This is how we live…

Since it has been a long while since I shared how we fit 12 of our family of 13 in an rv (one had the nerve to grow up and move out!!!), I thought that I would do a refresher tour. I’m going to take a room a day, and show you how we fit 12 people in our toy hauler; where everyone sleeps, and where we put and how we organize all our stuff! I’m starting with the ‘boys’ room’ – which is really supposed to be a garage! Our RV is called a ‘toy hauler’ because the rear 12 feet of the rv is an open room and the entire back wall is a ramp. The back wall has a built-in, pull-down, full-length screen, and sometimes when it is super hot out (it’s always warmer in an rv!), the boys will put the ramp down, pull down the screen, and we have a nice breezy backroom! Rvers with quads, dirt bikes, and razors, like toy haulers because the garage is designed to carry those ‘toys’. Made to haul atvs to a destination then unload them when they get there, some people then use the garage to store the ‘toys’ when not being used, or they can turn that space into living quarters while camped. We chose a toy hauler because it offered the most sleeping space. For the first winter, we used the drop down queen bunks that came with the th, but last summer we took them out and the guys built bunkbeds in the garage. The beds have 3 bunks going up the driver’s side of the toy hauler, the top bunk being flush with the lower portion of the ceiling that is the bottom of the girls’ loft (like a big top bunk that is entered through the living room). Level with the top bunk are 2 others, accessible by the same built-in ladder, but running side to side in the garage. So there are 5 bunks all together. We knew, when we built them, that Greg would not be traveling with us this past winter, so we didn’t build him one (he already had a nearby apartment by then).
The 3 little boys (who aren’t very little anymore – 7, 10, and 12) take the 3 top bunks. Each boy has his own set of little cubbies (I LOVE these pockets for storage!), and most have cup hooks that we hung above their heads for hanging hats or lanterns or whathaveyou
The boys each have a plastic box, approx 12x10x8 (?) that they can put whatever they want in; toys, badges, empty candy wrappers, birthday cards that they’ve been saving for years… and those boxes get stacked and stored under either Jake’s bottom bunk or the couch in the garage. The couch we purchased at Quartsite (AZ) this year, and it folds down into a bed for company ;) , or up flat against the wall for traveling.

The kids, Hannah down to Emma, all have 2 drawers that they keep their clothes in. It is sufficient for the amount of clothing that we carry with us, except maybe for Hannah and Beth who hang a couple of outfits in our closet. The kids generally put underclothes and jammies in the top smaller drawer, and then all their other clothes in the larger one. You can usually find various other treasures in their drawers that are not supposed to be there, you know, like toys, badges, empty candy wrappers, birthday cards that they’ve been saving for years… just because we live in an RV doesn’t mean that my kids don’t (or don’t try to) save all that stuff too!While it varies from child to child, (and I have no clue what the big girls have….) the boys have about 4 prs of jeans, 3 prs of shorts (except Eli who NEVER wears them), 5 l/s shirts, 8 s/s shirts, 4 ‘warm’ pjs, 2 shorts pjs, and 2 weeks worth of undergarments. Works good for a week’s worth of clothing, and we try to hit a laundry mat about once a week when we travel.
We also keep some of our schoolwork back in this area – each of the smaller kids is supposed to have their own shelf to keep their books on, but it is usually a jumbled mess, and I might just put them all back over the dinette…

Above the plastic drawers, there are cupboards that came with the rv. I use those for groceries, and they tend to be packed when we are traveling. In the summer, I still keep food-stuffs in there that we tend to use quite often like baking goods, oils, crackers…, but tend to keep ‘stock up’ groceries in one of the 3 storage barns that we have access to while we are camp hosts.

