By Mike Willis
As you know, bringing kids along on your adventures requires some additional preparation. RVing is no exception to this rule!
There are some modifications that you can make to your RV to keep the kiddos safe. These modifications require an investment of time and money but will result in peace of mind during your next family outing.
Safeguard the stove!
Order those cheap covers that go over the knobs on the stove. Gas knobs are like magnets, drawing those little hands in. Not securing these knobs can result in discharging flammable gas uncontrollably. Kids have a way of adjusting these during the one moment they are left alone.
Install a ladder for the top bunk
I purchased this bunk bed ladder off of Amazon. It works perfectly for helping our son climb in and out of his bed. The best part is that it is easily removable for when the kids are not around. Not only does removing the ladder free up space, but it also allows for adults to access the top bunk without issue. These ladders are more trouble than they are worth for full-grown adults, but they are perfect for the little ones.
Install a bunk rail
If you have kids, there’s a good chance that you purchased an RV equipped with bunk beds. If you get creative, it is easy to secure a railing system to the bunk bed to ensure everyone stays safe and sound for the night. It is really nice to throw the kiddos up there without having to worry about them tumbling out. If your kids are as rambunctious as mine, you know how likely this is to happen!
Use the handrail to hold the screen door shut
You may wonder why the handrail can articulate inward towards the door. Pictured below, you will see how I secure my door while stepping outside momentarily. I learned this little trick after our daughter decided to faceplant into the screen door as she ran after me. The door shot open, and our little girl tumbled out, hitting each step on the way down. Luckily, she was fine. Hardheads are hereditary, so that is one thing that she can be grateful for getting from me.
Protect the thermostat
You can order thermostat covers if your kids are too young to know better than to mess with them. Some thermostat covers are lockable. This is a nice feature as kids are drawn to thermostats.
Turn the lower bunk into a crib
Start shopping now to discover how you will create a door for the lower bunk. Babies will climb out or fall out if you don’t install one. Most of the time, we just need something to keep the little ones in long enough to fall asleep. After that, you can remove the barrier to ensure that their sleeping quarters remain at a comfortable temperature. Whatever gets placed there could prevent heat from adequately circulating through that space.
For a while, I used a mesh panel from a baby gate to create my “door” to the little bedroom. It worked perfectly. I just wish that I had done it before attempting to spend a week camping with the entire family.
Cabinet door locks
Just like at home, you need to secure your cabinet doors. Honestly, I have no intention of ever uninstalling mine because they prevent the doors from flying open during transport.
Install a faceplate on the radio/ DVD player
Babies love the light-up display of colors and buttons that usually exists at their eye level. Marine supply houses sell covers that can seal off radios from little fingers. While designed to be weatherproof, they have proven themselves to be childproof as well. If your radio/ DVD player is an odd size, use a Tupperware container and cut a hole in the bottom to accommodate the faceplate. Double-sided tape will allow for the easy installation of your new radio/ DVD “housing.”
Before committing to a week in the middle of nowhere, start getting the kids used to the RV. Let them take naps in their RV beds occasionally. Spend an evening parked in the back yard. Have dinner as a family out there too. Let the RV become an extension of your home.
This small step will pay in dividends when it comes time to go camping. The familiarity will ensure everyone goes to sleep without issue, including you!
Have a backup plan
Until everyone is used to sleeping in an RV, be prepared for rough nights; this is especially true with really young kids.
Bring a tent and a sleeping bag! Little ones can nap in them while everyone is hanging out in the RV. Adults can find rest in them when the kids won’t go to sleep at night.
My wife and I would bring a second vehicle as a bugout shelter. A couple of times, she would take the youngest home while I stayed in the camper with our oldest. Other times, she could simply drive around long enough to put them into a deep sleep. While this is not ideal, we found freedom in knowing that we had options.
There have been nights that I would have gladly laid down on a bed of broken glass to get some rest. Even though we had those rough evenings, the ones that went right were some of our greatest experiences of all time. A little preparation will ensure that the memories that you make won’t haunt your family for the rest of their lives.