Category Archives: Moving house

Building our family – two and a half years on

I’m the sort of person that is forever writing things down – sometimes they become posts and sometimes they just get forgotten. What I really like though is when I re-discover them and they get me thinking! Take this for example, which I re-discovered yesterday:

“In many ways I’m starting again. I know myself better now than ever before and of course I’ve got my amazing little girl, but there is no getting away from the fact that at 36 years old I am beginning again – settling down with Richard and his son in our new home, as a new family.

I try not to think too much about my decisions in the past and especially not to look back and regret. Although some people say regrets mean you’ve lived – I think regrets feel a bit like I wish I hadn’t done something. I don’t regret being married. I don’t regret having my daughter. I don’t regret calling off an engagement. I’m sad that all those things didn’t turn out how I hoped – but right now I feel overwhelmingly hopeful for the future.

I’m hopeful for our family, hopeful for our happiness and hopeful that Richard and I will grow old together. I love the balance that we bring to each other and I already love the home and family we are building together.”

Unbelievably it has been two and half years since I wrote that and since we moved in together. As you’d expect, reading that again sparked the obvious question – how do I feel now? Well time has truly flown – we got used to each other, got married and firmly settled as a family of four. It’s definitely too early to comment on the ‘growing old together’ bit! That said there is no doubt that we are incredibly happy as a family.

The truth though for anyone out there considering doing something similar is that it hasn’t always been easy – we were (and are) both very independent people, the children were (and are) both very different children and these differences made (and make!) life a real challenge.

I recall a moment in the first few weeks after we’d moved in together when I literally told Richard we had made a mistake and I meant it.

Yet here we are two and a half years later. Of course we still don’t agree on everything (who does?) but with a little patience, a lot of respect for each other and a bucket load of love we’ve come this far.

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A little dream…bathroom heaven

In line with the honesty part of my blog let me be clear from the start here – this post is being specifically written so I can enter a fantastic competition being run by Mumsnet Bloggers Network and Victoria Plumb.

I don’t do this kind of post normally but literally as I type water is coming through my kitchen ceiling – the result of crappy bathroom pipework and an old bathroom. Somehow thinking about my dream bathroom seemed apt (as opposed to depressing). Let’s start by showing you our bathroom as it is literally today:

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I did debate saying that the water coming through the ceiling was the funny aspect of this post but alas, I ain’t finding it funny yet. I will of course do my best to find the humour in due course.

Suffice to say I’d be really grateful if you would forgive this little indulgence of a competition focused post and allow me to dream a little.

As per the competition rules I started by completing the Victoria Plumb Great British Home Quiz and based on my choices it told me that my preferred style was:

Mrs Elegant – Your style is most like Lady Mary or Lord Gillingham from Downton Abbey.

Now I’ve got to put my hands up and say I haven’t ever seen Downton Abbey (I hide my face in shame!) but I get the point and quite frankly this is uber flattering. Actually I don’t rate my sense of style at all but alas from little things are borne monsters so with my new found style confidence, this is how I would describe my dream bathroom…

It is a mix of a luxury hotel and a handmade Kirsty Allsop bathroom. It has a sparkling clean white bathroom suite. It is in fact one that never needs cleaning, but always stays sparkling.

There is roll top bath with the taps in the middle so that there’s plenty of room for two.

The bathroom floor is cleanly tiled (with under floor heating) and the shower is a walk in wet room in the corner.

Colour wise I’d love to go for white and dashes of pink but my other half would move out, so instead I’m going for white and dashes of egg shell blue.

So there you have it – my dream bathroom and my entry to the competition. Thank you for your indulgence and I promise normal service will resume with my next post.

A year on – joining two families together

Unbelievably, it’s now a year since Ellie and I moved in with my partner and his son. A year since we moved area and Ellie changed schools. A year since we took what was a huge leap.

I blogged about when we decided to join our two families together last October (you can see it here) and I blogged when we later bought our new family home and really started to settle (here).

So a year on, it’s fair to say that some things have gone more smoothly than I could ever have hoped and of course some things are still work in progress.

