The Small Question – the Little Difference

Since I got back to work this week I decided to finally write  –for once- one of the more serious posts. It is a topic I became aware of when I first got pregnant. And since then it has not stopped haunting me.

I am one of the exhausting (yes I have been called that) women who will not stop wanting to having it all. I am fully aware that this probably will never happen and that is completely fine with me. It’s just that I believe if I don’t at least try to have it all, I will probably not even get half of what I want.

Yes I want to have it all

Trying to have it all in the case of having children and working means that I am not willing to sacrifice my job because I got children. It means that I do not consider stepping down more than my husband, even if I earn a bit less than him. To me it means that I am not willing to move over the balance in my life to “children only”. I am not willing to move the balance over to not earning a significant share of our income. And it also means that I don’t want to be the default parent (though I silently suspect I still am of course). I want shared responsibility. After all there’s a reason why it needs two to make a child, no?

All of this put together it means that Twomimidad (TMD) and me came to the conclusion that we would both spend one day per working week at home with the kids. We would both bring them to the nursery on one day of the week and, for those of you who are keeping count, we are lucky and blessed to count on the support of my mother to look after the girls one day per week. With the ridiculously high cost of childcare in Switzerland (around 120 CHF per day per child) this is currently working out. (whether it will still do so when Mimi #1 turns 3 in January and we lose my employers’ generous nursery support is a different story I have yet to figure out)

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Not all is well in Paradise

All hunky dory so far you might say and yes indeed, it would be if it was only TMD and me in this country. (and maybe a few selected peers I have discovered so far in my search of role models) Because as soon as I was pregnant I was constantly met with the question on “what are you going to do with the child” (when there was only Mimi #1)? And when I explained the setup, I was equally frequently met with an incredulous stare. And I believe quite a lot of the starers’ thoughts were going along the lines of “let’s wait and see”. And yes, I believe that children WILL change your outlook on life. And your life itself, drastically. But, for me, they do not change ME. They do not change my preferences and dislikes. And they did not take away my belief that I want to be able to care for myself, earn my own money and still like my job, from which I draw a part of my own self-worth. There, I said it. I know that being a mother will always be the most important part of me, but it will never be the only part.

The little big difference

Weird thing (or sadly, not weird at all in fact) is, that my husband never had to explain himself when he told people he was to become a father. First of all, of course, he could decide himself if he wanted to tell people about it or not, something a woman obviously cannot decide upon actively, since at some point it just becomes obvious (btw that was a kind way of saying that at some point you get fat).

The difference is biological in this case, I know. But why do only women then constantly have to explain what they will do after Birth-Day of the baby? Why are fathers not equally asked about their plans on how they expect their lives to change with a baby (and –eventually- a fully blown kid)? Shouldn’t they also get a chance to re-think on what matters in their lives? This was the subject of a, let’s call it “animated”, discussion between TMD and me. Even though we have found a setup which currently works well for us, it doesn’t stop bothering me as to why we still seem the odd ones out. Why the true 50:50 approach is still such a minority. And we came to the conclusion that a lot of it is economics. Women tend to earn less since they just earn less, which just really makes me very angry. In recent studies it was claimed that the earning gap is closing for women (yay!) but not -watch this- if they have children (article in the “Schweiz am Sonntag” which does not reflect my personal opinion but is an interesting read nevertheless).

Way to go…

The only advice I have is to trust your instincts. And then talk to your partner BEFORE you even talk about having children. Because you will have to let your employer know you want to stay in the game the same day you will announce your pregnancy. Because they want to know if they can still plan with you or if they need to move forward.

And the difference, as it is at the moment, is that it is up to the women to start that conversation, after having evaluated if it is financially feasible as a prerequisite. Because they are the ones who are confronted with the questions. They are the ones who need to sort it out and decide if and how they will go back to work. Men will not be confronted with those questions at work, or by their friends, that’s just the way it is. And it might be equally sad for men as it is for women. So I will make a point of it now to ask my male colleagues at work, when they’re announcing they are expecting a baby, if they will keep their job, and at what percentage. I mean, which father would want to miss moments like these?

