French routine vs English routine. Which is right?
We’ve always raised L in the way that suits us best, sometimes this is “the English way”, sometimes “the French way” but most of the time it’s simply our “Franglais way”. Now we are living in the UK what stands out the most, naturally, is the ways in which we raise L in a French way. One thing in particular is her daily routine.
I never really read any books on routines, English or French, and L set her own routine/rhythm when she was first born, so it wasn’t really until we weaned her that we started to establish any real kind of routine. The one that we ended up with just so happened to be the one that worked for us, not anything that either B or I researched.
So when L was 6 months old and we first weaned her, we took something very un-French – Baby Led Weaning (BLW), meaning we ate our meals with her – and mixed it with French timings. At around 6 months old L was waking up around 8am, having a milk feed and breakfast, then in the evening she would eat dinner with B and I at around 7pm before having a milk feed just before bed at 8pm.
Eating at 7pm was a big shock to our system as we were used to eating at 8pm which is fairly typical for the French, but we decided we wanted to have our evening meal all together as a family. We got laughed at by a fair amount of French friends who teased us about eating “comme des poules” which means eating early like hens which is a typical French expression.
Now we are living in the UK and L is older (she’s 5), her/our routine has changed slightly but not much. It goes something like this during the week:
7.30am: Wake L up and have breakfast all together before B and I go to work at 8am.
8-9am: L is got ready for school by our au pair.
9am-3.30pm: L is at school and has lunch at around 11.30am-12pm.
3.30pm: L has a snack after school, something like crackers, rice cakes, fruit, yogurt, seeds, cereal bars etc.
6-7pm: L is bathed by the au pair.
7pm: B and I are usually home from work by now, so we usually have leftovers of whatever we prepared at the weekend, reheated, so we can eat as soon as we get home. This means we all get to eat together as a family.
8-8.30pm: Bedtime for L.
Naturally the weekend is more relaxed with wake-up times, breakfast, lunch, dinner and bedtimes varying depending on where we are and what else is going on.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this routine shocks our English friends but it’s certainly very different to their children’s routines. L’s 5 year old friends are given “tea” (dinner) by their mums/dads/nannies/au pairs at around 5.30-6pm before going to bed around 7-7.30pm. When I recently questioned various English and French friends about this, the outstanding reply was dinner around 6pm for the English children with the parents eating separately later, and around 7-8pm for the French children with the parents and children all eating the same meal together at the same time.
Whilst I don’t want to preach about how children should be raised and I certainly wouldn’t say that one way is better than the other, what I would say is don’t expect your child to be fed at ours if they’re over for a playdate at “tea time”! I just don’t ever think to feed children at that time!
What do you think? What time do your children eat? Would you prefer that they ate at a different time?
As long as your children are happy with the routine, I wouldn’t worry!
That’s what I think too. It’s very much whatever works for each individual family. Although I do feel bad when children come to ours for an afternoon playdate and go home without their “tea”!
Interestingly I was raised in France and had my dinner at 6pm but I think it had more to do with my mum being exhausted and going to bed at 9pm (which she still does now) than anything else.
Our routine at the moment is similar to yours apart from the fact that my 11 months old obviously doesn’t go to school yet. She has dinner with us at 7.30pm at the earliest. I tried to feed her earlier but I ended up making two different dinners and that just didn’t work for me. Plus my husband doesn’t get home till late and I really wanted him to not miss out and so he gives her a bath when he gets home around 7pm. She doesn’t seem to be suffering so there’s no reason for us to change this at the moment.
That’s really interesting, as you’re the only French person who has indicated such an early dinner time. And even more interesting that your daughter is now on a “French” routine.
Thanks for sharing 🙂
Really interesting post for me. We recently moved to France where my family live with our 4 month old baby. In the UK we would have dinner at around 6pm and baby would go to bed between 7-8. Since we have been in France, there have been many village parties, markets, festivals and visitors etc so we haven’t eaten until 8 and baby has been going to bed around 9-9:30. I’ve been feeling like a rubbish mother about this, but maybe it isn’t the end of the world? He is a happy, sociable boy and sleeps until 9am most mornings, with one feed in the middle of the night. I, on the other hand, am shattered!
I’m glad you found it useful/interesting. If your baby is happy to sleep through after going to bed later I say go with it. If you are shattered can you sleep later in the morning too if he is still sleeping?
Whereabouts are you in France? Enjoy the new experiences, it’s all good fun!
An endless battle in our house. But whether we’re having a ‘French day’ or an ‘English day’ we’re loathe to give up our gouter!
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I struggled in France when L was little and we all ate together in the evening, but now with C I’m so used to it that it seems totally normal. No one can give up gouter – what an institution!
Interested to read this. I would love to try out a new routine in our UK house. My husband works full time and I work three days a week. It would be great if we could all eat together at around 7pm. I guess my girls (aged 4 &2) would just need a large afternoon snack to get through! Obviously they currently eat at 5pm…..! Who knows, maybe the later bedtime would stop the 2 year old waking up at 5am (pass the matchsticks…..)
Ours have always eaten at 7pm with us and I love it! Our (now) 3 year old goes to bed around 8pm and wakes up around 7am, so I’m not complaining!