Ten things that are different about mothering on board (although all boats are different so this is very subjective).
1) Boiling the kettle to wash the dishes, but only if you haven’t pre-emptively put the hot water on to heat up, which we do sometimes if you’re going to be using more hot water later, e.g for baths or showers.
2) Keeping the pushchair outside on deck with the rain-cover on it, and having to bring all other child related paraphernalia indoors.
3) ‘Controlled crying’ in a confined space: experimenting with different baby hammock locations and trying not to keep her big sister awake.
4) Packing our futon bed away to make it into a sofa every morning. Making it up into a bed again every night. The futon “suitable for occasional use as a bed” is now falling apart. It is one month older than the baby. Big Sister keeps re-screwing a rogue washer back on to it for us, “so that mummy doesn’t fall out of bed”.
5) Unable to freeze cubed portions of mush for baby weaning. Our freezer capacity is a small ice compartment in the fridge. I suffer guilt that I’m not providing homemade organic mush and use baby jars instead.
6) You have to tidy up as you go along because every space doubles as something else. Big sister’s bedroom is a nappy change area during the day. The living room floor is a play area covered with a soft play mat, but after tea becomes the ‘change the children into their pyjamas’ area. Then the play mat is folded away and a lap top computer on a small wooden stool turns the living room into a home cinema for the adults in the evening. We must clear the kitchen worktop of dishes before we are able to make the next meal. The dining booth can be the creative make-a-card gluing and sticking area, dinner table for two children or a family of four, or most often: the place to dump paperwork, post and stuff that we’re meaning to read. To eat a meal at the table we would cry “clear the booth!” with the mock urgency of our best hospital casualty department voices, meaning, prepare the area for use! Also, the booth can become a spare bed, a single bed for a visiting guest (like Dr Swan). The table folds down, and the four chair cushions become a mattress.
7) Big Sister has been learning to walk the gang plank above a perilous drop of nettles and the river below. It is not an adventure activity one would normally encourage in a two year old, but as it’s part of our lifestyle it’s something that we feel she needs to learn, under close supervision of course!
8) She has also learned to get confidently on and off the boat without a gang plank, when we are moored nearer to the edge. If there is no gap she can safely climb onto the gunwale, hold tightly to the edge of the boat and then step safely onto the grass.
9) Three trips to the launderette every week.
10) You can live where ever you like and change that place every two weeks.