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Thanks for a Great Time

Actually, deep inside myself, I am a very lazy holiday person. And I mean proper lazy. I am not the kind of person who gets bored on the beach after one day of lying around. In fact, I have not yet been confronted with the feeling of being bored of lying around. Even after lying around 10 days in the Maldives I could have gone on. Honestly. (ok, there might’ve been some pleasurely dives once a day, but not in any way exhausting or regular). So one of the reasons I wasn’t mad keen on children is because I’m so deeply lazy by nature, and conscious of that fact.

There is, however, one exception to this general rule and that’s the mountains, which I love. I have spent quite some time in the mountains sans kids, and coming to the mountains with the girls actually sort of solves this clash of my nature vs. the offsprings demand. I just love being outside, surrounded by these great views, even if I can’t actually do the hiking (or proper mountaineering) part anymore . Plus, in this case since Twomimidad was away for the first 6 days of our stay, I had the great support of my Mum. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have come here in the first place (thanks again Mum, you’re my star, as always!!! And thanks again for the additional day of babysitting where the Twomimiparents were able to go up to the Segantini-Hütte & Piz Languard).

Because, for all of you who don’t have kids, no matter where we are, the things the girls want are the same: a.) regular feeding of cooked and uncooked food and b.) some form of entertainment ideally combined with the possibility to wear themselves out. And just in case you’re wondering: we do frequent cuddles & giggles at any stage in between.

To illustrate my point: by the time we will leave tomorrow morning, we will have served the girls 17 cold meals (breakfasts & snacks) and 18 cooked meals. And cleaning the floor after each of these. And I’m not complaining here, it is just a fact to actually prove to myself (or any other parent out there!) why I sometimes find it a drag, even if on holiday (though as stated in my last blog, part of this is self-inflicted). It just goes onandonandonandon. BUT the entertainment part is so much easier here, because I love being here and even the playgrounds to me have a different kind of vibe. And some of these playgrounds actually are on top of a mountain. Though I am not entirely sure if this is a good thing, since even a small walk then turned very uncomfortable as every step was accompanied by whining of Mimi #1. Mimi #2 just fell asleep and had to be woken up after 30′ lest we ruin our naptime…. img_20160913_112237

Anyway, during the past 10 days we went up to three mountains on three different days and had lunch there. All by means of automated transport of course: Alp Languard, Diavolezza  (below)

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and Muottas Muragl (aka the one with the playground). We went shopping in St. Moritz (though not the glamourous kind, mind you, we went to Coop since we’d also forgotten to bring ANY toys for kids (so much for packing with three adults…)). And we went to the indoor pool in Pontresina twice upon special request by Mimi #1 (highly recommended for small kids btw). Plus, lest I forget, approximately one billion trips to various playgrounds in the area (highly recommend the one next to Hotel Müller in Pontresina, the one near Stazersee and the one next to the Kempinski in St. Moritz Bad) and short walks. It has to be mentioned though that short walks usually only wear the adults out since they have to push the bike trailer with both of the Mimis in it. Mimi #1 seems to have inherited the lazyness gene in this respect. At our beautiful flat we also blew up a LOT of  balloons to keep us company and made a rough estimate of 100’000 soap bubbles on our balcony with a view.

So all in, we had a pretty busy week and we still have plenty of things we haven’t done yet, such as going for a ride on the Rhätische Bahn, or watching the Kite-Surfers, or going to the Val Roseg and watch the Squirrels.

What never stops to amaze me though is, how little the kids need to make them happy. One playground or cable car or snow field in summer is enough. In the pic below, Mimi #1 kept saying she wanted to make “Chügeli” (small pellets of snow)…

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I am enjoying and embracing this for however long it will last (as I try to do with all the fantastic, heart-melting stuff). I have no idea what you would do with a teenager who finds everything boring and crap (as I remember doing myself).

As you can see, plenty of plans for next year, and maybe, just maybe, we go the Hotel-way next time around, sacrificing space for cooking and cleaning time. Who knows? And how lucky are we to actually have all these choices?!!! Thanks Engadin, see you next time!

