Just recently Mumsnet got in touch to see if I wanted to blog about modern life and what family means to me, in collaboration with Matalan and their 'Made For Modern Families Campaign'.
Matalan have completed some research and they have discovered that "the definition of 'family' in the 21st century is not straightforward; as the Facebook status might suggest, "it's complicated". This doesn't mean that the idea of family has become any less important however, it simply means we are seeing that family today comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Their research revealed some interesting and surprising insights about modern family life.
• The New Nuclear: the idea of the nuclear family, that being mum, dad and two-point something kids living together, is being stretched and redrawn.
• Beyond Kin: more and more, people’s definition of family extends beyond kin to include kith, i.e. non-blood relatives, friends and even pets.
• The Waiting Game: the number of older mums and older dads is on the rise, as are ‘klingons’; post-teens not flying the nest as they did in previous generations.
• Blended Families: increasingly family means ‘blended’ arrangements that see multiple connections, multiple parental figures and multiple home locations. This is in addition to well-documented changes such as the rise of single and LGBT parents.
• Staying Connected: families are finding new ways of using technologies to connect more frequently and on an emotional level, both when they live nearby or far way".
This got me thinking about my own 'modern family' and how we fit with the research above.
When I was younger, I held quite a traditional view of what my own family would be like. There would be a husband, 2 children - a boy and a girl and we would have a dog. It would be an Old English Sheepdog.
Things don't always work out how you think though and our family, today, is different to what I had planned all those years ago.
I knew that I wanted a career, so put off marriage and kids until my late twenties. As Matalan put it, I was a 'Klingon' only leaving home at 28 years old. I got married when I was 30 and we had Lauren when I was 31, nearly 32.
I would have had my second baby about 3 years later, but the recession hit us quite hard and hubby lost his job more than once during this time. By the time we recovered from this, I was nearly 38 and we still wanted 'another' baby.
I remember speaking to the mid-wife at my first booking appointment for my second pregnancy, about my age - 38 and if things would be ok. She reassured me that that was still quite young and that more and more people are having children in their forties.
Anyway, the pregnancy progressed to the first dating scan where we received the shock of our lives that we were going to have twins. The plan was 2 children in total, not 3. I cried.
As the weeks passed, I gradually got used to the idea. You have to really, don't you. And today, I wouldn't have it any other way. The only thing I would change, would be the gap between their ages. Trying to please all 3 can be tricky.
When I returned to work, after maternity leave, we were fortunate that we could rely on both sets of grandparents for child care which saves us an absolute fortune. We don't know what we would do without our parents and the help they give us on a daily basis.
And as for the Old English Sheepdog - That'll have to wait until I'm old and grey, There's no more room at the inn I'm afraid.
So, it was interesting to see just how 'modern' we really are and how many of the research findings actually fit with our family situation.
Matalan have recently launched a new TV ad, featuring real life families to explore how family life is changing in the modern era. You can check it out here.
Matalan say, "Since we first opened our doors 30 years ago, we've always focused on providing outstanding value and quality for families. We take the time to listen, understand and evolve, to ensure our products are the right fit for modern, happy homes. Our latest campaign, Made for Modern Families, is a celebration of family life today, in all its shapes and sizes."
Why not add your Family Portrait to the #MatalanModernFamilies gallery for the chance to win £250.00. The link is here.
This post was written for Mumsnet and Matalan. It is an entry to a competition and no payment has been received. It will be added to a linky here.