Archive for the ‘Children’ Category
After seeing so many people in my Twitter feed talking about this book (French children don’t throw food) and asking me if what Pamela Druckerman says is true I had to read it myself to see.
In case you don’t read this blog often and want to know if I’m qualified to comment, here’s some quick background on me:
I am a Brit, married to a Frenchman and I have two half British/half French daughters, we spent the first 3.5 years of our eldest daughter’s life in France and have been in the UK for the last nearly 3 years. In total I lived in France for 13 years and I have lived in the UK for 24 years. I should also point out that I never lived as an expat in France; I have a degree in French, I am bilingual, the majority of my friends in France are French and I had a French boyfriend for 3 years before meeting my husband of 10 years (both of which came with a French family that I became part of).
So that out of the way, here are my thoughts/feelings on the book.
Whilst it is a very interesting read and sometimes has valid points, an awful lot of the book has no truth to it with regards to the majority of France and not a tiny minority in Paris.
I read it whilst on holiday in France last summer, and staying with various French friends who have small children. I loved seeing their faces when I read snippets of it to them – they varied from horror to amusement to utter disbelief.
The book has recently come out in France and has been highly criticised as it is so far from the truth. Interestingly it is entitled “Bébé Made in France”; just the English title made my French friends laugh, as they pointed to their own toddlers throwing food on the floor whilst we were talking.
France has a real problem with “Enfants Rois” (King Child) as Druckerman talks about in her book. But she doesn’t really go into detail about this phenomenon which is getting worse and worse. My MiL is a school doctor in the Avignon region and when I told her about this book she burst out laughing as she told me about the nastiness, aggression and lack of general respect that she gets from children as young as 3 years old pretty much every day, as parents are letting them get away with murder.
So what is true and what is false and what differences are there really?
- Children in France throw food. Children in the UK throw food. There are some children in both countries that don’t, but in general this is what small children do.
- Women in France have a lot more pressure on them to go back to being “a woman” very quickly. This includes everything from weight, to general appearance, to having a social life sans bébé to returning to work soon after giving birth. French maternity leave is 16 weeks and most mums return to work within 3-6 months of having a baby.
- As most women do go back to work soon after having a baby and as childcare is so affordable (with state help) in France, it means that most French children are raised on average 4-5 full days a week by a “nounou” (childminder) or in a crèche (like a UK nursery).
- French babies on average sleep in their own cot, in their own bedroom as soon as they come home from hospital (aged around 5 days). Co-sleeping is almost unheard of and definitely frowned upon. Some parents have babies in their room with them, but nowhere near as much as in the UK and not for as long.
- French parents shout at their children. At home. In the park. In the supermarket. I have heard the following being yelled at small children in public “tu me fais chier!” (you’re pissing me off!), “tu me gonfles!” (you’re doing my head in!) and “tu continues comme ça et je t’en colle une!” (carry on doing that and I’ll give you a smack/wallop you one!) Not exactly the picture that Druckerman paints in her book.
- Our eldest daughter is 6 going on 16 at the moment, as are most of her school friends in the UK, and the other mums and I are often talking about the attitude we get from them. On a recent holiday to France I had the exact same conversation with a French friend about her 6 year old daughter. It’s the same, people!
- School on the other hand is totally different. School in France is super strict, with children being shouted at regularly and kept in place by fear, with creativity shunned and learning done by rote (French children have to learn poetry and do dictations from a young age). I remember our nounou’s 6 year old daughter being terrified one day as she’d forgotten her ruler and would get in trouble for not having it. Her mum and her plotted that she would drive home and get it, the daughter would sneak to the toilet so the mum could get it to her without the teacher knowing. Wow, great lesson in life to teach kids: lying and deceit.
- School in the UK is more relaxed, creativity is encouraged and all the teachers that L has had so far (3 different ones) have managed to keep their classes of 30 children in line through being nice but firm. I have never heard any of them raise their voices to the children. I was recently on a school trip with L’s class and it’s amazing the respect and control that their teacher was able to command.
- Druckerman talks a lot about British parents being “helicopter” parents, but I have rarely witnessed this. I have seen as much helicopter parenting in France as in the UK and I think it depends on the type of person the parent is, rather than their nationality.