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Our new home is just that – our home. I’m slightly taken aback by how quickly it felt like home to me, I’ve moved a fair few times over the years and there was probably in all that time just one house I felt at home in, until now. Our progress on the decorating and sorting is at best steady – but life is busy and it isn’t urgent so it can wait. This relaxed attitude to the house has of course taken a year to achieve.

When it comes to Ellie, she has truly settled into the new school – she loves going, she’s doing really well and she’s made some lovely friends. When at parents evening her teacher said that it was a pleasure to meet the parent of a child like Ellie, I was speechless – something that really doesn’t happen to me very often. It would be an understatement to say that I feel both relieved and incredibly proud of my little girl.

It turns out though that it’s not just Ellie who’s made friends – I’ve made some great friends too. I’ve been blown away by how welcoming everyone has been – the other parents at school, our new neighbours – literally everyone. For this I feel incredibly lucky and it’s definitely helped me to settle.

The hardest part of our little adventure hasn’t of course been the practical aspects of moving but the emotional ones. For a start I’ve discovered that I am a) more stubborn than I realised and b) quite stuck in my ways living on my own with Ellie. Learning to live as a family of four takes a bit of getting used to. In this one thing it isn’t just me either – we’ve all had to adjust and learn where we fit in the new family and to be flexible about things we used to just take for granted. I mean the practical stuff like the how the toilet seat should be left (down and clean please), how bedtime routines work (7.00pm please), how mealtimes work (quietly and at the table please!) and so on. But I also mean our different personalities and emotions; we have different paces to life, as well as different views on families and parenting. There’s also, in my view, the fact that male brains are just wired differently to female ones, (it’s the jumping around craziness versus drawing a picture i’m talking about,) but i guess that’s for another post.

So there you have it, joining two families together really was as big a deal as I thought it would be and there’s no denying we’ve come a long way in the last year. I also know though that we will continue to grow and change over time as a family – I think every family does. The funny thing is that for once I’m not worried about how that might work…….I’m just excited.

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Our moving adventure

So it’s fair to say that I’ve moved houses a few times, but it’s also fair to say that I’ve always done the moving thing whilst Ellie has been elsewhere – at nursery, with her dad and so on. This move was going to be different though.
 
This move was a big event…a big family event. The plan was to do this move together, with all of us involved. This was a declaration that this was a new stage in our lives, this was our new family home and for our still relatively newly joined family this was an important moment. This was an exciting thing to be doing.
 
Unfortunately and possibly predictably, Ellie didn’t seem to get the gravitas or excitement of the whole thing at all to start with. One night as I repeated my now well-rehearsed line of ‘so remember what’s happening on Saturday Ellie?’ I received a reply of ‘yes mummy you told me a hundred times, we’re moving house’. Conversation closed. There was no excited tone and no opening for further discussion. Well that firmly burst my bubble but…I wasn’t giving up.
 
My next push was the night before moving day. As I tucked Ellie into bed I told her that we would really need her help tomorrow and her first job would be to pack her own room up into some boxes which I’d give her. Quite suddenly without any warning Ellie’s face lit up and there it was, for the first time, a real show of excitement. Oh yes – that’s my girl…not excited about the new house with the space we need, not excited about her new room, but excited about packing her own things into boxes. I do wonder why I didn’t think to say that sooner, after all Ellie is a regular tidy up, sort things, take control kind of a girl.

 
Anyway, after the initial warm fuzzy feeling of that moment, the next morning didn’t start at all well and I found myself tweeting in frustration that Ellie had quite frankly woken up a grump. I quickly received a reassuring reply from @entertainizzy (huge thanks!) that this was: ‘Always the way. It’s like they know when something important is happening!’ Clearly normal but annoying. I took a deep breath and vowed to carry on regardless – handing Ellie the promised boxes for her room. When just a very short while later Ellie seemed to get into the swing of things and started doing the packing with considerable enthusiasm, I breathed a sigh of relief.

 
In fact what I found was that Ellie was happy when she had jobs to do so I duly found her jobs to do throughout the day. (I should particularly note that Ellie very much enjoyed sorting her room in the new house when we arrived too. By sorting I mean spreading her toys and belongings around her room, but it helped her to feel at home and entertained her for quite some time, so who was I to argue?)
 
