Blended Family – Their Two Dads

There are many challenges being part of a blended family.  Balancing parental duties and responsibilities is often one of them. Trying to maintain positive relationships between everyone is another.  Ensuring regardless of what is happening in the adult relationships, that it has minimal impact and bearing on the children.

These are not easy things to do.  There are ups and downs along the way, a bit of a juggling act of people’s emotions and opinions.  It feels like a constant (rather steep) learning curve that changes continually.

juggling

For instance – there is the childrens ‘real’ dad.

He is in the childrens lives regularly, he loves and adores them I’m sure.  His relationship with me is a bit of a rollercoaster.  There have been periods where we have got on great, almost returned to a solid friendship where I’ve been sure that he’s finally moved on.  And then there are periods where for what ever reason (and usually I am unable to figure out the trigger or the reasoning behind it) that the relationship is terrible, communication stops entirely and this can go on for months.

The effect on the children is what worries, frustrates and makes me down right angry.  I do as much as I can to protect them, with reassurances that whilst mummy and daddy don’t always see eye to eye, what we both do is love them to the moon on back.  So no matter what, just remember how much we love you and don’t worry about anything else.

It is so difficult to explain to children the intricacies of adult relationships when to be honest, I don’t understand them myself.  When your 4yr old (as she was at the time) tells you that Daddy says ‘you broke the love mummy.. why did you do that, can you not fix it‘ or when your daughter says ‘Daddy doesn’t want to talk you anymore, why aren’t you friends?‘ the hurt that it is obviously causing them breaks your heart.

Them being witness to the ups and downs has an impact on how they view other relationships.  For the first year of Ron being in their lives they fully expected us to split up.  Their assumption was that nothing was permanent and even with reassurance from Ron and I that we would be together forever (here’s hoping lol!) their response would be, but you and Daddy aren’t together now.  Even after we married Natalie once asked ‘mummy, when will you get deevorced again?’

Trying to reassure them of the permanency of Ron in their lives has been trickier given that we don’t live together.  This is of course set to change, but at the moment the facts are that the children have a part time dad, and a part time step dad. However, 2 part time dads, do not a whole one make!  What the children do get is just the good bits from their two dads.  Which is great for them, the laughs, the fun the excitement of seeing them.  However, what they don’t get is the continuity, the discipline and structure.  .

The alternate weekends at their ‘real’ dads consists of no rules.  No bedtime, no brushing of hair, a bath only occasionally.  Food that a child would choose rather than what constitutes healthy well balanced meals.  So for them Daddy is amazing, its all fun times, no telling off, no boundaries.  I try not to be too critical – afterall, this is his time with his children and his parenting style is his choice.  It is only every other weekend, and how much can it hurt for them to go a weekend without brushing teeth or hair, eating too much junk food and running riot.

But I have to be honest, it niggles, I can feel the hairs on the back on my neck rise when they come home like ragamuffins full of tales of staying up till midnight, having icecream for breakfast and nutella sandwiches for lunch. AND if I’m really honest, I’m jealous.  How can life with me compare, at home they have bedtimes, they have to eat their vegetables, we have routines and rules about behaviour and consequences for non compliance.  Is there any wonder that occasionally during fall outs they throw at me ‘I want to live with Daddy’ – heavens.. who wouldn’t! (Well, actually me, been there, tried that!)

The girls know which day Rons here, and they look forward to seeing him.  They know he’ll play games with them (limbo and the quiet game are their favourites, and Monopoly occasionally too), they will be able to climb all over him, receive big bear hug cuddles.

WP_20150719_007

WP_20150517_008

They are still learning the boundaries with him, they push them here and there (generally when I’m not around) and to Rons credit, he is calm, never raises his voice, is consistent and rational with them (ha ha.. things that generally I’m not when the girls are pushing my buttons).  But in the main, as they only see him for a few hours a week, its all positive fun stuff..

They see their two dads as the men in their lives that play games with them, that throw them in the air and tickle them till they scream, that give them treats and money when the icecream van is outside the house.

Where does that leave me?  