- French parents are more willing to leave their babies/children at a younger age and for a longer time than British parents. As an example I went back to work 4 full days a week in France when L was 3 months old, and when she was 2 years old Hubs and I went to the Dominican Republic for 2 weeks without her, leaving her with her nounou, who she called “Tata” (Auntie) as she was so like a member of the family. I have also just left C with Hubs for the weekend so I could have a girls’ weekend with my friends from uni – she turned 6 months on Sunday. (I am still breastfeeding so simply expressed whilst away and Hubs fed her bottles in my absence.)
- From experience I would say that the French are far more open to smacking (bottoms) than the British. I don’t know anyone in France who this shocks, yet a lot of my British parent friends would never do this and frown upon those who do it.
I don’t mean this to be an attack on either France or the UK. I love both countries, have great French and British friends (most of whom are parents these days), I think that both countries have pros and cons in their parenting styles, hence us raising our children the Franglais way (taking the bits of each culture that work for us). However at the end of the day babies are babies, children are children and some will be livelier/better or worse behaved than others, I’m not sure how much culture has to do with that, I’d say it’s much more down to the child’s and parents’ personalities than anything else.
One final thing to point out, this is based on my experience which is in the southeast of England and the French Riviera and Avignon area of France. Social class also plays a big part but I have friends from quite broad social classes, encompassing cleaners, bar-tenders, secretaries, teachers, computer programmers, lawyers, managers and business-owners.
So all in all I’d say you’re probably doing a good job with your kids, whether you’re British or French or any other nationality. It’s a war zone out there and if you can make it to the end of the day in one piece then you’re doing well. French or British or other – go and celebrate that with a glass of wine! Cheers!
If I can find the time (and energy) I might write my own book one of these days on my personal experiences of the differences in British vs French parenting, if you might be interested in hearing more then sign up for blog updates via RSS or email on the top right hand side of this page.
It’s been nearly 6 months since Baby C joined us and our family of three for the past 6 years went to being a family of four. L has loved having a baby sister and surprisingly has not shown any signs of jealousy having been an only child for 6 years, however I realise she doesn’t get a lot of one on one time with me these days when C is not around.
This last weekend I knew Hubs had things to do in the house on Saturday which meant we wouldn’t be going out as a family, so I thought it would be good to get out with L for a little while during the day. Nothing prepared me for her response to my suggestion though:
Me: As you and me haven’t had much Mummy and L time for a while, how about we go out tomorrow while C is having her long nap?
L: Yeeeessss!!!! Oh no, wait a minute, I’m not sure we should leave C all on her own.
Hubs and I had a good old chuckle over this, and he looked after C while she napped so L and I could go to the local park and do this:
I’m linking this up with Actually Mummy and Wot so Funee, if you fancy a giggle head on over to see some other funny offerings from bloggers’ offspring.
Age 37, wife of a frog for nearly 10 years, and mum to two half and half (English/French) girls: a 6 year old and a 5 month old baby, I do wonder sometimes who I am. I still feel 17 years old, footloose and fancy-free but I’m not, am I? I look in the mirror and I realise that. I’m a grown-up now (gulp) and I have responsibilities (double gulp).
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and, like most mums, I am two people.
I am Mummy who wipes bums, noses and tears, helps with reading, homework and explaining things, gives smiles, cuddles and milk, and doesn’t have time or energy for make-up or nice clothes/shoes/bags/accessories, as you can see:
Then there is my alter-ego, Sophie, who harks back to a time when I was just me, and I could read in peace, go to the cinema, chat on the phone, go out with friends, frequent restaurants, pubs, and, way back when, go dancing in clubs. Sophie doesn’t get that many outings these days, but tonight is one of them, tonight I’m out with my NCT mum friends for a girls’ night. So you get to catch a rare glimpse of Sophie here on my way out:
I don’t regret Mummy having the upper hand over Sophie at the moment, that’s what my daughters need right now, and I know that in no time at all they’ll have flown the coop and I’ll have all the time in the world to be Sophie again. And I know I’ll miss that so much. Maybe not the bum wiping bit though.
I’m linking up (for the first time in ages) to the gallery on the wonderful Sticky Fingers blog where this week’s theme is Self Portrait. If you want to join in or see other blog posts on this theme, pop on over:
Also if you’re going to Britmums Live in June come up and say hi, now you know what I look like.
I have two daughters, the eldest, L, is 6 years old, and this weekend this is what she came out with. Once I picked my jaw up off the floor I asked her where she had heard this, but she didn’t remember hearing it in any one place which therefore implies that she has not come across this idea just once.
