Live aboard with kids? How do you stand it?!!!
It’s important when living with kids on a boat or in a house to maintain your privacy. It can be easy to overlook but at the end of the day you have to foster a strong relationship with your partner first, and the children will benefit. With a catamaran there is plenty of living space for privacy. We have a side of the boat and the kids have the other side. On our side there is an office in the middle and that’s where all the homeschooling supplies are kept. About the only time you’ll see the kids on our side of the boat is when they are after sticky tape or copy paper. They do occasionally use our bathroom as well but for the most part, we like to keep our side to ourselves. We have a sliding door that we can close at night if we want but haven’t found it necessary unless we have guests.
The kids have a cabin each on the boat and in there they have plenty of toys, games, books, dress ups and goodness knows what else. As I’m a self confessed control freak I often ‘go through’ their things and cull items of little use or value to try to keep it down to a minimum load as there’s only so much stuff that will fit in their cupboards. Don’t get me wrong, they have about 4 of those reusable shopping bags full of stuff like toys from fast food joints and parts of games. If I can’t see a good use for it – out it goes! We live on a boat not in a storage shed.
Yes of course we have different safety issues to most people but no more or less. Before we were living on a boat I still freaked every time the kids went up the cubby steps that we had at our house as it was over 6 foot off the ground. I still worried when the toddler ran around like a crazy person on our hard tile floors which she fell on and ended up in the medical centre at least twice while we lived there. I had to keep an eye out to make sure the pool gate was safely latched, no bowls of water left around (a child can drown in just a few cm’s of water and the far north wet season will fill any container in a matter of minutes,) and constantly watch to see where they were and what they were doing when they were little. Not much has changed just because we’re living on a boat now.
Of course we are concerned with their safety. The kids have individual life jackets and they know how to put them on. We have fire drills and man overboard drills regularly. The girls can both swim, in fact our nearly 8 year old has been swimming since she was 18 months old because of our love of the sea. I’m also a trained swim teacher so we take it very seriously here. When ‘Barbie’ fell off the back one day, 5 yo Swab was the first to yell out MAN OVERBOARD and point in the right direction as instructed so she could be easily seen. On our previous boat we had sewn netting all round to keep our then 2 year old from falling through. Now we have strict rules when underway about two hands on the railing at all times and they aren’t allowed out the front if it’s rough unless there are dolphins and we are right there with them.
Of course there are so many great reasons to live on a boat with your kids so although it may sound daunting at first, don’t discount it. The educational benefit is huge even if you decide you can’t for whatever reason home educate them. They are always learning a new skill, building confidence and developing camaraderie. Most kids still want to hang around with their parents at this age too, so why not take advantage? Who knows, by the time they get to be teenagers, perhaps they will think their parents are cool enough to be with.
Have you ever thought what it might be like living with kid’s on a boat?