Living in a caravan with two children in cloth diapers is for their future, says mom

Living in a trailer, with a toddler and a baby in diapers, allows Catherine and Kyle Houten to invest in their children’s future.

Although she changes up to 15 cloth diapers a day, Catherine, 26, says it’s a good life.

The couple live on Catherine’s parents’ farm near Warkworth, about 45 minutes north of Auckland.

In addition to the 1970s Anglo trailer, they have a shipping container and unit that Catherine and her father built years ago from scrap wood.

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They own their own house further north in Wellsford, but have rented it out and live next to nothing in the caravan so they can invest in Kyle’s fencing business.

They were living in Wellsford when their eldest son, Toby, now 18 months old, was born three months early.

“Basically, I had my son and I just needed the support of my family. She was really lonely,” says Catherine. “I’m not a single mom, but I do it all by myself. That’s what happens when you have a business.”

They moved into Catherine’s childhood home in July of last year and added baby Bella to the family this April.

Not having a weekly rent or mortgage payment means the couple could buy a tractor for the fencing business.

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Not having a weekly rent or mortgage payment means the couple could buy a tractor for the fencing business.

The economic benefit is enormous. “It doesn’t cost us anything to live in the caravan,” says Catherine. “It gives us financial flexibility to invest in the business. Our house (in Wellsford) pays for itself and we can concentrate on the business. We can give our children a future.

“I don’t want to have to send my kids to daycare and never see them, and not be able to save.”

But the main benefit is being close to family, with parents Jenny and Doug Houten nearby. “My mother had my son every weekend for the first six months of last year. She was a great help to us.

“I love being close to my parents.”

Catherine Houten loves living close to her parents and saving money so her and her husband's businesses can prosper.

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Catherine Houten loves living close to her parents and saving money so her and her husband’s businesses can prosper.

Catherine’s father often takes his son to pick her up on weekends or at night when he gets home from his full-time job as an engineer.

“Toby will trash the garage and Dad will pull his hair out, but that gives me a break,” she says. “Dad is like another father to my little boy.”

The living arrangements are fairly basic, with an outdoor kitchen and no indoor plumbing except for a shower.

Catherine estimates that they are 90% off the grid, with gas hot water for showering and 12V solar power, but also with an extension cord, meaning they can run one appliance at a time (” You have to turn off the heater if you turn on the oven”).

The washing machine, frequently used with so many diapers, is in the garage and has its own 20,000L tank.

Catherine says that they are used to alternative solutions. “It’s our normal now because it’s been so long. People come and say: ‘How do you turn on the faucet?’ You have to use the bomb.

Catherine says that cloth diapers don’t make her life more difficult.

“For us it is the easy route. We do not have curbside trash pickup. And besides, I quite enjoy it: There are people who are obsessed with baby clothes, I like cloth diapers”.

She writes about her experience as a mother on her Instagram. @caravan_with2_clothbums. “I’m just trying to remove the stigma that cloth diapers are harsh. In the ’90s, you had a sheet to wrap your child around. Now they are like padded underwear, they are really cool and easy to clean.

“I’m not up to my elbows scrubbing and soaking. I don’t do any of that. If it was hard, I wouldn’t do it.”

He guesses that to date he has saved more than 5,000 disposable diapers going to landfill. It’s also cheaper, he notes: “At about 50 cents each, that’s a lot of money saved.”

Catherine and her father, Doug Houten, built the 6m by 2.5m unit, now attached to the caravan, when she was 18 years old.

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Catherine and her father, Doug Houten, built the 6m by 2.5m unit, now attached to the caravan, when she was 18 years old.

The family’s plans for the future include returning to a normal home. Catherine’s parents bought a three-bedroom house from the 1980s in South Auckland and relocated her to the property. Getting the building permit to put it on the foundation took 14 months.

The house also had to be cut in half lengthwise to be moved up the narrow dirt road to the farm and needs a lot of work before it is habitable. They hope to be there before next winter.

Meanwhile, family life is busy and also includes five cats, two goats, three farm dogs, and a wild rabbit found by Catherine.

“I brought it home and Kyle fell in love with it. The dogs were going to eat him, so now he lives in a rabbit mansion with his own home security system, an electric fence.”

Catherine says she was a “terrible teenager.” “My life was derailed and my parents wanted to bring me home.”

She moved and returned several times, including when she was 18 and she and her father built the unit out of reclaimed wood to give it a space of its own, never imagining that she would one day live there with her husband. and two children

STUFF

Amey Bell-Booth loves living close to family.

“I was surfing on the couch because I didn’t want to be home. And so we built this place from scratch. The unit the caravan is attached to measures 6 by 2.5m and is all recycled material; we knew a demo guy.”

And while she’s had some tough times in the past, she says her husband, Kyle, is “the nicest guy you can probably imagine, but twice as nice.”

“I am putting all that behind me and trying to build a good life for our children.

“This has always been my home. It made sense to go back to it.”

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