When we started off on our road adventure, one of my biggest questions was how it would be sleeping in an RV with kids. Would anyone sleep at all??
Turns out, it’s worked far better than I feared. Perhaps my expectations were just really low, but it feels like we’ve managed a decent sleep rhythm – even with 5 kids.
RV Sleep Setup with Kids
With a bunch of little kids, we wanted to carve out a specific sleep space for each child. We have a 28ft RV so technically there are 7 sleeping spaces. We have 7 people, but since we’re RVing with children, they don’t need quite as much space.
The adults are in the back room on the queen bed in there. The baby’s bassinet just barely fits next to our bed, conveniently. We have our oldest two kids (currently 9 and 7) in the bunk above the cab.
Then the 5 and 2 year old boys are on the pull out bench seat. It’s a “double” bed (although a touch smaller than a standard full size), and we have them sleeping the short way since they’re still little so they’re less likely to roll off the bed. We’re not using the other twin pullout bed (where the dining table would be) and instead store the extra car seats there.
RV Sleep Tips
We’ve learned a few things in our time RVing with kids as far as the best setup and getting everyone to sleep well. Here are our best RV sleep tips if you’re considering an RV adventure with kids, too!
This post with RV sleep tips contains affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own. That means I earn a small commission if you purchase through my link, but doesn’t change your price.
Sleeping in an RV with Kids: Tips for RV Sleep
1) Have consistent sleep spaces
Just like at home, we’ve found our kids do best when they have consistent sleep spaces. It makes each evening run much more smoothly when each child knows exactly where they’ll be sleeping without confusion. We have the same bed setup each night so there’s no arguing over who is where. (If there is a preferred spot, you could try changing it up each week, but our kids have all been fine with their spot from the beginning.)
Especially if you’re considering driving an RV with a baby, this is especially important. We brought along our baby’s bassinet, which fits PERFECTLY right on the side of our bed. Our pack n play definitely didn’t fit, so we were so glad this one did. (We love this bassinet, but it’s pricey. You could consider getting a used bassinet to save some cash.)
It also feels restful having the back bedroom space that is the grown ups’ bed. It’s mostly our area and is relaxing and nice.
2) Use easily-identifiable linens
Especially if you’re RVing with kids or with multiple people, it makes things SO MUCH easier when you know what belongs to whom. We grabbed each of our kids an inexpensive set of linens for the RV, and each has a different, fun pattern.
We just got plain white, queen-sized fitted sheets to go on the beds – one on the bunk over the cab and the other over the pull out couch. Then each child got a matching duvet cover and pillowcase so they’d be easy to wash and wouldn’t require a flat sheet. Each kid has a different animal pattern so they can easily keep track of their own stuff and make sure it’s picked up properly. Here are the ones we got for the 2 year old, 5 year old, 7 year old, and 9 year old.
On the subject of linens, try to keep them clean by bathing regularly. It’s a pain to wash sheets, especially at a laundromat or campground washing facility, so try to not get them filthy on a daily basis. Even if you just wash dirty feet, that can be really helpful in keeping the space and the linens clean!
3) Set up white noise
We always use white noise at home in every bedroom. We’re big fans and have used white noise since our oldest was a baby – we even sleep with a white noise machine in our own room! (We use this sound machine at home.)
Even if you don’t use it at home, though, I highly recommend using when sleeping in an RV. In such a small space, it’s easy to make enough noise to wake someone else, so white noise helps drown all that out. It allows us to easily wash dishes and shower and whatnot after all our kids are asleep, and it doesn’t bother them at all.
We just use a white noise app on a tablet – we have this one and this one. Just make sure you charge them either through the cigarette lighter while driving or on the generator (or while plugged into electric).
4) Mimic your home bedtime routine
Our bedtime routine at home is basic but super consistent. Jammies, potty, brush teeth, read a book, prayer, song. We try to keep it short and sweet and don’t drag things out. We do basically the exact same thing in the RV.
