Living in a small space with a three and four year old
can be is CRAZY most of the time. Since adding our two precious girls to our life, I feel I have always been “treading water” to keep up with them and all their energy. When living our land-based life with full time jobs, it was difficult and exhausting doing the daily schedule of getting everyone out the door in the morning, heading to work, and then the evening of dinner, bath, and bedtime…..especially when being woken up multiple times during the night between one girl or another. But this is motherhood and all mothers do what they have to do and find their inner strength to push on and enjoy the little moments that are so fleeting. While this daily rush has changed since living on the boat, the fact that we have two little girls that depend on us for most of everything has not. Plus, we literally stopped living one life, and started living a completely different life which has taken time for all of us to adjust. And then add in the uncertainty we have with our plans for our next steps and sometimes I feel myself unraveling.
While we may not be “working” in the traditional since of the word, every day is hard work when raising small kids, especially in a small space on a boat. Daily chores such as dishes, laundry, and cooking take on a whole different meaning when living on the boat…..everything takes longer and more effort. If you are interested in what exactly this looks like take a look at Around ‘n Circles post on Effort. Michelle and her family are our neighbors in the mooring field in Marathon and she could not have described this part of the cruising lifestyle more perfectly!! This “effort” may not really be an issue if you are by yourself, but when touting around two little ones with you, it can get a little tricky at times. I guess I’m still trying to figure out life on a boat and at the same time, how to be good mother to my kids.
The other day a man saw me and the girls when the girls were in a “happy” mood and asked “is it hard work raising little kids on a boat? It looks like fun….I was thinking about trying it.” Ha…..is it hard work???? Trying it out?? Seriously? My head began to spin with the absurdity of the question and then of all the meltdown and tears and sighs that are heard daily on our boat. It then got me thinking about the pictures that we post…..while the girls and even us may look happy in the pictures (how often to people take pictures of their children in meltdown mode), it can be rather deceiving.
We have tears, meltdowns, fights, yelling, tantrums……DAILY. There are days it makes me question my abilities as a mother and our choice to live on a boat. At the end of these days when the girls are asleep and I have time to reflect, I always come to the same conclusion….they are 3 and 4 years old, it is hard work raising kids either on land in a house or in a boat on water AND tomorrow is another day….try something different. In my previous life working in schools, I would frequently recommend this same path of thinking. “Is what you are doing working? If not, then try something different.” Such simple logic, yet sometimes hard to do.
So, I am trying something different pretty much daily to alleviate screaming and tantrums and to attempt to keep our space organized. Toys and clothes and crafts make their way out of their spaces and in a matter of minutes the entire living space of our boat is turned upside down…leaving not even a place to sit down….sometimes this stuff starts flowing into the cockpit as well. This can be rather stressful when there is little space to escape chaos. I am constantly learning and re-adjusting not only the actual “things” in our home, but also my own expectations of myself and my kids.
Here are some of our recent re-adjustments on the boat and small successes…..
We don’t have too many toys (we just do not have the room) and I am constantly trying to find ways to store the one we we do have. We have some storage below the girls’ bed that I store books and some toys like magna-tiles in hanging bags and we have a complete cabinet for crafts, but other toys get scattered around, so we organized the storage yet again. Stuffed animals are hung on one wall with some pictures and all other toys go in a container behind the curtain. The girls helped me with organizing everything, so hopefully the order will last longer than a day.
Hands On Learning
I’m constantly switching up how we learn. Recently, I took the flashcards to the beach and we played “Sand Castle Smash”. Once Leslie correctly identified the letter and Avery correctly spelled the word, then they could “smash” the sand castle. Avery lost interest pretty quickly, but Leslie REALLY enjoyed this activity.
The girls paint and draw A LOT and I never know what to do with all their artwork. Some of it is sent to family and friends and I recently got some frames for other pictures to be hung on the wall. Here are our recent artwork editions….they seem to be doing some more abstract painting!!
In the beginning of the year as an effort for our family to share what we were thankful each day, I started a “Thankful Book”. While the intention was for us to do this each night, the reality is we do it when we can which is about three or so times a week. The things that come out of the girls’ mouths is both hilarious and heartwarming and has brought me to tears in the past. I hope to be able to look back on this book one day with very fond memories.
Hoping in the next blog post, we will be able to share where we will be headed next….it is still up in the air but we know we will be on the move again soon!