Have you ever been afraid to go to a restaurant with your little kids because they will be like monsters? Hoping they won’t run around the tables and shout? Well, usually, you would prefer to hire a babysitter, right ?
I keep my three kids with me each time we go to a restaurant (except when we want to have a romantic dinner, of course). We have the kids accompany us since they were babies. I can tell you, I don’t spend my time running after them. They just sit quietly at the table and trust me, I don’t give them medications to be nice :).
Here is my secret : give them food they love like nuggets with french fries, for example, or bread and ice cream. During the time they eat, they are nice. I’ve bought two booster seats for the twins which look like suit cases when it’s closed.
After they’ve eaten, if you haven’t finished your own lunch, give them a game you have brought from home. My favorites for the restaurant are books and coloring. For the babies, as their attention is way shorter than ours, even with their favorite toy, I keep with me a lollipop and blanket to relax at the end of the lunch. Enjoy your day !
My older son, Pierre, was sick last week. He had a stomachache. With three little kids, if you go to the doctor at the first sign of illness, you can spend a lot of money, even in France, because the babies medicines cost more and more. So, here, I will give you my secret to look after a stomachache with food and it works with everybody : babies, kids and adults.
I gave my son : ham, rice, carrots, bananas and black chocolate. That’s the best way to look after him. Sometimes, I gave him pasta (without sauce or butter) and apple sauce. I gave him water to drink very often to avoid the dehydration and, sometimes, some coca cola. If the gastroenteritis is really serious, I can also give him the cooking water of the rice to drink.
For the stomach pains, I kept my son at home, relaxing with a very warm hot-water bottle on his stomach. Don’t forget to wash hands very often and to disinfect it with gel to avoid the contagion of all the family.
You can trust me, my son was fine after two days of that diet. And it’s always the same each time one member of my family is sick.
When my husband and I discovered that I was pregnant with twins, one of the first things we started to think about (well just after the big surprise of that news!!) was that we need to enlarge our house, because we just had two bedrooms. But enlarge a house with two babies and a little kid and continuing to live inside wasn’t easy to organize.
We engaged an architect, who suggested two different projects. We choose the one which didn’t modify the existing house. That means the work site was separated from our home by a window on one side and by a door on the other side. So, we didn’t have the inconveniences of the construction site in the area we used to live (except the noise some days). At the end of the work, we just had to break between the two connections.
The first year the babies were born, they lived in the library, which is a little room about 8′ x 8′, only separated from the living room by a simple curtain.
A company did the extension in wood, and then we managed to do the other work by ourselves to save some money. We had to make the biggest extension we could imagine if we would have just had one baby more. In fact, we doubled the living space. We are very lucky with our family : my husband and his father put plasterboards, my husband did the electricity, my husband’s nephew, who’s only 19 years old did the plumbing, my brother in law and his son in law did partition walls, my father paved the stone floors and walls and I did all the paintwork. Thanks to all of them because, except for my husband’s nephew who is a real plumber, every body did it on their free time because they are talented.
I’m sure you will ask who was keeping the kids when I was painting ? Pierre was at school and Leo and Renan were taken care of by my mother or my mother in law. They were staying at home alternately during that period and slept on the sofa in the middle of the living room. I’m so grateful to them. I’m really proud of my family and in laws for all that work, which offered us a new house, and a very comfortable one for our family. Everybody has his own bedroom now with a real door and more, our guests can sleep in a real bedroom too.
I go back to work since November but not for full time. I first start with 80% time. As there isn’t school on Wednesday, I do not work on that day and on the weekend. That means finding childcare for the twins. It’s not that easy because, in France we don’t have enough nurseries. Until November, I’ve got one day per week in a daycare, not to enjoy a day off like crazy or do some relaxing stuff I can’t do with Leo and Renan, like go at my favorite hair cutter or write on my blog :). I have make my decision to go back to work this summer but, to have a place in a nursery for the two kids, I should have take the decision in March… So, I have looked for a good nanny and found one between my house and my job, whose is great but way more expensive than a nursery. But we are lucky, because she accepts to keep the babies if they are sick (well, not too sick…). If they are really sick, I can stop my job 5 days per year to keep them. After that, I will ask my parents or my parents in law to come at home and help us as they do sometimes, because they don’t leave far away from our house. Leo and Renan will just go with the nanny for a year before they will go to school with Pierre. In France, we can subscribe the kids at school when they are three years old.
With my husband, we have manage our new planning to organize all the family with our jobs, with regard to the fact that I start and finish my job earlier than Stephane. In the morning, I take care of Pierre, walk with him to school before to go to work. Stephane takes care of the twins, drive them to the nanny before to go to work. As Stephane works at home, in the middle of the afternoon, he goes to school to pick up Pierre and gives him his snack in front of a cartoon before going back to work. Pierre can go and see him in his office if he has a problem. When I leave my job, I drive to the nanny to pick up the twins and go back home. With the three kids, we continue to go to the square for 30 minutes, to play together. After that, it is time to make the dinner, eat and give a shower to the three kids before to sleep them and take one hour to relax (and write in the blog) with my husband.
What about the domestic tasks ? The laundry will be done on the evening and I’ve got a cleaning lady who come once a week to clean the house. The garden will be done on the weekend but will require not much maintenance because, as we have to redo it all after the extension of our house (see an other article), we will install this Winter an automatic watering (or a synthetic lawn) and we will choose plants which don’t need to many maintenance like lavender, forcicia or certain rosebushes, for example.
Everybody has once, at least, been confronted with child anger or as you say in English, tantrums. Sometimes, it’s really hard to manage it without becoming crazy. Leo and Renan often have fits of anger. They hate to be opposed or they love to take the toy their brother is playing with (that’s the twins way) so, they often try to bang their head against a wall or the floor. I tried two solutions which work with them.
The most important thing is to stay relaxed and try not to scream. First, when they aren’t too angry, I just punish them and put them in a corner of the house until they stop screaming and crying. With little kids, it’s really fast (less than one minute). My second solution, when they are really angry, is to take a spray of water and spray them once or twice on the face. It works very fast because it surprises them and they find it funny. In the French supermarket, you can find Evian water in an aerosol can that sprays a fine mist of cooling water
Once the kid becomes quiet, kneel down in front of him, look him in the eyes and explain to him what was wrong and what is forbidden, but tell him at the same time something right that he has done to encourage him in the right way.
Babies’ tears, tantrums, bad nights, illnesses, school, work, housecleaning, laundry, cooking and shopping for food : how to face all those tasks without becoming crazy and also how to save time for leisure activities, friends, love and relaxation? Like you, I’m not a superwoman.
Here you will find some tricks to organize family life the French way, (with three little kids at home) and how we try to give them a good education (well I hope).
Let me introduce you my family : Stephane and I with our three sons (from left to right) : Leo, Pierre and Renan.
Summer is perfect to organize a picnic with all the family, even if you have 20 months old twins. How will you do it without transforming that should be relaxing day into a nightmare ? Easy !!
First, find a good spot : a garden with games for kids, a lot of trees for shaded spaces to eat, a secure river or a lake around for the view.
Secondly, prepare sandwiches for everybody because you have nothing else to bring with you, except babies’ bag to be change. (I can tell you, the old big icebox you had to bring all the time is dead !) You will ask me : what about babies food ? Like us, sandwiches : they love to eat very small ones with soft food inside like « pâté ».
To finish, find an ice cream store and taste some new flavors with the kids. For the nap, babies can sleep in the stroller or in the car when you will ride back home.
Enjoy the day with your family and have fun !