- Mars and Ash Fite invited Insider into the 80-square-foot van they live in with their two kids and dog as part of the “A Week in My Tiny House” series.
- Their bed serves multiple purposes for them each day, as it acts as a place to sleep, a couch, a workbench, and a play area for the kids.
- The Fites get out of the house to explore their surroundings throughout the week, taking hikes or having picnics as a family.
- Mars and Ash are intentional about finding time to be alone throughout the week, taking turns escaping to their roof or porch.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
More and more people have started living in vans and RVs, embracing tiny homes and life on the road â€” but few actually know what a typical day is like for these nomads.
As part of Insider’s “A Week in My Tiny House” series, Mars and Ash Fite documented a week in their 80-square-foot van with their two kids and dog to show people what it’s really like to live in a tiny home. The couple has been living in a van since 2017.
The couple travels with their children throughout the year, and they were parked in Florida when they photographed their life for Insider.
On Monday, Mars Fite got his family going for the week by making coffee.
Ash Fite told Insider that her husband, Mars, has been handling making breakfast for their family since their youngest child, Atlas, was born earlier this year.
“Since Atlas has been born, I’m the one that wakes up first,” Ash said. “I’ll usually spend most of the morning in bed with him nursing, and then Mars will take over breakfast.”
On Monday, he made coffee for himself and Ash using their electric French press.
“It’s really helpful because then we don’t have to have a huge kettle with us or boil water,” Ash said.
They also buy coffee from different places they travel to, which is a benefit of their lifestyle. On Monday, the Fites drank coffee from New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde.
Sometime during the day, Atlas needed a diaper change.
Atlas’ changing table was actually a Murphy bed up until a few months ago.
“As soon as he started rolling over, we couldn’t use it that way,” Ash said, as it would be dangerous for him. “So we took the sides down and now it’s the changing table.”
It also serves other purposes, though. “We’ve used that little table for video editing work if we want to just stand and work,” Ash told Insider.
Many of the items in their home serve multiple purposes.
Mars and Ash finished their day by taking some time for themselves on the roof.
The Fites’ roof doubles as a porch space, which Mars and Ash use as an adults-only getaway.
“As you can imagine, being in a van with kids can be loud and distracting,” Ash said. “The roof is our place of peace and a little bit of sanity.”
They will take turns heading up to the roof, go together after the kids are asleep, or sometimes they will climb to the top while their 6-year-old daughter Everly plays with Atlas.
On Monday, they went up together after they tucked the kids into bed.
Ash woke up to feed Atlas on Tuesday morning.
While Mars got breakfast going and started working remotely from the van, Ash spent time with Atlas.
“I’ll take care of him while Mars is getting everything else ready,” Ash said of their daily routine. Sometimes that happens as early as 6 a.m., but on Tuesday, it was closer to 8 a.m.
Everly was heading to the bathroom to get ready for the day while her little brother ate breakfast. The Fites have a toilet in the van, and they have a solar shower that they can pull out when they need it.
Ash, Mars, and Everly use the solar shower, while Atlas is so young that he still takes baths in the kitchen sink.
The Fites took some time away from the van to hike on Tuesday.
Their access to outdoor space is a huge reason why the Fites like living nomadically.
“Obviously we live in the van, but we live out of the van a lot,” Ash said.
The Fites were staying in Florida at the time they spoke to Insider, so they went on a hike together on Tuesday.
Atlas rides in a backpack on Mars’ back when they hike, while Everly walks alongside her parents. Ash said she can walk as far as four miles without getting tired.
They ended the day with the kids’ normal bedtime routine.
The kids usually settle in for bedtime around 10 or 10:30 p.m., according to Ash.
Everly has a loft bed above her parents’ mattress that allows her to have her own private space. And since Atlas outgrew his Murphy bed, he sleeps in a bassinet that hangs from the ceiling called the Miyo baby hammock.
“Atlas really likes sleeping in that, and it’s nice because anytime he moves, it kind of bounces along with it,” Ash said.
Ash and Mars usually stay up later than their kids – though Atlas typically wakes up every few hours for a feeding or to be changed. The couple slides the hammock to the side when they’re ready to get into bed.
Everly got started on her schoolwork Wednesday morning.
The Fites homeschool Everly, so she can start on her schoolwork whenever she’s ready.
She typically sits on the edge of the bed while she studies, using the kitchen counter as her desk, as she did on Wednesday.
While Everly works, Atlas usually plays on a blanket on the floor. “On the bed, I’m constantly on high alert that he’s going to crawl off,” Ash said.
After a while, Mars joined the kids for music lessons.
The bed also serves as a place for music lessons for the kids throughout the week. Because Everly is homeschooled, they have the freedom to teach her what they want, which includes music.
“Mars’ mum is actually a music teacher, so he grew up all around music,” Ash said. He’s passing on that love of music by giving lessons to his kids, and he and Everly often make up songs together.
“Mars will write a line, and then Everly will pick a line,” Ash said. “It teaches her how to do running schemes, and it’s just fun.”
While Mars tucked the kids in on Wednesday, Ash spent some time reading.
While Ash took some time for herself, Mars read the kids a bedtime story. It’s easier for one of them to handle bedtime rather than both since the space is so small.
Ash is sitting on a bench built into the space, where Everly’s car seat sits when the van is moving.
“I like to sit here and read, or I’ll go to the top if it gets too loud and crazy in there,” Ash said.
Everly and Ash made juice together on Thursday morning.
The Fites like drinking healthy smoothies, and Everly is a big help when it comes to making them, according to Ash.
