Sally Haselwood: An extended Easter party for the family

Youngsters enjoying the Easter holidays.
Youngsters enjoying the Easter holidays.
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We’ve just enjoyed a lovely Easter weekend together with my extended family.

As my brother and sister and I get older and our own respective families keep expanding, the occasions that we all get together under the same roof are getting fewer and consequently more precious.

For the past seven years, my siblings and I between us have managed to produce one baby a year, exclusively girls until the much anticipated boy arrived in 2014, followed by the sixth girl in 2015. The clan that we have created is noisy, spirited, messy and wonderful.

Our own houses are all noisy, spirited, messy and wonderful so we’re all kind of used to it.

My parents who host this annual Easter shindig are used to much quieter and peaceful surroundings and so are probably almost as pleased to see us depart as they were to see us arrive! Now that my own children are aged six and almost four, they are pretty easy going when it comes to family parties and they absolutely love their cousins. Seeing this little gang of girls aged from seven to two all play together and help each other out is beyond adorable and we are absolutely blessed.

I was never much of a baby person myself but the opportunity to have a cuddle or help out with my baby niece or nephew was also a real treat (if a brief reminder that yes; we are stopping at two children.)

The sun was shining, the drink and food were plentiful and my parent’s house in a picturesque dales village was reminiscent of the Darling Buds of May. Bedtime naturally was a bit of a battle ground.

We had stupidly been coerced by the four eldest girls into allowing them to all share a room with a single set of bunk beds in.I don’t know what we were thinking; as if the four of them would nod off sleeping top to toe! Over tired and over excited, it was never going to be easy. Between 7pm and 10pm we made countless trips up and down the stairs with varying degrees of bribery, threats and warnings to try and get them to sleep.

Kids were hauled out to sleep in disgrace in their parent’s rooms and parents were begged for forgiveness with hollow promises that they would go straight to sleep if they were just allowed back in with their cousins. Eventually they did all nod off and the bed hopping throughout the night was not as bad as it could have been.

My own girls swapped places a mere three times as the night progressed. Looking back on our families, I can’t help but reflect on how fantastic this parenting business really is and how much it has changed me and my siblings. We no longer stay up as late at night, catching up with each other and chewing the cud like we used to.

Our days begin hours earlier, lie-ins are a distant memory and our conversations are snatched between chasing around after our kids; however as much as I enjoy spending time with my brother and sister it is the blossoming relationships between the young cousins that really is the delight.