Family Lifestyle: Mum & Dad’s Date night

Before we became parents, we always said we wanted to be the kind of parents who prioritised their marriage. I’m not sure where I come down on the ‘put your marriage before your children’ line, but what I do know is that I love my son and husband a huge amount. Tom and I have been together a long time and, despite this(!) I still love spending time with him and neither of us wanted to forget why were married and raising a child in the first place.


Image credit

I’m not going to lie, making an effort with my husband was way down on the priorities list for a long time – behind eating, washing my face and getting more sleep – but when the new year came round we decided together to make a resolution to have a date once a month and, so far, have stuck to it. Finding the time, and a babysitter, has been difficult, but we both feel very strongly about how important this is now. And, actually, it’s been wonderful and definitely worth it.

Perhaps you think I sound a little callous saying that I like spending time away from my baby. The fact of the matter is that before I became Freddie’s mum, I married Tom and made a commitment to him as his wife. It should go without saying that we make sure Freddie is with someone he knows and would rush home if he needed us, but as long as he’s doing alright, we will continue to make time for ourselves on a regular basis. I think it’s really important to get this into our routine now, before our baby becomes a child.

Growing up my parents didn’t have a very strong marriage and they divorced when I was a teenager. While they never wavered in showing me affection, looking back I find it sad that I don’t remember them going out much at all and certainly never cuddling on the sofa or holding hands. Clearly they married the wrong person, which is a whole other story, but I’ve always known that that’s not the kind of marriage I want and I don’t believe we can keep it strong without putting constant effort. We’ve also made a rule that we kiss each other hello and goodbye first, and Freddie second. It doesn’t always happen, but it does make me feel special when Tom comes home after a stressful day and although Freddie is reaching out for him, I get the first acknowledgement. (This was instigated after me telling a story about a family I used to see coming off the train from work: the dad brought the son to the station to meet mummy and she would instantly gather him up and smother him in kisses. It wasn’t until they were getting into their car that she would off-handedly ask her husband how his day had been. It was a bittersweet moment that I saw everyday.)

So far we’ve had a couple of meals out and a night at the cinema, but next on my list is a daytime date. Having a leisurely lunch without grabbing hands sounds like my idea of heaven right now, and with Freddie loving his time with grandparents and my sister and his cousin, it’s going to get booked in soon. We’ve also booked a night away for our anniversary in August, which feels like a huge step at the moment, but I know it’s the right thing to do.

As much as I cringe at the phrase ‘date night’, I’m a true convert now I’m a mum. I’d love to hear if you agree or disagree with my opinion on prioritising nights away from the kids. Could you do it? Or do you have any suggestions for keeping your marriage strong after you’ve had a baby?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or @Real_Married

Be Thankful…

Today’s post is not the read and run kind. I defy anybody to say that they can’t comment, even if it is mentally, and this post has been designed to make you think…


Be Thankful print £2.52 Etsy.com

This December has passed by in a blur for me. Even after talking about #shareadvent I managed a measly 3 prompts before life took over. It’s an American idea to ‘give thanks’ for what we are grateful for in life but for a time of year that for me is about friends and family, kindness and sharing and love, I certainly haven’t done enough stepping back and thinking about how lucky I am.

I thought I’d make a list of things I am thankful for this Christmas and I’d love you to take a moment today or this weekend to stop and reflect and share your thoughts in the comments.

I am grateful for tradition. Today I’m going for lunch, last minute shopping and a nails appointment with my Mum and sister. It’s the third Christmas day out we have had now and I cherish the time for just the three of us, doing girly things. We never get a lot done, but now I don’t live at home it’s a nice chance to catch up in the run up to Christmas before it’s actually the big day and it’s almost all over.

I’m grateful for opportunity. Having Francesca move to Manchester has been great but having the chance to live with her again, although it has brought with it some challenges, has been amazing. I’ve got to know her again in a way you only do when you live with someone and been able to support her more than I would have otherwise. Although some people might think it’s odd, I love being able to say that ‘I live with my sister’.

I’m grateful for partnership. This month Pete has done what he always does, made everything around me work, when I don’t have time to. He’s looked after me, organised me and been there for me, even though this half of the team hasn’t been pulling its weight. It’s the practicalities of unconditional love and I am eternally thankful we found each other.

I’m grateful to be healthy. At this time of year more than ever, I enjoy my home visits through work. It’s always a privilege being asked into people’s homes where they are most vulnerable, the old ladies leaving the door open and the old men who ask you to turn out the lights when you leave to save the electricity. This year I’m reminded as I visit the lonely or depressed or dying that I am lucky to be healthy and happy and that right now, those around me are too.

