Our Kids Don’t Like Living in the Bus

We attended a fabulous reunion this past weekend for my dad’s side of the family (Hi O’Nans!).

While we were there I overheard one of my brothers asking the girls about whether they like living in the bus. Their answer? A prompt “No.”

I kind of winced inside when I heard it, even though I knew it was coming: Emmaline had just recently commented, “I wish we USED to live in the bus and then we moved into a house instead of the other way around.”

There is a part of me that feels like our children should not have to bear the inconveniences that come along with the sacrifices we are making to achieve this goal. I don’t want them to feel resentful toward us for putting them through this rough transitional period or to look back on this time and not feel as though it was worthwhile.

Truthfully, the past three weeks have been really hard. Probably harder than I imagined they would be when we were psyching ourselves up for this whole journey.

-Everyday chores like making beds and doing dishes are more difficult and time consuming. In addition, until we get a fence built, there isn’t a place to let the kids roam without constant supervision. 

We were without running water for two days this week while Noah re-piped  the water lines with PVC instead of hoses to finally stop the incessant leaks (we bought gallon jugs of fresh water and I showered and bathed the kids at my parents’ house. Noah showered at work.)

-There is an issue with the solar panel that isn’t allowing it to fully charge the batteries, so we still have to be super cautious with our energy consumption.  This means only one light on at a time at night (in addition we use tap lights similar to these for small tasks) and no computer or letting our phones charge all night, etc. (Noah thinks he has this problem figured out now, hopefully.)

I am not trying to list the things we have to whine about – it’s not like we were forced into this. We made this choice intentionally… but our kids didn’t. So, to hear them be frank about the fact that they’re not thrilled with the current situation kind of stung.

We sat down with them the following day and had a talk.

-We told them that right now, Mommy and Daddy don’t really like living in the bus either.  It’s not a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of hard work.

-We told them that there is a reason for it though and that working hard now and doing things that aren’t exactly easy will make having a house of our own even MORE EXCITING.

-We asked for their help doing the hard things and in keeping up good attitudes.

It seemed to help them to hear that the grown-ups are going through some of the same issues that they are.

There have been several times over the past few weeks where Noah and I have looked at each other and asked “Is this worth it? Are we making the right choice?” I think, until things get more settled, that this is something we will continue to evaluate.

Meanwhile, we are just going to keep on going until we get there.

How do you involve your kids in difficult or unpopular decisions? 

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28 thoughts on “Our Kids Don’t Like Living in the Bus

  1. I think it’s great that you’re including your kids in the conversations about how hard it is to live in a bus. About 99% of the time, it’s good for them to know what’s going on, and it’s very important for them to realize that what you’re doing you’re doing for the family and that they are a big part of it. It’s good for them to know that money isn’t just there for the wishing- and they’ll be more caring and more careful about what money does and doesn’t do because of this experience! I guarantee it!

      1. You bet it’s tough! And don’t ever think you’re being a wimp. It’s not being weak to speak the truth!

          1. That’s true. The bus could be made out of cardboard, and you could have to walk 4 miles uphill both ways to get your water, and, worse yet, your kids could be ugly! Keep laughing as much as you can, and you’ll get through it with wonderful laugh lines. Which, now that I think of it, really aren’t all they’re cracked up to be…

  2. I’m sorry it’s been rough going getting everything set up. Sounds like you handled the kids’ feelings really well. It’s important for them to know you are concerned about how they feel about the current situation and that you have those feelings too. I have a feeling that once you work a lot of these early kinks out, they will feel a lot better about things. And after you are all in the house, I bet there will even be a few things they miss about living in the bus! (I’m sure that’s hard to imagine right now!) This is going to be a great story they tell years from now to their friends, kids, and grandkids.

    How long do you expect to live in the bus before the house is done? I’m not sure if I read earlier whether this is a goal to reach within the next year or if you’re expecting to be there for several years. I think that will have a big impact on how they feel about the whole thing in the long run.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement! We are hoping for the kinks to be worked out sooner than later! As of now we are planning for about a year, which makes it seem bearable in the interim!

  3. It always breaks my heart when my kids are unhappy, so I have a lot of empathy for the way that you feel. However, as the mom of a 17 and almost 14 year-old, I can now see that some of the things that were hardest for my kids (and therefore for me!) turned out to be so helpful in making them the people that I am so proud of. I think you are doing the right thing by sharing with them why you are doing what you are doing at a level they can understand and I love the way that you are showing them the way to achieve a goal even when you have to do hard things to get there. These lessons will be an excellent preparation for their future. Life just isn’t always easy, and kids who think that have a hard time adjusting to the reality of adulthood.

