Being a foreign mom in France

Paul was just turning 2 when we moved to France and it took him quite a bit of time to adjust. In fact, the entire family is still adjusting… We lived in 3 different houses during the first 6 months and slowly discovered our new surroundings and learnt new habits. I’ve always been fascinated with the simplicity and the beauty of the way the French live. They just seem to be so healthy and fit, although they eat croissants and baguettes; they seem to be relaxed, working 35 hours a week and their language sounds so darn good even when they fight.  Below are some personal observations of differences I have experienced: Wednesdays are off Most French families either hire a baby sitter or have the grandparents stay with the children. Some employers offer flexible time, allowing caregivers to work half days. I like this idea because it cuts the week, allowing the children to play more, have time for creativity (and not being in the classroom). Of course, it involves more organizing on the part of the parents. Personalized care It may not be a general rule, but our experience with the French schooling system has been a very personalized one. Each day, we get an oral brief of Paul’s day (what he ate, if he slept, how he interacted with the other children, what activities he participated in). Also, we take part in gatherings organized by the school, mediated by a therapist, where parents can discuss (without being judged) about the challenges of raising children. Doudou and pacifier The majority of toddlers in France are very much attached to their “doudou” aka Teddy bear turned into a piece of cloth that they carry around to school, to bed, to the playground. It’s an attachment blanket that is prevalent in French children, along with the famous pacifier. Chocholat au lait  A typical French breakfast consists of bread (preferably freshly bought from the Boulangerie) with butter and jelly, accompanied by the famous “chocolat au lait”. What? Hot chocolate for breakfast? I thought that was “the” drink for the cold winter days when you wanted to warm up after playing outside! It turns out it’s “the” thing to have for breakfast, apparently it energizes you for the day (I’m still pondering on that).  Pick up in style I see it daily and it never ceases to amaze me. I find is so darn elegant when parents pick up their children from school in their bicycle. I just love it when I see a stylish French mom, buckling her child into the back of her bicycle, the French baguette elegantly posed in the front basket and off they go for a ride…Oh la la! All in all, the French are definitely charming and I’admire the relaxed and confident ways in which they raise their children. I definitely embraced and incorporated many ideas into how Paul is experiencing his childhood, after all he’s half French 🙂

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