Lastly, I’m grateful for change. I always consider myself quite a dynamic person but in reality, I don’t like change. Moving has been a big change and since then, I have stalled on getting the house renovation moving, preferring to plan than get my hands dirty and dusty. When it feels like hard work I must remember it will be worth it, that the mess will be finite and the result is creating our family home.

Now it’s your turn readers. You don’t have to write an essay, but what are you thankful for this Christmas?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Never go to sleep on an argument.

Almost 2 weeks ago now it was Pete and I’s 4th wedding anniversary. When we got married, we asked everyone along with the guest book to write their ‘Advice for a happy marriage’ on little cards and envelopes that we collected in a huge apothecary jar. It was our intention to open them on our first wedding anniversary but we forgot and each time I came across them, or remembered them, it was far enough away from another anniversary that we forgot again. This year I stumbled across them more recently and kept them out purposely so we wouldn’t forget again this year.

And so it was that 4 years later we sat on the bed after dinner and took turns to open them and read the advice. Predictably, there were silly ones and funny ones amongst the lovely advice. I was surprised that we could guess who wrote what, even though most were unsigned and whilst we read them out, laughed and pondered, happy memories came flooding back. Like our polaroid photo guest book it was amazing the way you are transported back to that single day.

Just talk to each other and listen to what they have to say, simple.

Find space in your togetherness.

You are two parts of a whole, cherish each day together like it is your last.

Pick your battles!

Love, care and laugh. Don’t be too serious, but listen seriously.

Forgive one another before being asked.

The most dispensed piece of advice was a recurring theme and several of our guests wrote the same sentence…

Never go to sleep on an argument.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really bought into that particular piece of advice and there have definitely been occasions when we haven’t followed it. Maybe I’m feeling sentimental but recently it struck me that it’s representative of everything that should be good about a marriage. Forgiveness, rising above day to day trials and trivial gripes because what’s important is that you’re together. Loving someone and making sure they know it every day; that they can go asleep secure in that knowledge every night. Putting your relationship first.  Facing problems and life together as a team.


Image Credit: Raw Photography

I know whenever we have gone to sleep on an argument, I’ve always woken feeling sheepish, the disagreement long forgotten. The reasons I had for feeling angry or exasperated always feel trivial and not worthy of the time spent back turned and without the other for comfort.

So I wondered did you do anything similar at your wedding? Have you ever been given advice for your marriage and like me, has your opinion changed as your relationship grows older? Have you got any advice to share here that you have learned from experience?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal post – but I’m hoping to write more in the coming months and hope you’ll all join in and add your thoughts in the comments.

Past personal posts…

The Last Taboo

Last month there was a flurry of baby announcements in my circles, (4 ladies bearing good news, including one set of twins!) after a bumper baby year in 2012. Although often when one hears of a friend expecting it’s wonderful news but not a surprise, amongst the growing number of professional women I know (and readers here,) and pressure to live life to the full these days, it seems more the fashion to be ‘not ready yet’ (as I have heard from so many of you here,) making baby announcements are all the more surprising and unexpected. As we all grow older it’s inevitable that many of us will start to change our feelings towards starting a family and it’s got me thinking, are the least heard words (around the dinner party table, in the blogosphere, between friends even,) ‘we’re trying‘?


Image Credit

Deciding to try for a baby is an intensely personal thing, there may be doubts, wobbles, high hopes, disappointments and surprises along the way, but it’s a stage we all go through, and one that more than likely we go through at the same time as our friends, so why do we keep it secret?

Is it the very real fear that there may not be an end in sight – after all, nobody really knows what will happen until they try… do we want to spare ourselves the gut-aching reminder of another month’s failure when a friend asks if there’s any news, or is it the fear of over sharing and that too-much-information factor of knowing the inevitable result of your friends contraceptive choices hitting the bin?! Perhaps we want to dodge enquiring glances from aunts, cousins, even the nice lady next door?

I can see the appeal of a secret, after all, what could be more special (apart from perhaps that elusive positive test,) than taking a giant leap into the unknown, hand tightly holding the one person who will experience it so acutely with you. And should the worst happen, by keeping the problem between the two of you, no-one has to fear idle gossip about who is the ‘responsible’ party.

