I keep seeing the question “Can I live on the road with a baby?” popping up all over the internet. From Facebook Groups to Google searches, people all over are looking for alternative ways to raise their children.
In my opinion, not only is it OK to have a kid while living in a van, but it might actually be preferable to raising a kid the “normal” way.
Let’s face it, we don’t make it very easy for people to be able to afford kids these days. Between rent, student loans, out of control medical costs, and the lack of paid maternal leave, affording a baby is something most people can’t afford to do anymore.
Raising your kid in a van or RV as a nomad might just be the solution we are all looking for to make kids a little more affordable.
Now before you tell me to make like a leaf and get out of here because I don’t actually have kids of my own, just hear me out on this…
You don’t have to live the same cookie cutter life like everyone else!
You and your child can take a different path and be just fine. Kids are tiny little sponges, and contrary to popular belief, they do not need a cozy house in the suburbs with a little white picket fence to be happy, well-adjusted adults.
What they do need is love and attention, and parents who are willing to teach them about the world. That stuff can be done in any location. As long as you have the basics, you can raise that kid however you darn well please!
Still not convinced?
Here is my list of top 5 reasons why raising your kids with #VanLife is the Best Life.
1. You can teach your child just as much, if not more, by actually showing them the world as opposed to making them sit in a tiny classroom and hearing about it second hand.
You could just choose the van life when they are tiny and then settle down when they get to school age
You could homeschool from the start.
Either way, traveling with your child will make them smarter.
I don’t know about you, but when some nerd in a sweater vest starts yapping at me about pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower, I get glassy eyed and fall asleep.
Take me on a day trip to Plymouth, on the other hand, to see where it all went down?
Well, now you’ve got my attention!
Schools can be ugly places these days. From standardized testing to bullying, it’s no wonder kids aren’t learning as much as they are in other countries. Also, teachers don’t get paid anywhere near enough to care for your little crotch goblin, it’s no wonder people are turning away in favor of homeschooling.
2. What kids are taught in school is a one size fits all approach that doesn’t allow questions.
Let’s go back to that Pilgrim/Native American example.
There is no way in HELL the first Thanksgiving went down the way they tell kids it did. The popular narrative is that the Native Americans welcomed the Europeans with open arms. Everyone brought a different dish and they had a jovial feast in scenic New England.
The real story can be found at The Plimoth Plantation History Museum. While I understand giving children age-appropriate doses of American History, I do not think sugar coating it to make us look like the good guy is the best course of action.
Call me a cynic, but people can be bad.
People can do bad things.
Kids need to know that shit in preparation for the real world.
3. You’ll spend more time together as a family.
Yup, the dreaded saying that every teenager stuck behind the screen of an Xbox loathes.
Time spent together as a family.
I never spent a lot of time with my parents growing up. I was either outside playing with my friends or inside reading, alone, because my parents worked hellish hours.
They were never home.
It’s not their fault really, they were just doing what they thought they had to do to survive. As a result, I became an island. I tend to push people away, and never talk about my feelings.
Unless, you know, it’s to total strangers on the internet.
I’m not saying I’m a super weirdo, but I’m not super normal either. Given the choice between alone time and people, I’ll choose alone every time. I’m sure all the time I spent alone as a kid contributed to that.
You hear the same story all the time of parents that are too tired from work to connect with their children and get to know them as human beings. They start to see their kids as more of a burden, another resource sucker, than as a happy part of their life.
That seems really sad to me.
As I wrote about in my post How to Live in a Van With Your Significant Other Without Killing Them, van life has a special way of forcing people to spend time together and bond.
I know a lot of families out there actually do bond with their kids. But I know even more families who don’t. Usually the parents are too damn tired to put in the effort after a long day, and that is a shame.
4. Your kid will be more open-minded.
Think about college for one second. The number one thing you hear Freshman talking about is all the new people and ideas they are exposed to.
But, why are they waiting until college to experience that?
Does it make them less empathetic to others?
We get tend to get so enmeshed with our core group of people, that we forget other people with different ideas exist. I mean sure, we see them on T.V., but to actually spend time with a stranger talking about differing points of view, even if you don’t agree with them, is sort of amazing.
It’s easy to look at the Westboro Baptist Church and think, Wow, those people are mind-numbingly stupid. And they are. But they are because all they grew up seeing is racism and intolerance.
Exposing your kid to people from all walks of life with all different belief systems will make them better humans.
I used to teach cake decorating classes back when I was a fancy Pastry Chef, and I had this one student whose parents had an amazing way to teach her and her brother about religion. They made them go to a service once a week…but it didn’t matter where.
As a result, these kids exposed themselves to all kinds of other belief systems, which is kind of great.
I’m an Athiest, but that is something I can absolutely get behind.
Why not open your kids up to what everyone believes, not just what your parents told you to believe?
5. Your kids will be forced… to be kids.
The 80’s were a glorious time, weren’t they? We were free to run and play without the hassle of having to worry about which Kylie Jenner Instagram photo has ruined the internet.
They were innocent and wonderful times!
When I was a kid in the 80’s I stayed outside and played with my friends from the moment I woke up, until the streetlights came on at night. We caught tadpoles, played in puddles, climbed trees, and had spontaneous dance parties.
Sure, we had a T.V., but it wasn’t something we sat in front of for SIX AND A HALF HOURS A DAY.
And we sure as hell didn’t have smartphones.
I was allowed, for a brief time in my life, to be carefree. I feel like kids today don’t get that anymore, and it sucks.
If you stare at a screen all day that tells you what to think, you’re never going to use your imagination, and imagination is one of the most important parts of a child’s development.
Children raised as nomads have the unique opportunity to experience childhood the way it used to be.
Hopefully, this list has cleared up some doubts in your mind about raising kids in a van.
I’m not saying van life will be easy, or that it will solve every problem. What I’m saying is that van life is a viable option. You can have a kid and they will most likely not turn into a serial killer if you choose to raise them on the road.
I have done a lot of research on this subject because over the summer, I got pregnant and had to think about what it would be like to raise a kid with my current lifestyle. I had to research everything to death before even contemplating bringing a small defenseless human into it.
It’s why we upgraded from our 1989 Ford Econoline to a 1990 Ford OKanagan. It’s basically the same van, but with a shower, kitchen, toilet, and a lofted sleeping area.
We have everything we need and then some to provide for a tiny family.
After speaking with several sets of van dwellers, RV lifers, school bus owners with kids…as well as my OBGYN, I came to the conclusion that kids are portable.
And I wasn’t a crazy person for considering a life on the road.
Anything you can do in a house, you can do on the road, and not only that but your kid could be better off for it.
It turns out that there are tons of people out there turning away from traditional living and learning.
Say what you will about me, but know that I really don’t care what the rest of society does with its time. If I am going to have a kid, I’m going to give them the best chance possible at learning about the world.
Unfortunately, we ended up losing the pregnancy. It sucked, but life can throw you curve balls sometimes. When that little pink line popped up on that test, I hadn’t considered raising a kid in a van, but now I’m prepared. When the opportunity presents its self again, I will be totally ready for it now that I’ve done the research.
Having kids shouldn’t be a nightmare, it should be something exciting and magical.
And Van Life can make it a little more attainable for the rest of us.
Looking to get started on your own Van Life adventure? Start here with 11 Van Life Must Haves