Was it just me or did January seem like the longest month ever? After the excitement of Christmas we have had a fairly quiet month getting back into the routine of school and work and also hibernating from the cold, grey days. Like most families we were on the countdown to payday this month so found ourselves at home a lot which has actually been rather lovely, although it's also given me plenty of time to look at all the house projects I want to tackle! We took our photos this month in our living room and had lots of fun with my new tripod that I got for Christmas. It's going to be a game changer in terms of taking photos and my beloved camera will no longer be balanced precariously on fence posts or the buggy! I'm hoping it will mean that I can get a bit more creative with our family photo project this year and already have lots of ideas to capture our family throughout the seasons.
I love stepping back and looking at our family dynamic which is what these monthly photos allow me to do. When I look at this months photo all I can think is how outnumbered Oli looks - totally surrounded by his girls and taking it all in his stride, he's such a brilliant dad and husband and we are really lucky to have him. I also noticed how much our girls have grown and compared to this time last year how much easier life feels in some respects. We are still juggling the same number of children and what feels like a million commitments, but they are getting slightly more independent and most notably we are finally getting more sleep which makes things feel easier even if they are not. We have a weekly routine that is working for us all right now and we all know where we need to be when - most of the time!
However, with our work and childcare arrangements as they are, we are rarely together as a five and I do feel that regular family time is something I envy when I see other families at weekends. I can't actually imagine what it would be like having every weekend together, it must be lovely! We on average have one/two full weekends off together a month which we look forward to so much but end up having so much to cram in. The girl's social lives are busy with ballet lessons and birthday parties often structuring our weekends and then there are jobs that need doing which can only be done when there is another parent around. There is also a pressure on these family days to be wonderful and special because they are so precious and rare. Inevitably they aren't always and the usual sibling rivalry and conflicts arise, or Oli and I have different ideas about what we want to achieve from the day and are quite frankly exhausted. Then there are family and friends who we like to see together to fit into this equation too, along with time together as a couple and one on one time with each of our children - it's really tricky, in fact it feels like a bit of an impossible puzzle at times trying to get all the pieces to fit.
We are working hard to balance this by using our annual leave to maximise family time and have five full days together coming up over February Half term. We have already talked about what we would like to do with those days so we can really make the most of them. The benefit of not having as much time together as a five is that we truly value it when we do have it. We just need to communicate, lower our expectations and celebrate the little wins I think - skills which our six years and a bit of parenting have taught us. Our girls are happy, it's just Oli and I that feel the strain sometimes which again is part and parcel of parenting and part of family life whatever your dynamic. These family snaps are a little reminder that we are a good team, doing our best and that our home (as well as bursting at the rafters with children and all their stuff!) is filled with so much love.