Rebecca Whittington, 37, and husband of ten years Ben Whittington, 38, recently moved to Menston with Lizzie, six, and Art, two. Before this they lived in Bramley, West Leeds, for eight years. Rebecca is a lecturer in journalism at Leeds Trinity University and is also doing a part-time PhD. Ben is a senior creative manager at UK Greetings in Dewsbury and in his spare time he produces hand-crafted screen prints which he sells at fairs and via www.etsy.com/uk/shop/BenWhittington He will be exhibiting work at Kirkstall Art Trail on July 21 and 22.
What are your top tips for getting children to do what you ask? Explaining the outcomes of not doing something sometimes works. So does straight out bribery….
What family task takes you the longest? Getting everyone ready to get out of the house. Although in these long summer days, bed time also seems to take forever!
What’s the weirdest thing your children have done/brought home/done to your house? At points in both of their lives the children have taken it upon themselves to lick the carpet. The mind boggles…
Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why? They surprise me all the time. But one time that stands out was when Lizzie said: “If we went into space and met some aliens, we would be aliens to them wouldn’t we?” I thought that was quite philosophically deep.
What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids? Don’t lick the carpet.
What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done? They are both really funny in their own ways. Lizzie used to get words confused sometimes so, for example, she used to call pigeons and magpies ‘pagpies’ which I thought was super-cute. Art tends to be interested in revolting humour – but possibly one of his most comedic moments was when he appeared one day wearing a pair of pull-up nappy pants on his head and nothing else.
Mini moan - what really gets your goat? I sometimes feel like I have almost lost my voice but STILL nobody is listening to me.
What’s your favourite family day out? We’ve had great fun at Lightwater Valley – we are all thrill seekers and as a theme park it is not too expensive, easy to get around and has loads of stuff for us all to enjoy. Cannon Hall Farm in springtime is also brilliant and has loads of ace play areas as well as baby animals.
What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately? We like to get our and about as a family, go for walks and days out and spend time with our extended families and friends. Ben makes screen prints and also brews his own beer with his brother – they have nailed a few tasty brews and even won prizes for their beers! We tend to go out with friends as much as possible, either together or separately, and I enjoy gardening or going for a run when I can.
What’s the hardest thing about being a parent? The constant feeling of guilt. I could always do more and do it better.
What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed? A meal, conversation, pottering and sometimes a film (or more usually an episode of something on Netflix or Prime) – we are early birds so staying up past 10pm is usually unheard of in the week!
What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why? The Weatherby Whaler – in Pudsey or Guiseley – is brilliant as everyone loves the food, it’s easy-going, inexpensive and the kids sometimes get a little something at the end of the meal like a skipping rope or colouring book.
What’s the best thing about weekends and why? Not having to set the alarm for 5.50am! No explanation needed!
What is your most treasured memory? One of the last days we had in Bramley; the sun was shining, the kids were playing and everyone was chatting and having a lovely time. We have so many happy memories from living there, but that day really summed up those friendships and what living in that community really meant to us. Shout out to St Peter’s Mount crew!
What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds? The homelessness situation seems fairly dire at the moment – it’s a harsh juxtaposition of seeing shops like Harvey Nichols and Victoria Gate in the same city where dozens seem to be sleeping in tents on the street. The distribution of wealth in our country is desperately wrong.
What’s the children’s favourite food/meal? Fish and chips.
What’s your top penny-pinching tip? Hand-me-down clothes. We are lucky to have clothes passed onto us for the kids by kind friends and we do the same. It makes so much more sense than splashing out on new clothes all the time, especially when the children seem to always be covered in something or other!
One family member’s proudest achievement? Lizzie is keen on drama and we have proudly watched her take the main roles in a couple of seasonal events at school.
What one item can you not live without? Yorkshire Tea and Marmite (I know that’s two, but I couldn’t choose!)
What can your children not live without? Books – they both love to read.
What is your child’s favourite book and author. Lizzie loves the first Harry Potter book and she also loves Enid Blyton’s stories like the Famous Five and Faraway Tree. We have to modify or challenge the casual racism, sexism and general ‘isms’ in the books, but at least they provide a discussion-point. Art is currently obsessed by The Baby’s Catalogue by Janet and Allen Ahlberg and we are also enjoying Hoot Owl Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien – it’s very funny!