At the end of the day both children had been generally helpful, patient and incredibly well behaved. They had packed, carried and sorted boxes and my earlier sigh of relief was repeated tenfold. With a great deal of help from our wider family we had done it – we had moved into our new family home and we had by and large smiled whilst doing it.
 
Now it wouldn’t be a fair picture to paint to suggest that it was all easy and carefree because it wasn’t – both children did get bored from time to time, we all got hungry at points and the next day when us adults were exhausted, so inevitably were the children. Despite the obvious logic to that final statement I hadn’t seen it coming…the day was much less an adventure into wonderland and much more a hard slog of a trek through the jungle. Nonetheless we got through it – as a family.
 
We’ve now been in the house just under a week; we have the essentials sorted and only a few boxes left to unpack. It’s been a VERY busy half term week and not perhaps the fun yet relaxing week we might want for half term, but here we are…in our new family home and quite frankly it feels fantastic. I will however leave it to the kids to have the last word (just this once) and share with you their thoughts on the new house:

 
Ellie: ‘It’s the best house, not just in Great Britain Mummy, everywhere’
 
Ellie’s step brother’s (forthwith known as N8): ‘it’s cool’.

A lesson from Ellie

This week’s news is that Ellie is moving school – more specifically, we are moving house and moving area which obviously means a new school and a new child minder. This is clearly big news and a big change.

My boyfriend and I decided it was the right time to move in together and join our two families into one, so we’d been gradually working through the practicalities of how we could make it happen.

I’ve been periodically talking to Ellie about moving house, about the possibility of us not living on our own anymore and about maybe changing schools – all in the hope that she knows what’s coming, feels prepared and has time to adjust to the change. Not huge conversations, but just little comments and discussions to get her used to the idea.

Then in the last 7 days we got the unexpected news that the school I wanted Ellie to go to, has a place for her. It’s unexpected because we’d been told that there was a long waiting list and I hadn’t even had confirmation from the council that we were on the list yet! We’ve also had an offer on our house. Suffices to say that by the end of October (2 weeks!) we’ll have moved house and Ellie will have started at a new school.

I went into a slight panic if I’m honest – how was I going to sort everything, how can I help Ellie to adjust and to settle. I’m not embarrassed to admit that despite the excitement I feel, I have also in fact had several weepy moments.

What’s really interesting is that everyone, literally everyone, from Ellie’s current head teacher, to my friends and even Ellie’s new school has given me the same line: ‘Ellie will be fine, children are resilient’.

I have to admit that I thought this sentence would be yet another piece of advice to go into the pot of totally annoying and unhelpful. But I have realised that they are right and more than that Ellie is considerably more resilient than I. This weekend my daughter taught me a lesson.

On our way back home from Ellie’s weekend with Daddy we had our usual chat about what she’d been doing, then I told her that the people who had seen our house were going to buy it. I went on to remind her that we were visiting her new school this week and that by the next time she saw Daddy she would have started there. She didn’t make any comment and the conversation moved on, so later I repeated the same information. At this point Ellie turned towards me, gave me a big grin and simply said ‘I know mummy, you told me that! I do listen to you!’ Ellie then chatted away about what was happening and demonstrated an amazing ability to a) listen and remember what I tell her (shocking I know!) and b) to focus on what she knows and not worry about the bits she doesn’t yet.

This was a watershed moment – I realised that actually Ellie does understand what this all means, knows that it’s happening and is, in the main, calm about it. Now we’ve a way to go and it remains to be seen if Ellie continues to take it all in her stride but, whilst I’m sure there will be some tense moments to come, I am beginning to think that she just might.

What has also dawned on me is that actually it’s me that’s finding the level and pace of change challenging and I need to accept the lesson that Ellie is teaching me and stop worrying quite so much. So here’s to the future – our new home, our new family and our new life.

 Sometimes our children really do teach us.

I can’t promise that I’m not a little stressed of course – I’ve still to sort out of school care!