I wonder though, is it not easier to have it out in the open? To have a reason to decline that second glass of wine, or not know what your plans are in 6 months time? To have someone to talk to if things are not happening as you expected, someone outside your marriage where tensions and expectations may be high? Perhaps it is my medical background coming to the fore. I see women at all stages of motherhood from contraception to pre-conception, through sub-fertility to conception and talk about it openly. Whatever the news, whether it be a got-it-in-one result or months of nothing happening, I’m never surprised and that naturally extends to my personal life. All of that said, if the time were to come, I doubt I could be so honest here as to share something that remains very much the unknown. Maybe people do share these things with their closest friends and I just haven’t yet been privvy to such an exciting development in my friends lives?

So today I thought I would turn it over to you guys. Would you, (or did you) tell a trusted friend that you were trying to get pregnant, or did you keep it secret? Would you do it differently in hindsight or do you have plans for what you will do when it’s your turn? Perhaps you have friends who handled it in an unexpected way?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS! As with all personal posts, please feel free to comment anonymously by using Anon or a made up name when filling in the comments box and a fake email address. If you have a Gravatar, remember, your Gravatar is attached to your email address not your name, so if you forget to use a fake email, your picture will still show, even if you use a fake name.

Alphabet Dating… J – L

This afternoon we have a post I know a lot of you have been looking forward to – Martha’s alphabet dating update. Do share your thoughts if you have been to any of the places mentioned or if you’ve been taking part yourself, let us know how you’re getting on!

Hi all!

It’s me again, back with the second instalment of our Alphabet Dating adventures! I loved reading all your comments last month and hearing that so many of you were keen to try it out. My parents actually gave it a go but my mum despaired after my dad ticked off A for apple juice, B for breakfast, C for cup of tea and D for dinner in one day 🙂 So here’s what we’ve been up to…

J is for Jazz.

Most of our dates recently have been midweek so it was really nice to get all dressed up and go out for a Saturday night (oh God, reading that back it sounds so depressing!) First of all I was treated to a lovely meal at Gordon Ramsey’s The York and Albany in Camden and then we wandered down the road to The Forge where we saw Sax Attack as part of The London Jazz Festival.

I used to play the saxophone growing up and my lovely husband had managed to find a band with 9 saxophonists! We had a fantastic cocktail fuelled evening and I was even inspired to dig out my old alto and music books from our attic (although I have to admit that I haven’t done anything with them since!)

K is for Kew Gardens.

So I shamelessly stole Florence Finds reader Kate’s idea and decided to take the hubby to Kew Gardens. We have been living in London for a few years now and neither of us had ever been. So, a few Sundays ago we woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and made the trek across the city to Kew.

Stu was slightly sceptical about visiting the gardens in November, thinking that we should save our visit for a more colourful season but I am so glad that I stomped my feet and pouted like a small child convincing him otherwise. It was such a perfect cold but sunny day and we spent a few hours wandering around the grounds admiring the gorgeous autumnal colours as well as braving the amazing tree top walkway and visiting the glass house when we needed to warm up 🙂

L is for the The Lion King.

I was at work suffering with a horrible cold when I got an email through from my hubby with the subject “L is for….” with a huge advert for the Lion King musical pasted below. I literally squealed with excitement (getting several strange looks from others in our open plan office)! I love a good musical but we hadn’t been for over a year ago. The show was incredible (I would definitely recommend it!) and we happily ignored everyone else and sang along to all of the songs rather loudly! We made a bit of a day of it and had a lovely walk along South Bank beforehand and then finished off the day at Laduree in Covent Garden so all in all it was pretty perfect. 🙂

So that’s were we’re up to and I am quite impressed with us for managing 3 dates in a month – not sure how we’ll do this month with all the Christmas parties etc but I will be back in the New Year to fill you in!

Merry Christmas Findettes!

Love Martha xoxo

Not being ‘the Mrs’

Losing my Dad at 13 had a profound influence on me, but not just in the way it affected me at the time, but the way I looked at the future. It made me make a lot of decisions about the future – obvious ones like living for the moment and not dwelling on the retirement fund (who knows if you’ll get to enjoy it,) but also a pledge of independence.

I watched with pride the way my mum picked up the running of our household. I dont mean the day to day – obviously she already did the shopping, the cooking and the traditional roles any Mum would do in the home, (actually she was working by then too,) but also the more traditionally male roles. My Mum became our financial decision maker, book keeper, accountant and gardener. Looking around, many women in their fifties might have fallen apart, not even knowing where to start with household admin they didn’t normally even see. She was able to do it because she and my Dad had unusually always done things like that together and of course it would be obvious to say she also had to. I made me realise I never wanted to become the kind of woman or wife that ‘left things to him’.

A few years on, after only 3 years of marriage I can already feel us slipping into separate roles. I convinced myself it was delegation with things like holiday planning when I was too busy or looking for a new insurance quote, but I felt a bit guilty every time I asked Pete to take out the bin! It’s like that old leadership adage, don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t be prepared or able to do yourself.

