Well hello there! I’m sitting down at my laptop with a cuppa and I’m ready to have a big ol’ (good old days of blogging style) ramble. It feels like forever since I did that… and you know what? I really want to do more of it.
Because I’ve been a bit quiet haven’t I? In all aspects of online life – I haven’t been blogging as much as usual, my Instagram rarely gets updated these days, my baking club is on an extended break and I haven’t written a newsletter in about two years.
I’ve been doing A LOT of thinking about this blog in the last little while – where it’s headed, where I want to take it, what it should look like, whether it’s right for me to continue with. Those thoughts and musings have been (half) brain dumped into a seperate blog post, and I hope to dump the rest of them there fairly soon too and share everything that has been swirling around my head lately in a lengthy heartfelt out pour (you lucky devils). One thing that has been at the centre of these thoughts however, is how little of the personal ‘catch up’ style posts I’ve shared over the last year. Although, for the most part, the blog remained updated regularly, I’ve realised that I actually didn’t keep you guys updated on much at all. I shared travel adventures, buggy reviews and outfit posts but, aside from my parenting posts, very little of what was actually going on in my real life behind the scenes made it onto this space. Yes ‘real’ life – you know that thing that happens outside of the Instagram grid?
When I first started my blog, that’s all that made up its contents – life lately rambles, five things of the week updates and various nonsensical thought spills about everything, anything and sometimes nothing. Somewhere along the line I lost a little of that – whether it was due to taking on more ‘professional’ paid collaborations, whether it was the rise in those perfectly curated social media platforms telling me only the pretty, themed and thought out updates had a place, whether it was just sheer lack of time preventing me from sitting down to write posts like this, or whether it was having a baby and being so terrified of sharing too much about her and her life, that I stopped sharing anything about me and mine – the point is, I miss writing in that way and I want to start bringing back a little more of the personal stories that used to be the signature of this blog. ‘Personal’ lifestyle blogging isn’t really the done thing anymore is it? I can only think of a handful of bloggers who still write in that way. But it’s honestly the type of blogging I enjoy reading most from other people and the type of blogging I enjoy writing most for myself. And I like to think that when I blogged like that in the past, my readers really got to know me, so I’m hoping you’ll all enjoy a return to these rambles too?
So here I am, attempting to just sit down and write, without much agenda. To simply catch you up on what’s been happening in my life lately and all that’s about to happen in the near future. It’s been almost a month since my last post, I feel as if I haven’t really written a ‘proper’ blog post since the start of the year and this one is only coming to you because my Mum is visiting and has taken over baby entertainment duties, so where it ends up going or how long it ends up being is anyone’s guess.
Anyway, I should probably pre-empt my ramble by saying that no, I’m not pregnant again. Just in case that was the ‘news’ you were expecting having read that title. Ever since I got married, I’ve been unable to utter the words ‘I have some news’ without everyone assuming I’m pregnant… and then I did actually get pregnant and since then all anyone seems to want to know is when we are going to be adding to our brood. So let me just clarify that nothing would terrify me more right now than getting pregnant again, and we’re more than happy with the amount of sleep deprivation one child is providing so for the time being have no intentions of testing out how bad it would be with two.
But I do have some news… and I guess before I start talking about everything and nothing, I should dive right in.
We’re moving again.
Yes. After finally making the decision to move out of London in 2016, in pursuit of a quieter lifestyle and with thoughts of starting a family, and after deliberating for FAR too long about where we should actually move to, we found ourselves making a home in Kent (finally packing up when I was 6 months pregnant!). And, although it took us a little while to get used to not being in the heart of the city anymore, a year and a bit in, it really does feel like home.
Rochester has been a lovely town to live in – it’s given us the quiet community lifestyle we craved but at the same time, has a wealth of things going on. It’s beautiful and picturesque, and we have some of England’s best seaside’s on our doorstep.
We found a lovely little house, which we’ve spent time making a home, the home that we brought our first baby back to, the home that has provided the base for so many of her first milestones and will play host to her first birthday in a few weeks.
Only half an hour on the train to London, we found we had the best of both worlds and could commute in and out of the city when we needed to, but also enjoy our relaxed family town when the London buzz became tiresome. We’ve spent the last year and a half exploring our new surroundings and becoming familiar with our favourite spots, eagerly awaiting another summer with E being old enough to enjoy everything the Kent coastline has to offer.