It is safe to say that there is no way you could call me skinny once I hit puberty, I would say I’m average (mostly a UK size 10-12 over the last 20 years or so), but with big old boobs and a big old bum, so skinny is not a word I’ve ever heard to describe me.
I’m lucky that growing up with my mum and two older sisters there were never any issues with food, size, weight or dieting, so I’d say I have a fairly healthy attitude to food and have never really dieted (except a 3 day dabble at Dukan that made me feel more ill than with morning sickness).
So I’m pretty certain she’s not picked up this idea from me, my family or my friends. We watch limited TV and for the last few months all L has wanted to watch is Harry Potter films, which are not really well known for their skinny=pretty message. We don’t buy newspapers and I read one women’s magazine a month which in general is not around for L to see, especially not since she’s learnt to read!
All I can think of is that this idea has come from the school playground, which means that the media portraying Angelina Jolie as a beautiful woman we should aspire to look like (I have nothing against her, but how skinny?!?), and Samantha Brick making headline news by telling the world you have to be skinny to keep your man, must be seeping through all the way down to 6 year old girls.
I could understand this more if she were overweight and being bullied at school, but at 18kg (2 stone 11 lb), she is right at the other end of the scale.
As you can see, in her school PE kit here, she doesn’t need to worry about getting any skinnier!
I have no recollection of worrying about my weight until at least secondary school, or more likely when puberty hit. Why are our children (daughters) already being subjected to this false message that you have to be skinny to be pretty? I loved Mummy Barrow’s retort to Samantha Brick on this subject (being a big fat failure), but it seems to be hard for this message to get through the “we love skinny” media.
So where do we go from here? Hubs and I talked about it and here is our plan:
- Make as little reference to size/weight (hers or ours) as possible. No talk about I’m getting fat/I need to go on a diet, even if said in jest.
- Whilst we already eat a very balanced and varied diet at home (you gotta love a Frenchman who loves cooking!), we do eat junk food too on occasion (who can resist an apéritif before a Sunday roast?), so instead of saying “eating crisps will make you fat” we’ll say things like “eating crisps is bad for you”. (Even though I can’t think of situations where this might have been said in the past.)
- Fortunately L has oodles of self confidence, but it’s up to us to instill in her that looks aren’t everything, and that it is how she acts that counts the most.
I explained that what is important is how we act, who we are, being kind to others, and that skinny is pretty, big is pretty, straight hair is pretty, curly hair is pretty, brown eyes are pretty, blue eyes are pretty, green eyes are pretty. The difference between pretty and not pretty is all about who we are inside.
I’m scared about where we are going in society when I am having to have this discussion with a 6 year old, so please people in the media, can we stop obsessing over celebrities’ weights and looks so that it doesn’t filter down to young girls? And more to the point, can we let our kids enjoy their childhood a little bit more and a little bit longer?
Or in fact to anyone who does any solo parenting over any length of time.
Hubs was away with work for 3 days last week, and he is away again for a further 3 days this week. I don’t do solo parenting very well. I always get excited first of all at the idea of having the remote control to myself, of being able to hog the whole bed, of eating junk food in front of the TV and calling it dinner.
But then reality hits, and on top of the usual parenting malarkey, I realise that our gorgeous, yank-your-arm-out-of-its-socket-on-a-walk, dog will need taking out at least twice a day. And I’ll need to do it with a 6 year old and a 5 month old in tow.
Yesterday I couldn’t persuade L to get changed before the dog walk at 7pm, so if you saw a 6 year old, wearing a fairy dress, wings, a tiara and welly boots, pushing a 5 month old in pyjamas in a pushchair, accompanied by a stressed out, mad-eyed mummy, being dragged along by the afore-mentioned dog in south London, that would have been us.
24 hours and 2 dog walks to go until Hubs is back. And counting. Until then, pass me the remote and my crisp butty, I might as well make the most of my freedom.
Yesterday I had my cake. And I ate it. Thanks to the lovely people at Baker Days who sent me a personalised cake through the post. Yes, that’s right, I got a cake, delivered through my letterbox.
I had heard about Baker Days and their letterbox cakes on Twitter but to be honest I didn’t think they’d be up to much. Surely the dog or cats would get to it before I could? Surely it’ll get mashed up as it comes through the letterbox and hits the floor? Surely it’ll taste horrible and not fresh if it’s coming through the post?
So when Baker Days contacted me to ask me to review one of their cakes, curiosity got the better of me. Hopefully this blog post will help answer these questions and others you might have.
Baker Days make letterbox cakes (amongst other things) which, as the name suggests, are cakes that are small enough to fit through a letterbox. If you place your order by 2pm your cake will be delivered the next day, cakes can be personalised and cost from £14.99.
My cake arrived on my doormat yesterday morning.
It landed upside down and as I was busy doing other things I didn’t go and pick it up off the doormat for a couple of hours.
Whilst our dog and cats had a good old sniff around it they were unable to get at it, so it was safe for me to eat
When I opened it up, this is what I was greeted with:
There is a solid metal box that has the cake inside it, in the little bag to the left are 3 balloons, a party blower thing and 2 candles with holders. You can personalise a message to go on the card on top of the box.
Here you can see the party blower thing (what are they called??) and the tin that the cake came in. It’s actually a lovely little box which L has now adopted.
So the moment of truth, what state would it be in after coming through the post and sitting upside down on our doormat for 2 hours?
It was intact! There was no way you could tell it had been upside down. Also when you open the tin there are clear instructions for getting the cake out without damaging it. As for keeping it fresh, there is some kind of “keep dry” product stuck to the lid of the tin, and it certainly seemed to do the trick.
And here is the cake! You can personalise your cake and I decided to have an underwater photo of L put on ours as I knew it was a good quality, professional photo, I don’t know what it might look like if you used a camera phone shot, but I’m sure the people at Baker Days can advise you on that.
L was absolutely delighted when she came home from school to this, especially as I hadn’t told her about it beforehand. I happened to have a couple of mummy friends over yesterday afternoon and my cousin over for dinner yesterday evening, so all in all 5 of us tasted it (Hubs is away at the moment so missed out this time round!) and the verdict was positive. It tasted fresh and actually very good. Baker Days chose a carrot cake for me which was very tasty indeed.
We all agreed that it was a great idea as a present (L, who is 6, absolutely loved it!) and a good alternative to something like flowers as there is no need to be home to receive it.
Having been very sceptical about the whole idea I have been totally won over and would definitely recommend it, I will also probably use this service in the future for birthdays or thank yous.
Just as an aside, Hubs thinks the expression “have your cake and eat it” is the most ridiculous saying ever, so this title is especially for him! For those wondering what the equivalent is in French, it’s “tu ne peux pas avoir le beurre et l’argent du beurre” which means “you can’t have the butter and the money for the butter”, which does make a bit more sense.
Disclaimer: Baker Days provided Franglaise Mummy with a free cake in return for this honest review. All opinions are my own.
If you would like Franglaise Mummy to review a product for you, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
I don’t know about you but time just seems to be flying for me at the moment, which means it’s hard to find the time to tell the important people in our lives how we feel. So in honour of Mothers’ Day I have written a letter to my mum, to say all the things that I don’t take the time to say.
I suppose the main aim of this letter is to say thank you. I always knew you were a fab mum, when growing up you taught me “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, when you always encouraged me to be the best I can and to follow my dreams, when you listened to what was going on at my 15 and 16 year old parties without judging, when you let me have totally unsuitable boyfriends so I could figure out for myself what worked and what didn’t, when you took me to hospital (on your day off from being a nurse) to have my broken arm fixed after falling down some stairs drunk and you comforted me in my hungover and nil by mouth state, when you accepted with no reproach, criticism or negativity my decision to move to France even though it was hard on you, and so much more. But I really discovered quite how amazing a mum you are when I became one too.
In 2006 I gave birth to L, in a foreign country and in a foreign language. You had been staying with us for 2 weeks around my due date, but had to fly back home empty-handed when L refused to be born, only to fly back a few days later when she was finally born, for a 24 hour visit. That meant so much to me.
Over the last 6 years I have come to realise more and more what a great mum you were to us when we were younger, and what an amazing mum you still are to me now as I need you in a different way (not to mention what a fab grandma you are too!). I have two children who I love more than words can say, but who can also drive me crazy at times, but you, you had 5 children over a 10 year period and you didn’t even get to escape to work like I do. How did you do that and stay sane?!? I have no recollection of you attempting to kill us, but you must have wanted to so often!
You were, and still are, so selfless as a mum, far more than I have ever been with my own children, yet you have kept your own identity and although you are “Mum”, to me you will also always be a nurse, a bereavement counsellor, an NCT counsellor, someone who does yoga, plays badminton, squash, swims, reads and who instilled in me that I can be who I want to be, regardless of my gender.
Whilst I wouldn’t call you a feminist you taught me that gender has nothing to do with what is achievable in life, or who should play what roles, raising your sons and daughters identically whether it be regarding goals in life or chores around the house.
The most special moment in our relationship came in November last year when you were present at the birth of your 5th grandchild and my second child, not only were you helpful and knowledgeable (I suppose that having 5 children and being a nurse and trained midwife count for something in these situations!) but you were also a calming influence during this high speed labour! Thanks for bringing a fan to the hospital too – I didn’t realise I’d need one!
Thank you again for being the best mum anyone could hope for, if I manage to be even a quarter of the mum you are to my daughters then I will be happy.
Happy Mothers’ Day!
Lots of love,
We’ve recently got back from our first family ski holiday to the French Alps. Hubs learnt to ski when he was 3 and was doing competition skiing by the age of 10. He is a God on skis. End of. I, on the other hand, “learnt” to ski in my early twenties after moving to France (where EVERYONE seems to ski), a good 15 years later I still look like Bambi, in slow motion, as I attempt to come down the slopes.
Despite that fact, for the last 3 years I have been saying we should have a family ski holiday so L can learn to ski while she’s young enough to not have The Fear. Finally 2013 is that year. L is now 6 and I’m glad to say we haven’t left it too late.
Our week was amazing with Hubs and L bonding on the slopes every afternoon, just the two of them, doing something they’re both passionate about. While they were doing that I was chilling with C and doing baby things, but also reading and doing a bit of writing for this poorly abandoned blog while she slept.
This is the summary of our first family ski holiday:
- L learnt to ski, has no fear, loves it and skis like a little champion. Proud mummy moment.
- C learnt to roll over from her tummy to her back. Not quite so momentous, but equally exciting and proud mummy moment. (Also scared mummy moment as that means we’re getting closer to a mobile baby and I can still remember the absolute joy of that from when L was little!)
- I ate my body weight in cheese and charcuterie, but surely that’ll all be burnt off by breast-feeding, non?
- Hubs totally chilled out, switched off from work, skied about 1000 miles and spent the whole week bursting with pride over his daughters’ accomplishments.
- L also caught us out on the second night by pulling a tooth out that was only starting to wobble, leaving it on the bedside table and not telling us as she wanted to surprise us with a coin from the tooth fairy (La Petite Souris in France) in the morning. Eek! Cue some quick thinking from Mummy in the morning when the tooth had not been taken and the coin had not appeared.
- We also used these holidays to work on L’s French; her ski lessons were in French, we only spoke in French and met up with various French friends. We also decided to do some French reading with her, now that she’s pretty solid with her English reading. We were playing a game and she had to pronounce the French word “lapin” (rabbit), however she pronounced it “la pine” which means “dick” in French. On seeing her parents in uncontrolled fits of laughter she decided to shout this louder and louder. In France. Where everyone could understand her. Ah the joys of bilingual children! (We didn’t tell her what it meant.)
It was a ridiculously expensive holiday and may mean we have no other holidays this year, but I don’t regret it one bit, as it was an absolutely fab family break, even if my 6 year old now puts me to shame on the slopes. At least I can roll over better than my 3 month old!
Wow! I haven’t blogged in ages. Since just before going from being pregnant to a mummy of 2! So hopefully I can be excused for being lax on the blog as I’ve been too busy being a mummy to my two wonderful children.
For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl on Monday 12th November. This time round it was an all natural – and incredibly fast – birth, and C was born at 10.45am, weighing 3.2kg /7lb (more on the birth story to come in a later post).
Hubs, L and I couldn’t be happier – L in particular as she was desperate to have a baby sister.
Hubs with C when she was about 5 hours old.
L with C when she was about 7 hours old.
Me with C when she was about 7 hours old.
I wasn’t sure if I’d get a chance to celebrate Hallowe’en with L this year; it was looking more and more likely that this baby was going to come before we made it to the end of October and L would have been deprived of trick or treating. But the baby is hanging on and we went out on our first UK trick or treat last night.
Fortunately the rather attractive devil woman costume that I got for a party last year is super stretchy, so I managed to squeeze my 9 month pregnant belly into it. But I can honestly say that I think this is the most frightful I’ve ever looked for Hallowe’en.
As for the trick or treating – we raked in the goodies and I got a good dose of Braxton Hicks into the bargain too. No Hallowe’en baby though, which is a relief as I was a bit afraid of a devil baby after that outfit!
I’m linking this post up to Sticky Fingers – The Gallery, where this week’s theme is “Frightful”.