The end of winter, and a typical day with a preschooler and toddler

Dear son and dear daughter,

 Well, children, it’s Saint Patricks Day, and next week is spring, which means we’ve made it out of winter, although I don’t expect to see really nice weather anytime soon. That’s ok. Today is the last day of the winter school break, we were going to go to the beach earlier this week but then Mother Nature decided to drop a ton of snow on us, unexpectedly. SNCF was practically shut down and there were no buses in Paris. So we stayed home.


We did get out of town a bit last week, rented a car one day, and Son you and I went to Disneyland Paris too. We saw the Disney Playhouse show which enchanted you, and had fun walking around the park even though it was a bit drizzly. I very nearly didn’t take the stroller because at 3 1/2 you walk so well these days (a couple of days ago you walked from Grands Magasins down to Palais Royal and over to Concorde without nary a peep), but at the last minute I did grab the Maclaren and am soooo glad I did. You were in a much better mood that way, got a little afternoon snooze in, and didn’t mind coming home after 8pm. We had dinner in the RER coming back. It was fun.


One of the things I love is being able to do these Parisian kid things, like I mentioned we had a long walk a few days ago, lunch at Chipotle (OK, that part isn’t Parisian, but as a Californian I need my occasional Mexican fix), then we played in the playground at Tuileries, with the Louvre as our backdrop. We had an early gouter at Angelina just after the lunch crowd, and had their amazing hot chocolate and some financiers. It was fun. I love not having a car and just renting when we need it. It feels like such a good arrangement. We can rent a car for the day for 38 euros just down the street and get out of town a bit, otherwise we go for the metro. The only thing is that if we rent to go on a trip for a week, it feels like we are spending a lot on a car, whereas people who own a car don’t give it a thought, but then again we would be spending that much on gas and insurance every month and not using the car much, so it does work out ok.


Daughter, you are 17 months old and just a walking, climbing machine. You are still such a daredevil. You say bye bye and au revoir, and you adore your ya ya (papa), and often walk around the house calling for him. You like playing peekaboo, and sitting at the play table reading books (you get onto your chair by yourself).


Here’s a typical school day for us this year :


6 :30am : I wake up, do yoga or exercise for half an hour, make my tea and your breakfast (I set the table the night before), get myself dressed.

7 :15 : I get you up, or sometimes Son you wake up on your own and come out.

Make Daughter’s milk, change her diaper and get her dressed. Hold Daughter while she drinks her milk (I know this will not last much longer so I am taking advantage of it while it’s still a possibility) and smell her sweet baby toddler scent in her hair.


7 :30am : Sit down at the breakfast table, have a leisurely (sometimes) breakfast, try to con you into eating your toast, yogurt and hot chocolate. Son, you insist on putting jam on your toast and making your own Nesquick.


7 :55am Brush teeth, then Son you get yourself dressed, with a little prompting. Bundle Daughter up on my back in the Ergo. Get winter coats and shoes on (I will be glad when this part is over).


8 :15am Grab school bags and head out the door. Walk to son’s preschool, a five minute or so walk.  The preschool doors open at 8 :20am but we are rarely there in time for that. Take son up to his class, greet the teacher, hang up coat and school bag, goodbye bisou.


8 :30am Daughter and I walk over to her garderie (three mornings a week) or creche (one full day a week). I love being able to walk everywhere in our village.


8 :45am Drop Daughter at garderie, wave goodbye, head back home, stopping at the bakery for fresh baguette on the way.


9am : Make myself a coffee, relax and read emails, facebook, blogs, Message forum, etc, for a little while.


9 :30am-11am : Fold laundry, empty dishwasher, start dinner in the crock pot if it’s a crock pot day, start making lunch. Mondays is vegetarian day, either tofu or beans, often veggie burgers. Tuesdays I often pick up a roast chicken and potatoes from the butcher.


11am : Two days a week, Son, you come home for lunch, and the two other days you stay and have hot lunch at the cantine (there’s no school on Wednesdays though that will change country-wide next year). Pick you both up from school and garderie.


11 :30am : Lunch


Noon : You two play in the living room and watch TV. Clear up the lunch dishes, start the dishwasher, clean the kitchen floor.


1pm : Daughter goes down for her nap, Papa takes Son back to school for the afternoon.


1pm-3pm : Daughter naps, I often nap too, or watch TV or fool around on the internet. No cleaning during nap time.


4 :20pm Pick Son up from school, come back home for gouter : apple sauce pouches, cookies (often Petits Ecoliers) and a yogurt or petit suisse for Daughter. Pot of tea and some fruit for Mama.


4 :30-6 :30 is a bit of a free-for-all. Some playing, internet searching, a bit of cleaning, watching cartoons, prepare school bags and papers for next day, set out PJs and clothes for the next day.


6pm : Prepare dinner if no crock pot meal, set table. Eat at 6 :30pm (extremely early by French standards. French people seem to eat dinner at hours when we are all already in bed).


7pm : Bath time. We recently implemented giving you a bath together, it has made life so much easier. Brush teeth in the bath, sing songs.


7 :15-7 :30pm : Daughter gets her bedtime milk and a bedtime story, then lights out for her.

Son gets his PJs on and has a bit of free time.

7 :45pm Son and Mama read a couple of books. 8pm bedtime.


8pm-11pm : Free time for Mama and Papa. Glass of wine a couple of times a week, cup of herbal tea the other days, watching TV or movies, reading, journal writing, gratitude journal writing, etc. I aim to go to bed between 10 :30 and 11pm, though sometimes the TV is hard to tear myself away from, but I regret it the next morning if I stay up too late.


That’s our fascinating life in the moment, with me being on parent leave with a preschooler and toddler. It probably sounds pretty boring for a lot of people, but I have so much gratitude and appreciation for the little things these days. Being able to make your meals and sit down with you for them, picking you up from school, bedtime stories. Don’t get me wrong, kids, it’s very monotonous and repetitive, and tiring, too. I’m not saying the contrary. But I feel really so blessed to be your mother, and to be in a position of being able to be home with you, that I often find myself during the day, just so grateful to be a stay home mom in Paris. How lucky I am. My parental leave ends in fall 2014, when Daughter will be starting preschool, and I’m thinking of how life will change then.


But for now, it’s truly bliss, and I am truly blessed.





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