In the corner behind the man-door that leads between the livingroom and the garage/boys room, we keep a little fridge. Just your average ‘garage’ fridge, when we are traveling we don’t put anything perishable in here. Since it is a small, regular house fridge, if the RV is not plugged into an electrical outlet (or we are not running the generator), the fridge does not work. We use it mainly for drinks as it is difficult to keep enough bottled water cold in our little 9 sq. ft. kitchen fridge. Now that we are plugged in for the summer, it is used for overflow perishables, and the kids keep their refillable water bottles in there to stay cold. Above the little fridge, Greg built shelves where the kids keep their shoes. Worked OK this last winter, but didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped (the girls have way too many shoes, and the little boys never put theirs where they belong!) Still thinking about a better solution for the shoes :) but for now, this is where they go (or are supposed to).

I suppose some people think that’s awful that my kids don’t each have their own rooms. But most kids from large families don’t WANT their own rooms, they know that there is something better ;) . Even when we were drawing up plans for our next house (before we decided we wanted to be gypsies), the kids asked for dorm rooms – all the boys together, all the girls together. Sorry, but having your own room is ultra boring! No-one to talk at, whisper to, make plans with…

We like the bunk bed set-up – each child has their own ‘space’, but yet they are also all together to talk guns, hunting, airsoft, fort-building, work, next-years destinations, past years memories, fishing, trapping… (my kids do not suffer from Nature Deficit Disorder! LOL!)

Living in an RV has worked really well for our family – better than we could have imagined. We love the flexibility of being able to travel when and where we want, yet taking our home with us. As odd as it may seem to hear from us, most of us are homebodies!!! And living in an RV means that we never have to leave home no matter where we roam!

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This is how we live… — 8 Comments

  1. Isaiah was looking at these pictures and said, “can we go to my cousin’s house?”. He thinks that your “house” is so cool!

  2. We purchased our Surveyor trailer in Feb and love it and it’s panoramic view windows :) However we considered buying a used toy hauler and we going to use that area for the kids room but decided against it because we were told the back rooms are cold. Do you find the back room/toy hauler area cold? We are on a 4 1/2 month trip and are considering full timing when we get home and will upgrade to a fith wheel if we do. I am just curious as to the temperature in the back you. If you could take a moment to send me a reply here or to I’d appreciate it. Love reading your blog :)

  3. Hi Brooke,
    The garage area is not insulated as well as the rest of the coach, and there is only one heat duct back there, which does not heat it very thoroughly. However, we always leave the door between the garage and livingroom open, which helps a lot. When it is close to freezing, we usually have hookups and run an electric heater back there. Also, I did sew insulated window coverings for the 2 windows in the garage, and those help keep out the drafts. It really hasn’t been a problem for us, but we also like it a bit chillier when sleeping…
    If you do look at toy haulers, be sure to check out reviews and reliability of maker. We would never buy a Gulf Stream again since they are so hard to get any info from in regards to ordering parts or info in construction (just thought I’d be sure to let you know :)

  4. Thank you for replying. We will be sure to do our homework. We gave up the toy hauler idea due to the cold room for our girls but we are finding our trailer heat barely gets back there too and use a heater with it as well so I think we will relook into toy haulers again if we decide to full time. Thanks again :)

  5. Our kids rarely complain about not having their own rooms….on the road, all 4 were in the bunkhouse, in our stick & bricks, the boys share and the girls share – they all have the same ‘stuff’ so why let it stretch between multiple rooms?!
    I love ‘looking’ around your camper :)

  6. While getting our house situated, we put all five of my boys together. Their own space, but one room. They did so well. They still talk of it. (AND it was the only time they kept their room clean:) A part of me wishes I never gave them their own rooms. Loving seeing how you laid your home out.

  7. Did you all put the ceiling in flush with the girls’ loft room? I haven’t seen any prefab toy haulers with the ceiling extending out that far; seems like it’s just roof over the garage.

    • Hi Stephanie!
      In the ‘garage’, which is our boys’ room, what looks like a low ceiling is the bottom of a set of loft bunks that we built for the boys. There is a better view of them in the page ‘Our Home’ that can be found under our header picture. There is a wall between the back of Beth’s loft, and the 3 bunks that we built in the back, so they are totally separate. For us it was important to get as much off the floor so we could use the floorspace for living quarters. :)

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