Real RV Life

I’ll be the first to admit there is nothing now, never has been, and likely never will be anything about my life that is Pinterest ready. LOL

Y’all, real full time RV life is messy, dirty, cluttered, and often organization in progress at all times. Yes, it’s amazing and I’m so grateful we’re living it. But don’t believe the staged photos. Nope, don’t do it!

Also understand that most campers are not designed with full time RV life in mind. Most are designed for a week or two vacation a couple of times a year. Or a hunting weekend. Or a tailgate weekend. You get what I’m saying.

So we’ve discovered the sofas in our camper are some of the most uncomfortable furniture we’ve ever encountered. Of course, you can’t know that in the 30 minutes you spend walking through campers at the dealership.

Today we’re removing the jackknife sofa in the slide out of our camper. We had hoped to put a small table and a couple of chairs in that space, but the slide out in our small camper is over the wheel well. This means the slide out does not go all the way to the floor of the camper. Therefore we won’t be able to use the space for a table. That’s okay. We can still use the space for our little plastic dorm room cabinets and Daniel’s ukuleles and Jade’s bed. Much better use of the space than this horrible sofa.

The offensive sofa.

Praying very hard this works as planned. All I know is that I cannot spend one more day trying to work sitting on this thing.

Five Things We’ve Learned in our First Five Months of Full Time RV Life

This list makes it sound like we don’t love our camper and RV life. That’s not the case. We love our camper and our truck. It’s true we’ll love RV life more when it’s safe to travel again. But we are so grateful to be living our dream. 

However, it is true that you don’t know what you don’t know. Even after two years of research and lots of soul searching what we thought at the outset would work great for us turns out to maybe not be the best choices.

With that, here are five things we’ve learning from our first five months of full time RV life that we want to do differently.

  1. Our space is just a bit too small. Yes, we could get rid of more stuff. But honestly at some point minimalism transitions to austere which is not us. Our travel trailer is 24’4”. After living in her for five months, we agree that we would like to transition to a Class C motorhome in the neighborhood of 30’. It’s not that we want more stuff. We don’t. Truly. The clutter of having to stack things, leave things out on the counter that I would love to put away, having to shuffle things every time I get something out of the cabinet gets frustrating. 
  2. A dedicated bedroom with a door is a must. We chose a Murphy bed layout because we thought it made sense to not waste space on a room that is only used to sleep. We talked about having to go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time with the Murphy bed layout. We talked about the possible weirdness of our bed being in our living room. But after living in the space for five months we realize a dedicated bedroom is not a waste of space. Daniel sometimes likes to stay up later than I do. Right now he can’t really because our bed folds out into the living space. I must have some quiet time in the morning. I like to get up a little earlier than he does. With our current situation, that doesn’t work well at all. If this were a two week vacation, it would be fine. But living with our entire everything in one big room is not the best choice for us.
  3. Our next RV will be a motorhome. Not a huge one. We want a Class C around 30ish feet. We want to tow a small car. Don’t get me wrong. We love and are beyond grateful for our travel trailer and truck. Sometimes (most of the time) a small car is much more efficient than a big super duty truck once you’re at the campground and just driving around or going to the grocery. In a motorhome the dogs would be more comfortable on moving days instead of being cramped up in the backseat of the truck. 
  4. We need a dinette/desk/table. We need somewhere to work and to eat. We currently have nice folding trays to eat and to use as computer stations. It works. It’s not great. Our current set up is not even close to ergonomic. In all honesty, I’m not sure you could have a truly ergonomic workstation in a small RV. However, it can be much better than what we’re doing now. 
  5. Cleaning a smaller space is not necessarily easier. Yes, we have two medium-large dogs. Yes, they both shed. I really thought it would be easier to sweep and dust on the daily. Nope. It’s not. It does take less time, but there are all kinds of cracks and nooks and little tiny spaces hair can get into. And there’s no place for the dogs to go while I try to sweep up. I’m not sure how to make this better. We do need some type of very small vacuuming system. Although, I’m not sure where we would store it. 

Even with these five things we’d like to change, we wouldn’t change the choice to take a chance on full time RV life. We still think it’s the best way to live for us. I’m sure in five months I’ll have five more things I’ve learned. Every day brings something new, for sure. 

Sunday Morning Meditation

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Romans 12:2, about transforming my life by renewing my mind, by adjusting my reality based on what I know about God rather than living stagnant based on how I feel. The verses in the image below give me a direction for study for how to put this into practice. My vision is the same, but I’m learning that it’s God inspired. I’m learning that God has already provided the tools, weapons, resources I need to walk in the vision He’s given.

Mindful Eating: Tip 5

Tip 5: Stop eating when you’re no longer hungry.

Guess what? You really don’t have to eat until you’re full. You don’t have to ‘clean your plate.’

If you’re slowing down and being present while you eat, you will notice when your hunger is satisfied. Stop eating then. Push your plate away. Enjoy the conversation with your dinner mates. But just don’t eat any more. If you feel like you want to eat, but you know you’re not hungry, drink water.

This seems to be the most difficult for many of us, myself included. As kids a lot of us were taught we must eat everything on our plates. In our family we were also taught we had to try everything on the table. This creates some devastating habits.

So, here’s your permission slip: you CAN leave food on your plate, you CAN only eat the food you like.

No child in a third world country is going to suffer any more than they already are because we leave food on our plates.

So how do you gameplan this for those family holiday feasts?

Focus on slowing down and stopping when you’re no longer hungry. Limit or avoid alcohol. Eat your favorite foods first.

Tomorrow at our Thanksgiving meal, the first thing on my plate will be sweet potato casserole. It’s my holiday fave.

Here is a downloadable worksheet to help with your plan.

How are you taking control of your health over the holidays?

Mindful Eating: Tip 4

Set mealtimes. Set your table. Sit at your table to eat.

As much as possible, set mealtimes in your home. Sometimes that seems almost impossible, but try to do so for at least one meal each day. It doesn’t even have to be the same meal every day. Maybe on weekends it’s easier to get everyone together for breakfast and during the week everyone gathers for supper. Make sure everyone stays at the table until everyone is finished eating. It’s not only good for your health to slow down while eating, it’s a great time for conversation, to get to know what’s going on in each other’s lives.

The point is to gather at the table with no distractions.

Set your table. Even if it’s a tray. In our travel trailer we don’t have a table, but we both have trays. For our meals we pull out the trays, sit beside each other on the sofa, and eat.

Make family meals an event, a tradition.

Do you have mealtimes already in your home? Do you involve your kids in helping to set the table and clear it after the meal is completed?

Mindful Eating: Tip 3

Tip number 3 is to think about where your food comes from.

What do you have on your plate? A protein, maybe? A vegetable or two? Perhaps a starch?

Where does that food come from? Think beyond the grocery store. Think about the farmer who grew the food. About his family. The people he employs. Think about the earth where those veggies grew. Think about the baker who prepared the bread. If you eat animal protein, think about the animals who supply our food.

Think about the workers who took the raw food sources and processed the food to have it ready for purchase.

Then move up the chain to the grocery store. Think about the person stocking the shelves. The cashier who rang up the purchase. The person who bagged the groceries.

Next, bring it closer to home. Think about the person who prepared the meal you are eating. Do you know the person? Are you eating at home? If you’re in a restaurant, think about the chef, the server, the bus boy, the dishwasher.

The point is to slow down enough to consider all that goes into the preparation of our food and to practice gratitude for receiving nourishment.

Have you ever grown your own vegetables or visited a working farm? How can you incorporate this practice into your daily life?

Mindful Eating: Tip 2

What did you have for breakfast? Did you like it? What flavors and spices stood out to you? What about smell? Did your food smell good? Inviting? Appetizing? Did you really even notice you were eating?

The second tip for mindful eating is to put your fork down between each bite. Focus on chewing your food, tasting all the flavors. How do the flavors change as you chew? How does the food feel in your mouth?

I’ve watched my dog, Jack, eat treats. If they are small enough, he doesn’t even chew, he just swallows them whole. I laugh and remind him that he might enjoy the treat more if he tasted it instead of just swallowing it. But, you know, he’s a dog, so he doesn’t care.

But consider this-how much time and effort do you put into preparing a meal, especially one like Thanksgiving, then it’s over in 10 minutes? Everyone gets up, talks about how full they are. Who really tasted the food? Who savored and enjoyed it?

How would your food choices change if you tasted the food, chewed it well, thought about the flavors? Would that fast food hamburger still taste as good? Would a hamburger made at home with your own seasonings and condiments taste a little better?

Try this exercise: pick a meal time that you will be unhurried, set your meal on the table, take one bite, then put your fork down, your hands in your lap and chew the bite. Do this with each bite. How was this eating experience different? Did it change your enjoyment of your meal?

Mindful Eating: Tip 1

My first tip for mindful eating is to quiet your surroundings from electronics or outside noise. Turn off the TV. Silence your phone. Better yet, put phones in another room.

Focus on talking with the people with whom you’re sharing your meal. Talk about your day, your dreams, your fears, the food, the weather. Whatever you want to discuss. You get the idea.

Watching TV or surfing your phone while eating pulls you out of the moment, away from the present event of sharing food with others. Even if you’re eating alone, do it in a way that honors your own presence.

The point is not to dine in silence, but to silence the outside noise that pulls you out of the present. Focus on the meal, the company, your surroundings. Just BE with your food and your family and friends.

In addition to making your table mates feel important and heard, tuning out and turning off electronics offers health benefits. According to this article from The Cleveland Clinic says that watching TV while eating can lead to weight gain as it leads to distracted eating.

Do you currently eat with the TV on or surfing your phone? Are you willing to try one meal without the outside noise? I’d love for you to come back and tell me your thoughts after you try it.

Mindful Eating Tips for Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving is one week away in the US. Can you believe it? This has been the longest and the fastest year all rolled into one. And given how bizarre this year has been, that makes total sense in my brain.

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time of family, fun, gratitude, and…well, gluttony. You know I’m right.

But I think there’s a better way. Yes, definitely still enjoy some treats. I can promise you pumpkin pie will find my face. So will some sweet potato casserole. So how can I eat the things I love and associate with Thanksgiving without totally blowing my health goals?

Two words.

Mindful eating.

Mindful eating is just the practice of mindfulness applied to eating. Being present. Being aware. Being focused.

Over the next few days I’m going to share my five favorite tips for mindful eating practice so that we can enjoy and indulge on Thanksgiving without totally committing gluttony.