  • The person that offers stability
  • The constant in their lives
  • The person who they know is there day in day out, night in night out.
  • The person they turn to and want when they fall, when they are upset and need comfort.
  • The person they learn from, who teaches them

Overall – the person who blends it all together for them and tries to make sense of their unconventional family

WP_20150717_007

Advertisements

{The Ordinary Moments} #2 Good Mummy / Bad Mummy

I had one of those horrible moments this week where I really felt like a totally bad mum.  There are no doubt many times during the week that I’m not the best mum I can be, but I try, and generally feel I don’t do too bad a job – after all the kids are usually happy, healthy, clean (well most of the time) and they have managed to survive my parenting for the past 8 and 6yrs without too many mishaps.

This week Jessica had some sort of dance/gym workshop going on (I wasn’t too clear on the details, one of those things that she mentioned to me whilst I was talking on the phone and cooking dinner at the same time, so it did not really register properly). She had told me a repeatedly (much to her annoyance) that she needed her full PE kit with her to join in. Her having come home in some of it a few days earlier after Sports Day meant it wasn’t in her kit bag as usual.

On arrival at school in the morning it dawned on me that we’d not brought it in. Bad mummy!  Rushed to tell the teacher and find out what time she needed it – phew – as long as it was dropped at school reception before 1pm it would be fine.  No probs I thought, got some admin work to do at home this morning, a meeting scheduled for 12.30, so could easily drop it off on the way to the meeting – all sorted – good mummy status resumed.

However, on leaving my meeting at 2.15pm, as I walked to the car, I suddenly got this sinking feeling, a wave of guilt washed over me as I realised that I had totally forgotten to take the PE kit she needed to school. I felt sick, tears pricked my eyes as I thought how upset she would’ve been, that she might not have been able to join in.  How could I have got so distracted as to not be able to remember one simple task.  I was gutted, felt like the most terrible mother in the world.  Ok, so I tried to put it in to perspective – it wasn’t the end of the world, she might have been able to borrow some from lost property, it was just a little workshop – but the bottom line was that I’d let her down and I felt awful for it.

As parents – do we not all say our first priority are our kids.  I know I do, but in reality, their needs often come lower down the list than they should.  It’s not a conscious thing, I think I find it all to easy to blame work commitments, being too busy, multi tasking, too tired – my list of excuses could go on.

To do list

As she came running down the path after school, I looked for a pained expression, I was expecting red rimmed eyes and tear stained cheeks.. but no.. happy and smiley as ever.  I rushed towards her full of apologies and excuses as to why I didn’t do as I’d promised.  She smiled, hugged me, said ‘its ok mummy, really’  One of the things I love the absolute most about my children is their ability and willingness to forgive in an instant.  No laying on of guilt, making you pay in someway for your mistake so that you learn your lesson.

Just straight forward, I love you so you are forgiven.

Such a humbling experience to be taught so earnestly from your child

What do you learn from your children?

theordinarymomentsbadge_zps284f9457

Getting lean in 2015

A bit of a health kick is in order.  Just 7 weeks before our holiday which means my thoughts have turned to shorts, strappy tops, bikini’s and if the health kick fails more maxi dresses that you can shake a stick at.

Weight issues have plagued my life, as they do for many people.  I have been pretty stable for the past few years and comfortable in my own skin, but over the past 6 or 7 months I’ve seen a bit of a creeping up of the numbers on the scales. Some people call it happy contentment, I call it stuffing my face more often than I should!

I became more concerned of the ‘gain’ a few months ago as I noticed a few items of clothing were not quite as comfortable and made a concerted effort to shift a few pounds.  I did – but boy was it hard work – gym everyday, watching every mouthful of food.. when did dieting get this hard.. oh yes.. after I turned 40!

Complacency has crept back in, and a few of those pounds lost have returned. I don’t mind so much being squishy round the edges, the wobbly bits are generally well hidden, but I know from experience that weight gain is a slow burn.  A few pounds leads to a stone, leads to 2 stone and it goes on.

Having once been one of life’s larger ladies (in fact a very large lady), and taking extreme measures along with years of hard work to get where I am now, my weight is something I am conscious of and keep a close eye on.  I will always have the brain and mentality of a fat bird,  what I see in the mirror isn’t what other people see (or at least that’s what I’m told!). How I looked 10 years ago, is not a look I want to return to.

