What You Need To Know About Van Life With Kids

Hey there, fellow wanderers! If you’ve ever dreamt of hitting the open road with your little ones in tow, I’m here to share the highs, the lows, and the invaluable lessons I learned during a year-long journey exploring the nooks and crannies of the United States in a trusty van with my two kiddos. Here are some must-know tips before you embark on your own van life adventure with the pint-sized crew:

  1. Embrace Minimalism:

When living in a van, space is a premium commodity. Pack only the essentials and focus on versatile, multi-use items. You’ll thank yourself when you’re not drowning in unnecessary clutter.

  1. Plan for Downtime:

Kids need breaks, and so do you! Ensure your travel itinerary includes downtime for both relaxation and spontaneous adventures. A happy, well-rested family makes for smoother travels.

  1. Safety First:

Invest in proper car seats and child-proof the van. Safety is paramount, and it’s non-negotiable when you’re on the road. Double-check all safety measures before hitting the highway.

  1. Educational Adventures:

Turn the road trip into a hands-on learning experience. Visit museums, national parks, and historical sites to enrich your kids’ education. The world is your classroom!

  1. Routine is Key:

While van life is all about freedom, kids thrive on routine. Establish a daily schedule that includes designated sleep times, meals, and play. It creates a sense of stability amid the nomadic lifestyle.

  1. Connect with Other Van Families:

Join online communities or attend meet-ups with other families embracing the van life. Sharing experiences, tips, and even a campfire can provide much-needed support and camaraderie.

  1. Weather-Ready:

Be prepared for various weather conditions. Pack accordingly for both scorching heat and chilly nights. Always be prepared to go off grid and not be hooked to utilities! This means having a travel power bank and any heating or cooling supplies you may need as well as the ability to cook and have clean water anywhere. A well-equipped van ensures you’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throws your way.

  1. Plan Ahead but Stay Flexible:

Crafting a seamless flow during your travels involves meticulous planning and a dash of flexibility. Have a goal, broad plan, and an ideal schedule but leave space for challenges. This strategic planning lays the foundation for a smooth journey. However, the essence of the road lies in its unpredictability. Embrace the art of adaptability, allowing room for spontaneous experiences and detours. By striking this harmonious balance, you’ll not only navigate the highways but also flow effortlessly through the rhythm of your van life adventure.

  1. Entertainment Essentials:

Load up on books, games, and movies to keep the kids entertained during long drives or rainy days. You can check out my list of suggestions here. A happy, engaged child means a more relaxed and enjoyable trip for everyone.

  1. Flexibility is Freedom:

Plans may change, and that’s okay. Embrace flexibility, as unexpected detours often lead to the most memorable experiences. Learn to go with the flow and savor the beauty of spontaneity. For me, this even meant, on occasion, canceling bookings, or NOT booking ahead in order to be able to travel at the most comfortable pace for us.

So there you have it—my road-tested advice for any (single) parent gearing up for the van life with kiddos. It’s not always easy, but the bond you’ll forge and the memories you’ll create are absolutely worth it. Here’s to the open road, the wind in your hair, and the joy of discovering new horizons with your little ones by your side. Safe travels!

Creating An Unschooling Environment

Unschooling is all about the child learning through engaging with their surroundings and then pursuing more deeply the concepts that spark curiosity and interest. The environment is key for learning to be a natural and smooth process. The environment should encourage children to explore their interests, learn from experiences, and pursue project based learning. Everything in the learning environment should encourage experimentation, problem-solving, creativity, and open-ended play.

The space should inspire children to direct their own learning. To create an engaging environment there are a few key areas to focus on – aesthetic, loose parts, natural materials, and basic resources. 

The space should allow time and space for a child to linger with an idea or project they are interested in.

