My husband and I work together, live together and have a lot of mutual hobbies. But because we both work freelance hours, the working part of our lives is often really dominant. And sometimes the lines are blurred, we often get to go out to the theatre, or to stay away for the night due to work; but sometimes we’ll find ourselves, in a really romantic setting…discussing whether we’ve invoiced for last weeks workshop or advertised tomorrow’s session, and we’re constantly planning the courses we run, coming up with ideas etc.
Recently we’ve tried to ensure that we don’t check emails if we’re away for the night, or we try and ignore text messages/FB messages/Twitter notifications. But with many fingers in many different pies between the two of us, it’s almost impossible to avoid it all. We’ve discussed it quite a bit, how do we separate personal and professional life? And how do we ensure we get quality time together as a couple, as a husband and wife?
This week, we answered our own question accidentally. For Holly’s first birthday, we had gone in with my Dad on organising a two day trip to Alton Towers, staying in the hotel for one night in a theme room, with dinner at a fun restaurant where your meals arrive by rollercoaster!
We to and fro’d on whether to do it, because, our last experience of staying in a hotel with both kids was…tough to say the least!! Neither would go to bed, both kept waking the other up, and my husband and I had to sit in the dark from 7pm…fun fun fun! With one aged 1, and one nearly 3, it had been a while since we’d taken them both away because…it’s a really tiring nightmare! BUT, it’s our last 1st birthday for our children, and we wanted to treat them both to something special so we packed up the car and we held our breath and went for it!
And it was, the, most, perfect, magical two days we’ve both ever had. A couple of realisations very early on.
1. The girls are that little bit older now, and both can move about without having to be carried which means we’re out of that really dependant baby stage.
2. The girls are at an age where they’ve started ‘playing’ with each other.
3. Scarlett’s now tall enough to go on all of the toddler rides and with it being Holly’s first time at anywhere like this, she was just filled with delight watching it all, especially loving watching her big sister on things. So there was SO much we could do with them in the park.
4. Their sleep routines are steady enough now that a one off night as a special treat doesn’t disrupt the next few days, and we were therefore able to just play all together in the room, especially as there was a giant polar bear in it..! And then come about 9pm, they easily settled down and we were able to chat quietly before dropping off quite early ourselves thanks to a super active day!
But the main two things we realised, were that, we prioritise supporting our family. So there’s a guilt to ignoring messages or emails or any work related things, even when we’re having quality time together. HOWEVER, our girls are the bigger priority. So when we were with them these couple of days, we ignored work things because they deserve that, and we didn’t feel guilty because THEY are more important. We don’t see ourselves as important enough to ignore work for, but they definitely are! The other main thing is that quality time as a team of four is going into a really magical stage. Both girls are getting to the age where excitement levels are off the chart and seeing their eyes light up, or watching them laugh at a giant puppet, or when they turned around to smile at us to share how excited they are…? OUR.HEARTS.KEPT.BURSTING!!
We’ve been so busy trying to work out some intellectual reason on how to perfectly balance the various aspects of our lives, we didn’t just see what was right under our noses! Our beautiful children and our family of four.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’re not a nightmare sometimes…! Or that it went perfectly smoothly! We had a 1am wake up thanks to Holly who was obviously a bit unsettled with the new surrounding perhaps, and it was 3am before we got back to sleep as it’s much more difficult to settle a baby when you’re trying not to wake her toddler sibling, as well as being ultra aware of other hotel guests! We were extremely lucky with their behaviour, this week we had fantastically behaved children (that is just luck of the drawer, it can so easily go the other way!). But when we left the park today, we still had a mini tears breakdown from Scarlett who wasn’t keen on the idea of going home! We felt the same, but it’s not quite as socially acceptable for us to cry..! And it really didn’t last too long so I almost feel guilty mentioning it, because Scarlett can REALLY tantrum when she puts her mind to it..!
We’re now back home, and we’re EXHAUSTED, but we somehow feel refreshed..!
Being the dramatic pair that we are, on the way home, we started getting emotional about what an exciting time of our family life we were going into. We’ve officially passed newborn baby stage, and now we have two little, magical, ridiculous and hilarious children, who for now are also excited to spend time with us! This stage will pass on the blink of an eye, so it’s DEFINITELY worth prioritising.
Not all our ‘Four Explore’ holidays will go as well as this one did, we know that. We’ve had enough experience to know how lucky we were with this one, but the moments that made us well up with happiness, pride and joy, are well worth the days that don’t go our way (mostly..I mean who am I kidding, it can be a bloody battlefield some days!). But as we flop down into bed tonight, tiredly giddy from the glow of a fab two days, we’ll toast (a cup of herbal tea…seriously we’re really tired!) to some more magical memories that will follow!