As the year draws to a close I feel like I’ve been inundated with people sharing the best bits of their year over on Instagram. I’ve always loved doing the more rambling posts on here about our family lives so it should come as no surprise that I’m intending on bringing back our monthly life updates (given that the last one was over a year ago, oops!). So I’m starting with a big, fat round up of this year that’s nearly done. Who knows, I may even throw in some of our hopes and thoughts for 2020… but where to start?!
This last year has been pretty quiet on the home front. It’s been two years since we did our extension work – seriously, where did that go! – and a year since we finished the garden. It’s been lovely to take the time to just enjoy the house this year and the space that it gives us. It still gives me goosebumps to think about how far things have come since we stepped in to that 70’s time-warp as an unmarried duo! As much as we love the place, this summer we started to get itchy feet for a new adventure and what has followed has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. We’ve looked at all sorts of homes; from wrecks with great views through to more finished houses, and even a plot of land for a self-build. We’ve had our house valued, had people want to buy it and we’ve even put in an offer on somewhere. Whilst we were upset when that didn’t work out, we’re both of the opinion that these things happen for a reason and ultimately, it’s helped us to appreciate just how much we love our home! We’re not ruling out moving again but, as we go into a new decade, I think we’re agreed that we’re happy where we are. Sure, that’s not going to stop my (frankly a little disturbing) obsession with Right Move but the pressure’s most definitely off. Thank goodness!
I can’t believe the difference that a year makes when it comes to little ones. This one has gone from a toddler and grown into being a proper little boy over the last year. He’s cheeky, cuddly and very, very chatty. Whilst he can still take a while to come round to things, his confidence is growing. He’s very independent at home and will happily use the toilet, sort his own snacks and drinks and loves looking after his sister; he loves nothing more than being put ‘in charge’ of something – he must get that bossy side from his dad!
At the start of the year he moved into the pre-school room at his nursery and we saw a slightly wilder side to him as he spent more time with older children. Then in September we took the move to also send him to a pre-school at our local school where he’s in a class with reception children and regularly mixes with the upper years during break times. Whilst we’ve had our moments with him settling in, he’s done wonderfully and we received a glowing report at his first ever parents evening. In fact, as I write this, I’ve got the primary school applications window open on my screen ready to hit submit. I can’t believe that I’ll have a school child by September – gulp!
Luckily for me, growing up hasn’t meant growing apart. He’s still very close to his Daddy but will always come to me for a cuddle or when he’s hurt. He moved into his own room just before Christmas last year but I can honestly say I don’t think he’s had a full night in there since… as much as I moan about trying to fit three of us into our standard double every single night, I’m going to miss him shoving his toes down the back of my pants in the early hours of the morning! I’ve been so proud to watch him grow into a little human this year and even prouder to see him take care of his sister on so many occasions. I often worry that he misses out on things because she tends to be louder and more demanding but recently we’ve been able to carve out a little time for just him and it’s one of the biggest things I want to take into the next year: more one on one time with the boy who made me a mum.
If I thought a year made a difference when you’re three, I’d forgotten what a difference it makes when you’re not even one. We came into the year with a six month old who was just beginning to move around the room and we leave it with a daredevil who seems to have a death wish. Honestly, the girl is fearless. She’s quick on her feet, a real climber and can always be found right behind her brother despite being two years younger.
This year has seen her start walking, talking and developing her personality. Since starting nursery back in March she’s grown in confidence at spending time with other people and will often trot off in the morning with barely a backward glance. She’s chatting away constantly and whilst we can barely understand half of it, she’s now stringing together lots of words so that she can really communicate. Her favourite? Telling the dog to get in her bed!
It’s been a source of constant amazement to me how different two children can be given that they’ve had such a similar upbringing. Despite us having a home filled with toy cars, she’s firmly attached to anything that she can cuddle or care for – even the fabric doorstops we have. She’s incredibly cuddly and loves to dance, and appreciates a good nap… finally, a child that gives us hope, even if she is still up multiple times at night. Hilariously, she loves nothing more than walking around the house naked and will happily strip herself off at any moment, which is always fun. Overall she’s our little whirlwind and the crazy in our lives; I can’t imagine life without her now!