More recently, its been all about DIY. For over months the cold tap in our bathroom had a washer problem and although the tap turned, no water came out. It wasn’t sudden, both of us watched it get worse for months and neither of us did anything until one day it stopped. I nagged (no, not my favourite word but I’m prepared to admit that’s what it was,) Pete for months, first to fix it and then to get someone who could. He actually didn’t know how to fix it but I wanted him to look it up or something, there’s always Google right? Of course the answer was that I could just as easily have done something about it myself instead of letting it become the butt of every argument. Eventually the tap got fixed (Pete’s solution was to replace the taps, but that’s another story) and before long there was another minor DIY job… the hook the blind cord wrapped around in our bedroom worked its way loose from the wall along with the surrounding plaster and we couldn’t raise the blind. We both carried on, the hook could be left in place and if you crossed your fingers, it might not fall out during the day, but obviously it wasn’t ideal. The nagging started again.

A couple of weeks ago one Saturday morning I realised, I was becoming that woman. The truth was that although I was busy, really I was also out of practice. I had gone from someone who used to put her own shelves up, to being scared to try to fix this minor problem because I didn’t know how to tackle it any more. So I went and found the tool box, customised some rawl plugs to fill the gap and used a shed load of no-nails to secure the hook. Not all that technical I know, but I felt empowered to start doing these things again. Next on my list is the broken bathroom window lock. I’m told you can buy new double glazing locks and fit them yourself…

I guess some women look at men taking the traditional male roles of DIY etc as being ‘looked after’ but I don’t need Pete to do this stuff to show he loves me, I need me to do them, to make me feel strong. So if the worst ever happens, I know I can manage by myself.

I’d love to hear your take on this readers, it’s high time we had a bit more life-discussion around here and I hope to be bringing you more posts like this, but they don’t work without your input and conversation. Do you DIY and how do you feel about apportioning roles in your relationship? Have I made you think about retaining your independence?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Three years and counting…

Today, as you read, it’s Pete and my third wedding anniversary, an occasion for leather gifts (if you happen to be following the traditional system of gifts) and reflection. I love that so many of my readers are going through the same life events as me, settling down, getting engaged, married and starting a home or family, so I wanted to mark the occasion in some way and hear your thoughts.

I naturally started thinking, how are things different now, compared to when we were first married? Although some people say they felt no difference after getting married, perhaps considering their relationship no less solid before that little bit of paper, I felt a huge change. A sense of solidarity, like we were truly a team, for better for worse. I was pretty pleased I bagged my man, he’s a keeper. 😉

Fast forward 2 years, at the start of our third year of marriage and we were already in testing times. I wasn’t all that happy in my work and blogging had taken over. I’m not proud of that. Pete in contrast was happier than ever with a new job and the only mar on the landscape of his life was the fact that he saw very little of his wife. He kept the house clean, cooked my dinner and kept me emotionally sane, greeting me at the door with a glass of wine most evenings. And when life as I knew it fell apart, he quite literally had my back.

When I think now about what marriage means, more than ever I see it as taking care of one another, Pete is a wonderful husband to me and back then, I was not a good wife. I knew it, I felt guilty, but I was too busy to really see it. Pete taught me by his actions back then more than anything else could about what it is to be a good husband or wife.

Thank goodness, fate intervened and life at the beginning of year four is a completely different picture. The feminist in me takes pride in being an equal partner once again, sharing the load of daily life. Little things I do for him are not acts of servitude, but kindness, probably because they are returned in equal measure. I am still so lucky that Pete accepts and encourages Florence Finds as an achievement, supporting me when I need a little extra help to get by.

So, although there have been monumental changes in the last year, to my life and our lives together, the result has been a change in our marriage, for the better.

Now it’s your turn readers. I’d love to hear if what I’ve shared today resonates – if a big life event has come along and tested your marriage or relationship already or maybe I’ve just reminded you to take care of each other a little more. On a more light hearted note, I’d love to hear of any ingenious gifts you have bought each other for anniversaries that signify the early years… perhaps some ideas for number four?! 😉

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS – The images throughout this post are a sneaky peek into our holiday so far.. not the glossy blog shots edited for your enjoyment, but the cheesy end of your outstretched arm shots and the ones you ask other people to take. The ones that make memories, so please forgive the blur/bad lighting etc.

PPS – Think the tandem is funny? Seriously you should try it… it’s a one-way ticket to marriage counselling on 2 wheels 😉

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