Near-shoring or Engadin my Love

In case you are following me on Instagram (which I highly recommend you to do of course – @twomimimom), you saw that we are moving houses. 20160907_110729

No, that was just a very bad joke, we actually went on holiday to one of my two favourite places on earth so far (and the place where I got married to a man who, unbelievably enough, still puts up with me after two kids!!!!). The other one being Hawaii you will realise that with two small children and a not unlimited budget, the Engadin is by far the more accessible option.

Plus, I  have to admit this here now, I’m not one of the cool long-haul Mums which I deeply admire by the way!!! I admire how cool they are with the fact that they will eventually be locked in to a little tin box with their offspring and 200-300 other people who will witness their parenting prowess. Or lack thereof. And I truly believe that things will turn out well if you’re convinced you can do it, at least in the parenting world when the kids are still small. So i.e. if parents are cool with a long-haul flight, the children will be. If not— then that would be me. The amount of suffering this would mean so far for me just does not weigh up with how much I want to go there. So, for us, we will stay in nearer Europe for the next 2-3 years and- gasp- I do not find this a terrible prospect. I used to long for the stay abroad, but somehow the urge to get away as far as possible, when I am on Holiday, has worn off. Temporarily, I believe. I blame the hormones btw.

Anyway, so we are staying in Pontresina (my favourite spot in the Engadin) for 10 blissful days. We have an absolutely stunningly beautiful flat which I chose for practical as well as aesthetical reasons. Just because I have kids doesn’t mean I have not right to beautiful interior, right? And also, we got a good offer since they’re building next to our flat. This is totally fine by me since Mimi #1 considers 7.00 a lie-in. So we’re up when the builders start anyway. And that even gives me a better feeling about having to get up so early in my Holidays as I don’t feel like I’m the only one with an early start.

And, second reason we’re in this spot is that I’m a huge fan of the Hotel Saratz next door, but since I wanted some two rooms and a lounging area while the kids are still both having naps, it was just not affordable. But we will return there eventually, since it is one of the places which makes me feel happy every time. And I am already looking forward to holidays which involve less cooking and cleaning than they do now. I know it is a self-chosen cooking & cleaning issue, since we’re not going to a child-friendly hotel but are renting an apartment. However, after our first and certainly last stay in a child friendly hotel, I will gladly cook for the next few holidays, really. It still gives me the shivers thinking about it and I would like to refer to my point made earlier on this blog about not loving children in a general sort of way. And I would also like to point out that bouncy castles and ball pits might make children happy for a little while, but not necessarily Moms. BUT- happy Mums make for happier kids. So here’s food for negotiation and compromises which must happen in all families. (And no, I don’t always win – I will save the planned unicorn post which illustrates this topic for later)

Plus I have so far not found an visually pleasing (and I know this definition is entirely subjective so I will not try to argue this point!) child-friendly hotel for children under 4. And for those who know me well, they know I am not willing to sacrifice nap-time for as long as we can still enjoy it (hallelujah for reading newspapers or gossip magazines with a coffee). I also do not want to stay put in a hotelroom where the only seating option is my bed, as that just makes me depressed.

Hence the choice of more up-market holiday appartements over hotel rooms (as even the so-called familyrooms have you tiptoeing around in the evenings and reading under your bedsheets like a ten-year-old). As mentioned before, bed-time is an 7.30 – 8.00 p.m. for my kids and after that I like to enjoy my 1-2 hours of grown-up time. And I firmly believe that this is what keeps me sane. Sometimes gives me 1-2 hours to catch up with my work e-mails. And enables me to write this blog btw. And -most importantly- drink my wine in peace.

I now deviated quite far from what I initially wanted to tell, which is, what we’ve done so far here in the mountains. So I will save this for the next time and give you the picture below as a little teaser. I mean, can you imagine a better panorama to eat your snack???

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I am actually quite curious to know how your Holidays have changed from since before you had kids… and what sacrifices you are willing to make to get the maximum out of your “free” time (sorry, had to put the quotation mark there, since free has a whole new dimension nowadays, I mean, let’s be honest here, right?).

P.S: In case you’re wondering right now who I am advertising for: it’s nobody, not even the Pontresina board of tourism. I’m still too new in this game and too inexperienced to actually get paid for any of the mentions, so rest assured it is all just my honest and humble opinion.

