Living the Caravan Life…With a Baby
When Finn was 4 we decided to buy a caravan, we had visions of being a carefree, live for the moment kind of family (we will never be that type of family as I am a diary addict…if it’s not in the diary it’s not happening!) Finn was beyond excited and we used it a lot in our first year. We went to various places, some just 25 minutes away but we all fell in love with our little home on wheels. Finn used to cry every time we had to pack up and leave and if truth be told he much prefers our caravan adventures to our ‘hot’ holidays as he calls them (he has the good old British weather sussed out already!) We had lots of plans for adventures both in the UK and Europe however these were put slightly on hold with the arrival of little Sam.
Our caravan is a 5 berth, oldie but goldie. It is one of those that when you close the blinds more often than not one of the clips snap but we look at each other and fall in love with it even more. Or when you go to open the vent in the roof and put your hand straight through the fly net and rip in apart we laugh and say hey ho. Had we bought a newer, sexier model each one of these breakages would have been disastrous but not in ours.
We first took Sam in the caravan when he was 5 months and we were amazed at how easy it was. He slept in his moses basket, he didn’t move, he stayed where we put him, and he loved it as much as we all do. We were thrilled it had worked as a family of 4 and couldn’t wait to go again.
Our second time was this summer when Sam was 9 months and oh my…what a difference a few months make! He was everywhere, into everything, didn’t stop for a second and took up more room than the 3 of us put together.
Our weekends in the caravan used to be our ultimate chill out. We would have lazy days watching DVDs (as we hardly ever get a TV signal, usually just enough signal for BBC Parliament!) we would have walks in the rain, play board games, swing ball, basket head (Finn’s favourite, our least favourite…every time we try to ‘accidently’ forget it but Finn always remembers…he’ll conveniently never remember his homework but basket head never fails to show up!). We loved our little quiet sanctuary.
Sam has changed everything about our ‘ultimate chill out’ weekends but definitely for the better (luckily!!). Sam has brought chaos, no relaxation until his bedtime (then the wine gets opened!), more stuff than you ever thought could fit in a caravan, more on our feet time rather sitting down DVD time but he has also brought the sound of his and Finn’s laughter, which is priceless, a companion for Finn to play with, to snuggle with and to show off to the people we pass on our rainy walks and most of all he has brought us all laughter and smiles at what he does and who he is growing up to be (a cheeky adventurous little boy).
A few things became essential on our last trip away.
The first and most useful is definitely ‘baby prison’! We were recommended this by a friend who goes camping and found it invaluable and wow…within 1 minute of arriving we totally agreed. It is a large playpen which Sam absolutely loved. He had his toys with him, Finn could jump in and play with him but most of all he was safe and kept in one place. It was amazing. It’s the Summer Pop n’ Play Play Pen (we got ours on eBay for £25, the RRP is £59.99) and it folds up so easily and small (about the same size as a camping chair folded up!).
The first time with Sam in the caravan we took the moses basket but at 9 months he was never going to get back in that, so we looked at various small travel cots or space saving sleeping devices however they just wouldn’t work with the space that he have so we bought (on ebay…good old second-hand again!) a Sleepyhead Grande and it was fab. Our caravan has a pull-out bunk bed at the top for Finn and a double at the bottom, so Sam comfortably went in his sleepyhead (I would love to be able to say he slept like a dream but unlike his brother who slept through at 9 weeks Sam still hasn’t had the memo and likes to wake up for a little chat every night!). It was so good and exactly what we needed.
A lightweight, extendible travel baby gate (ours is Lindam Flexiguard). This was great for stopping Sam getting to off limits places, the oven when in use, the doors when opened. It folds in half and small and is so easily packed without being bulky.
When I was pregnant my Mum got us a LittleLife Rucksack Baby Carrier (absolute bargain at £8 in a charity shop!) and with us having the dog we thought it would come in useful. Until this time in the caravan, we had forgotten about it as I have a Tula and have been using that however the Littlelife is also a rucksack so more practical for going out and about for the day. Sam absolutely loved it. The picture says it all. He was so comfy and loved seeing the world from that high up. I can’t recommend it enough.
The caravan life with a baby isn’t easy (more preparation, more ‘stuff’ and less chill out!) but it is fantastic. We all came away having loved our time as a 4 and loved how different our break was with him and all of the extra preparation and chaos was definitely worth it (we considered not using it until Sam was a bit older, I am so glad we didn’t wait!) We spoke to many people who said they would never do it, can’t believe we did it and who can’t imagine anything worse, but for us it worked, and we loved it.