A Space to Call Her Own

I have always dreamed of more travel. Nostalgic dreams of road trips with my mother, backpacking trips with my father, and faraway dreams of different countries and cultures. So, when I married my husband (who had his own dreams of being a snowbird), it was a match made in heaven. At first, we just traveled a lot, but more and more we came back to wanting three things: to travel the continent in an RV, to live in exciting downtown neighborhoods of our favorite cities, and to travel the world.

We toyed around with a pop-up camper and then a Class C Coachman while we dreamed our dreams. We went on weekend camping trips and spoke about how to make it work, what our DREAM RV would be. Somewhere in there…we had a baby!

We are Montessori parents, and our home reflects this. Our daughter has her own handrail for climbing the stairs, furniture her size, her dishes, clothing, and coat racks; all down at her level. She joins us for practical work and she has her own spaces. Our daughter was enrolled in a Montessori Parent-Infant Program and then a Young Child community when we finally purchased our ultimate RV and committed to traveling.

We had many hurdles to overcome, as most do: remote income, our house, our families who didn’t understand. But among these was a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach:

Our daughter didn’t have a space to call her own in our RV.

And so, we stalled. We rented our RV out for extra money, we pushed back our leave date, and we solved many of the little environment problems we had. All the while I was truly stumped for how she could be as comfortable in our RV as we were.

We realized we were just as capable of adjusting the floor plan of our RV as anyone else would be! We simply had to find her own space. We decided to permanently lower the dinette table, have a mattress custom made, and create a desk/shelf/coat rack/play area that framed the bed. An environment of her own; her own size, her own things. Of course, life is far from perfect and we are nowhere near done completing this space! The space is cluttered, not quite organized with far too many things at the moment, but I wanted to share what we were able to accomplish by the time we hit the road and how it’s working so far.

RV Adaptations for a Toddler

What I like about this space:

The first objective for this space was to have a custom mattress made so she was comfortable, make her bed accessible whenever she wanted to get in and out, and to give her a little desk to read and do work as she chooses. Even though this space is nowhere near done, it is accomplishing those first objectives. She easily, and excitedly, climbs up the little staircase to her bed. Her ottoman for other spaces fits easily underneath the bottom step so she, or we, are able to pull it out and it can be used elsewhere. The staircase itself can move and we now use it for her cooking with us at the kitchen counter and even to bring inside houses when we visit friends and family.

After some time, she started performing a circuit… up the staircase, across the bed, over the back of the couch, down the length of the couch, to the floor and repeat! A toddler running track… or perhaps a miniature American Ninja obstacle course!

I also really like her desk area. The chair fits perfectly, the little shelves can have some of her materials and we will be able to put some plants on the top when we start growing them.

RV Adaptations for a Toddler Step

What I don’t like about this space:

Well, the most important thing is: it’s not done. There should be a “wall” connecting the desk to the staircase; though we are not attaching them so that the staircase can be mobile. The wall will have her shelves and may eventually house her clothing so she can get herself ready during the day. The wall itself is intended to make sleeping in the bed safe so she cannot roll out. Right now, we are just using long pillows and she only takes naps (we night nurse), so we feel okay. We have quite a bit of work left to do, including painting it.

The staircase needs to be cut at a curve at the top. I am allowing her to use it a bit so I can decide where to cut the staircase exactly. I want it to be a deterrent from her leaning to the left and right too far and falling over, so it needs to be high enough to accomplish that but low enough not to be dangerous up against the bed. When I look at it right now I feel like she’s going to fall and crack her head open on the corner! And speaking of corners, all of the corners need to be rounded off.

Stay tuned for future updates to this blog post as we continue to modify our RV to make it more accessible for our daughter!

UPDATE! January 7th

After taking one look at my shoddy carpentry work, seen above, my brother immediately took me to the hardware store and we started over. He said, “This is a great prototype, but let’s make the real one”! I agree!

So, after some fancy pocket screws, small design changes, and a paint job I have to say it looks amazing!

I will be posting a separate blog about why we chose this design over the more traditional “Learning Tower” for tiny and mobile spaces.