Of course, things take slightly longer because the bathroom is tiny, but overall, it flows very similarly to how it does at home. We also have the extra step of removing the two car seats on the bench seat and setting up that bed with the sheets. (The other beds stay in place during the day.)
And this is true for adults, too! We also appreciate having a consistent routine to follow and help us settle down to sleep. Along with the routine, try to make sure you have a comfortable sleeping temperature, as well. If you don’t have an electric hookup, can you run the generator for a bit to cool things down? Can you open the windows? (Though be sure to close them if you do have the generator on.) Do what you can to make things comfortable!
Also, when it comes to routines, consider the wakeup routine, too! Consider setting out a quiet activity for your kids so they can occupy themselves without being too loud. Help them remember any morning things to do on their own (brush teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, etc.). Consider setting up a an RV family economy daily list for them to check off each day!
5) Consider blackout shades
Before bed, we pull all the curtains closed, including the ones between the cabin and the cab, to block out as much light as possible. (This is especially important in the summertime when it’s usually still light out when we’re putting the kids to bed!)
We also bought some inexpensive blackout material to cover other areas. These spots were unusual sizes, so we knew we wouldn’t find blackout shades specifically made for them, but it was easy enough to cut our own to size. We cut pieces to cover the shower door (lots of light coming in there!), as well as the top vent above our bed. (The window curtains already did a great job of blocking out light.) We just attached pieces of Velcro so it’s easy to attach and detach them.)
6) Set a bedtime
Living in an RV, even for a short period of time, can really throw off your schedule. Once we settled into getting the kids to bed fairly easily, we tended to stay up and work and do other things. It’s just as easy to stay up too late while sleeping in an RV as it is at home!
We’re trying to be better about cutting ourselves off and sticking to a bedtime, especially since we’re usually sitting in semi-dark after the kids go to sleep. Might as well take advantage of those early bedtimes!
7) Use soothing rituals when needed
Sometimes, it can be helpful to have something extra to settle down. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep usually, but my husband sometimes takes a little bit to settle down. And when we’re changing time zones, sometimes our kids need a little help adjusting. In those cases, we’ll use a small children’s dose of melatonin to help settle down.
Of course, do not use this without consulting with your doctor first. Our pediatrician okayed and recommended the children’s dose for infrequent use and it was helpful for the first couple days as everyone got used to sleeping in the new space!
We love this kind because it’s fast-acting and strawberry-flavored. It works more quickly and is way less expensive than the children’s-specific gummies, but still tastes fine. (It’s the exact same dose as the children’s-specific kind, as well.)
Other helpful sleep aids might be an eye mask (my husband always uses one!), a special stuffed animal (all our kids have theirs!), or even something as simple as back scratches or a warm shower.
8) Use a mattress topper
We got a brand-new mattress for our RV, which we were so glad for. Still, it’s certainly not a top-of-the-line mattress. (We LOOOOVE our mattress at home, but didn’t want to buy a second one for the RV due to price and also because it’s quite heavy, so not the best for a traveling home.)
So we added a memory foam mattress topper and it made a world of difference. It’s so comfortable and makes for some great RV sleep! Definitely better sleep than tent camping. 😉
9) Consider the incline
Most nights, we’ve been able to find relatively flat spots. But sometimes, a campground or lot will have a slope to it. In that case, try to find the flattest area you can so that you don’t feel like you’re sliding all night long.
If you can’t avoid some slope, try to park so that everyone’s heads are slightly higher than their feet, or at least so that their feet aren’t above their heads. That’s just asking for a headache!
While you of course want everyone to sleep well (yourself included), especially when sleeping in an RV with kids, sometimes you need to just relax a little. RV sleep with kids won’t be exactly like sleeping in a home, but you can definitely come pretty darn close. Just know that sometimes, you might go to bed later, you might need to clean more frequently, and there might be some chatter or waking of siblings on occasion. I mean, you’d expect it when camping in a tent, right?
All in all, try to enjoy the advantages of sleeping in an RV – family closeness, small space to clean, and lots of opportunity to tire kiddos out by getting outside. And enjoy the journey!
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