Discipline, Family

Tough Times And Improving The Relationship

Being a Step-Parent is challenging, but it’s honestly one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s one hell of a journey with twists and turns, ups and downs, but I wouldn’t swap it for the world.

The first time I met Ryan he was quite shy and cautious, which was to be expected as in quite a short amount of time he went from having his Mum and Dad together, to separating, moving into another home, having a new male role model introduced into his life and then a few months later having me introduced too. It’s a lot for any child to go through, and he was only 3 at the time. We started things slowly. Jordan and myself had been seeing each other for a good few months before we felt it was time to introduce us, and it wasn’t a “here’s your new Mummy” experience at all. Our first day together we went out for breakfast and went to the beach, enjoyed a lovely day together and after it I went back home. We had many days like this where we’d pick each other up, spend a few hours together and then make plans for another day. After a couple of months like this, I started staying over more when Ryan was there so we were more like a family instead of just a friend who came to hang out. Ryan got to see us acting like a couple and we became a real little family. Over the following 5 years we’ve gone from strength to strength, and now we’re at the point where if I date to lay in on a Sunday morning, come 9am I’ll be jumped on by a not-so-little monkey wanting me to get up. The journey to get us here wasn’t straight forward and at some points it felt like it was one step forward 5 streps back, but on reflection I can see there’s certain things that worked much better than others, so I thought I would share them with you.

Don’t Just Hear. LISTEN.

There will be arguments. There will be tantrums. There will be tears, not just from the child but sometimes from you parents too. I find that these come together every few months for a rough week or two as the child goes through phases. Sometimes after a new sibling is introduced, maybe after starting school, but almost certainly after some kind of change to their routine. I try very hard not to get involved in arguments with the family, and quite honestly the only person I really argue with at all (and even that’s rarely) is my partner. If things start getting heated, I’ll listen to what both Jordan and Ryan say, and only interject when I feel I really need to. I’ll typically be the moderator, and I find that personally that role suits me best. After the disagreement is done, I’ll speak to both of them. I tend to speak to Jordan first and hear his side, then I’ll go and talk to Ryan. After they’ve both calmed down they need someone to speak to, sometime for advice, sometimes just to vent. If your step-child feels like they can talk to you openly and honestly about anything, trust me it will improve the relationship hugely. There will be obstacles at first. I heard nothing but “You’ll just agree with Daddy” after almost everything, but keep trying and you’ll get through.

Patience And Boundaries

Every child on this planet needs patience, but you need to establish boundaries too. Recently, Jordan asked Ryan who was the strict one out of us and I wasn’t really shocked when he said me. But he did say I was ‘fair’ which made me feel good. When our relationship was new, with no kids of my own and no helpful internet advice, I left Jordan to do the ‘tough’ part of parenting because 1) I didn’t really think it was my place to discipline his child and 2) I wanted to be the nice parent. As the relationship grew between the three of us, I felt like I should step up and support Jordan and ever since I’ve been slowly become the ‘strict but fair’ one. Ryan and myself spend a lot of time just the two of us, especially as me and Jordan both work shifts, and I can honestly say since I’ve met Ryan he has very rarely been naughty for me when I’ve been solo-parenting. I can only link this to the fact that I have put boundaries in place, and I don’t waver from them. Example: If Ryan is doing something I’ve asked him not to do, or if he’s protesting doing something I’ve asked him to, he gets 3 chances. First chance he is asked, second chance he is reminded, third chance he is presented with ‘the punishment’. A current favourite is no Fortnite for blah days because it’s a small punishment, but it’s not stopping him from going out with friends or stop him from taking part in activities that he enjoys. Sure, he misses the game but no long term harm or resentment will grow. Ryan has learnt that if I say that and he carries on with the behaviour, he will receive the punishment. Jordan is not as strict and I think Ryan has learnt that he gets more chances with him than me, but if Ryan thinks I’m stricter, but fair, I’m happy.

