RV Life After Bedtime with Little Ones

Anyone who has had children knows the struggle that can come with putting your baby to bed. Once they finally doze off to sleep you will do anything to avoid waking them up. Whispering, tiptoeing, or holding your breath sound familiar? That’s definitely been the case with our son. Bedtime can be a challenge no matter where you are. Putting your baby to bed in an RV may seem no different than putting them to bed at home except for one key thing: there’s no door! While RVs offer great spaces that function as extra sleeping quarters, to call these actual bedrooms would require a physical door closing off the space. With curtains that often provide privacy for these areas, doors are not a necessity in RVs. But when it comes to your baby’s sleeping area, the challenge lies in the fact that there is no door to cancel out noise or darken the space. So once your baby is put down for a nap or early bed time, how do you continue to enjoy yourself or use your RV without waking your precious little one?

Most of us aren’t ready to go to bed ourselves before 8pm. After only a couple of camping trips, my husband and I found that the key to having life after bedtime could be found in taking a few simple measures to control lighting and noise. We were then free to enjoy time by the campfire, play games, etc. and then come in and get ready for bed without worrying about interrupting our son’s sweet dreams. I hope the following information can help you and your family enjoy some extra time together as the late hours tick by.

After hours time at the campfire

Darken Out the Sleeping Quarters

With all the great natural lighting that comes from the many windows on your RV comes the need for window coverings. While curtains and blinds are often already installed on RV windows, we have removed these from the window in our little one’s sleeping area. We used to keep a dark piece of fabric over the window that functioned as a curtain, as I mentioned in my previous article Nursery On Wheels, http://northwestrving.com/nursery-on-wheels however as our son became mobile it no longer was safe to have loose fabric anywhere in his sleeping area. We also removed the blinds from the window because this would have quickly become a toy and would be a distraction at bedtime.

To keep light out of windows near your child’s sleeping quarters I highly recommend black out window vinyl. This product is fairly simple to apply and keeps the light completely out even when the sun is beating down or setting right outside the window. I’ve been so impressed with how effective this has been.

To keep lighting at bay from additional windows or overhead lights, consider putting up a tension rod with a curtain or blanket over it to function as a black out curtain outside of your little one’s sleeping area. (Also mentioned in my Nursery on Wheels). We positioned our tension rod to allow enough space for us to stand, sit and soothe him to sleep in this darkened area. With this makeshift curtain in place we are then free to turn on lights in the RV without beaming light in on our sleeping child.


White Noise

For us, a white noise machine is a definite must, not because our son requires this to sleep, but because we want the freedom to make a little noise as needed without fear of waking him up. Setting up a white noise machine will help neutralize the sounds you make milling about the inside or outside of the RV, as well as the sounds of any noisy campers or generators that may be running nearby. Our favorite white noise machine is still this battery operated machine by Homedics.
Since we often camp in locations without hook ups this is a great option for us. If you’re connected to power or using a power inverter, the plug in version of this noise machine is also a great choice.

Keep it Quiet

This can hardly be considered a tip since it is so obvious, but we have found some things very helpful in keeping the volume down during bedtime.
When possible, make dinner before their bedtime. Clanging pots and pans, etc. can really be challenging to keep quiet. If this is not an option, simply grabbing necessary dishes out of the cupboard before bedtime will cut down on the chance of excessive noise. If the weather allows, consider cooking outside on a camp stove or campfire. Keep snacks and food bags corralled in baskets. When your urge to snack hits, you can grab the basket quietly and then head out to the campfire to open up noisy packages.

Of all the noisy things that come with sharing an RV, the water pump is the biggest culprit by far. When we’re camping without hookups, the ability to have running water is such a blessing, however the loud sound of the pump is something to be avoided when you’re trying to keep little ones asleep. My husband and I quickly adopted the rule: No pump use after bedtime. At night we turn off the pump to ensure there are no surges after hours. To wash our hands, we simply keep hand sanitizer at each sink or a bottle of water for washing with soap. To use the bathroom after hours, simply pour a little water from the bottle in the toilet with each flush to keep toilet paper from building up. To wash faces, use a wet rag, water wipes (designed for use with babies) or as needed makeup remover wipes. Need access to additional water? Keep an insulated jug of water on board. Whether the pump is in use or not, it’s wise to have an extra water supply for emergencies.

No Pump Use After Bedtime

By providing a dark environment, setting up a white noise machine, and restricting excessive noise, you too can continue your camping enjoyment in to the late hours of the night while your little one gets the rest they need to join in on the fun for the day ahead.

Late Hours Enjoyment

Happy Camping!


Emily Helgeson
Author: Emily HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Emily Helgeson lives with her husband and two children in Eastern Washington. They enjoy adventuring together and are learning how to use their RV to continue this lifestyle with their growing family.

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