Before we decided to try for a baby, our life probably looked quite odd from the outside.
Having a farmer husband didn’t really change my independence and life much because he worked all hours of the day during the summer and in the winter was off long days shooting in some winter months. So I would dance 3 to 4 nights a week, work as normal, and then at weekends when he was working I’d catch up with friends, shop, see family and do whatever I fancied. We did go out occasionally together (anniversaries, birthdays, other events), but otherwise it worked well for people who still wanted to have their own hobbies and do things apart.
Having a child and making a proper family does change what you want to a certain extent. While (like so many men) the OH’s daily routine didn’t change, mine did. I reduced my working hours a little, I stopped dancing, I did all the nursery and now school and after school drop offs and pick ups. I take N out at weekends. It all works and it’s brilliant having N and spending time with him.
But now, life is still independent and probably more so, despite us having N and my assumption that we’d be more of a family doing things together. Our version of a family life is definitely not a traditional family life despite the what seems like a traditional set up.
Family holidays – fail
We’ve had one family holiday since N was born. Not for lack of funds, but just the OH refuses to go on holiday which is worse than he was before we had N. Luckily I can take N away on my own so we still get a break.
Family weekend fun – fail
We’re like a single parent family with a dad at home. We never do what most other families do and go shopping together at weekends or have family days out. Luckily I’ve got some friends who also have husbands who work weekends, so we can catch up then, but mostly other friends do family things at weekends so we just do our own thing.
Now N’s older he quite often prefers to go out on the farm with his dad, so I’m having to start thinking of things I can go and do on my own while they do work.
Family meals – weekends only
We also only eat together at weekends. With N eating his weekday meals most of the time at after school club, and the OH eating his at the farm, it means it’s hard to sit down together during the week other than collapsing in the living room in front of the tv. And breakfast’s a mish mash because the OH goes out at 5am to work, eating breakfast at the farm in a fleeting break.
Family routine – er, not really
The OH does sort out N’s bath or shower time because N loves to spend that time with his dad, but I do all the reading, homework and the bedtime routine with him.
Family chats – kind of
One of the things I feel is really important is chatting as a family. My family used to talk for England during mealtimes, but we all had quite a lot to say and I’m sure the OH was stunned into silence whenever we all went out for a meal together.
The OH isn’t a big talker. Meal times are for eating (not that that stops N from talking), he snoozes in front of the tv in the evening, and doesn’t do the whole chatting about his day thing. But this to me is normal family communication and a way of showing your interest in everyone and what they’re up to.
N never wants to talk about his school day as soon as I pick him up. He always says he can’t remember what he’s done. But by bedtime, he’s up for lots of conversation after he’s had his stories, so we chat then. I ask him what went on at school, he ducks the question by asking me ‘what did you do at work?’ which is a lovely feeling that he’s already learnt that other people like to be asked and that it’s normal to ask and show an interest.
I explain although I’m not sure it’s particularly interesting for him, but it’s all about sharing. Once I tell him about my day, he’ll then share his. Usually he’ll go off on a tangent about something and I’ll need to ask a lot of questions. But he’s always been open about what has happened at school, even though he’s a little light on the educational lesson side of things.
These chats aren’t very forthcoming at other times, although he is chatty on car journeys. I think with him, anything he sees or hears will set him off, and it’s so important to engage while he’s interested and build on conversation as a habit.
So, our family might not be ‘normal’ in the traditional sense, despite the stereotypical farming family expectations but I’m working on teaching N social graces and the important things that help keep families working well together as best I can.
How do your family interact? Do you do everything together, or have independent activities?
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