Key Loose Parts

Wood Blocks

Play Silks

Stainless Steel Bowls

Sensory Bin Tools (Scoopers & Tongs)

Art Supplies

Modeling Clay



Math Tools

Size Relevant Block Numbers

Counting Puzzle

Weaving Loom

Color Pie Puzzle

Play Clock

Play Money & Cash Register

Market Stand With Scale, Clock, and Cash Register

Magnetic Number Board

Geography Tools

Magnetic World Map

World Map Puzzle


Anatomy Magnet Puzzle

Human Body Puzzle

Pretend Play

Wood Pretend Dentist Set

Wood Pretend Make Up Set

Farm Animals

Play Kitchen

Sensory Silks

Organic Baby Doll

Early Literacy

My Favorite Kids Books List

Alphabet Matching

My Favorite Board Games

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5 Quick Steps To Improve Your Parenting This New Year

1. Make a Detailed List Of The Parent You Want To Be

Include at least 10 characteristics of what an ideal parent is to you. For example, you could say you want to be calm, kind, and affectionate. There is a free handout to help at the bottom of this article! Read more about setting expectations as a parent.

2. Write 3 Things You Want To Change About Your Parenting

Get specific and write out all the details. I would even suggest writing a story down of an example of the parenting characteristics or actions you want to change. This will help you clarify the issues and pinpoint what you want to change and how you may be able to do so.

3. Make An Action Plan

Write a detailed plan for the new behaviors you are going to use to replace your old unwanted behaviors. GET SPECIFIC. For example, instead of telling when my kids aren’t listening I will calmly give them two choices. Write yourself an example to make it real: “You can get your shoes on by yourself or I can help you.”

4. Make a List of 3 Ways You Will Bond With Your Child(ren)

Choose specific activities that you will both enjoy and can do regularly. Also try to choose activities that allow you to chat and focus on each other. For example, if your child is sporty, instead of playing laser tag or something with a lot of distractions, try putt-putt golf so there’s lots of time to chat. Some ideas for bonding with younger children is art activities, going on a walk, or some of these easy activities. Whatever you choose, schedule it in at least twice monthly. Get a calendar or planner, write it down, and stick to it. The consistency of your efforts will mean the world to your child (whether their old enough to express it or not).

5. Reflect and Improve

Although reflection requires a lot of effort, it will by far make the biggest difference in your parenting. Take time at least weekly to check in on your parenting goals and see if you’re meeting them. If not, where can you make little adjustments to make the goals more obtainable. What new examples can you write down to help remember and put into action the way you want to parent? With each reflection, you’ll be able to better embody your parenting goals.

Free parenting goals handout!

You may also find How To Be A Better Parent and The Secret To Being A Calm Mom helpful!

Ecocentric Mom box

How To Grow A Creative Child

Five Ways to Encourage Creative Play In Your Child

Why Is Creativity Important?

Creative play supports cognitive development, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking skills.

Creativity involves cognitive processes that transform one’s understanding of, or relationship to, the world.

The Conversation

Children explore their roles in the world and their impact on the world around them through creative play. It’s important for children to process and understand their world as well as express their emotions through creativity for emotional well-being.

Follow these easy tips to support your child’s development through creative play and building the skill of creativity!

Set Up The Environment

The environment is key in encouraging creative play. It is important to create a “no” free zone that children know they can engage in without criticism or many limits.

If it’s not possible to always have this space set up, you can get a large baby gate to section off an area that you can add toys or art supplies the child can engage with freely. Providing a playroom, if possible, is a great option as well. 

Simple Toys and Supplies

Research actually found children engaged more and formed more cognitive connections when using simple, wooden toys rather than electronic “learning” toys.

Keep simple toys that can be used for multiple purposes and imaginative play available at all times.

Schedule Free Time (or Don’t Schedule)

Always make sure there is time in the schedule for your child to engage in play without direction or a goal.

Ecocentric Mom box

Give Children Space

Simple, give children space to play on their own without direction. However, ignoring children or forcing them to have alone time will only create children to be more “needy.”

A child’s emotional and attachment needs must be met before they are interested in solo and imaginative play.

Role Model

Show your child how to use their imagination! Read some fantasy books together or grab a stick and pretend it’s a wand.

Teach your children it’s ok and even encouraged to engage in creative play and use things in creative ways.

 “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.”

– Maya Angelou

Finn + Emma Organic Baby

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