oddler in a fast food

If you’re a saint, you can judge. Otherwise hold your tongue. We all have our sins be it screen time, chocolate, ice cream on demand… My sin is decorated with the golden arches. If there was an option to get a normal meal directly to my car, believe me, I’d be their first Hohn Circle customer.

Desperate for your LO’s nap you resorted into driving. But he just.won’t.sleep, it’s pouring with rain. It’s too much. You see the golden arches and your mind wanders to salty french fries and pickles. You know it’s naughty. You know it’s not super healthy. But you’re hangry and LO can have organic parsnip for dinner.
Toddler in a fast food – when, how and why:
1. You’re hungry, in a hurry with cranky toddler. It’s fast. They serve food to your car! TO.YOUR.CAR! Buy, eat, go! (Yes, I sometimes forget to pack the damn bio topinambour when we go out – self-slapped).
2. Your LO won’t nap. You’ve resorted to driving around and she falls asleep. Only then you realize you’re stuck in that car for at least 1,5h without anything to drink or eat or even a book. Milkshake should do it!
3. You’ve baked organic gluten free cupcakes, eaten quinoa for a week and are planning nettle salad for dinner (no, not nestle – nettle). You just need something stodgy. Fast. Yum!
4. Kids menu with a toy makes negotiations with every kid much easier. Period.
5. Have I mentioned already they bring you the food to your car!? Isn’t it the most perfect place for driving mamas?
6. Sometimes I just quite fancy a big mac. It gets harder when the season for “deluxe” options start. I mean, they have fresh veggies.
7. I believe eating crap occasionally will do me (or LO) no harm. If she starts to grow a second head after a happy meal I’ll be sure to tell you. 
8. It doesn’t have to be a burger (although I’ve got to be honest I struggle to leave without a little bag of fries) – they sell apples, and carrots, and bottled water too. But wouldn’t you hate your parents for buying you a carrot in a fast food? 
9. It’s a little bit rebellious. Whilst all my friends are boasting about baking their third batch of vegan cookies made with spinach dust and all natural air, I’ve just had a tasty bite of my really naughty burger. Sure, I won’t post about it on Facebook, but every now and then I just need to be a little bad.
10. Because you’re a #relaxmum – you know what’s good for your little one, but some days you just need to have a chilled day and enjoy the taste of youth.

Longing for pregnancy

I don’t miss being pregnant per se. If I ever decide to become pregnant again I will probably live in fear because honestly, vomiting for months, nausea, heartburns to the point of vomiting (yes, I threw up quite a lot), nose bleeds, low blood pressure, inability to drink and all other joys of pregnancy I had experienced are not worth missing. And don’t even let me start sharing my birth story…

I do miss that particular excitement, the kicks, the bond, the preparations. But what I hear everywhere is that it is not quite the same with the second child.

So what do I miss? The items! The stuff! Totally! Things you only get to use while pregnant! I truly believe (ehem hope) I am not the only one. Just hear me out:

1. Pregnancy trousers
Aren’t they just the most comfortable piece of clothing ever!? Just. So. Darn. Comfortable. No, yoga pants or sweat pants are not as comfortable. Plus, pregnancy trousers come in all the styles – jeans, elegant, casual, summer, winter. How weird would I be to wear them whilst not pregnant?

2. Pregnancy bra
They look so. darn. horrible. At least those that I’ll miss forever – those huge, comfortable tents. I am lucky to be still breastfeeding my old toddler, so I can get away with nursing bras that are just the same. One of the reasons it is worth keeping on boobin’.

3. Pregnancy pillow.
If you’re anything like me, you love cuddling at night just not with something, ehem someone, hot and heavy. Pregnancy pillow was my discovery of a lifetime! It doesn’t move on it’s own, won’t steal my cover, keeps room temperature and is light! Ha! Perfect! Only, my daughter stole that pillow when she was born, leaving me miserable again.

4. Maternity briefs.
I did my research on this one and I KNOW I am not alone with thought. When you first have to use them after birth, you hate them. Big, tight usually reaching below one’s bum. But then you realize they hold that huge pad in place, that they don’t show when you’re wearing skinny jeans. They actually squeeze your bottom shaping it nicely. There’s more to that! They’re disposable (although not necessarily) decreasing your washing load!

