Hey, RVing Girlfriends.
Are you experiencing Cramps in your RV lifestyle?
I’m talking about feeling-stifled-inside-400-SF-of-living-space-with-your-spouse-or-partner kind of cramps.
Am I going crazy?
My cramps were awful the first six months of our full-time RV adventure. I was overwhelmed with “Am I going crazy?” thoughts!
I couldn’t figure it out. Why was this cramped feeling happening to me?
Before we entered the nomadic lifestyle, John and I spent weeks educating ourselves on the ‘how to’s’ of the RV lifestyle.
We also had several serious (we thought) discussions regarding the ‘space’ challenges we MIGHT face as a couple living inside our tiny home.
I remember feeling exhilarated on moving day as we crammed our belongings into our new 400 square foot abode. The euphoria lasted about three days and then-
It seemed as if the walls were closing in on us! It probably didn’t help that our first week was rainy and overcast, but the lack of personal space inside our first RV was stifling to both of us. Yes, we were committed to being nomads, but ill-prepared for the resulting stress.
That’s why I am providing these practical tips for you.
Knowledge is your superpower, Girlfriend!
I’m hoping that by understanding WHY you feel stressed, you may be able to avoid what I experienced.
Before we get to the ten ways to improve and assist your relationship in your tiny home on wheels, let’s see where you have come from.
I’m curious where were you living 5-7 years ago?
I bet you had a home or apartment with spare space you could call your own. You probably had a small extra room, or a balcony, or a backyard patio, or a basement. Or maybe you had all of these additional spaces in your previous home?
When you and your partner decided to head out and ‘live your dream life’ you neglected to inform your brain that BIG CHANGES were about to happen.
Then and now
Your brain is trying to re-consolidate aspects of your new identity as an RVer. There was a significant change when you walked away from suburbia to seek out your nomadic adventure. You have now shed the skin of who you used to be as you take on an ‘unfamiliar at first’ identity.
Your poor brain. Just picture its frenetic activity trying to sort through feelings of insecurity, anxiousness, and being “out of sorts.”
You are NOT going crazy. It takes time but eventually your brainal region will catch up with your circumstances.
As you wait for that to happen, you can practice these ten areas to make your small space feel less cramped and more livable.
- Transform your picnic table into a retreat. Most RV sites have a picnic table. There are cute cheap tablecloths at the dollar store calling your name. Add some flowers or a decorative pot and wah-lah! Instant quiet retreat. Give it a goofy name like “The Spa” of “My QT spot.” Adding a humorous name reminds your brain this place is essential.
- Switch up your routine. A couple of days a week head to a nearby coffee shop instead of having the usual coffee at “home.” Anytime you can break up the routines that we all settle into will rejuvenate your time together and force your brain to recognize that new spaces are going to be your norm. Or, if you are an early riser, go by yourself.
- Wear large headphones when you need some quiet/alone time. These headphones are super comfortable and an unmistakable signal to your partner that you are not to be disturbed. Wearing them outside your RV also works to alert the neighbors that you are concentrating on something important, even if it is merely your favorite audiobook! Again, you are training your brain to recognize a new way to create space in your tiny home.
- Plan some fun evening activities to break up the day. When your calendar shows an event coming up, it gives you something to look forward to (your brain loves that) and may help you overlook your partners’ dirty socks on the floor.
- Play music that you both love while you are spending time inside your RV. It’s hard to be upset or annoyed with someone when you are listening to that favorite song from your dating years. Endorphins are released into your bloodstream, making it impossible to feel stress or anxiety. Hey, you may even end up dancing!
- Declutter your space. It is soothing to walk into an area that doesn’t have shoes in the middle of the rug, an unmade bed, dishes piled up in the sink, or tv remotes all over the place. A visually organized space calms our brain and removes opportunities to feel tense inside your new home.
- Build-in surprises for your partner/spouse. Who doesn’t get a kick out of receiving a surprise? John and I use post-it notes to communicate silly thoughts, a written apology, or a surprise to find inside a suitcase when one of us is traveling. Be creative with this one. It will make your brain happy.
- Walk the dog. Getting outside 3 or 4 times a day to have your dog do their business can help your brain transition to your new routine and enrich your relationship with your partner. It not only gives you alone time outside, but your body benefits from the exercise as well. Bonus: Your spouse or partner gets to enjoy time alone for 30 minutes at a time!
- Validate and compliment your spouse/partner. We all need to be ‘seen’ and heard. Receiving recognition for even mundane tasks is refreshing. When tension arises inside your RV, it’s time to validate. You might say ‘You sound frustrated today. Do you want to talk about it?’ or ‘I don’t blame you for feeling angry about __.’ It will instantly diffuse the conflict. Be generous with your compliments, say things like “I appreciate you taking the trash to the dumpster,” “You made an awesome dinner in that little kitchen!’ Priceless gifts we can give to our partners and help calm our brains.
- Lastly, remind yourself to remember. Think back to how much you were looking forward to your nomadic lifestyle. Share your feelings about those early planning days with your spouse/partner. Take advantage of this moment to hug each other and laugh at those idealistic and crazy expectations you had before entering your RV life. Happy endorphins will be released into your bloodstream reminding your brain that you are living the dream!
Happy Trails from Gretty your Relationshippy Coach!
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