The traditional idea of a family unit being two parents, two children, and a dog, is increasingly outdated – and we’ve become much more used to blended families.
Take singer and presenter Stacey Solomon, and her partner, fellow presenter and actor Joe Swash, who have four boys between them, all under one roof: Harry, 13, from Swash’s previous relationship, Zach, 12, and Leighton, 8, from Solomon’s previous relationships, and together they have one-year-old Rex.
Admittedly, blending two families together is not always the easiest thing to do. London-born Swash, 38, refers to it as a “long process” with its “ups and downs”, but says “it’s well worth it in the end”.
Both Solomon and Swash note it can be a constant effort to keep things running smoothly and everyone happy. “Even sometimes, when you think you’ve got the balance right, something will happen and you’ll have to start again from zero,” says Solomon, 30, with a groan.
Swash agrees it’s a “continuous” process, saying, “We still have issues and problems we have to deal with.”
And they aren’t alone. So what is the key bit of advice they’d give to anyone in a similar situation? “The best thing we’ve learnt over the years is communication,” says Dagenham-born Solomon. “Trying to be as open and honest as possible with the kids.”
She also recommends celebrating the other parents involved, from your previous relationship(s). “It’s very difficult sometimes to do that, and there are lots of different circumstances which determine whether you can or can’t physically do that,” she acknowledges. “No break-up is nice and there are reasons why you broke up with that person, but I think trying to remain as positive, uplifting and happy about that person is the best thing we could’ve done for the kids.”
“At the end of the day, it’s for the kids,” continues Swash. “It’s not for us – we’re adults, we’ve had our parents, we’ve had our childhood. It’s our job now to give them the best childhood they could possibly imagine.”
The couple have been together since 2016, and even with the parental struggles of coordinating everyone’s different schedules, combined with parenting in a pandemic, Swash says: “We wouldn’t change it for the world – we might even add to it in a few years’ time. We love having a house full of kids and the thing is, when we get old, they’ve got to look after us – so we’re winning!
“We’ll never be lonely old people,” he says happily.
Stacey Solomon and Joe Swash are in partnership with Pampers (pampers.co.uk).
Image: Ian West/PA