So, tell me now. Why the heck aren’t we all wearing them, at least few days each month? Is that a chance for me to set a new trend?

Any secret longings you want to share? Bring it on!

5 Hardcore French songs for kids

An introduction to hardcore French songs for kids! Are you ready?

You thought “London bridge” is not a very sweet song to sing to kids? You thought the one about a man who bumped his head and couldn’t get up in the morning is quite horrible? Well, clearly you haven’t come across hardcore French songs for kids.

Let me count down from light hardcore to devil, so you can quit the moment you become uncomfortable. Let’s go.

5. Alouette (A Lark)
Catchy tune, cute little bird. Take his feathers one by one until he’s bold! (lyrics and translation)

4. Une Souris Verte (a Green Mouse)
We love this song! It was the first French rhyme we got to know. I still sing it silently from time to time. What’s the hardcore factor? Well, unless you’re pro dipping mice in the hot water and oil to change them into snails, you should get it. (lyrics and translation)

3. Malbrough s’en va-t-en guerre (Mr. Malbrough)
Cruelty against the animals is not the only value French children learn from rhymes. The truths of life are also passed in early childhood. Mr. Malbrough went out on a war, his wife was waiting and waiting until a messenger came to tell her Mr Malbrough was killed and buried. Not a shadow of a happy end. (lyrics and translation)

2. Il etait une bergere (there was once a shepherdess)
The little shepherdess kills a cat for dipping a chin in her milk. She needs to confess in the church. What’s her penance? Making out with a priest. (lyrics and translation)

Are you ready for the last one?

1. La legend de Saint Nicolas
If watching thrillers makes you sleep deprived for several days, don’t read further. Quit now. The song I’m about to tell you about is THE way to warn your kids about strangers danger.
Kids were playing in the fields, got lost in the evening and asked a butcher for a shelter. Of course he let them in, and immediately killed them all and cut into pieces and put into barrels. But this time there is a happy end! Saint Nicolas came 7 years later, saved the children and chased the butcher away. (lyrics and translation)

That’s just 5. Believe me, there’s more. Surprisingly, the French are not the nation of serial killers, animal murderers, safety obsessed and emotionally crooked weirdos. How come?!

Natural birth trend may cause tears

After considering homebirth for the whole 5 minutes my chicken nature won and I just made sure the hospital was nature-friendly. But I let myself believe in the power of natural births. I was imagining no meds, vertical 2nd phase, minimum interventions, maybe some time in the water.

Instead I ended up with the opposite. Many interventions, no dilation, epidural, few doctors and crowd of midwives. Not so natural..

When was the first time I felt guilt? The moment I scream “E PI DU RAL!!!!!!!!”. I let myself down. I let my baby down. I let my mum down. I let freaking Mother Earth down. Me, who can stand any pain, me who advocated for natural births. I took the freaking devil epidural.

Weak, useless looser.

It lasted few MONTHS. Not weeks, not days. Months. That horrible feeling of shame, regret and guilt. So many nights I cried. I would cry each time a friend of mine gave birth without epidural.

A part of me was certain all the complications were due to my inability to stand the pain of efing powerful twin contractions every 1-2 minutes for 12h. My inability to deal with the pain like I should. After all, as a woman I was destined to feel it and deal with it!

Because of the natural parenting trend I felt like a failure. I felt guilty. Tears and tears. Postpartum hormones did not help. I felt disgusting. How could I ever be a good mother, how could I ever take proper care of my daughter, if I couldn’t even give birth like nature programmed me to? I mean, nature would make it pain-free if it should be pain-free…

In those desperate moments I completely forgot about the times when epidural, oxytocin and maternity wards were not yet invented. Before births were moved to the hospitals, women died and babies died. Years ago, me and my daughter would probably be a part of that dark number.

It took me time to straighten out the facts, to realize that what made my labour complicated existed before administration of epidural and oxytocin. These drugs didn’t complicate anything, they didn’t slow down what was already too slow. Those drugs didn’t make my labor less natural, they made it safe. They helped.

