From traveling full-time in a van with my family to settling down in the Midwest
When my family and I took off from Ohio in our motorhome, our daughter Delilah was only three months old. We sold everything we owned to hit the road for the ultimate adventure with an undetermined amount of time. It was me, my husband, our daughter, two dogs, and two cats (crazy, right?!). We no longer wanted the traditional 9-5’s — we wanted to raise our daughter in nature, where we felt most at home. After a year of traveling around the Northern and Western United States, we decided we wanted more freedom than the RV could offer us and downsized to a sprinter van!
Many people are shocked when we tell them we moved into a tiny living scenario when our daughter was so little, but honestly, this is when it made the most sense to us. When Delilah was a baby, she had no set routine, she didn’t care what was going on as long as she was with us, she had no established relationships, and she wasn’t in school.
So this became her new normal. This was her routine. A constant ebb and flow of moving place to place and experiencing the great outdoors. I absolutely loved being able to introduce her to new places, letting her toes touch the sand and ocean, then going high up in the mountains the next day. There was nothing more joyful than showing the world to Delilah. I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take full advantage of because we didn’t have to worry about choosing a location based on schools or trying to homeschool on the road. It was living simply and being together.
The downside to all that traveling was just that — all the traveling. That’s exhausting, especially as new parents with a baby who still didn’t sleep through the night! As exhilarating as all the new places were, it was draining. The mental toll was significant and once we were done, we were done. Which brought us back to our hometown of Columbus, Ohio when Delilah was around 18 months – two years old!
We knew that it was time for our full-time traveling journey to come to an end, or at least a pause. Delilah was taking a huge interest in having friends and consistent relationships. We always knew we wanted to settle down somewhere for school when she got older, and that having a supportive community would be beneficial to us as a family.
We chose Columbus for a home base because it’s where I grew up, and Quentin had lived there for the past 10 years. We already had a built-in community, where re-settling into the “real world” wouldn’t feel like such a huge shock. We are currently are living here (with baby #2 on the way!), and we know this isn’t our forever home, but it’s home for now.
The most frequent questions I get asked are “Will you ever be moving back into the van again?” and “What do you plan on doing about schooling now that Delilah is getting older?”
To answer about full-timing in the van: No, or at least not anytime soon. I love having a home base with a sense of community, and I know where everything is and have my favorite little places. It feels good. I also need the stability of “coming home.” We actually still have our RV and our van. They are our adventure mobiles and we take them out whenever we can! It will always be a huge part of our lives. However, with a very, very active toddler, the van is no longer ideal to live out of.
As far as schooling goes, we know that Columbus has fantastic options. While it isn’t that big of a rush for us to enroll Delilah in school (as she is only 3), it’s a huge priority for us when choosing a permanent home base. As parents, we can’t only think about ourselves and must consider her well-being, too.
At the moment, we practice a very loose play-based nature homeschool method that works really well and seamlessly flows with our previous lifestyle. We go to parks and explore outside a lot. I fully believe that children need as much time as possible outside the house and school walls to get their hands and feet dirty. Nature is our greatest teacher and children absorb that knowledge like no one else can.
After our second child is born, we plan to give ourselves a little more grace with settling into parenthood of two children. We will be in Ohio until this baby is about one year old. We do have plans to move across country to settle down somewhere closer to the mountains. While we are unsure of where that journey will take us, we are excited to see what the second part of this adventure looks like.
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