We’ve made the difficult decision to leave Windsor and return back to my Yorkshire roots because the whirlwind that is little Miss Florence, now 9 months old, has turned our lives completely upside down, and juggling three kids over the past year, far from family, even on a self-imposed reduced workload, has been tough-going for me mentally and physically, (everyone I know with three kids warned me about the jump from two but wow, what an eye opener it’s been as morning until morning (!) you’re caring for kids, totally outnumbered, sleep-deprived and pulled in every direction) making it a no-brainer to move close to my folks, especially now that my maternity leave has officially ended and I’ll be working more on my business part-time.
There’s so much going on up North that Oliver and I even shot an ad here last week and with Channel 4 based here and the BBC just an hour away in Manchester, being away from London is no longer a threat to a media career like it once might have been.
My husband, Peter, will commute back once a week and I can travel to London more easily being here than in Windsor believe it or not, thanks to a more robust support system around me. As we both have tech careers, we can work from home most of the time, making our office anywhere! Every TV appearance I made last year was broadcast from my phone so working remotely has never been easier.
So despite lots of tears shed ruminating a move (we all made life-long friends in Windsor over the 5 years we lived there and we loved the pretty town), we decided to trial living in Leeds by moving in with my folks at the start of the summer and 7 weeks on, it’s safe to say having my parents on hand helping me with the baby and boys has been a 360 degree game-changer.
We’ve now decided to stay with them until we complete our house sale in Windsor and find somewhere we love in North Leeds/ Harrogate- if we ever move! I’ve thankfully found excellent schools for the boys (next to one another) and the timing feels right as Xander, 9, was moving schools back in Berkshire and Oliver, 12, only had a year left before he would have had to move, too.
So aside from the complimentary childcare, I thought I’d share some reasons why living back home has improved our lives tenfold in case you might be considering a move closer to your family/ a bigger support network too.
I wrote a book, Mumboss, on how to survive and thrive as a mum yet the past year has mostly been about the former: survival so it’s time to take my own advice and hopefully thrive and flourish once more. My parents are elated we’re back (I think the support system works both ways). They feel their lives have renewed purpose and they say they’ve never felt happier. I know it’s a privilege to have them in our lives as is the fact we’re all close enough to be able to live with one another and that they have a wondeful home that fits two families. We’ve all lived together before (moving in when Oliver was a baby and we took a loong time to move out) so we know it works, and in the meantime, we’ll keep an eye out for our dream home hopefully near to them. It’s fun viewing new houses and hopefully this time, we’ll find our forvever home. Wish us luck!
10 reasons why it’s good to be back:
My mum wakes up at 6am every day without fail, with baby Florence up not long after allowing me precious extra time in bed and it’s a chance for them to spend quality time together. (My mum considers my kids her own and it’s heartwarming seeing how much happiness they bring her and my Dad). I was frankly running on empty back in Windsor and didn’t realise how much sleep-deprivation was affecting me mentally until I got more. From low moods to almost crashing the car twice last year (with the kids inside) due to lack of zzzs, I’ll never take even an hour’s extra sleep for granted now.
We’re lucky that my folks have a spacious home and garden in a stunningly picturesque area in North Leeds meaning my kids have spent the summer roaming around outside, playing football and basketball, planting and picking flowers, fruit and vegetables and enjoying picnics on the grass. The boys even took it in turns to shake my Mum’s pretty plum tree the other day, scooping up handfuls of ripe golden plums into straw baskets so Mum could make sweet plum and summer berry crumble for them, and let me tell you, this more simple way of life makes my heart melt.
Speaking of which, my parents love to cook and whilst my husband, Peter, and I do too, it’s quite something to wake up to freshly-made roasts, curries, soups and cakes most days taking the stress out of what to cook for the kids. Like I said, moving from here will definitely be hard!! My Dad’s even been searching for available homes to buy on their road so fingers crossed we become neighbours as being able to walk to my parents’ home would be a dream come true (and means we can always pop round for takeway bags of food)!
