RV Trip: But What About Sleep?

I’m planning to do some check-ins pre- and post-launch to address the mental, emotional and physical adjustments as we transition to a home on wheels.

Mental Check-In: Sleep

First up is the topic of sleep, which I’ve categorized as mental, but we all know that sleep (or lack of sleep) has emotional and physical effects as well.

For me–and I’m sure many others with young kids considering full-time RVing–sleep is a valid concern. As a mom who has birthed three kids in less than three years, I can count on my fingers the few times I’ve slept through the night without being awakened by the cries of a child during the past four years. I know what it’s like to try all the baby-whispering techniques to have none of them work. I know what it’s like to feel the sleep-deprivation hangover. I know what it’s like to depend on coffee to get through the day.

So when it comes to five people sleeping in an RV, I honestly don’t have it all worked out yet. That’s why I don’t have high expectations for our first two weeks on the road and am prepared for a relapse of the sleepless newborn days. But I do believe that we’ll eventually find our routine and our kids will adjust–if nothing else, from sheer exhaustion.

Bunk Room

We are still debating on a fifth wheel vs. travel trailer, but regardless of which RV type we choose, it will definitely have a bunk room. Our favorite models have bunk rooms with slideouts that create ample floor space, which will be ideal for rainy days or those mornings when the kids wake up before sunrise.

Winnebago ultralite-33bhsl-bunk-house

This is an awesome bunk room in one of our favorite travel trailers, the Winnebago 33BHSL. Some bunk houses do not contain slideouts, but we need a bunk room with enough space to fit Scarlett’s pack and play, which will not only keep her contained but also safe from the Rowdy boys. Toward the end of our year-long adventure, when she is closer to 2.5 years, she may get to upgrade to a floor bunk if safety is no issue.

Preparing for Sleep

We’re trying our best to prepare for the sleeping transition in the RV now, but refraining from going overboard. After all, there’s no need to stick Scarlett in the room with the Rowdy boys before it’s absolutely necessary.

boy sleeping tents

We dismantled Beau’s crib a month ago and he now sleeps in James Michael’s room at night. Of course, I’m not stoked that he’s following in big brother’s footsteps of sleeping on the floor, but they won’t have any choice (or room) in the RV. The boys currently sleep in tents that Grandma gave them for Christmas. Maybe if I decorate their bunks in the RV they’ll transition OK. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Some nights it takes them forever to wind down and go to sleep. From downstairs, we hear the drama of tears one minute then hysterical laughing just moments later. But eventually they fall asleep in their own separate tents.

Though they share a room at night, we still haven’t gotten them to nap together. We’ve tried putting them in the same room, but delaying nap time by 1.5 hours from playing just messes up their night time sleep. So for now, Beau is back in the guest room for naps. I’m thinking that one of them could sleep in our bedroom in the RV for naps to separate them. And at some point James Michael will outgrow naps. He’s finally starting to nap only 1.5 to 2 hours a day instead of his average of 3-4 hours in the past.

scarlett sleeping crib

I’m not sure how Scarlett will fit into the sleep equation. She will likely be down to one nap a day by the time we leave, so hopefully it will coincide with the boys’ naps. But I’m not sure how tolerable she’ll be of the boys’ bedtime antics, because she can’t handle an hour of playing before bed. Like I said, those first two weeks on the road will require a lot of patience and flexibility as we work out the sleep situation.

All the models we’re considering have a master bedroom for me and James. Though a couple higher-end models include a king bed in the master, the queen options are more common in our price range. We had a queen bed up until a few years ago, but we’ve been spoiled by a king in recent years so it will take a while to readjust to James’ long, lanky limbs tossing and turning. We won’t attempt to prepare for this change by sleeping in our queen guest bed, but instead will enjoy the first-world luxury of ample space as long as we can.

And though the sleep transition may be a bumpy road, this quote adequately sums up my thoughts on the matters: