When you’re cleaning up after the kids all day, the idea of van life with kids might sound appealing. But is it possible? Today my guest is Lexi Rosene, a modern-day Super Woman, wife, and lil mama who has transformed her family’s lifestyle. What does a tiny house on wheels with kids look like? Lexi is here to share her tiny-living journey and how she and her husband plan to take their family on the road!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family!
Hi! My name is Lexi Rosene. I am a believer, wife to my high school sweetheart, mama to 2 littles – My daughter’s name is Finley (4) and son Zealand (1). We are currently in the process of the biggest lifestyle change our family has ever undergone. More on that in a minute!
We are a young active family who loves spontaneous adventure, staying busy with all of our hobbies, long beach days, and building our home together. On a typical day during the week, you could find us in the ocean surfing, spear fishing, free diving, building sand castles, picking up trash or splashing in the waves. The beach is home and where our hearts are happiest.
We also love to rock climb, hike, good music, take road trips, photograph everything, meet new friends, create, cook new vegetarian recipes, and have dance parties. Last year we took a step toward our dream and bought a Sprinter Van. Since then we have made the decision to sell all of our things and live and travel full time in our van. We are nearing the end of self converting our van into our home on wheels. We have been working 8 long months on building our hollow cargo van into a cozy livable home, all 86 square feet of it!
What made you and your husband decide to make this huge life change?
Many factors played into our decision to sell everything we own and move into a van and completely transform our lifestyle. My husband and I have been together for 11 years. In those years we have learned so much. One important thing we’ve learned is that life is short, and time is going to pass by whether we’re making bare minimum, or making 6 figures. The last 5 years of our life were dedicated to business. I’m talking my hubby working 12-15 hour days 6-7 days a week, whether he was sick, or in bed recovering from surgery, or on a holiday. He’s a machine and it caught up to him.
At 27 years old he was having chest pains and anxiety from stress. We knew we couldn’t continue. For the sake of his health
, for our dreams
and the future
of our family. We were ready for a major lifestyle change
and were ready to welcome
whatever it was with open arms. Things fell in to place and we listened
to those whispers- to step away from our business, sell our belongings and transform our life into what we wanted it to be. It’s never too late for that.
We had always talked about selling everything and running to the desert and mountains and coastlines, where we feel alive. One day, I’m not sure who mentioned it first, but one of us mentioned doing van life full time…. and it stuck. It made sense. It felt right. And it still does.
How long did it take you to plan and save before being able to start the project?
We purchased our van for our business with intent to use it to camp whenever we could when it wasn’t being used. 4 months later, we decided we were going to convert it to live in full time. We started selling things in our home to get the funds to “break ground’ and start the build. We did small projects on the van here and there until we moved out of our home in Northern California and put all of our remaining things into a storage unit. We then moved in with family temporarily to save money and seriously get to work on our van.
As for planning, we’re known to be pretty spontaneous
. We know what we like and want so when we make a plan
, we stick to it. We only drew out 2 drawings for our layout and went with the first one. Our layout is unique because most full time vanlifers don’t have more than one child. You’d be surprised that there are a few, but its rare! We made a plan and dove head first, all in! That’s pretty typical of us. But to clearly answer your question, we made our decision and started
right away with what we had. My husband is super handy and had all the tools he needed to do almost all of the projects.
What is your plan for after the van is done? Will you stay in one place for awhile or continually travel around?
Our plan is to continually travel around, eventually. Jobs, businesses and weather-permitting, we plan on doing a US tour hopefully in 2019. We want to see it all. Through the summer you’ll find us in North County San Diego (California) area a lot enjoying the Indian summer with our friends, especially with El Nino (warm water) this year! “Home base” will always be San Diego and where we’ll end up settling down again one day.
We recently started a new gig
doing what we love (photography and marketing) and almost all of our clients are in this area so we are actually currently looking for a piece of land to rent to park on when we need to be in town, although it will most likely look like a patch of dirt or concrete slab for us to park on. Things are still in the works and its exciting watching it all unfold. Letting go
and completely surrendering and trusting
in God has never felt so good!
How long do you plan to live in your house on wheels?
As of now, we don’t have a set plan on the length of time we’ll live in our rolling home. We’re just going to roll with it (no pun intended), embrace slow, and when the time comes that we think we’re ready to plant roots again, we will. That’s what’s so great about this lifestyle, we’re free to do whatever we feel is best for our little family. It has been so freeing to completely simplify our lives and get rid of the things we thought we needed. I’m learning so much about myself during this process, it’s been quite the journey already and we’re not even in our van full time yet!
Will you homeschool your kids?
Yes. We talked a lot before having our children about schooling, and we both agreed that we love the idea of homeschooling and being in charge of our childrens education. Travis and I both technically didn’t finish high school, and both did very little college. By the time we were young 17 year old lovebirds, we had started 3 businesses. Travis got his GED and we both did independent studies for our senior year because my little sister got very sick and was in a coma for 3 months. Independent studies allowed us to be there with her and my family during that super hard time.
When your 17 year old boyfriend drops his life and friends to pray
over your little sister on the verge of death day and night, he’s a keeper. I also actually spent some time teaching preschool before we married. We keep our schooling
with Finley light and fun right now being she is only 4. We spend a lot of time outside getting dirty, collecting things, nature studies, painting and playing. The greatest thing we can ever give her is the gift of childhood. We’re loving it and so is she!
What do you and your husband do for a living?
I am a proud and grateful stay at home mama, and have been since the day we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. I have a past in teaching preschool and was a longterm family nanny. My husband is in Marketing and a Photographer. But really he’s a jack of all trades! Literally the guy is good at everything…not fair.
How will you orchestrate nap times?
My kids have always been on a good schedule and my plan is to keep them on it as best as we can! When nap time rolls around we’ll pop up our black out window covers, crank the white noise and set up our outdoor table for some one on one time with Fin, do some reading, play games, etc. Our kids are good sleepers and do okay if we’re in the same room. They’ve spent A LOT of nights in hotel rooms where we’re all on top of each other, they’re pretty easy-going and adaptable. I’m not too worried about it!
How do you plan on facing bad weather?
As far as bad weather goes, I was born and raised in Southern California where 65 is cold and 90 is normal most days out of the year. We prepped our van for extreme weather- hot and cold as we would love to spend some time in the snow. Emphasis on the “some”, I’m a warm-weather girl through and through. We’ll take it as it comes but most likely steer clear of gnarly weather and plan ahead (as best as we can, again we’re known for spontaneous trips).
With the world outside your door, you will undoubtedly spend a lot of time outside, but what games/activities do you plan on using with your kids indoors?
My kids are happiest outside in the water, dirt and rocks. We often hear van–lifers say that they live outside and sleep in their van. I imagine that’ll be accurate. I’m pretty excited about this to be our reality. For the days where there’s some weather and we need to stay inside, I’ll open up the hundreds of indoor activities I saved to my Pinterest board!
Pinterest to the rescue! It gets tricky knowing we have just one 15″x30″ cabinet to store our homeschool things, art supplies and books. I’m sure we’ll have to get very creative when the time comes, which we’re pretty good at. Both kids will have one basket each under their seat for their toys. And when a day feels super long and we’re all just done, Netflix and chill. We have a cute little projector for the kids that projects their shows on the sliding door. They LOVE it and get so excited when they’re able to watch a movie in their cozy bed. No shame in my mom game!
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced so far?
At every single step of building our van, we have faced a major challenge. Literally not one thing has come easy for us. The biggest challenge has been personally for me, the time and exhaustion it’s taken for the last 8 months of us building our van each day, having to run back and forward from the kids to my husband. Making sure the kids are okay and busy with something to running back to the van to help hold or lift or hoist something with the hubby.
It’s a two wo/man job even though Travis tries to do as much as he can himself, he can’t. The kids need attention, dinner and baths and put to bed, then I run back out and put as much time we can under lights before 10 pm when neighbors start complaining and we have to call it a night. I hit the pillow each night and crash hard. Praise Jesus our son is (finally) sleeping through the night now!!! I whisper to myself each night “it will be worth it”. We’ve been on a few trips in our 95% complete van and it totally and completely was worth those long hours of saw dust and measuring and remeasuring.
What are you most nervous about?
Laundry and hypothetically one or all of us getting sick in the middle of the night. Anyone with kids knows how much laundry toddlers and 4 year olds go through in just a few days! Let alone adventuring full time. I’m positive laundromats will be our new hangout spot!
I’m really nervous about the night that one of us wakes up in the middle of the night, sick and having to find a place to (ahem) go or get sick at. Gross I know, but it’s an actual fear of mine! Seriously gives me anxiety. We’re super healthy, and I think two of us have gotten the flu in 3 years, but I know it will happen and we’ll have to deal with it just like we’ll have to ideal with other new trials.
Another thing I’m nervous about that I’ll have to get used to is finding a (safe) place to park for the night when driving. There are apps now for travelers that tells you where you can overnight park, where it’s free, if its safe. I’m typically a free spirit, but I know we’ll really have to get good at this.
What are you most excited about?
I’m most excited about the time we’ll have and memories we’ll make together as a family. I feel like we’ve been making up for lost time over the last few months from the last 5 tough years. I’m excited to have coffee with my husband every morning in different places. I’m excited to see more sunrises and sunsets with my family. I’m excited to stretch myself in new ways and grow in many different areas of my life. I’m excited for change and a fresh start. I’m excited to create this childhood for our kids, one where they can run wild and free and explore and meet many new friends from many different places, and always know that their mom and dad will be their safe place to land each night.
What type of organizers do you plan on using for the van for kitchen/bathroom/bedroom?
When 4 people live in 86 square feet, major organization
is needed, every single thing has to have a purpose and a place. I’ll be doing a blog post
on this topic once we’re moved in because I’ve got this question a few times. Basically our wardrobes are small, we rotate it out each season, and try to buy clothing and goods that will last. Each of us will have a 15″x15″ basket for our clothing, we have a spot under our bed for all of our shoes. Our kitchen only has essentials which isn’t much. A functional kitchen doesn’t require much. We will use magnets to hold things in place, and lots and lots of baskets. Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with straw baskets! I WILL find a place for all of them! My husband loves me for this.
What is one piece of advice you would offer a mama who desires to move towards a minimalistic lifestyle?
Do it! You will not regret it. The day I started parting with things I thought were important (ie. my daughters milk-stained faded onesies, pieces of expensive furniture, etc) you will realize that stuff is stuff. You will feel lighter and realize what is truly important. Your kids will benefit from it, you’ll have less mess to pick up each day, you’ll find yourself practicing conscious consumption, and you’ll all around be a happier mama. Let your kiddos help you. Remove yourself from the stigma that America has placed on families in thinking that the more stuff you have the more successful you are!
Measure yourself on how much love is in your heart and gratitude in your home. It’s a process and takes time. You certainly don’t have to get rid of all your things like we did, but try going room by room in your home. Start by making a pile of anything you haven’t needed or used in the last 6 months to a year. Ask yourself why you still have it. Sell or donate things in the pile and move to the next room. It will be like a breathe of fresh air freeing yourself from clutter and board games that are missing half the pieces!