As I write this it is Saturday evening. Jon is in the kitchen cooking our usual Saturday night meal of fajitas. I’m sitting on the sofa waiting for him to finish, then I will put the computer away and we will snuggle down to watch ‘This is Us’ which is our new obsession. I’ve lit a couple of candles, one that smells of salted caramel and is filling the room with a lovely subtle aroma, and the flames are flickering away in front of me. It’s pretty much what happens every Saturday night except there is something quite different about tonight.
Firstly there are no little girls upstairs chattering away having their usual weekend sleepover. For the second time in six years we are alone in our house, bar our baby boy but he is asleep upstairs. They are off spending the night at their Auntie Anna’s ready to go on a day out tomorrow- something which they have been looking forward to for absolutely ages. We are also drinking pink champagne, for absolutely no reason other than the fact we bought it with an airport voucher coming back from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam last year and just haven’t really had any special occasion to save it for, so we just thought why not.
I posted on instagram earlier in the weekend that things had been tough here recently. When I say tough, they haven’t really been tough by any stretch of the imagination, perhaps the right word would be ‘testing’. Jon and I do absolutely everything together pretty much. We live together, we raise our children together, we co-parent equally with neither of us being away all that much, we both work from home, and we live in each other’s pockets. I love that, I love that we do it all together, I love having him there with me during the week, there’s nothing more I could possibly want when it comes to this crazy journey of raising young children and I mean that. But like with all marriages, it can’t be perfect all the time. We live in a world online where mostly we share our highlight reel, our best bits, our edited photos of our clean homes, coordinated children, happy smiles and poignant moments. Of course most people are honest, but for the most part you just see a snippet of what goes on in someones life.
While for the most part our life is happy, like anyone sometimes the day to day stresses can get in the way. It’s hard work raising children, some days it’s chaotic and relentless and exhausting, it feels like we never stop. We have three little mouths to feed in the evening, or three little people wanting different things. There’s homework or reading to do with Mads, which is exactly that point in the evening when our baby boy is over tired and grumpy. Then sometimes we grapple with our workloads, we can bicker at whose deadline is more important, of who needs the time to work. Some days we both sit down on the sofa and it is just easier to sit and stare absentmindedly at our phones than attempt a conversation. Or sometimes I feel like we just co-exist in a house together.
Last weekend we talked for ages and ages. I cried, mainly cause I am over emotional and cry at everything. We talked about what needed to change, about what makes us happy, we talked about life, our babies, the future. It was nothing serious that needed to change, just little things here and there. Silly things, like switching off at least a couple of evenings a week. Previously we said we were switching off, in that we weren’t on our laptops, but we still just played on our phones, therefore not really fully switching off. A couple of years ago we started weekly ‘no technology’ date nights where we would take it in turns to cook a little meal and do a little surprise for the other, so we have decided to bring those back. Also other things like we have introduced a reward chart for the girls. Like any children they can play up from time to time, but it isn’t about that. It’s just about trying to alleviate the things that potentially create stressful situations in our day- like asking Mads to put her uniform on ten times before she actually does it, or tidying up their toys, or sitting nicely at the table. Plus other mini things, like making their beds, brushing their teeth well or wanting to do her homework on time.
There wasn’t lots wrong, but we just needed to stop and spend some time talking. To make time to take a little step back and reevaluate things. As one of my lovely friends Lucy said to me, to have a ‘reboot’. She said that her and her husband do it from time to time. I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it. Life gets in the way sometimes, but it’s so important to remember to make time for each other. To nurture each other. And to nurture ourselves too. Since January I have been trying to work harder on my work/life balance. I can’t seem to get it right. I either over work and never switch off, or I don’t work as much but still just flick absentmindedly through my phone. Either way, I don’t switch off and sometimes I really feel it. I’ve been trying to go to bed earlier, to go up in the evening and have a hot bath and read my book. I’m getting there, but I still would say my work life balance needs some work. Because in order to nurture and take care of my husband and my children, I need to take care of myself too. Something I am not actually too good at.
It’s only been a week or so but our little reboot has done us the world of good. It’s just small changes but they’ve made a big difference so far. I am so lucky to be with my best friend 90% of the time, it’s easy for both of us to take each other for granted. This little reboot has made us remember to think of the other more.
Life certainly isn’t perfect. We forget to communicate sometimes, we co-exist but forget to invest in just the two of us, or some weeks we can bicker non stop. Sleep deprivation the last ten months hasn’t helped- being tired doesn’t make for much enthusiasm the next day. We have little traits that annoy each other. We don’t always agree on things, but we know that. We both know when is the right time to say sorry and we make sure we try harder and in doing so, we are raising our family and growing together.
It’s a journey, it’s not always perfect, it’s not always easy. But the very best things never are.
Some very ‘not so perfect’ photos when we went to Leeds last week. We visited the place Jon and I kissed for the very first time, but our baby boy wasn’t too sure about being in the photo!