Keeping Boat Baby Busy

People who find out we live on a boat: “How do you deal with a toddler in such a small space?”

Me: “How do you keep track of your toddler in such a large space?”

But really, I think no matter where you live, entertaining a toddler is hard work. This is the struggle that all parents face, the never-ending question of “What are we going to DO today?”

Pros for living on a boat with a toddler:

  • I’m never more than 10 feet from her at any given time
  • Boat-proofed is automatically baby-proofed. Everything is latched, furniture is built in, and corners are rounded.
  • A lot of time spent outdoors
  • When we are all on the boat, we are all hanging out together!
  • Don’t have tons of toys underfoot
  • Everything is spill-proof and waterproof

Cons:

  • I’m never more than 10 feet from her at any given time
  • Silence is never an option
  • Deck time always involves a lifejacket
  • No space indoors to run her ragged

The last con is the biggest hurdle for us. How do I make sure my toddler burns off enough energy when she can’t run around outside due to weather? Summer here is challenging. 105 degree days with sudden thunderstorms. Here’s what we do to fill our week and get off the boat:

Early morning walks (most mornings) with an hour pit stop at the park. It is usually cool and shaded enough until 9 am. W can climb to her heart’s content while Scout and I get some exercise.

Story time at Barnes&Noble. Music, books, and socialization with kids. Plus, it is air-conditioned and there is an indoor play area at the other end of the mall. More things to climb.

Tot Time on base, or as W calls it, “T-T!” There is a 2-hour ‘free play’ for kids under 2 in one of the community center gyms on Camp Lejeune. Different toys and socialization time in the AC!

Gymnastics on Thursdays in the ‘Mommy and Me’ class. I think this one is her favorite. By the time the hour class is done, she usually falls asleep in the car.

Starbucks usually precedes a trip to the grocery store. Caffeine boost for Mom and a croissant for W! A good place to hang and people watch.

Library visits are also a favorite. We frequent two that are on base. They have separate kids rooms with puzzles and play structures, too!

Pool time is reserved for super-hot afternoons and extra-energy days. W likes the shaded kiddy pool, and 1 hr after playing in that she’s ready for bed.

Beach days are the best, but less frequent due to the absolute mess involved (read: SAND EVERYWHERE) but we usually go at least once per week. Conor loves doing this with her, so it is usually on the weekend.

Deck time will also entertain W for a while, as long as there is ice involved! Easiest entertainment ever: Get a bag of ice. Put out bowls of different sizes. Give toddler a big spoon. Have her move ice to various containers. When it melts, no cleanup needed! I don’t know why this is so amusing, but W loves it.

tot time
Ice Ice Baby

These are the big ones. When we are on the boat, we play games, sing songs, build block towers, read books, color, play pretend with baby doll, and try to empty various cabinets.

How do you entertain your toddler? Give me ideas below!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

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Aren’t I Supposed to Relax on Vacation?

I can’t pinpoint when it happened—the moment the boat stopped being just a boat and became a member of the family. Maybe it was all my fretting during hurricane season, and the thought of how devastated I would be if we lost her. Maybe it was during our first solo expedition, and how she helped guide us safely across the water as we learned together. Instead of a mode of transportation or the vessel for our minimalist lifestyle, the boat has somehow evolved to become an equal partner on this adventure. We take care of her, and she takes care of us.

Leaving the boat for an extended period of time gives me anxiety. I think about her all the time when we’re away, even though I double-triple checked everything. Conor laughs and says I’m being paranoid. “It’s a boat, it will be fine for just a week without you!” I know he’s right. Our marina is protected, the dock lines are secure, anything electric (that is unnecessary) is off. But temperature and wind speeds are always on my mind as I check the weather back home for the latest updates.

I used to roll my eyes at blogs that would refer to their boats as ‘she’ and ‘her’. I feel the same way about people naming their cars. But a boat somehow becomes more over time. A boat has quirks and a personality that you get to know intimately while living aboard. You have to be in tune with her, and the consequences of not listening to what she’s saying could be disastrous and dangerous. I think that’s why I get so nervous leaving our boat alone—she could be yelling that something is wrong, but nobody is there to hear! Thankfully, we have some awesome liveaboard neighbors that I know will step in if there is an emergency while we are away. I just need to relax!

You’d think I would have seen this obsessiveness about the boat coming—just ask Scout, who has never been away from my side for more than three nights total since we adopted her over two years ago.

dog mom
Scout insists on being held like a toddler at every opportunity.

I am a self-professed crazy dog lady. She travels everywhere with us (hotels, planes, cars, boats, restaurants) and it never even occurs to us to leave her with a sitter. If my boat could shrink to 15lbs, you bet I’d pack her up and take her with us, too!

Love,

Taylor and Conor