And we couldn’t have asked for a better community to start a family in. My pregnancy and maternity experience was made by the midwife’s, the hospital, the excellent birth centre I was able to give birth in and the wonderful care I received during pregnancy and early motherhood. I can’t fault the service we were given in any way. I’ve made great Mum friends, have a brilliant NCT group, have joined classes and truly feel part of a thriving community here.
It’s been our first family home.
So it’s bittersweet to have to say goodbye to all of that. To have to contemplate upping sticks and starting all over again. To think about leaving friends behind and wonder how difficult it will be to make new ones. To worry who I’ll go for coffee with when parenthood gets too much. To start a new search for a nursery for E just as we’d found one we loved here. To go somewhere we know no-one. To wave goodbye to the blogging friends I’ve made over the years and imagine having to review a restaurant or visit a new cafe without a crew of fellow photo obsessives to take along with me. To leave my link to London behind and consider furthering my career without the opportunities and connections the city has always afforded me.
Its daunting. It’s scary. It’s a little overwhelming.
But it’s also exciting. Because in spite of all of the above, we always knew that this location might not be forever. That it might not always suit us and that the decision to move here was made based purely on our needs at the time. Needs that didn’t include fending for a small human. And everything has changed in the last year, not least our priorities. Our outlook on life is different and our goals have shifted. Certain things become a lot more important to you once you have a child, and we’re not ashamed to say that stability, structure, a dependable job, and a reliable routine are up there for us at the moment.
And so, when my husband got offered a job last week – a job that we knew he’d be mad to turn down, a job that could offer us some stability as a family, a job that would allow him to be around his daughter more and give us the family life that has become so important to us and a job that would take some of the pressure off of us financially – well, there really wasn’t much of a decision to be made. Despite it being a job that would see us leave behind everything and everyone we’ve come to call home.
A job that will see us move away from London’s grasp after a decade of fun, and start a new life further north in another city…
London is the type of place that’s difficult to leave. It is a city which has my heart. It’s where I met my husband, it’s where we started our relationship, where we first moved in together, where we decided to try for a baby, where we got pregnant and where we’ve had so many of our experiences together. Making the decision to move out of the city (even a 35 minute train ride away) was a tough one, one which took time to get used to, and one which I still waver about on occasion. And had this opportunity presented itself a year and a half ago when we were first contemplating that decision, maybe it wouldn’t have felt right. Maybe we wouldn’t have been brave enough to move so far from the London bubble. Maybe our priorities then wouldn’t have seen it as such a great chance, a chance to start a new chapter in our lives and give our daughter a better beginning. Maybe we wouldn’t have taken it.
But now? Now we’re ready. We’re ready for a change. We’re ready for that chance, however hard it may be initially. We’re ready to put the needs of our daughter and our family life above the needs of us as individuals. We’re ready for stability, and dependability and a reliable routine. Since having Evie, we’ve found that slowly those ties that were holding us to a location in London’s proximity have been steadily snapping and breaking away and we’ve really not been as keen as we imagined to build them back up again.
Because can I tell you – this last year has kicked our butts. 2017 was the most wonderful year of my life as it saw us bring our beautiful little girl into the world and watch her grow. But my gosh was it tough too. It was tough financially as we struggled to make ends meet, still living in one of the most expensive areas of the country and now with the added pressure of a baby to feed, clothe and entertain. It was tough mentally and emotionally as we navigated the ups and downs of first time parenthood, worrying endlessly about the impact our decisions had on our daughters well being. It was tough on us, and our relationship as we plodded through our new everyday as best we could, seeing less and less of each other as the year wore on and our seperate careers seemed to pull us further apart. It was tough on us as individuals as our dreams and ambitions seemed less and less plausible and the struggle to find a balance between our new role as parents and our previous selves became a daily struggle.
When it was just the two of us, everything (of course) was simpler. The self employed life suited us. It meant taking Fridays off occasionally to have a weekend away. It meant impromptu travel adventures and snapping up those cheap flights without having a boss to wrangle holiday dates with, it meant being able to meet for lunch on the days our schedules coincided. It meant being away from each other from time to time wasn’t a big deal. It meant if my Husbands work saw him needing to travel, I had the option of travelling with him. It meant having less money yes, but only having ourselves to worry about.