We truly have the best of both worlds here with my parents’ place overlooking acres of countryside (Florence has spotted more sheep in 6 weeks than she has all year) and yet we’re also just a 20 minutes drive away from the dynamic city centre with every shop, restaurant, cafe, bar and venue imaginable simply waiting for memories to be made in. Leeds has become a micro London offering culture, world cuisine and community for the taking, everthing we had in Windsor, and as in Berkshire, Yorkshire folk are seriously friendly which makes a difference in life, especially with kids in tow everywhere you go. In the 5 years since I last properly explored Leeds (due to the pandemic), it’s utterly transformed and rivals any major city in the world. Seriously impressive. We also love neighbouring towns and the countryside closeby spanning Ilkley (where I lived until I was 7), Harrogate, Bardsey, York, the Yorkshire Dales and more.
Free childcare is of course invaluable and vital in helping me get back to working on my blog and social media channels. Nursery costs £100 a day minimum in Windsor which is of course, extortionate, and it’s hardly cheap here, either. I’m grateful that my Mum retired when Xander was a baby and she’s able to help me once more with Florence on the days I’ll work now, meaning I can work part time rather than full time as I don’t have the pressure of paying for childcare. I will be treating my mama lots of course and despite my folks’ protestations, Peter and I just paid for my parents to join us on holiday to Cyprus as a thank you for everything they do for us.
My folks own a much-loved Italian restaurant in Headingley, Giorgios, so having an incredibly restaurant in the family for meals with the kids and even date nights (something we rarely got to do in Windsor) is an added bonus. Free meals always taste better too, right! Not that they’ve asked but I’m paying them back with social media coverage.
I feel hashtag blessed to have so many real friends in both the South and the North meaning moving back to Leeds luckily hasn’t felt like starting again. Many of my oldest and closest friends live here and we always pick up where we left off when we up, however long its been, plus there’s no added pressure to make new pals (those are welcome too of course), and thanks to social media and trips back to London and Windsor, I’ll able to stay in touch with my mates in Berkshire.
The houses in our budget are 3 times the size in the North. Windsor is ridiculously expensive and whilst we made our house a haven there, seeing the properties we can afford here once we sell, has made the move extra appealing.
As I mentioned, my mental and physical health has improved a thousand times over and we’ve only been here since the start of the summer. I’ve slept more, eaten more healthily, lost a fair bit of my baby weight (with some still to go) and I’ve managed a little mindfulness and exercise every day (a pipedream in Windsor) helping me to feel a little more like the old me. A baby’s first year is always hard thanks to hormonal fluctuations and caring for another human 24/7 and being in Leeds has reminded once again that it takes a village to raise a baby, and a family, and now I have a more hands-on village helping me to feel more human. I did have a wonderful lady who became a friend, helping me several times a week in Windsor I was grateful for but once her hours were up, I was back to square one, stretched and stifled. I always felt I was giving my older children scraps of myself before, dividing myself into portions, with the baby needing most of me. I now get to give my sons more attention, time and love, and vice versa. I’ve deeply missed not spending as much time with them so having my family help with Florence has allowed me to give them more of the fun mum version of me rather than the grouchy one. It’s also helped me to crack on with life admin/ arranging new schools and uniform etc. more efficiently (I lost count of how many times I was late for the school drop off in Eton with Xander last year). Additionally, I don’t have to call on the boys’ help as much now that my folks are on-hand. They still help with Florence, which is good for them and her, but they both feel more rested and relaxed.
Lastly, there’s something rather spiritual and healing being back in the house I spent most of my happy childhood, with my own children retracing my footsteps, sleeping in my former bedroom, playing in the garden I enjoyed at their age, and being raised alongside myself and my husband, by the people who brought me up. Magical.
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Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home (UK 2nd Edition)