How to build family relationships • Featuring Joules Clothing
Family Dynamics are interesting and challenging.
We are very much the modern family. My parents divorced when I was at university and my husband is the only child of a happy second marriage. He has a half sister and brother who in turn have children and step children from a first marriage of their own.
The boys are lucky that through this familiar family set up, they are blessed with extra cousins, and a wealth of Aunties, all of whom they love and adore.
In one generation of our family, there is an age range of almost 18 years. From the eldest cousin, leaving home and choosing a university to spend the next 4 years at, to the youngest, our little Ollie, who cannot write his name.
You would think that the fact that one quarter of the family live in Penzance, one in Southampton, one in Poole and us in Weston super Mare, the distance could lead to distant relationships.
But no. Despite only spending what amounts to a few precious weeks together across a whole year, last weekend we watched as they all became as thick as thieves. It was the first time we had all been together for about 2 years, yet by the end of a jam packed day, all of them were contented in each other's company, all on Apple products, legs splayed out on the sofa!
We went for a lovely Spring walk on the beach at Branksome Chine, close to my in laws and it gave me the chance to show you the beautiful boys jackets by Joules.
How smart are they?! Like proper little gents!
I love the quilted fabric and the fact that the coats are longer length than your typical coat. Protecting their bottoms from the cold winds. The poppers are really good quality and there are more pockets than Sammy has little figures to stuff in them!
They received lovely compliments from strangers and the high collar gives their necks some added warmth. The lining is unmistakable Joules and it makes me wish their wardrobes were exclusively from their collections!
The coats are a slim fit in style so I would recommend going up a size to get the maximum wear out of them. I ordered an age 6 for Sammy, who usually wears an age 5 and an age 3 for Ollie.
They are absolutely worth the extra investment against a supermarket or high street brand. They scream quality and luxury and are made to last, beautiful sticking and the attention to detail is beyond compare to their cheaper competitors.
It was great to see how the eldest children knew exactly how to charm the little ones, jumping on rocks and running along the beach. Maya, who is 11, is a natural carer with a maternal instinct that puts me to shame. Her half sister Ellie has grown into an eloquent and captivating young woman, who I will always remember as the 5 year old on holiday in Spain, who kept pinching our aviator sunglasses and looked cooler than we did!
Matthew who towers over them all, is patient and willing to let them wake him up in his makeshift bed on the lounge floor, far too early for his teenage body, to watch Lego Star Wars, for the 10th time.
Gemma is on a pedestal, having found a selection of new games for the iPad with repetitive theme tunes (Thanks Gem!).
It made me feel incredibly proud and incredibly old, seeing them all lined up, hand in hand for a 'cousin's photo', the last being when Ollie was born.
Although the hand holding may have been more than slightly encouraged, I realised the secret to building successful family relationships is to not try so hard.
Children have a far greater ability to find a common wavelength than grown ups. Sometimes we all are so busy worrying if everyone is having a good time, forcing the fun, that you miss the opportunities for the natural relationships to blossom.
What you need is time. Time to just be together, not feeling like you have to watch what you say, all be on your best behaviour.
One of my favourite parts of the weekend was actually just sitting in silence together.
Comfortable in each other's company.
Marriage, divorce, remarriage, doesn't have to divide a family, it can unite it. Forever.
Oh and Joules didn't forget me! I actually chose a fabulous poncho from their brilliant women's range because it's exactly what my wardrobe is missing. Easy to fling in the boot as it folds into the front pocket, lightweight, rainproof for trips around family theme parks on days out and on the walk home on a soggy school run. Plus I look super cool right?!
What are your tips for nurturing close relationships in extended families?
I was kindly sent the boy's jackets and my poncho for the purposes of this post.