But that’s the glamourous side of course. And since becoming parents, those ‘perks’ felt non existent. Even if they did present themselves we could rarely make use of them. And over the last year we’ve really began to feel the weight of the worry, stress and uncertainty that comes with having a sporadic working life. All of the downsides to self employment have felt glaringly apparent. My husband, who was at an early stage of his self employment, having only set up on his own a month before we got pregnant, was at a stage where he needed to put his all into it to make it work – to take on those ambitious projects with the unsavoury hours, to travel where he needed to go and say yes to everything that came his way. As a cameraman, his work has seen him travel everywhere from Devon to Kazakhstan, sometimes only at a moments notice, and when the projects come around – while exciting, they’re long, arduous and full on, meaning dropping everything and barely seeing or speaking to us for the duration. The positive is that working non stop on a large project for a month, would usually then result in a month at home but while I was more than grateful to have him around for an extended period after Evie was born (far longer than he would have been had he been in a normal job) and grateful that he could be with me during those tough periods, that he could take time off for hospital visits and when Evie got ill, it also meant him spending a lot of time away from us, working long days and nights and earning a somewhat unreliable income. None of which is ideal with a young baby.
I can’t say it’s been all bad, in fact many aspects of our freelance working lives have suited family life completely. The times that my husband was at home, he was really here, at home with us, with no commitments and no obligations elsewhere. It was wonderful as I could rely on him for everything, knowing that he didn’t have anywhere else he needed to be or people pulling at his time. I’d get time to sleep while he looked after Evie, I’d get a chance to work and blog and be creative again and we’d spend so much glorious time together as a family. Evie would get used to having him around every day, having him there for bath and bedtime and waking up to him in the morning and she’d thrive, having two parents by her side daily, offering different types of fun, different types of learning.
But when the work did come up, it would almost always come up last minute and throw our lives into disarray. It would see him have to travel and stay on location for weeks, sometimes months at a time. It would see him away from his wife and his daughter and missing out on key moments. It would see him leave the house before we woke in the morning and not come back until after we were in bed at night. It would see him work weekends and evenings and everything in between. It would see us spring from having a manageable income one month to wondering how we might pay our bills the next. It would see us go from establishing a good routine with E, to everything changing again. From her getting used to her Dad putting her to bed or going into to her when she woke in the night, to her then getting overly attached to me again and refusing to go to anyone else. Even though we knew to expect it, having one family member suddenly torn from the unit seemed harder each and every time.
It’s meant that I’ve had absolutely no routine or structure to my working life in the last year, struggling to manage both Mum duties and work duties, and only being able to fit things in should my Husband happen to be home one day/week/month or should a grandparent be able to come visit for a week. It’s meant Evie has had no structure or routine to her life, one day waking up and having breakfast with her Dad, then not seeing his face for three weeks.
And it’s taken its toll on all of us. But perhaps my husband most of all. He’d leave a small baby behind and come back to a much more grown up girl. He’d miss out on new skills learnt and be away from us when I needed him most. He’d miss his baby like mad and feel useless when he came back and I’d say things like ‘oh that one doesn’t fit anymore’ or ‘she doesn’t play that game anymore’. As much as he enjoyed his work, he began to realise this wasn’t the life he wanted. He didn’t want to be away from his family and miss out on moments. He wanted to be able to provide for his family while also being part of it.
And I found that I really didn’t cope that well when he was away and I was left to handle everything parenting threw at me all on my own. I was permanently exhausted, ill and run down. My work as a result would have periods of super productivity and then periods when I’d have to abandon everything for weeks on end. Money became a bigger and bigger issue as my work had to take more of a back seat while I found myself solo parenting frequently, and my husband found himself constantly worrying whether work would be busy enough month to month without him having to travel away endlessly.
Towards the end of last year we realised that how we were living wasn’t viable anymore. It didn’t work for us, now that we were a family and our day to day routines were so focused around Evie. The downsides had begun to outweigh any perks that had previously come from us both running our own businesses. Our priorities had changed. We wanted more stability for all of us and we craved a life where we knew what was happening from week to week, whether we’d be together, whether we’d take home any money and whether we could plan events and activities.