Because of medicine, thanks to pharmaceutical companies, thanks to science, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The only thing I had to deal with was an awful episiotomy scar and temporary loss of bladder control.

Why is fighting with pain a bad thing? How many of us have our teeth done without some kind of anaesthesia?

So remember, a birth plan is not a bible. It’s just a guide that may need to be changed, adapted to the situation. No matter how it goes the only important thing is to welcome a child into the world. Epidural, medicalization of births, oxytocin and all the rest, were invented for the reason.

The natural, attachment, back to the caves trend can be so dis-empowering if you ‘fail’ at it. The pressure we put on ourselves because other women ‘can/did/do’ what we couldn’t is awful. Don’t let it do to you what it did to me. Just give birth in the most comfortable way (whatever it means). Trust your body, breathe, push, relax. Don’t expect anything, go with the flow and see what every minute brings.

And as for the epidural – it’s freaking awesome!  Take it if you can and want! Peace! #reluxmum

PS: It was originally titled “Natural birth my ass”. I still like it better. Can I change?

Fear for a multilingual child

I’m a monolingual parent of a multilingual child.

This is a post without tips and solutions. It is for me to check if I’m alone and nuts with my fears and at the same time, to let others know they’re not alone with their fears and nuttiness.

I spent 23 years of my life in one country, using only one language. Although my English education started in preschool, and although I consider myself fluent, I will never call myself bilingual (even though I am by definition). I had 3 years of German that resulted only in me understanding a bit and 3 years of Italian that is forgotten from not using, but speeded up my French education. I understand French, can have quite normal conversations, can read, but I stopped believing I will ever write properly.

On the other hand my daughter, not even yet 3yo speaks Polish fluently, English very well and next year will start preschool in French (one of official languages in Switzerland). When she starts school she will learn German for years (another official language of Switzerland). In other words, if we stay here, at my age she will be fluent in 4 languages at least. Which will be her native? I have no idea, she will have to decide.

And while I know all the benefits of multilingualism, it sometimes breaks my heart.

1. I feel like our relationship will lack the element of common childhood. As soon as she goes to school at the age of 5, she will sink into French rhymes, books and movies. It will be so hard to keep up with Polish without Polish surroundings and friends who would have same Polish-themed passions. I can’t quite explain it, I never planned to live abroad and I’ve always imagined it all happening in my home country.

2. I won’t be able to help her with her French essays the way my parents helped me with mine (explaining poetry, discussing, proofreading etc.). For me, it was an important element of the relationship with my parents. They’ve always discussed work with each other and I always shared school details with them. I can’t yet imagine same kind of bond with Z, as I will never be confident enough with my French.

3. I fear I won’t be able to understand her friends and so – exist in her social life. Sure, I can understand a lot of French now, but switch to slang and pop-culture jargon and you could as well be speaking Chinese…

4. What if she marries a non-native Polish speaker (which is what is going to happen)? Will Polish no longer be our family language? Can I cope with that? How?

5. As you probably noticed I am very attached to where I come from. I love my country. It is also the only country I understand 100%. I want Z to share my passion but will I be able to pass it on?

6. She will speak Polish, I have no doubts about it. But will I manage to teach her to write and read? Without these skills she won’t be able to ever feel truly Polish, or will she?

7. So many times I wonder if multi is really better than solid roots in one place? Surely that means I am not really made for being an international citizen, but also I never claimed to be one. So am I a material for a parent of a multilingual child brought up in international place?

To be honest, no week passes without me seriously considering moving back to Poland, to raise my child the way I know how to, in the place I know how to. Would she hate me for taking away multilingualism and multicultural life away from her?

Expat parenting – the bright side

The bright side of expat parenting.
Are you laughing already? Are there any advantages of bringing up kids in a land far, far away? All alone, with no grandpa to take kids to the zoo or grandma to pop over with a soup. With no kids-free weekend, no social life whenever you want. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is speechless when talking to friends back home complaining how tired they are after a weekend without leaving kids at grandparents for at least few hours?
But is it really all that bad and hard? Let’s look at the bright side, laugh a bit!
1. Independence, 100%. No nagging, no advising, no following, no looking over our shoulders. And no unannounced visits from all the grandparents, aunts and uncles.
2. Unwanted gifts? Well, we get less gifts in general because we don’t see each other that often. We can also easily recycle, give away, store in basement without a risk of a surprise visit from the donor. Or was it the postman/airport staff/big dog who destroyed that hideous toy?
3. Whether we want it or not, we will have to learn a new language – to exist in our child’s social life or help them with homework. Having to learn can’t be a bad thing, can it? Or you can ignore it and be called funny names by your child’s friends.
4. We actually really look forward to spending time with our relatives. We can easily enjoy every minute of reunion as we know it’s only for a bit. It’s so much easier to accept their flaws! Just don’t make me do it for more than 10 days, there is a limit to everything.
5. Each one of us is far from home because home didn’t offer what we needed no matter what it was: peace, love, money, healthcare, career. So stop grumping.
6. We get less advise from close and long distant relatives. Thanks to the distance we can distant from all that crap. Sorry, can’t hear you, the connection is poor!
7. We can blame everything on the fact we’re  parenting alone without our natural village. Literally, everything. Breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, not dealing with tantrums, being exhausted, forgetting nappies and feeding our kids only chocolate for a week, not getting rid off the dummy at a certain age. You name it. You don’t do it in X? Oh, it must be cultural, totally accepted here!

If you enjoyed reading, please leave a like.
It will mean a lot!

Me and my toddler had a car accident

I had a car accidentt and this is what I’ve learnt.

Highway’s exit lane. I stop the car, turn back to look at my daughter. BANG! Z’s hands thrown forward, her head moves not sure in which direction, rear windshield transforms into a rain of glass and BANG! My head lands on the steering wheel. I have to lift it up, the air bag’s gonna go off any second, it will hit me hard. BANG! The front of the car hit something, rain of glass lands on the hood. The noise seems to be constant and everywhere. (btw airbags don’t deploy in rear impact collisions).

I can hear  Z crying in panic but I can’t gather my thoughts until someone opens my door and asks if I’m ok. The man hears a child cry so he jumps to the back door and wants to take Z out, I jump out knowing she will panic more if a stranger is the first person she sees. After I took Z out of the car, I realised my hands shake A LOT.

I look around. Plenty of small and big plastic and metal parts everywhere. The glass from the rear windshield: on the hood, on the roof, and inside. How the heck did it end up on the hood? I was never good in physics…

Long story short, a huge truck hit my car, so my car hit the car in front. The back of my beautiful station wagon mama mobile destroyed, in pieces, folded. A huge truck glued to my trunk. He was only going 40 km/h and yet my head hurt and I will probably never see my car again. (It’s not that I don’t know the most important is not the car but that we are both OK).

Nobody was hurt, although it must have looked (and indeed it felt) horrible and dangerous. The truck driver was asking me how many kids were in the car, another man told to sit down, my hands were shaking like never before.

But it could have been worse. If I haven’t buckled Z very tight, there was a big chance she’d have slipped out of her seat. Seriously. Only 40 km/h you think, but it was a humongous truck, the impact was big.

And then I think of thousand times she had my phone or an iPad or a bottle of water in her hands. How hard would it hit her? I don’t want to know.

You see, I’m generally very cautious and safety is really important to us. It is now an impulse to tighten Z’s belts and squeeze them hard. We always limit to minimum amount of loose objects in the car, we try to place as many as possible in the compartments, I try to remember to close my purse and not to have my phone lying around. But from time to time when she’s a pain I give in, and give her my mobile phone with Thomas the Engine on.

And it only takes this one time. I won’t risk it ever again.

So often I see babies carried in car seats with belts so loose they can easily slip out when carried, not to mention what the high impact can do to them in case of an accident.

So often I see cars full of crap, plastic toys, bottles, coins, tablets lying around. It’s like driving in a death trap.

So often I see dangerous activities for road trips: buckets hung above kids head, Legos, wooden toys and other hard objects. Seriously?! A bucket!? When we went on a 2-days road trip with our daughter the hardest objects were books, all hidden in a bag under passenger’s seat.

You can call me hysterical, you can call me overprotective but I’ve just had a car accident and this is what I learnt.

Why Geneva is (not) the best place to raise kids

10 reasons Geneva is (not) the best place to raise kids

Forget the beautiful lakes, breath taking mountains, multilingualism, international atmosphere in the cities, calm and safety. These are the real reasons you should pack your suitcase, grab your kid and join us, happily raising our kids on the greanest of the grasses of the world.

1. Most cantons ensure you will have plenty of time with your child if you’re not working. You don’t need to worry about daycare – as you most probably won’t get any.

2. If family meals are important to you, the Swiss school system ensures you have lunch with your children everyday. And you thought once they went to school you’d be bored!

3. Not a baby person? Don’t worry! Maternity leave is only 12-14 weeks long, so you’ll be back at work before you can say ‘ten dirty nappies’.

4. School events, birthdays – if you don’t like forced chit chat with other parents, chances are it won’t be possible anyway, as everyone speaks a different language! And you probably can’t speak to your child’s friends either, which makes life a whole lot more fun.

5. Feeling stressed by those super moms filling your Facebook feeds with baking and crafts? Don’t worry! Every canton has different rules, so your friends from neighbouring cantons will not be able to give you much advice, which decreases the risk of parental competition.

6. If you’re lucky enough, you don’t have a washing machine at home and you get to use the communal one in your building. It’s like gambling – will my pants be there when I get down? You’ll get free fitness running up and down with laundry and your kid(s)! And, if you’re only allowed to use it one day a week it gives you no other choice than to buy a whole lot of clothes.

7. Overwhelmed with products choice? No idea which stroller to put your precious cargo in? Switzerland is the place to be. The choice is very limited, you buy what’s there, no complications.

8. Referencing point 7, everyone has more or less the same stuff. If you’re coming from abroad you can shine with amazing toys and clothes nobody else will have. ‘Oh this old thing? It’s from Poland’ – smiling smugly. Just remember about luggage weight limits, duty and border controls.

9. If you’re afraid your child has the wrong sort of friends, don’t worry! They will probably leave in few years and your child will have the opportunity to find new, better companions. (Sobbing as your kids best friend flies back to the USA is a great look.)

10. All the horrible, loud, poo-smelling baby cafes, kid-adapted restaurants don’t exist here! Yey! You can totally enjoy your lunch/dinner with your kids in a regular restaurant, making you more focused and engaged parent. Oh! And let’s not forget all the bonding that comes from anxious family meal at a restaurant that doesn’t cater for your little ones. Pure heaven.

As you can see Geneva is the ideal place for bringing up a child!

I’m just off to run around the lake with Z. and get some fresh air now. Man, it’s so annoying having nature right on my door step.

Top 10 Polish products for kids

Emigration made me realize I’m a Pole more than I ever thought. Actually, when I was living in Poland I had never even thought about it much. But I’ve been living abroad for almost 8 years now – happy where I am, yet homesick everyday.

