PRIVACY. In a cramped living arrangement, you don’t have any place to escape to if you have an argument with your spouse. The closed-in conditions and lack of “personal space” amplify every little annoying habit, until you’re looking at your spouse with growing anger (and she’s giving YOU that same look)… Everyone using a single bathroom to do their business means you’re hearing everything, at all times day and night. And my younger daughter, lovely little thing that she is, produces waste of such vileness that the CDC could use her as a weapon. You get to experience this on a frequent basis, which does nothing to enhance the situation.
With no bathtub to clean the kids, my wife has to get in the shower with them both, and I “catch” them as they come out, get them dried and into clean undies and pajamas, set up their bed… it’s not a comfortable way to do it, but it’s the only effective way to make sure they stay clean. Some of the other people in the campground we’re at have to use the showers at on the grounds; it’s an option if you have nothing else, but we avoid them to bypass the possibility of getting weird fungal infections on their feet.
Being in cramped quarters also means you’re constantly tripping over each other; the kids want to play with their toys on the wood floors of the motorhome, so you’re trying to step over them to get where you need to go, or abusing your bare feet as you step on a lost toy that magically appeared under your toes, with the pointy parts up. Cooking, relaxing, watching DVDs or TV (the latter only while we’re at the campgrounds) becomes problematic, as there are lots of things to be done, and we’re still crawling over each other to do what we have to do. This frustrates my wife and I, so when it’s time to sleep, we’re usually exhausted and unhappy.
The kids do what all kids do- try to stay up as late as possible, wanting to play with each other, goof off…. generally, anything they can, to avoid sleeping. Staying to a rigid sleep schedule helps, but it’s no guarantee that you’ll have time to yourself. In the back room is a sliding door to isolate it from the bathroom, and so I put a simple hook-latch on the door, to prevent the kids from coming in, when we want privacy. It’s not perfect, but it serves its’ purpose. As it is, sometimes when we’re finally ready to sleep, we can hear the kids still awake up front, laughing or talking. The fatigue from being in close quarters generally knocks my wife out before the kids are asleep, and I’m the last one to sleep 2-3 hours later…
Other privacy issues require coordination; if my wife needs to do something without being disturbed, I take the kids to the local playground, the museums (that have lots of play areas for little kids) or something like that, to give my wife at least a few hours to do whatever she likes… It doesn’t have to be an all-day thing, sometimes we just need a few hours alone to relax in peace and quiet, and then she’s ok. Myself, when I reach that point, I go to a local firing range with my rifle, and continue working on the “recipe” to get my reloaded ammunition to the level of accuracy I’m striving for.
The back room not only is the “master bedroom” such as it is, but it’s also the place where the kids hang out during the day when we’re cooking, cleaning the rest of the RV, or any other time we need the kids to be physically out of the way for other work to be done. When one of my daughters is having a temper tantrum or otherwise needs to be alone (sick, being naughty), the back room also serves as the place where we (as kids) would “go sit in the corner,” if you get my meaning. Since my kids are VERY social in their nature, being forced to be alone for a while is severe punishment for them, and something they actively avoid. The takeaway? As I mentioned before, every inch of space is used throughout the day in different ways, depending on the need.
CLEANLINESS; One of the biggest problems living in such a small space is trying to keep the place clean. With little ones, despite all of our efforts, we’re constantly fighting to keep the toys put away or at least out from under our feet. Another aspect is that wherever you happen to be is going to be dirty. Add in a little rain, and now we’re talking mud. And you can’t simply kick off your shoes outside the door, because they’ll get soaked. So you have to step in, strip off your shoes while standing on the stairs, and then come in. But the mud gets on the steps… which gets on the bottom of your socks…. and now you’re tracking dirt inside. This particular aspect drives my wife absolutely crazy, and we’re constantly cleaning/sweeping/vacuuming when it dries out even a little bit… Having an awning over the door doesn’t really help, because the rain never comes straight down, but at an angle which- no matter how carefully you plan- manages to still get everything outside wet.
COOKING: Being in RV with limited space, having the barbecue like you find at Home Depot for $500, is simply unrealistic. It’s just too bloody big, so you have to get something small. We’ve been through a couple of different units (propane), but so far they suck. They work ok for the “occasional” cooking, but on a consistent basis??? No way… they start ok, but pretty soon one side is getting burned while the other side is still raw, or you discover you can’t adequately clean it, or something along those lines. I’ll be working on finding something better, in the next few weeks. Right now the point is moot, because it’s cold and wet outside.