“She’s such a big helper,” Ash said. “I have no idea what I would do without her, with a baby and living in the van and everything. She’s just there to help with whatever needs to be done.”
The smoothies can’t be made until everyone in the Fite family is awake, as it’s loud and the van is so small.
The Fites took advantage of their beach location later that day.
The Fites spent a lot of time in Colorado this year, so the Florida sun has been a welcome change.
Ash said that being able to park the van on the sand makes enjoying the beach with kids easier. They can make sandcastles and enjoy the waves, but their home with food and the bathroom is just steps away.
But Florida has fewer beaches they can park on than the West Coast does, so they have been having to get used to trekking from parking lots.
Mars was in charge of dinner on Thursday night.
The Fites’ kitchen is small, so they have to be smart about how they use their counter space.
“We have a one-burner stove, so that way we can just put it away and take it out whenever we need it,” Ash told Insider. Their family mostly eats vegetables, particularly since Everly declared herself a vegetarian recently.
The Fites have to get creative with where they eat. On Thursday, Everly ate her dinner on a cutting board that pulls out from a drawer, which functions somewhat like a dinner tray.
Their refrigerator is also small, so they don’t have a lot of room for leftovers. As a result, the Fites try to cook just for one meal at a time, rather than meal prepping as many families do.
“If someday we have a house, it will make cooking a lot easier,” Ash said.
Smoothie duty fell to Mars on Friday morning as well.
Mars is happier to make smoothies than Ash is in the morning the majority of the time.
“Whenever I think about having to clean everything, it deters me from doing it,” she said.
But Mars doesn’t mind cleaning it up, so he handled the smoothies while Ash got Everly started on her schoolwork and fed the baby.
Friday afternoon, Everly took charge of getting Atlas down for his nap.
Everly likes to help with her brother, and one of the duties she enjoys taking over is putting Atlas down for his nap.
“She helps me out in the afternoon a lot with him,” Ash said of her daughter. “She’ll lie down with him, scratch his back, and put him to sleep so I can actually get work done.”
After Atlas was asleep on Friday, Everly had free playtime.
To end the day, Ash spent some time editing videos for the family’s YouTube page.
Mars and Ash have a pretty active YouTube channel, but they haven’t been as consistent about posting since Atlas was born.
Ash has been trying to carve out more time for editing in recent weeks so they can post more. On Friday night, Mars took the kids outside so Ash could have some quiet time to edit.
Like Everly, Ash used the kitchen counter as her desk.
When they woke up on Saturday, Everly and Atlas played together while they got ready for the day.
“In the mornings, when I’m trying to get Everly ready or get dressed myself, I’ll put Atlas in that little seat and give him a snack,” Ash said of how she keeps Atlas safe and entertained while her family gets ready.
Everly usually plays with him after she’s ready, but on Saturday, she was more focused on spending time with her brother than getting dressed for the day.
A benefit of being in a warmer climate is that Mars can break out his longboard.
Mars took out his longboard on Saturday, which is one of many “toys” he has, according to Ash. The couple built storage nooks into the van so Mars can bring things like his board and golf clubs on the road with them.
The activities they do vary depending on the climate the Fites are parked in, but longboarding is great for Florida. Mars even runs errands on the longboard sometimes.
But on this particular Saturday, he just brought it out for some fun.
The Fites ended their Saturday with a cosy movie night.
The Fites’ master bed serves multiple purposes throughout the day, including acting as a couch for family movie nights. On Saturday, the family of four cuddled up together to relax.
Ash and Mars have a laptop and tablet they can watch movies and shows from, but they don’t have a TV.
“We almost put a TV in the van,” Ash told Insider. It would have been mounted to the wall across from Everly’s loft, but they decided against it.
The stationary TV would have given them less freedom to use the bed for different purposes, and they also like to switch the sides they put their pillows on, which would have been harder with a TV.
Ash and Mars gave each other some alone time to meditate on Sunday morning.
“Being in a small space, if we can do little things like journal or meditate, it makes us be able to handle the day better,” Ash told Insider.
So on Sunday morning, she and Mars took turns meditating on their extendable porch. One parent watched the kids while the other meditated, and then they swapped.
“You just start fresh,” Ash said of why meditating works for them. “You’re in a better mood. You’re more conscious of how you’re reacting to different things.”
The Fites used their Sunday afternoon to have a family picnic.
The Fites use their extendable porch for a lot of things, but Ash told Insider it’s especially handy for beach days.
“We do use it a lot for Everly playing on it when it’s nice outside just to give her some floor space,” Ash said of the porch. “But we’ve also used it a lot on beaches for a place to have a picnic so we’re not super sandy.”
They had a picnic midday Sunday, enjoying the sunny weather together. Atlas was in his seat with a strap so he didn’t crawl away while the rest of his family ate on the porch.
And the week ended with Ash doing some dishes.
As previously mentioned, the Fites’ kitchen is small, and they don’t have a dishwasher.
Ash said she feels like she’s constantly doing dishes, as she tries to get everything clean after every meal her family has.
“Someday, if we have a house again, we’re 100% getting a dishwasher,” Ash told Insider.
They also don’t have many plates or bowls since there isn’t much room to store them.
Although there are some things they have to do without, Ash and Mars love their lifestyle.
“We make so many memories on the road,” Ash said.
- Read more:
- A couple has lived in a 130-square-foot tiny house for 5 years – here’s what a typical week looks like for them
- A family of 6 lives full-time in a 400-square-foot RV with a bunk room that all 4 kids share
- A family of 4 lives full-time in a 450-square-foot RV that saves them $US2,000 a month
- A family of 4 moved into a 250-square-foot RV to save money while they build their dream farmhouse
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