And so we made the decision that my Husband would seek out full time employment once again. Maybe not forever, but for now while E was small and we needed a steady income we could rely on, and a routine we could count on. Since making that decision, life has been full of uncertainty. Uncertainty over where we’d live, what we’d do, where and when E would go to nursery, if I’d be able to work in the same way I had previously, how my career might change, and what life would ultimately look like in the future. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t deal well with uncertainty, with things being out of my control and without being able to organise, and so the last few months have been a challenge. Going by in a flurry of ups and downs, winter bugs and non stop baby routines, Christmas prep and new year plans, leaving little time for anything else.
Our winter was plagued with constant illness (both me and Evie), and I felt as if I fell into the Christmas break headfirst, barely able to keep my head together in the run up and collapsing into a coma of food and naps like I’d never needed it more once our family surrounded us.
But as the year flipped from 17 to 18 and a whole new chapter was looming ahead of us, still without answers or a plan or any sort of steady branches to cling onto, I felt confused and a little helpless. We knew we wanted 2018 to be different. We knew we wanted to make changes and set off in the right direction. But until something happened – a job offer, a nursery acceptance, a sign of change in the wind, we couldn’t make those changes, we couldn’t plan for the future or make the year better than the last. And as such 2018 didn’t get off to the grand start I’d wanted it to. I was still exhausted, Evie was still constantly ill (please spring hurry up), and my husband was still travelling, and working long hours all the while applying for jobs and heading off in all different directions for interviews, not knowing whether they would result in a life turnaround. We attempted to carry on with life as normal – to assume our everyday here in Kent would remain until we knew otherwise. We started looking into nurseries for E, signed up to another term of her swimming lessons and sign class, and I began seeking out new work. But all the while it’s felt like change might be near. We’ve put off decorating our bedroom (originally our planned project for this year) secretly thinking it might be a wasted effort and there’s been a hesitance surrounding making any solid plans.
And so, I’ve been quiet. I’ve lacked the motivation and the time to sit down and write blog posts, to pursue collaborative posts not knowing whether I’d be able to see them through, to work out where my blog and work life is headed and to be at all bothered with growing my social media presence or working on daily content. I’ve felt like I’m in limbo, reaching out into the unknown desperately trying to grab onto anything tangible, unable to settle until there’s a clear path to begin walking down. I’ve had this innate sense of protection over Evie, wanting to put her first and make sure she’s ok through all of the change happening around her.
We’ve felt unsettled. Unsure of where life is headed or what lies ahead. And so my blog has been unsettled. My social channels have been unsettled and I’ve been unsettled. I’ve struggled with the day to day monotony that I’d assured myself would switch up in the new year. I’ve struggled with my inability to work and my lack of motivation to blog. I’ve struggled with the trials that come with being a Mum, every single day, often without help or support. And I’ve craved news of that one something, anything that would make the future clearer, make our life more certain and allow us to begin planning, for ourselves and for Evie.
I know it’s only been a month, but boy wasn’t January the longest month in history? It’s felt like 2018 has already been such a long and stressful journey, and spring isn’t even yet upon us.
But finally, last week that something came, in the shape of a really great job offer for my husband. Suddenly the future was tangible once again, things were becoming clearer, and our everyday was soon to have that structure we so desired.
And while Manchester, I’ll admit, has never really been in our plans (I’d always said if I left London for another city it would be to move back to Scotland and I honestly thought that’s where our future was headed), I’m excited for a new start, a fresh beginning and a chance to make a life as a family. A life that might even include us being able to buy our own home in the future (something that always felt so unattainable down south).
So you see, it might be a little scary and overwhelming to consider moving once again. But we know, this time, that it’s absolutely the best decision for our family. That we’re doing it for all the right reasons. That we’re more than ready to leave London and Kent behind and make a home somewhere new.
We’re looking forward to all living in the same house every day. To know that no matter how late my husband might work one night, that he’ll still be coming home and getting into bed with us, and we’ll be waking up together the next day. We’re excited for weekends spent as a family and a more structured and stable week for Evie as she gets older. To getting her settled in a great nursery and me being able to return to a manageable amount of work with a weekly routine I can fit in around being a Mum.
So off to Manchester we go! If anyone has recommendations of locations to live or places that might suit us as a young family then please do send them this way. And I hope you’ll all bear with me while life turns upside down over the next couple of months – I’ll try my best to bring you all along on the journey of packing, moving and settling in a new postcode!
It’s all change once again… but life is full of change right? And the difference this time is that we know we’re making the right change.