The Laird family travels full-time in their RV with their four-year-old triplets Adda, Jesse and Sloane, their cat Zeke and their dog Henry. They value a minimalist lifestyle, and prioritize memorable experiences and adventures over possessions. They love reading, hiking, crafts and singing. The Lairds RV in a 2019 Jayco Whitehawk 29BH.
Raising Little Women
Jen and Rachel Laird
Four words changed our lives: I see three heartbeats. When we found out we were having triplets, all girls, it rocked us to our cores. Finding out you’re going to become a parent would make anyone reflect on their lives, and we were no different. Besides being two women in love with each other, we lived our lives on a normal and expected path. Get good grades, go to college, get a good job, get married, buy a home, have kids. But when we found out we would be welcoming three girls into our life, it was a huge wake up call. How could we tell our daughters that they could do anything and be anything if we weren’t living that way ourselves?
The girls came ten weeks early and spent their first few months in the NICU, the natal intensive care unit. Jen left her job to care for the girls full-time, tending to all the needs of three preemies while I squeezed in remote work between pumping breast milk and heart rate alarms going off.
When I transitioned back into the office, it was hard on everyone. Feedings and diaper changes happened so frequently during the night that we hardly got any sleep, so by the time I left in the morning, we were already exhausted. We spent weekdays in survival mode and weekends filled with chores and errands. With what little time we had left over, we’d go on family walks, play outside and enjoy story time together. But every week, it got a little bit harder for me to leave on Monday mornings.
When the girls were 18 months old, I stumbled upon a direct sales job that aligned with something I’m passionate about, reading aloud to children. At first, it was just a way to bring in a little extra money to pay down our medical bills. I spent my evenings working while Jen put the girls to bed. In the late hours, we’d watch snippets of travel shows and documentaries on minimalism, dreaming of a different kind of life.
We fell in love with the idea of tiny living and being very intentional with our belongings, time, and actions. But we had no idea how to make it happen. How in the world would we live a simple yet experience-rich life with triplet toddlers? I suggested full-time RV living as a solution, but it took about a year to get Jen on the same page. I obsessed over the details and logistics of how we could make it work, and eventually a plan began to form. I would quit my engineering job and focus on my direct-sales business, and we’d hit the road together.
In January of 2019, we made the leap. We spent a few months in a whirlwind of purging stuff, selling our house, and RV shopping. When we found our perfect RV trailer at an RV show, we bought it on the spot.
Although we’d never towed anything before, we loved the idea of an RV we could hitch and unhitch from our primary vehicle. And even though we were nervous driving it for the first time, we quickly gained our confidence as we parked it across the street from our house and moved in.
The girls adjusted to their new surroundings with grace and ease. They moved from cribs directly into the open bunks with no fuss! We had planned on having two of them share a bed, but those dreams were dashed on day one, and we realized we’d have to do some reconfiguration to give them all separate beds. But it was perfect, nonetheless. It felt like home.
Over time, we’ve built up a routine for travel days and pride ourselves on our teamwork. When we pull into a new park, the girls each get a lollipop to keep them happy and quiet. Jen hops out to guide us in, while I do the driving. Once we get parked and levelled, the girls get out and help us with the rest of the set up. They love being a part of a team and contributing. What they don’t yet realize is that all of this is part of their education: collaboration, how things work, communication, safety, critical thinking and so much more.
Four-year-old triplets bring on quite a bit of attention in public. Add in two moms, and the questions really start coming. Some people comment on how blessed we are; other people ask questions about parentage, which we correct and redirect. And of course, some people ask about our safety, usually out of love, but sometimes due to stereotypes.
Stereotypes about what women can do still pop up from time to time. Even some women occasionally tell us they feel intimidated by our lifestyle because they can’t envision themselves hauling an RV or dealing with repairs.
But we like to remind people––men, women, and everyone alike––that feeling intimidated comes with doing anything new. Everybody struggles sometimes with backing up a big rig or driving onto leveling blocks. And everybody, too, gets better with practice.
We want our girls to be curious, empowered, self-confident, emotionally intelligent, kind, relentless, passionate, and honest. We want them to be proud of who they are and understand that they are capable of more than their fears will tell them. Life on the road has given them experiences to learn from while they’re still young and close to us. They have so much freedom to explore their curiosities, challenge their abilities, and build their independence.
For example, they love riding their bicycles. As they get faster, we can no longer keep up on foot. But instead of making them slow down, we give them check points. They’ll take off down a fun, hilly trail on their own, agreeing to stop at the first trail sign they get to and wait for us to catch up. Then they’re free to venture forth again. We don’t worry about them, because we’re typically the only people on the trail, or we’re surrounded by people who also value the freedom of nature. The only fear we have is that they might fall into a patch of poison ivy.
Speaking of poisonous plants, it is impossible to spend a day outside without learning some science, history, astronomy, etc. With this lifestyle, the world is their classroom and books help them research the things they discover on their own. We love taking daily nature walks to observe the tiniest things, like ivy crawling up a tree or a fossilized sea shell. One of our favorite experiences was exploring the mud in Padilla Bay in Washington. The girls got their hands dirty searching through the mud to find tiny creatures. Sloane was brave enough to pick up the tiny crabs she found, and even after they pinched her, she would pick them up again. In fact, many of our favorite memories center around getting muddy and dirty or soaked through with rain.
But even our adventurous lifestyle does have some limits. In order to give the girls freedom, we have to choose locations where we feel comfortable. We always do a little extra research and planning on areas we’re not familiar with, and we always know we can pack up and leave at any time if we feel uncomfortable. Luckily, almost all of the places we’ve visited have been amazing, filled with incredible people who welcome us with open arms.
It’s funny how three little girls whizzing by on bicycles can open people up to conversation, rather silently judging a family that looks different than their own. We have had some very touching and insightful conversations with people because the girls provided a welcoming introduction. “Are they triplets?” has led to conversations where we connect with strangers over parenting, traveling, education and so much more. We wanted to raise girls who are confident enough to change the world and, even though they are only four years old, they are already doing just that.