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I feel like we've lost our way as a family

(38 Posts)
tactum Tue 27-Oct-15 10:27:24

This has been creeping up on me for a while. Have DD 13 and DS 11, DH and me. From the outside I am sure we look like the ideal family - great house, healthy, sociable, solvent etc. For the last year or so we seem to be drifting. Everything just feels bleuh. We never seem to do anything fun together or enjoy being with eachother.

We have a v traditional set up - DH works, I work PT from home in a v minor job and do all chores etc apart from the garden and money matters. Kids hardly ever do anything to help around the house and have to be nagged to do so, including picking up towels and tidying bedrooms.

I cant think of many instances that demonstrate that we are kind to eachother - the kids bicker constantly and whilst they are really lovely kids I can't honestly say they are kind/helpful/caring etc.

Weekends seem screen based by default and getting them out and about seems a chore. They don't seem to want to play games together or go for walks etc.

Me and DH are in a bit of a rut and sometimes I worry about the long term once kids have left.

I get the feeling sometimes we are more like 4 individuals who live together than a family. As Christmas approaches I find myself looking at pics of them when they were tiny and wishing I could go back to then and do things differently. I am crying now writing this.

I don't even really know what I'm looking for with this. The whole of my focus since having the kids has been my family and I feel now as if I've failed. I worry that when they are grown they won't be close to eachother or us.

I don't know what to do. Oh God this all sounds so self pitying but at least I've got it out there.

poocatcherchampion Tue 27-Oct-15 10:30:27

Why do you think it is a good thing the children don't "have to" do chores?

Perhaps fostering a sense of household team work is a good place to start? Just because life isn't difficult it doesn't mean you shouldn't all be in it together.

Are you teaching them independent living skills?

BigSandyBalls2015 Tue 27-Oct-15 10:39:48

I can't see where the OP said she thought the kids not doing chores was a good thing, Poocatcher?

OP - I just knew the ages of your children before I clicked on this thread, just from the title i thought they'd be teens or nearly teens. I can relate to this. It's a struggle in our house to find mutual fun things to do and get them away from their gadgets.

They will come out for a pizza with us (if we're not going to our nearest town where, horror or horrors, friends may see us!). Sometimes the cinema appeals, depends what is on.

Do they have any hobbies - sport, guides/scouts? Do they go out with friends?

Looking at photos of when they were young is prob a bit rose-tinted spec - I do the same and then DH adds a bit of reality by adding "oh yes and DD1 slapped DD2 around the head just after that was taken, do you remember". grin.

Try and get out with your DH on your own - your kids are prob old enough now to leave for a couple of hours.

maybebabybee Tue 27-Oct-15 10:41:44

I would suggest:

1) a rota for household tasks. They should, IMO, be helping you round the house at their age, regardless of how much you're at home. It fosters a sense of family being 'all in it together' etc, IME anyway. But could be difficult if they've never been pushed to do anything before.

2) how about you have a set day or evening a week to do family things together? again, they are bound to moan but once you establish things and make it clear they are going to participate regardless of moaning, they will get used to it and enjoy it. My DBRO aged 14 is a bit like this, will whinge and moan about having to do anything/go anywhere, but once you make him he enjoys it and is totally fine.

3) can you limit screen time? I know this is hard with teenagers!

4) do you ever make time for just you and H, ie date nights or whatever? I know it sounds really trite but I really find it helps me and DP to have one night a week that is just ours, whether that's going out for dinner or just watching a film on the sofa with a takeaway.

As a side note, having grown up with three siblings, I would say constant bickering is pretty normal really. We are basically all adults now and we are always bickering, but we love each other dearly and are very close.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 27-Oct-15 10:44:29

You need an interest that is outside of the home, imo. Even better if it's one DH can share with you. Even going to the cinema every couple of weeks, together, will give you stuff to talk about - and the kids are old enough to be left, so there's no excuses there.

And get hold of the chores - have a plan or a rota. If things like washing isn't picked up and put in the right place - heck, they're old enough to do it themselves! - then it doesn't get done.

