? We think so, as we lie (as there’s not enough height to sit) in our ‘lofty perch’ above the cab.
As prisoners in our own boudoir, we crack open the snacks and beverages we’ve ferreted away throughout the day, which makes for a jolly good evening! We’ve never had Wi-Fi so its DVD’s or, I blog to your good selves whilst Paul dreams up business ideas…
‘Tramp’s foot’ – A talcum powder to disguise unpleasant foot odours, should people on the road encounter such issues?
‘Chef’s booty’ – An exfoliating soap that is gentle on skin but tough on odours, in case you’re living off-grid for a while and smell like a…‘Chef’s booty!’
‘Ruff as a Mutt’ – ‘A roaming home’s’ real Ale. Van life getting too much? Out of gas, electric or both? Try our real ale, it’ll warm your cockles and make your night more bearable!
Sir Alan Sugar – call me..!
The time when the sand-man has come a knocking and we politely ask him to come back later as we’re usually up between 2 and 27 times feeding the baby, before it all starts again tomorrow…!
(Obviously our life is super hectic and no day is the same, but all these things will generally occur at some-point throughout each day, so timings are approximate!)
We’d love to hear how you manage routines and daily life, particularly if you’ve had a change to routine – how have you gotten your wee ones to have naps / sleeps? We’d love to hear from you! Be sure to let us know…