Time Together, And Time Apart

For a child, going from living with Mum and Dad to just Mum, then introducing the Step Parents is hard. I wanted to make sure Ryan knew that just because me and Jordan were together didn’t mean he wouldn’t get time with his Dad. It wasn’t taking someone away, but gaining another. Like I’ve said above, going slowly is a really good start. You can’t expect a child to just accept having a stranger enter their life and for it to all go smoothly. What we’ve done throughout our relationship (and still to this day) is have Dad Days, and Hanna Days. Sometimes it’s just a few hours where Jordan will take him out to play football so they get quality time together, and I take him to the cinema and maybe to Pizza Hut for a treat. Time separately is just as important as time together!

Support Them, Regardless.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ll write. Be there. Football event, be there. School nativity, be there. Show them you care, because words don’t mean a lot to kids. If you can’t get to something important to them because of work or other commitments, don’t beat yourself up about it. These things happen! But make every effort to go, and if you can’t ask them to tell you everything about it. Be interested in them. Show them you love them. Kisses, cuddles, bedtime stories. Get involved. It’s very true that you reap what you sow, so plant those kindness seeds and enjoy every moment you can with your bonus child!

Family, Fun Things To Do, Lists

8 Cheap And Fun Things To Do Over Half Term

I have a real love-hate relationship with half term, especially May half term because the weather is never fully committed to being beautiful or being wet. Planning for May half term is tricky, so I try to pull together a few different ideas for cold, wet, dry and sunny weather and let Ryan choose what he would like to do. I’ll do a separate post about this parenting style because I find this very useful, you make the ‘main’ choices depending on what you want to do, then let Ryan pick what he wants to do for the day. He’s involved in making the plans and overall we have a nice day doing what he wants to do. But both of us parents working full-time and working shift work, sometimes half terms creep up on us, and sometimes one of us is working whilst the other gets to have all the fun (that’s me working this time, ugh). But we have a staple list of things to fall back on, so I thought I would share them with you. They’re relatively cheap, cheerful and cater for most weather types! Enjoy!

Explore The Great Outdoors

Okay, we’re really lucky to live in the South West so we’re spoilt with beautiful beaches, countryside, woods and moorland to explore, but there’s gorgeous places to be explored all over the UK. Visit the National Trust Website to find truly amazing days out including castles, old manor houses, Abbeys, gorges and more. Whats best about the National Trust is the price. You can either pay per-visit or you can buy a membership where you pay monthly / annually and can visit every single NT place free of charge. The initial cost is from only £36 per year and opens up a very big world for your little ones to explore. It’s also worth noting that many of the NT places do seasonal events such as Easter Egg hunts, Christmas lights etc.

Pick Your Own

I really enjoyed doing this as a kid, and will make sure to take Ryan this year. We have some beautiful pick your own places by us where you can pick seasonal fruits and veggies, and even pumpkins around halloween! I remember doing this with my Aunty, Uncle and Cousins when I was younger, and can’t wait to go back. Although it’s a fairly short activity, you can plan what you’ll make with your hand picked goodies and get the kids involved with that too!

Swimming

Swimming is an amazing way to get the whole family together and do a bit of exercise, but it’s also super fun and can be done in all weathers. Whether you’re lucky enough to live close to the sea (and it’s warm enough) or you want to visit your local life centre, swimming is a great half term activity!

Visit A Local Shelter

As you may or may not know, I’m an animal lover, vegetarian and soft spot for anything in need of a home, so although I’m recommending this for you… I’m not allowed to set foot inside of an animal shelter without Jordan being there to prevent me from adopting every single thing there. I wish I was joking but I have a 100% track record of visiting an animal shelter and adopting (I’m looking at you, cats). Even though I’m banned, it’s a lovely place to visit and you can actually take dogs for walks or play with the cats at a fair amount of places. Always call before to enquire and avoid disappointment! Plus, who knows, you might well find a new addition to your family!