The going out for fun family times is hard at that age though, I do know lots of my friends with older DCs have gone through similar.

tactum Tue 27-Oct-15 10:49:05

Thanks for suggestions so far. I didn't mean it was a good thing they didn't help out - quite the opposite.

Yes Dh and I do get some time together - we do leave the kids for an hour or two now as they are actually quite mature.

I know I'm not doing enough at the moment to foster independant skills and we do need to work on that.

DS has football but that's it really. They both have a lot of homework aswell so during the week it would be a struggle to fit much else in. That only reinforces the feeling of being on a treadmill.

I'm struggling to think of things to do with them during half term, and we live in a village with crap transport and their schoolfriends live elsewhere.

maybebabybee Tue 27-Oct-15 10:49:46

how about something like Go Ape, tactum?

April2013 Tue 27-Oct-15 11:06:30

Do you have pets? I am still at toddler stage but I live in hope that dog walking will bring us together when they are teenagers, might be wishful thinking though. Perhaps you could tentatively have a look for a rescue dog as a family though keeping in mind that you will be the main one responsible as you are at home ft. As you work pt from home with older children in a village you could probably give an active rescue dog a wonderful new life and potentially it would offer the same to you all. Obviously there are many pit falls and it requires a lot of hard work but the rewards are huge smile

harlowcar Tue 27-Oct-15 11:09:46

I wonder if the problem is that you're not feeling happy or fulfilled. I get a sense of sadness from your post, perhaps that life is passing you by. is there something you'd really like to do and have never got round to? A photography course, a business opportunity you've never followed, a random desire to learn ice skating. The important thing is that it is something for you. Another thought is to plan holidays where the whole family learns something - one of our best was when we all went pony trekking despite the fact only one of us could ride (me) - it gave us all a lot to talk about and we had fun together. I understand it's often hard to think of things which you'd really like to try - I have a secret list of things to try when my kids leave home....I don't want to feel like the abandoned mother so every time I see something which appeals, it goes on the list.

PassiveAgressiveQueen Tue 27-Oct-15 11:16:30

families do get less a single unit as the kids get older. You need to have stuff you do as yourself

sofato5miles Tue 27-Oct-15 11:22:21

You do seem sad. And I echo starting something that makes you feel more worthwhile. Could you maybe study to prepare for life as they leave home?

sofato5miles Tue 27-Oct-15 11:23:30

What about a volunteer project holiday as a family?

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief Tue 27-Oct-15 11:26:04

I think it's important that you do some things together as a family.
Go out sometimes. You could go for a meal, cinema, bowling.
Go away for a weekend here and there.
At home get everyone involved in chores. Even with homework, they can still do things like lay the table or do load the dishwasher.
Get the kids involved in cooking.
Watch some TV together.
Eat together.
Your children are learning to be individuals but they're still young enough to need a good family connection.

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Tue 27-Oct-15 11:35:59

I think it's important to do things with your children individually at this age - it's hard to find activities all the family enjoy, and hard to talk as a foursome. My suggestion would be that each of you takes each child out on their own at least once a month, let them choose the activity.

tactum Tue 27-Oct-15 11:47:23

Yes I do feel sad. I feel like I have no real identity outside of the kids - although I do have a good social life and do tennis, book club etc. I often feel I have nothing of interest to say.

I need to find a purpose outside of the family unit for sure. Used to have a career. May look in to volunteering or pt work outside the home.

On the plus side have resolved to go to Go Ape in the next few weeks (thank you Maybebaby). And the kids have decided to have a masterchef style comp to cook lunch for me!

Preminstreltension Tue 27-Oct-15 11:48:02

I don't think you sound self-pitying. I think you sound like a really good mum actually. You've got a lot but you're aware there's a risk you're all just drifting apart and you want more for your lives together and for the children to have meaningful relationships with each other and with you.

You first - have you thought about getting a more fulfilling job? Is that possible? With the kids largely self-reliant now this might be a time for you to go and find what you want to do. Then of course if you're there less, they'll need to become more independent which is what you want for them. If that's not possible, then you need to basically engineer yourself a full time occupation that is not a job - something that gets you out of the house so they cannot rely on you doing stuff.

