Living on the road is a lifestyle that admittedly, is not for everyone.
For the adventurous few, the rewards can be immense. But what happens when you add kids to the mix? Suddenly it’s not just your own grand adventure; now you’ve got the whole family along for the ride. From crying newborns to surly teenagers, pleasing a wide range of interests and temperaments is impossible.
So how do you keep everyone’s sanity while traveling? Friends.
In a lifestyle where grandparents are not always right around the corner to help out, friends for your brood are a must have. You may be thinking: ‘But won’t friends for my kids be hard to find while on the road?’ The short answer is: no. Friends are key to maintaining sanity. Friend time is what allows you to cruise the internet with a cup of coffee for a full 15 (uninterrupted) minutes. Friends are everywhere and relationships can be maintained if you’re willing to put the effort in.
5 Ways to Keep Kids Social
Here are the top 5 ways I can easily keep my mini-mes plugged into their own social network on the road so I can get a moment of peace:
My two favorite options for kid meetups are Xscapers and Fulltime Families. Both of these groups are great but fulltime families specifically caters to supporting families on the road and has been essential for us in helping our own kids meet peers their age.
Both groups host meetups with kid-friendly events combined with adult activities, too. Facebook groups make it possible to keep in touch, reach out, or plan gatherings and many of these families travel together which is always fun.
OMG.Rallies! We have been to numerous rallies over the years and have loved them all.
Some rallies have kid specific activities such as bounce houses and ice cream socials. In fact, our very first rally was an Escapade with activities dedicated to kids (kidscapade).
Rallies can feel like a week-long party; kids pick up on this energy and have a great time getting all tired out meeting new people and attending events. If we can, we try to attend the same rallies year after year so our kids can see familiar faces and friends.
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If the campground you are booking has a pool, mini-golf, and candy bar bingo then how can you go wrong? This type of campground isn’t a couples’ retreat. It’s for kids. Pro tip: reserve a spot by the playground and watch the friends pile up. In addition, campground membership clubs such as Thousand Trails and Coast to Coast are great for meeting other fulltime families. These campgrounds offer discounted stays which are perfect for traveling families on a budget. To be honest, this is our go-to type of park if we are looking to meet up with other like-minded families. Just this December alone there were dozens of fulltime families at one popular RV Park in Orlando, FL. It was an impromptu gathering where we reunited with friends old and new for the holiday season.
This past fall we booked a month in the Florida Keys.(Yes, it was amazing!) While exploring the area I came across a flier for a local gymnastics class. We registered and enjoyed the weekly classes with the local kids. We have had everything from swim lessons in Utah to ballet in Maine. Even if a group class is not advertised as ‘weekly’ I have found teachers to be fairly accommodating for drop in lessons depending on the skill set required.
Get your butt out there
No matter where you are, above all I’ve found the best way to ensure your kids are not lonely is to be intentional. If you hide in your RV all day every day, you’re not going to meet anyone and your kids will start to drive you crazy.
After we set up at any given campground, we go for a walk around the block looking for other kids to play with. Yes, it seems a little ‘stalker-ish’ but honestly, they’ve met some of their best friends this way. Consider arranging ahead of time (Facebook—what would we do without it?) to meet up with another family who is also in the area. Make plans to cross paths again with that friend from the rally your daughter really loved playing Legos with. Plan a group hike inviting local Xscapers.
Yes, it requires effort, but so did taking them to soccer, piano, and ballet practices when you were in your sticks and bricks.
My kids have had impromptu glow stick dance parties with new friends at music festivals. They have made lasting friendships while boondocking miles from civilization. They are homeschooled. They are adventurous. They have encountered such a variety of playmates over the years and they will tell you they are anything but lonely.
Will you still have to hear “but I have no one to play with!”? Absolutely. And they will probably tell you that 5 seconds after their friends leave too. Kids will be kids. But you can rest easy knowing that every day there are more and more children living on the road just like them and part of the fun is the new friendships that await just around the corner.
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