One of the hardest things over the last year has been the need to really work on Dave and I’s relationship. We’ve both spent this year more tired and more stretched than before, for many different reasons and it’s easy for us to fall into a state of just existing alongside each other rather than taking the time to appreciate why we’re together. When it comes to it, there’s no-one I’d rather raise my children with or sit in the same room as each evening, even if we do sit on our phones on different sofas! With a three year old bed buddy most nights it’s become even more difficult to reconnect with each other – it’s hard to have the pre-sleep bedtime chat when there’s someone squished in the middle of you both! Let’s just say I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of babysitters this coming year – I think we’ll all benefit from the odd date night here and there, even if we spend the entire time talking about the kids!
Having started the year on maternity leave, I found returning to work a far different experience this time around. I was less worried about what I’d missed and more self-assured that I could do this whole working parent thing. That’s not to say that I found it easy though! Adding another person into the morning mayhem definitely slowed things down and I’ve found the pressure to be more present at work harder. There are days when I would gladly trade my job to stay at home, and there are days when I would happily work full time. I’ve written a lot about how tricky I find part time working, and I believe this is made even harder when you’re in a position of responsibility – it never stops! This year we’ve taken on some major projects at work and I’ve lost some key roles who support me which has meant far more work and pressure… it’s challenging and rewarding and frankly, hard work over and over but the sense of achievement is a little addictive!
But that’s not it for work really, is it? Because as time’s passed, this little space has increasingly added to our income streams. I feel so fortunate about the fact that I have been able to create a ‘job’ if you can call it that out of something I love to do; write. This year I’ve had so many mixed feelings about the direction in which to take this; should it continue to be a personal space or should it move away from that in to something more detached?! I still don’t know. I love sharing our lives here and there but I’m also so acutely aware of giving us and our kids privacy that it’s a difficult line to tow. There have been times when I’ve contemplated shutting the whole thing down but the truth is that this is one of my loves also. It’s something that’s mine, all mine, and the fact that it makes me happy and brings in money at the same time… one of life’s incredibly bonuses. So for now, we’ll be here; muddling on through with hopefully a few more posts and a bit more me around here. Sound good? I hope so!
Where to start… this year has been a strange one in terms of me, myself and I. It’s seen me go back to work, grow in confidence at parenting two children and get another year older. It’s been a year filled with self-doubt and I’ve spent many nights laid awake wondering if I’ve done the right thing or remembered everything. In all honesty, it’s been hard. I make no secret of the fact that I find it difficult to find the balance between work and home and in trying to find that I’ve found that if I’m not careful I can get incredibly anxious and stressed about small things. It’s something I want to work on.
Two kids and a busy work schedule have seen me lose even more sleep, something that should be illegal. I’m not someone who thrives when they’re tired and there have been huge chunks of this year where I’ve found myself feeling like I’m surviving rather than necessarily thriving. That’s not to start my own pity party though – I’m incredibly proud of everything that we’ve achieved both at home and at work over the last year and if anything, that’s the issue… I love it all too much to give anything up.
In amongst all of this, I’ve found that I’ve stopped prioritising self care. I started the year having spent time working on my weight and fitness but as demands have risen, I’ve found that slipping and I’m ending the year far heavier and un-fitter than I’ve been in a long time. I’m not about to make new year’s resolutions to change it all though… instead I think it’s time that I start putting some value to myself rather than permanently giving everything I have to everyone and everything else. I reckon I speak for many mums (and dads) when I say this; it’s so hard to do as a parent but I strongly believe it’s something we need to do for everyones sake! Oh and if that means claiming the odd lie-in every now and then, who am I to moan?! I’ve got a huge pile of books just waiting to be read (this book is top of the pile right now!) and I’m determined for it to have gone down by the end of the year! That and I promise I’ll keep on top of the washing… for my own sanity!
But seriously, as the year comes to an end, I always get reflective on what has and hasn’t happened and what the next year – and indeed, decade – has in store for us. It’s exciting to think that we can build upon all the foundations that we’ve put in place this year and I can’t wait to see what 2020 will be like for our little family; school, work, holidays and who knows what else!
Thanks for sticking with me this year – here’s to the end of 2019 and an incredible 2020!