So here goes the health kick – dusting off the trainers (they are the scruffiest, oldest things ever – but comfy like slippers) –  its been a few weeks since I hit the gym (blaming this on being busy with house selling preparations), fruit bowl full to busting, and getting the brain in gear to ditch the choccie biscuits and embrace the carrot sticks.

WP_20150713_002

I have always said I enjoy cooking,but in reality, its that I enjoy eating!  Everything I cook I want to taste good, but it also has to be fast to prepare, fast to cook – from start to on table within 40 – 50 mins is generally my rule.  Providing balanced family meals is not the easiest in my house.  Jess thinks a vegetable is swear word, Natalie deffo takes after me, an appetite for pretty much anything, anytime, anywhere – so I do try to keep a watchful eye over what she has, and then there’s the fact that I’m married to a wheat sensitive vegetarian!

I used to be really good – I would menu plan at least a month in advance.  It worked a treat, shopping bills reduced, I always knew what we were having, so could get things out of the freezer if needed, make sure we’d not run out of anything etc.  I’d often batch cook – so double up on the bolognaise, and make a lasagna out of the left over etc.

Time to re-introduce it I think.

Off to the leisure centre we went tonight – I’m lucky that both girls are competent swimmers and don’t need me at their sides constantly, they are quite happy to take sinkers (toys that they throw in the pool, they sink and then they dive in to retrieve them) whilst I plough up and down doing lengths.  Managed to get in 40 lengths tonight so mission accomplished.  I even resisted the cheesy chips that traditionally always follow a family trip to the swimming pool (ok, so I lie, I had a couple of the kids, but just a couple!)

WP_20150714_009

A bikini bod I’ll never have – this is a fact I have accepted, but perhaps with a bit of planning, together with a modicum of self-control on the choccie biscuit front, I might just be able to shift those extra pounds in time for the Ibiza sun.

On the move

This year the Daly blended family are seeing some pretty major life changes.

Since marrying, we have lived rather unconventionally, insomuch that Ron lives in Todmorden, and I live with the children in Leeds.  These days, its rare couples don’t live together before they get married, and pretty much unheard of to live apart after they get married.  But for us, thats the situation we have lived with.

WP_20150524_003

Yes, its been hard, married yet still a single parent, having very limited time together, travelling back and forth constantly.  Its been tough and challenging to build a strong family unit.  Don’t get me wrong, there are positives to our living arrangements.  We have never had an argument – ok – so Ron never argues anyway and if I’m honest, I’ve had a fair few rows in my head with him! But in the main, because our time together is pretty brief, we do everything we can to make the most of it, so fall outs don’t happen as we don’t want to waste what time we have on them.

The plan has always been to live together at some point.  Its been the location thats been in question.  Ron having his business in Todmorden, and my business in Leeds led us to look for places mid-way between, but in all honesty we have been getting nowhere.  If I’m being really honest, I don’t think that we’ve tried very hard.

Mid-way was ok, but it still meant uprooting the girls from schools, friends, from everything they knew, for me it still meant leaving behind my support network (who I rely on very heavily) and moving to somewhere where I knew no-one.  Pretty daunting I can tell you after being here for 14years. So perhaps I’ve dragged my feet a little, put it down to needing to save more money, not being able to find the right size, location, price of house etc.

The kids
Time is marching on, Jessica turned 8 in January – how much longer did I want to leave it.  The older she gets, the harder it will be for her to settle, make new friends, integrate in to a new school quickly and seamlessly.  Natalie at 6yrs old, a bit less of a worry, especially given her outgoing, diva style personality anyway.  Jessica is more sensitive, more aware and I feel will be much more affected by the change.

Parenting
Its been getting harder, for all intents and purposes, despite being married, I am still a single parent.  I have to make all the day to day decisions, carry out all the everyday parenting tasks including juggling work and home life schedules, schooling, homework, activities, family time, discipline.  Yes, Ron is there at the end of the phone, and a couple of late evenings a week he is there for me to talk things thing through, gain his opinion and input, offer support. But the bottom line at the end of the day – the parenting is down to me – I’m the one thats here day in, day out 24/7.

Relationship
The constant separation is tough.  Yes, we are in a pretty good routine of which evenings Ron comes across to Leeds, what time he has available to spend with us on a weekend.  But time is so limited, and its always there, its always at the back of my mind, he’ll be gone shortly, or the knowing that he won’t be getting here till 10pm, and then be away at 7am in the morning.  With an hour or so journey each way, this has to be factored in to any plans.  As accepting of the situation we have both been, its hard not to let a bit of resentment creep in here and there.

