We live in our self-converted skoolie with our two young children ages 2 and 4. These tips will be most helpful for families with very young children who are interested in living in a bus or tiny mobile space.
1) Sleeping Arrangement
We have a king size bed at the very back of the bus. We refer to this area as “the big bed”. It’s super important to our family to have this extra large sleeping space because many nights our kids end up in our bed. We also have two twin sized bunk beds. Our 4 year old loves his top bunk and it makes a great spot for movie watching, lego building, or some quiet alone time. Our 2-year-old keeps her dolls in her bottom bunk and loves taking naps in her special bed. In the future we know they will transition to their own beds full time but for now, it’s nice to have options for overnight guests, nap times, and personal space.
We have a 36×36 shower across from our composting toilet. Our 4 year old prefers to take showers and doesn’t seem to mind the lack of a bathtub. Our 2-year-old is perfectly happy making use of the kitchen sink as her own personal bath tub!
3) Seat Belts
This was a non-negotiable feature for our bus. Safety is of the utmost importance to us when it comes to traveling with our children. There are many ways to safely include seatbelts in you bus seating layout. We chose to install seats from a Ford Transit van. These have integrated seat belts and are mounted on locking brackets on the floor. This ensured that we could keep our children in their proper car seats while adventuring in our home on wheels. When we aren’t traveling for a while we simply pull the seats off the brackets and store them outside for more room inside the bus!
4) Toys + Books
We learned early on in our bus life experience that less is definitely more when it comes to toys. We keep four small baskets of toys out in the bus at all times. These contain Legos, wooden train tracks and trains, wooden magnetic building blocks, and a basket of mixed toys like cars, animal figures, and a few stuffed animals. Before we pared it down to this offering we had many more toys cluttering up their beds. We held on to the toys they picked most often and put the rest in our storage area in the back. In addition to the toy bins, we keep a large bin of art, craft, and sewing supplies on board. We also enjoy reading to our kids on a daily basis and have a small collection of children’s books, field guides, and crafting guides. We cycle out books that we aren’t using any longer and sometimes pick up new ones at “Little Free Libraries” as well our local libraries.
We built a small dresser drawer underneath the bunk beds that holds the children’s clothing. It’s divided in half and they each get one side. It is actually pretty small and sometimes we struggle to make everything fit perfectly but it seems to work out okay! We keep off-season clothing in a storage bin under our “big bed”. We try to buy quality pieces for our kids that will serve multiple purposes and be durable for the time used. When something hasn’t been worn in a month or longer we donate it. Each child has about three pairs of shoes including rain/snow boots, sandals, and a pair of casual shoes. We store our shoes either outside or on the engine cover in the front of the bus.
Although our children aren’t quite school age yet we plan to start homeschooling our 4-year-old this Spring. We value the freedom and flexibility that homeschool gives us to travel when we want and work on other projects together that a traditional school schedule would interfere with. Building our own home inside a school bus and taking the time to travel and experience the outdoors with our children has been the best learning experience we could have given them (and ourselves!) thus far.
Living in a tiny house on wheels is so rewarding, especially when your whole family can share the experience. With some adjustment, an open mind, and a good plan in place you can make this lifestyle work for your family too!
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