  4. I think it’ll be one of those things that can form their characters. It takes hard work to get where you want to go. It takes sacrifice. You can’t always have everything at once… all great lessons to be part of the foundation of their characters. They are seeing their parents sacrifice for a bigger goal–I think you’re doing a good thing!

  5. You should tell them the story of the 17 year Cicadas. That as soon as they’re born they fall out of a tree, land on the ground, get buried under the dirt for 17 years, not seeing or talking to any other friends or family, then after SEVENTEEN YEARS they get to come out of the dark dark friendless earth and finally fly around and see things. Then you should ask them if they still feel cramped in the bus. If they say “yes”, then you should tell them “it’s nap time and that I ate the rest of the cookies last night. Sorry.”

    I can’t wait to have kids!

      1. Just tell them it’s like watching “Frozen” 99,280 times in a row, but with the sound off and also they’re blind.

  6. After a few years of living in your dream house, I’m certain you’ll hear them saying to each other, “Remember how much fun we had when we lived in the bus?” Change of any kind is hard.

  7. I don’t know u, but started following ur blog since I saw it on moneysavingmom. 🙂 You’re doing great Momma! I agree w/ @toaprettylife . I can just hear them say remember this or that … back when we lived in the bus?

  8. Sometimes I feel guilty that we decided to move to the middle of nowhere and that the kids really didn’t have a choice. They are 16 and 19 now. They have had lots of great experiences, but also have missed out on many things. I’m not sure which has outweighed the other. My son can’t wait to leave here and move to the city, but my daughter never wants to leave. She loves having a horse and riding up in the hills. I think every kids views life differently. I’m sure this is now help to you, but I just wanted to say I know how as a parent you can second guess your decisions often. I guess the main thing to remember is to not be so busy trying to get things settled and fixed that the kids feel like there is no fun in life now. And take care of yourself, with #4 on the way.

  9. Awww… you don’t come across as whining. You come across as being honest. Every journey for each person/family is going to have its pros and cons, its blessings and trials. At the baby shower thrown for me for Leala, a little book was put together of the guests’ “Favorite Scriptures, Childhood Memories, Family Traditions and Words of Wisdom…” shared on 3×5 cards and one friend wrote, “Well, as my daughters were reminding me, be sure to live in a trailer less than 30 feet long, preferably without electricity and indoor toilet, or drag your little children to a third world country for a year, or don’t buy a traditional Christmas tree (use the orange tree outside)… Whatever you do, encourage your children to use their imagination and enjoy the simple pleasures in life…” This is from that family I posted a comment about before that lived in this small trailer for 3 years while they built their house. I visited their snug trailer a few times and used their port-a-potty, at night, with a flashlight. Their girls were teenagers, not small children, but they had a similar experience.

    You know Sally Clarkson, she’s always writing/talking about having a vision for your family and I’m sure she’s suggested writing it down. Having something to revisit with Noah, written on a piece of paper, with the goals and reasons you had in mind when going into this venture, might help. I know it helps my husband and I to have the Scriptures God gave to us for big decisions we’ve had to make like me being a stay-at-home mom and Gregg going back to school and completing his Bachelor’s and Master’s along with having a family that keeps growing. They’ve been our anchors and strong foundations to stand on when things got hard, stressful or doubtful.

    I’ve been reading about the benefits of good stories (which I’m sure you’re totally into and I even noticed a book about book recommendations in your home school suitcase photo), from Sally’s daughter, Sarah, and maybe reading a fun book with your girls about a family living in odd places like “The Swiss Family Robinson” or “The Boxcar Children,” would give your kids someone to relate to. I’m not sure if those stories are above their grade or attention span level, but there have to be some good books out there that could relate to your family right now.

    1. Thank you for this awesome comment, Yolanda. It is truly packed with wisdom and you are so sweet. We just started rereading Little House In the Big Woods for just the reasons you mentioned, Swiss Family Robinson would be fantastic!

  10. Living in small places builds character in children. It forces us to face problems or conflicts that arise instead of just sending them to their bedroom where you don’t have to see or hear them. It is also an awesome opportunity for your kids to build strong relationships with each other because they are sharing everything and literally can’t escape each other;) You are a great mommy!

  11. Oh thank goodness for this post! Going through this now with our 3 year old and feel terrible. Your exact struggles are what we are experiencing now and i feel bad putting him through this. He loves it in the day but hates it at night.

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