At the back end of last year we said we would look to be in a home together by Christmas of this year.  That we would aim to have my house on the market beginning/middle of May.  Well, the end of May arrived, and the house was no where near ready for marketing, in all reality we had made no headway towards living together at all.  Talk was all we’d done, definitely no action!

I’m a bit of an all or nothing sort of gal, if I decide to do something, then it gets done.  At the beginning of June, I took stock a bit, if something didn’t change soon, we were never going to end up in the same house, before we knew it, another year would pass, and we’d be starting to get to a position where I wouldn’t want to move the girls school as Jessica would be coming close to high school.

I set myself a month deadline, to have the house ready and on the market by the end of June.  So with a lot of hard work, one room at a time was treated to a facelift.  Gardens sorted, hanging baskets hung, pots populated with plants, decking re-stained, fences painted.  Ron – with his ever cautious eye on spending resisted on pretty much everything – did we really need to paint that, buy that, replace this, stain that.. but I’m like a dog with a bone, if I want it done, it will get done regardless.  The result.. a house that was ready to market by the end of June.  And even Ron, yes Ron finally relented and agreed that the house and gardens looked great, and it was worth the hard work and money (excuse me whilst I faint!)

A couple of valuations later, we had a price point in mind of what to market it at.  We took the step of going with an online estate agent rather than the traditional high street ones.  The saving was huge on fee’s and given that pretty much everyone is online these days, why pay the extra for a high street presence that really isn’t that necessary nowadays.  I have to say, that it was one slick, smooth operation.

Within a couple of days of contacting them the For Sale board was up,

WP_20150701_001

a day later the photographer was there taking photos (and boy, what an amazing job he did of them!), and a day later we had the brochure and description in my inbox ready to approve.

house collage

Saturday 4th July – it went live online.  I was a bit giddy, a bit nervous.  It all started to feel that bit more real, that bit more scary.

By Sunday, we had 5 viewings lined up for Monday evening, and by Monday evening we had 2 offers on the table.

Tuesday saw us accept an offer, the status change online to property Under Offer and the For Sale board change to SOLD.  I honestly can’t believe that the house sold in 2 days, I was expecting months.

Its become truly real, the Dalys are now on the move with all the ups, downs, traumas that it will no doubt bring along the way.  All I can say is Bring it On, its about damn time!

The Dalys – The Start of Our Daly Life Blog

Welcome to Our Daly Life – a blog about a ‘blended’ family known as the Daly’s  that will hopefully have input from all of us at some point or another.  All of us being:

Charlotte – Mum, Business Owner, Wife and general stress head,

Ron – Stepdad, Business Owner, Husband and one whom never gets stressed

Jessica, daughter no 1, 8yrs old going on 18!

Natalie, daughter no 2, 6yrs old and lives life to the full!

We are an unconventional family to say the least.  I was previously married for 14yrs and had two lovely children.  4 1/2 years ago I became a singleton again, and quite happily plodded along through life with my two lovely children.

I met Ron – thanks to a bit of online dating, and we married a year after we met in February 2014.  However, here is where we get even more unconventional, for whilst we are married – currently, we don’t actually live together, in fact, we don’t even live in the same county, never mind town or house!  This is more for practical purposes as his business is over in Todmorden and mine is here in lovely Leeds.  So for the past 18 months of blissful marriage we have lived apart.

Odd, strange, peculiar I know.. but it works.. for now at least..

But we are set to start a new journey in our life together – we are heading towards ditching the unconventional, for the more conventional and are looking to actually live under the same roof in the not too distant future.

Our lives are about to take a dramatic change, and in our Blog I hope to document and record for posterity the new chapter we are about to begin.

I don’t pretend to be a great writer, witty, or original, but I am honest (brutally sometimes!), and I have set it my mission to get all the family involved in our blog.  So expect not only my own personal musings, but also comments from a Step Dad, learning the ropes, from an 8yr old whose world revolves around something different every day depending on how the mood takes her, and the odd sentence or two from a 6yr old who is cheeky, delightful and has some of the greatest one liners.

IMG_8809