 

The Perfect Day

IMG-20160904-WA0003 (2)Sometimes, really just like a freak storm, it happens. The Perfect Day. And yes, today was one of them. I usually tell myself until we have not had a proper meltdown it has not been a proper day, but sometimes the kids are in bed and I’m like -huh?!- isn’t there something missing?

Of course you can’t go more boring that going to the Zoo on a Sunday and believe you me, we certainly weren’t the only ones there. When we got there I basically just wanted to turn around again and go back home. Just because I have kids now doesn’t mean I love them in a general sort of way. No Sir, my genes are resistant to that, sorry. Anyway, we got there between a gazillion of other couples with small kids but, because we are such pros, got in through the back door and for once I even enjoyed the humidity of the Masoala-Halle which usually just sends me running through to the fresh air on the other side.

Mimi #2 of course is still too small for the zoo, things tend to be too far away for her, or just not interesting enough so she’s just left to stare at green leaves in most cases. But being such a cute baby on “The Perfect Day”, she was quite happy with that anyway. So then we went to have a snack which almost got eaten by a cock which in turn sent Mimi #1 to stand on the actual picknick table. She’s a bit of a wuss when it comes to animals, no idea where that comes from (I secretly believe it’s Twomimidads fault…). Anyway after having had a glimpse at the elephants, we had lunch at another picknick table amidst another dozen families. Blissful thing is though, you’re usually so busy  making sure your kids don’t smear their whole bodies with food (rather than just their faces) that you don’t notice. Mimi #1 had spotted the ice cream container already from about 100 miles away and, I think, during lunch she might have mentioned the word “icecream” just about 550 times. And it was a short lunch, mind you. So then we all had an ice cream apart from Mimi #2. However, #2 had picked up on the icecream love at an astonishing speed. So she was sitting in her pram with her tongue sticking out in order to tell any one of the three remaining family members that she wanted a lick. Something that’s only cute until you’re about 2 I guess, so she got away with it.

Anyway, after that we headed home again (so counting the bug we saw when we had the ice-cream we saw about 8 kinds of animals in total which makes it totally worth going to the zoo, right?) and managed to keep the kids awake until we got home for nap-time wohoooo… So they actually slep for a good while enabling me to read Sunday papers, yay!!! (one of the things I miss most since I have kids is getting through the Sunday paper). So after that we graciously did quite a lot of playing and kickboard-practice. Mimi #1 has actually gone quite professional in that area and I certainly wasn’t part of that piece of education, so thanks and shoutout to our nursery!!!

Then it was dinner and after that, miracle of miracles, they played so sweetly that we actually took them for bath & bed a full 20′ late. Something we very rarely do because as laid back (or, let’s be honest: lazy) as we are in some areas, bed-time to us is sacred and non-negotiable. So that was it.

Now I’m wondering if you have managed to stick around for that long? Writing this out now, I realise it’s INCREDIBLY boring and mediocre and naff. Sorry. That’s who you become when you have kids. And the worst thing? You actually enjoy it.

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Things that make me happy (who would’ve thunk)

PicMonkey CollageYes I know (and I do agree), the collage above is probably (notwithstanding my poor photographing skills and my crappy smartphone) not the most beautiful sights to behold. And yes, my pre-parental self would probably have posted something more along these lines: IMAG0702But then again, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I still were  my former self because I wouldn’t have anything to write about, so there.