Check Out Events Near You

Social Media is a wonderful thing, and Facebook in particular makes finding events near you really easy. There’s a whole section dedicated to events, and recently I discovered an inflatable theme park that was only 40 minutes away, and even better was £5 to stay and play a long as you want! So we threw a picnic together, hopped into the car and let Ryan run around with some friends whilst us parents enjoyed an e-number filled slushy in the sun.

Visit The Cinema

I personally prefer doing this on a miserable day, and as there’s a Pizza Hut by our cinema it would be rude not to take advantage of the all you can eat pasta and pizza buffet… Wouldn’t it?

Family Games Day

This is one of my all time favourite things to do if we’ve had a busy few days and just fancy staying home, or if it’s cold and raining outside. We bought Ryan a Nintendo Switch for Christmas 2 years ago and it’s one of the best things we’ve bought, perhaps I’ll do a post specifically about our Switch because it absolutely deserves it. We’ve built up our game collection each Christmas and Birthday and now we have quite a few family games such as Mario Kart, Just Dance (a personal fave), 1-2 Switch and Mario Party so we can have games days. Like any family, we also have a ridiculous amount of board games like frustration and BFG monopoly that we love playing, and can be picked up relatively cheap at charity shops!

Movie Night

The same Christmas we bought Ryan the Switch, I treated Jordan to a 180″ projector screen, projector and surround sound, but you don’t need all of that to enjoy movie night! Grab blankets and snacks, turn the lights off and snuggle on the sofa with the kiddies to enjoy a family movie. You can rent loads of movie on Amazon Prime, or with a month free Netflix / Now TV pass, this doesn’t have to cost anything more than a quick trip to B&M for popcorn and chocolate.

So, how do these measure up? Do you enjoy any of these with your family already? Are there any go-to fun things you do? Feel free to share in the comment section!

Family

The Perfect Family

Ladies, gents, parents and step-parents.

Good morning. How are you? Have you had your morning coffee yet? No? I’m not surprised. Being a parent is hard, isn’t it? I don’t feel like a parent some days. I still feel like that wild and free 17 year old who, even though has no ‘real’ problems, had the weight of the world on her shoulders. Wow, I can’t wait until Ryan is going through that phase. You know the one I mean. The exams, the friends, the parties, the young love. I can’t wait to help him through all the problems I felt like I had, only to look back and wonder ‘Why was I so stressed then?’

Ryan is my step son, by the way. He’s the reason this blog is being written. And the reason I’ve been a parent for the last 5 years, along side my partner Jordan. I’m Hanna, and I’m a Step-Mum. Well without the wedding ring. So I guess I’m still Daddy’s girlfriend, but Ryan calls me his Step-Mum so I’ll take it. But we aren’t the only people in Ryans life that parent, because we’re a team with his Mum and Step-Dad. Honestly, I think we’re a great team. We aren’t without our problems, but 2 families working together is always going to have hiccups. 4 people won’t always agree on the same thing, we each have different parenting styles and different ideas on how to overcome difficulties. But we work together, and so far I’m proud of the almost-ten-year-old boy we’ve raised.

When myself and Jordan first met, I was 19 and in uni. The following summer we started dating and a few months later when we knew there was something special, he introduced me to his son. I scoured the internet for advice on becoming a step-parent and honestly I was disappointed. There didn’t seem to be any advice fitting to me and my situation. It wasn’t until a few months in I realised that’s because being a parent doesn’t have a step-by-step guide. It’s 100% trial and error, and what works for one family might not work for yours. 5 years later, I want to pass the things I’ve learnt along with the mistakes I’ve made, funny stories, horror stories, days when I’ve been sat crying over what to do to the days where I’ve really nailed this whole parenting thing. You can also find recipes that my family love, and other ‘parenty’ things for when you’re lacking inspiration.

So, Ryan, this is for you. Thank you for being an amazing son, and for everything you’ve taught me over the last 5 years. You rock x