It’s so frustrating to see how (usually) Polish emigrants societies promote Poland: the Pope, Chopin, tragic history, Lech Walesa/Solidarity etc. Always dull, conservative and always the same. Yet Poland is a modern country with creative people, technology, design and art at it’s best.
It’s also (still) not that expensive but that of course depends on what you’re comparing to and on the currency you’re using. For all Swiss Franc holders it doesn’t make much sense to buy in Switzerland since it’s cheaper everywhere else. And even if postage to CH is expensive, you can always order to France (instructions at the end of the post).
Let’s start!
1. Dollhouses by Miniio.
It’s one of the best dollhouses ever! It’s rather big to accommodate Barbie dolls. Very modern, was made with high quality materials and will look so good in any place of the house! It’s on the top of the list for Z’s birthday (or mine… it’s sooner!). Check out their website here (English version).
2. Carpets
These amazing carpets were designed by Agnieszka Czop and Joanna Rusin. Their products are fabulous! Very pretty and interactive. You can read all about them here. Some of their carpets are available here.
3. NunuNu
I love everything about this brand. On my waiting-shopping list I have the wand, the crown (comes in many other colours) and the teepee (that will look absolutely stunning no matter where you place it). A group order anyone?
4. Trzymyszy.pl/Threemice.eu
Ok. The name of this brand can give you a headache (check here for the pronunciation). It literally means “three mice”. Their cardboard products will be delight for your eyes, hands and your kids’ imagination. Cars, baby doll beds, kitchen cabinets and more! Check their website here and contact them via [email protected] if you’d like to order anything.
5. Books: Maps.
This brilliant book is available probably everywhere by now. Maps of the world for kids. You can check it in any kids’ focues library or order on the French Amazon here or the British one here. They also made an accompanying, brilliant activity book! We also love “Mamoko” series by the same authors and can;t wait for Z to be old enough for  “H.O.U.S.E.”.
6. Wooden story.
What can be more beautiful than wooden, handmade toys? Maybe wooden, handmade toys without toxic substances painted with natural eco-certified varnishes? Go straight to the shop or spend a few minutes reading about their history and philosophy.
7. Musicon. (!!!)
Award-winning musical toy. It’s hard to explain, it’s absolutely amazing, it’s like nothing you have ever seen. I haven’t found any place to buy it yet, only an information that it will be commercialized soon – I CAN”T WAIT! Please, visit the designer’s website for more information.
8. Clothes.
There are so many Polish designers, all of them so good it’s hard to decide who is the best. One of my favourite brands is Risk Made in Warsaw. I love all their shades of grey! I adore their collection – both for me and for my daughter. They even have grey clothes for Barbie doll!
Another brand worth mentioning is Kids on the Moon. Their clothes are available in many online shops outside Poland, check out their stockist list.
9. Boomini.
Another dollhouse. Different style. I love the white boomini: “The interior is decorated with black and white wallpaper, which provides a perfect backdrop for furniture and accessories are in bold, vibrant colors. The rear wall of the kitchen is a blackboard, where you can chalk recipes or leave messages for other family members.”.
10. Studio Hoho
Beautiful, handmade, unique wooden toys (and an English website!)
Other brands: studiohoho.pl, Nonove, Czuczu, Lalanka, Kalimba. And there’s so much more I could keep writing and writing for hours!
I’m curious what did you like the most from this list and what is a favourite products for children from your country? Let me know in the comments!
Now, for Swiss readers. This is how you order to France without bothering friends living across the border.
One of the options is “Poste Restante”. It basically means, you put the post office address as the delivery address. The post will keep the package for 2 weeks for you, it costs 4 EUR (per package). It’s good to have a tracking number f the parcel, so that you know when it arrives. They will not accept shipment form couriers (as those need a signature). More information here (in French).
Another option is to use the service of Selfbox.fr – they can accept postal parcels and courier parcels. They will keep it for 48h. Prices range from 5 to 12 EUR. More information (in English) here.

First judgy 100 miliseconds

Never judge a book by it’s cover, right? We heard it over and over again. But who can truly admit they never judge people on how they look like? (Not-surprisingly) NOBODY. First impression takes only 100 ms to be created.

Don’t make such a disappointed face, my dear reader. You’re not a bad person. You’re just a human being equipped with a brain you have little control over.

According to researchers from Princeton University, all we need is 100 ms to form a judgement. Not even a minute or not even 5 seconds, well not even 1 second.

You may go and think that the researchers only made people look at faces for 100 ms. Nope. They allowed it for longer stretches of time, that only made subjects more confident about their judgement.

100ms and it’s set.

To be honest. Is that a surprise? We can draw so much from how people look like. We judge how they smell, if they are clean, what taste they have, if they’re rather poor or rather rich. More time you add you know their accent, you get an idea of their educational level and knowledge.

Still, none of that says if a person is “good” but it sure tells us if there is a big or little chance for any -ship between us.

It’s more difficult for kids as how they look depends on their parents – for example if they wash their children, if they keep their clothes well maintained. It doesn’t tell us much about the child himself but can tell us something about the parent. Not from a judging-good-bad perspective but just to give us idea who we’re dealing with. Same with sneaky, unfair, rich, pretentious, silly, untrustworthy etc. we see it their eyes. Don’t admit it out loud if you can but see deeply into your mind next time you meet a person for the first time.

It’s not bad. It’s being cautious. Nature had to equip us with a screening tool.

Trust your gut (your first impression) but leave a place for a doubt/hesitation/a second chance, name it as you like.