Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Family Life In June: Getting Real, Financial worries & Counselling

This month's family update is going to be a bit different.

For a while now I've grown tired of the format I usually use for the monthly family life snapshot posts I do. I find them quite dull to write when I'm just talking about what we've done lately and what kind of things we're all liking from one month to the next, so I can only assume that they're equally dull to read!

I've ummed and ahhed about whether or not to keep doing them at all - but I love having the "reason" and reminder to take a family photo each month, and I love having the photos to look back on.

We have around 3 years of monthly photos now that we wouldn't have otherwise had, and that's really precious to me. I could tell myself I'll stop writing the posts and still take the photos, but I know myself and I tend to forget to do things unless I feel "committed" to a certain project or deadline - so this works to keep me motivated in taking them.

So instead of talking about the little highlights of where we've been and what's been going on, I'm going to get a bit more honest and open about it all.

Because the thing about family life is that it's not all smooth sailing - there are highs and lows, good things and bad from one month to the next. And when you write a "family lifestyle" blog such as this it can be tricky to know where to slot the "real life" talk in...the stuff that isn't inspirational or uplifting, but that deserves to be talked about...because it's real, and it's happening, and without it I'm only showing people half of the picture of what our life is like.

2018 for us so far hasn't been the best of years.

It hasn't been dreadful either - nothing truly awful has happened, nobody is dreadfully ill, nobody has died - but it's been full of irritations that all sort of add up to make life feel a bit grey and monotone.

Money worries, mainly. We started the year full of hope that things would start to improve on this front, as Jon was in a new job which was paying well and our finances looked to be on the up for the first time in a while. We were finally experiencing life as a two wage family, and I had dared to book some holidays on the assumption that this would continue and we'd be able to afford them.

But unfortunately, it wasn't to be and Jon lost the job at the end of January. Since then, we're back to living on my earnings...and although when you look at my annual earnings they're pretty good, and probably equal about the UK average wage for a 2 income household, they're also very unreliable and tricky  to live off.

Because it's not a steady income. There's no set pay day. There's no regular amount of money coming in. I can get nothing for 4 weeks and then get paid £2,000 in a week. There's no pattern to it, there's no way to gauge it, there's no guarantees that money will come at all.

Which makes things like monthly rent payments and bills difficult to manage. And in turn, that removes that feeling of security that makes it easy to sleep at night when you're responsible for keeping a roof over your 3 children's heads.

It also means that I feel like I don't have the luxury of turning down work offers. I write a blog and run social media pages because I enjoy writing and connecting with people, and there are messages I want to convey and things I want to talk about that matter to me. And I'd love to be able to only accept the small number of campaigns that truly interest me, and say no to everything else....keep my online space just for me and what I'm passionate about. But I can't do that when my family relies on the money I make..so I have to say yes to everything. Which means anxiety from the feeling of selling out, pressure from many constant deadlines which are probably more than I can truly manage, and stress. Lots and lots of stress. Burn out. Overwhelm.

It's rare that there's a day where I don't work until midnight, without even breaking to eat dinner.

We've also added home education in to the mix this year, which was unexpected. And although it's been overwhelmingly positive for us in a lot of ways, it's also been additional pressure. A new thing to think about, another commitment.

And I'd be lying if I said that all of these things, on top of the fall out of living with a long term health condition which is worsened by warm weather, didn't put a strain on mine & Jon's relationship.

The last few months have certainly been the most difficult for us as a couple. I feel increasingly under pressure to provide financially, and I can't help but feel resentful about that at times. We've begun looking into couples counselling which I think could be a really positive thing for us, as since my own therapy sessions ended I feel as though things are getting on top of me much more. Having a safe space to vent and talk things through could be really beneficial for both of us, I think.

As for the boys, their ages at the moment - although adorable - can be a little tricky.

Noah in particular is really testing his boundaries since turning 3, and has been acting out a lot in a way that Tyne never really did so it's new to us and we're trying to get to grips with finding a way to manage it all. We're looking in to the possibilities of nurseries for him & Sailor a couple of days per week, to give them a chance to learn about boundaries and rules from somewhere a little more structured than home and also to give me a chance to concentrate on Tyne's home ed work without them around and doing it with all of the boys home can be a challenge!

So that's where we're realistically at this month. It hasn't been the worst month - we've had some lovely days out at the pick your own strawberries farm, and days at the beach in East Devon - and I'm looking forward to a family trip to Bluestone in Wales in July which I'm hoping will give us a chance to get away from it all, and just enjoy some quality time together away from the everyday stresses of home.

But I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the last half of 2018 picks up a bit!

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