What has been going on in the past two months, at an astonishing speed and quite to my utter delight is a decluttering of our household. Well, that’s probably said a bit much. It’s not as if our household was nearing a state you could call clutter – free. And I am daily battling the influx of new baby and kid paraphernalia which seems to breed near our entrance and trespasses into our Lounge unbidden. But some areas have cleared up unexpectedly. So behold above exhibit a.) (top left) the transformation of the crib to a bed which has now been completed (the back was also removed 3 hrs after the picture was taken). BTW: there’s an actual kid attached to that creepy bodyless hand. So every time I get into the girls’ bedroom I’m suprised by a new view of free space above Mimi 1’s bed. And so far, the child has stayed in the bed apart from the first night when she managed to fall out of it 3 times. We have now moved the bed next to the wall, sheer parenting-genious, right?  Exhibit b.) (top right) shows the reclaim of the kitchen. We have transitioned from babyfood processor plus bottle warmer to nothing. I.e. the kitchen will eventually again only be used to produce food which is appreciated and edible for grownups. And cooking pasta since we must feed the children something they like from time to time too… and yes, eventually also the ugly bottle holder will RIP. Exhibit c.) I bought knickers since Mimi 1 decided she has outgrown her pampers. To be fair we have done this for three days now and only day 1 has been accident free but at least we’re on the way, right? Pampers consumption the past 3 days was -8 pieces, yay!!!

So what this actually means is that we’re on our way to having one baby and one actual kid which is so exciting (allow me the little motherly sob for the gone days of cuddly little feet and 4 toothed smiles of Mimi 1…. I know, parenting is a permanent goodbye and hello (let’s save this topic for another post)). It also means that when we’re going away to the Engadin in a couple of weeks we will actually not have to take two baby beds with us. And no food processor. I am beyond excited about this. Truly.

So this tells you about either how boring and small my life has become, or about how kids truly make you appreciate small things which suddenly become so big and fantastic. You decide.

 

Let’s get this started – or – One year ago (really??!)

IMAG0346One year ago I baked a cake (or something like it) with my big daugther. While – I believe at least – the smaller one was just a good month old and sleeping. One year ago I was at home, living the life of a stay-at-home-mom but knowing I would go back to work in six months time. One year ago I was trying to figure out how on earth you survive a day with two children under two. And guess what? I’m still trying to figure out how to organise our lives, how to grow up and how to stay sane (but at least one kid is over two now – though not sure if that is an entirely great success, since, well, does the term “terrible twos” ring any bells with you?? If not, you lucky bastard, bet you don’t have kids).

There are various reasons which led me to doing this blog-thing here and please do not think the list below is in order of importance. I’m just trying to gather my thoughts after a day with the kids. So have mercy. Anyway, here they are:

  1. I do not know any Mum who works 80% or more and has two kids (yes, that’s what living in Switzerland also means. Apart from the fact the we’re very happy and very lucky people).
  2. Every time I mention how much I work I am met with a wide-eyed stare immediately followed by this: “what do you to with the kids when you’re not there”? My usual answer is that we tie them to a post and put some food and water in front of them.By that time I usually feel that if I say anything more somebody will call the childcare authorities (KESB in Switzerland).
  3. Time goes by so fast (ugh, yes, cliché alert went off, sorry about that, but had to do it since – it is TRUE!). I’m hoping to actually be able to pin down some instances of the day to day madness which, at some point, will hopefully become memories. I am so scared that I will just forget it all and then one day look back thinking – where did all those days go?! Or look back thinking, why did I ever think it was hard. Because sometimes it is just that. And then other times it is hilarious. Or exhilarating. Or heartbreaking. And sometimes it is all of this at once.Maybe I want a reminder to myself why we chose our path the way we did.
  4. I am curious to see if anybody can at least familiarise with my life, if any other couples tick similarly to us so I would feel less of an alien in the way we decided to organise ourselves. In the best case, this would even lead to a network and would make working women more visible. I believe a large portion of why they are not visible are a.) lack of time (yes I feel that!!!) and b.) fear of social stigmatisation (feel that too, see 2.))
  5. In writing all of this I realise also how grateful I am to have the life we do. We have some freedom of choice (though, don’t get me wrong here, there are a lot of financial restrictions for normal middle class people) and we have the best family you can imagine. Yes, I’m grateful and sometimes rendered speechless by how lucky we are.
  6. I have thought about doing this for ages. Never had time/energy etc. but at some point I just though “let’s do this” (there’s this story of the Moloko Song “The Time is now” but I’m saving hat for later). Now. Before my kids are 30 and I forgot everything. I mean, it’s hard for me to even remember last week, so there you go.
  7. I am so curious to see how this whole Social Media Thing works out and learning so much in the process, so let’s go on this journey and see where it brings us to!