Having spent some time at both my parents and my in-laws over the festive season, I realised that looking after a one year old (or at least our one year old) is by no means harder on a boat than in a house, in fact, I think it might be easier!
When we decided to make the move from solid ground to a floating home the biggest concern most people had was how we could safely live with a child on board and wouldn’t it become claustrophobic? I will talk about our experience of both of those issues here!
Firstly, safety – you have to take many many precautions when living in a house with a child and being onboard is no different, they are just different precautions. We have no stairs she can fall down, no fire or radiator she could burn her hands on and very few plug sockets that she could put her fingers in! She is almost able to safely navigate the entire inside of the boat by herself (not that I’d let her or else I would find moment, seen below, repeated far too often for my liking!)
She cannot get out of the boat into the cockpit unless the door is open and as long as the cockpit cover is fastened she cannot make it out on deck. She wears reins while toddling throughout the marina and when summer finally arrives she will have a line clipped onto one of the mast stays so that she can play on deck without the possibility of falling overboard. I’m sure there is much more that I could say on this topic but I will move on as I’d like to finish this while she naps!
We don’t have any stairgates but she of course does have a lifejacket and as mentioned, reins and I have also read about ‘turtle watches’ which I expect we
shall invest in this summer (a watch with an alarm that goes off when it gets wet).
The second issue is one that originally, I was most worried about – the lack of space. However, it has turned out not to be a hinderance in any way. As there is less space she cannot ever be that far away from me and therefore, get into mischief that I can’t easily stop. Due to the layout of our cat, as she was learning to pull herself up and walk, the sofas were perfect in being a constant source of support and so she rarely fell as there was something to grab onto. We have a large table for crafts when she is older and low worktops in the kitchen so she can help me cook as she gets older as well. We have two (currently) spare cabins and she is already enjoying exploring and hiding in these!
The key, I have found, is just to make sure that we go out lots, not only so I don’t go stir crazy but so she can have space to walk and play and so we can see other parents and children. Given that we have only lived on Pinafore during the winter and during this time I have been out most days, I think we’ll be fine for the long haul! I’m just looking forward to better weather and trips to the beach and park (we’ve had to stick with indoors visiting this winter!)
Other than these issues, living onboard with a baby is much the same as living in a house with a baby, there are still days when we both get mega frustrated and fed up and still days spent giggling at the silliest things having more fun than I ever thought I could with a pint sized person!