As for the family, if you are ok for money, what about some sort of adventure holiday together? Learning to sail together? Cycling holiday? Something where you have to work together and pull together without falling back on screens and computer games.

Preminstreltension Tue 27-Oct-15 11:49:09

Sorry xpost with everybody!

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 27-Oct-15 11:55:36

I have a DF who let's her DS choose the holidays based round his interests (he is an only child though, might not work so well with two!). They're just back from Rome, corresponding with a history module on the Romans which caught his imagination. Obvs they have budget, but there's other ways to skin a cat too.

WhyDoesGastonBark Tue 27-Oct-15 11:59:07

I don't have a teen only a toddler so this is probably easier said than done.

I think I would insist no screen time for an hour after dinner, instead you all sit and chat, or play a board game or something. I would make the teens responsible for clearing away after dinner too and I would also say they aren't allowed out/their phones etc on a Saturday unless their rooms are tidy.
I would also make them responsible for sorting their own washing and think up a few other chores UNLESS they are willing to do some voluntary work at the weekends to be able to put on their CV for experience once they start PT work.

My parents done the above with me, we have a great relationship

Ponytailandquiff Tue 27-Oct-15 12:01:37

I have children of similar ages to yours and mine don't want to do anything either. It's completely normal and the same for friends' dc. Like pps have suggested, you could try a film or meal out occasionally.

I find it frustrating and want to get up and out in the holidays but if I suggest a day out somewhere, no one wants to go, then I think why bother. Life is easier if you just let them be sometimes.

It does make you question your role as a parent when they don't need you as much.

It sounds like you do a few things for yourself already which is good. In time you will probably adjust.

WhyDoesGastonBark Tue 27-Oct-15 12:03:38

I agree with a post up thread that says you come across as a good mum and wife as you have identified an issue and are trying to resolve it!

Good luck Op

KittyandSqueal Tue 27-Oct-15 12:05:18

I'm not there yet as dd is only 3. However I remember being a teen with my DB and my mum and dad dragging us out of the house/away from friends to do things as a family, we whinged and moaned about it. It must have been soul destroying for our parents.

Now we're way over that stage we are a really close family and despite living a little while away from each other we get together regularly and have loads of fun. My DH and SIL are now part of the brood which is brilliant.

I don't have any advice except to say it might be a struggle now but it won't always be

Twitterqueen Tue 27-Oct-15 12:49:09

April you beat me to it - ref the dog.

our dog binds us together in all sorts of ways. We walk together on high days and holidays. If one of the DC is upset they might come for a walk and talk then because it's easier. When dog is being cute / funny / obnoxious we can laugh about it.

I got our dog when exH was very poorly, as an excuse to get out of the house, as an outlet for the DC and as a distraction. And of course because I totally wanted one! Whatever the weather I am outside walking for an hour a day and I have met new people too.

PurpleHairAndPearls Tue 27-Oct-15 13:05:27

Can you maybe do something in the house together on a regular basis? It can be tricky to balance, if you force them sit and talk at a set time every night it might backfire, and if you go out it can sometimes feel a bit "artificial".

Mine are slightly older but we have "cinema night" maybe each week or so where we watch a film, have popcorn, hotdogs and Diet Coke. I know it's a "screen" thing but it sort of fosters more closeness (sometimes they even sit right next to us on the sofa) and we normally sit around and discuss it and other stuff afterwards...

Also if you find something they like run with it, at the moment we are watching Masterchef Australia as we all love it and it feels like we laugh a lot watching it my teens also like Casuallty

Cooking together? If you have a garden could you do something there together like growing veg?

I actually like the DC growing older and more independent as it gives me peaceful time to read grin but you sound a bit fed up anyway and perhaps less "valued" as they don't need you so much? I agree another interest solely for you would be beneficial. An OU course?

I think it's important not to go too far and "force" family time, as they may resent it as they get older, I also see some families almost "bribe" the DC with expensive activities they do together. To me it's important just to do the normal stuff together and we can't afford it anyway grin

Agree with getting them involved in housework but haven't any good advice as I struggle with this too!

PurpleHairAndPearls Tue 27-Oct-15 13:08:37

Oh dear I just read that back and I've basically just advised more screen time blush

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