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Anyone else find france is crap when you've got a baby??!!

(122 Posts)
Nancy54 Tue 08-Jan-13 10:47:58

I've lived in france (lorraine) for the past 8 years and have enjoyed living here despite missing family from home.

I've got three month old bg twins who are absolutely wonderful! However, i am finding that there's really limited things to do with babies here and it's quite isolating. When my sister had her baby in the uk a couple of years ago, she went to loads of mum-baby groups, sing alongs etc and so got to meet lots of new mums who then became friends.

It seems that french people don't do this!! new mums seem to stay at home alone or with family for their 10 weeks of maternity leave, then they go back to work full time.

I have finally found a baby massage class which i'm going to this week so hopefully may be able to meet a couple of mums but this is the only activity i've found in the whole city!!

there's baby swimming too but you have to enroll in september to get a place....

Has anyone else has a similar experience in france? Am imagining there's lots more stuff in paris and the bigger cities.

I do think it's cultural too though, ime french people (or those in lorraine) don't go out of their way to meet new people, etc whereas in england we seem to use it as an opportunity to make new friends and share the difficult baby period with others going through the same! i know i'm genralising....

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 12:50:42

I was in Versailles but socialised with people in Marly le Roi. There was a nice community there.

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 18:01:43

How was baby massage?

Have you tried asking at your Mairie? Or local PMI?

Our local library does storytelling - or at least, I think I found that once but when I tried looking again (on the internet) I couldn't find it - just lots of random opening hours of local libraries (they seem to open 2 hours a day max, 3 days a week confused)

I think you do have to find an activity and keep going so mums will get used to you before asking if they want to meet outside the class. Having said that, I was on holiday last summer and met a lovely lady whose son was 3 months younger than mine and we had a great natter whenever our paths crossed - especially as I was still BF 9 month old DS and she was the only mum she knew still BF at 6 months - think she was quite relieved to find someone else!

As DS has gotten older, I find people do chat at playgrounds and stuff, but it's just chit-chat and I think it'd be hard to make friends from that.

VariousBartimaeus Thu 10-Jan-13 18:05:36

Have been googling a bit - there seem to be English-speaking mums creating groups in various parts of France - Lyon, Dordogne,... (haven't yet found for Nancy though sad). I know you don't mind if it's English or French but I think you've more chance culturally to find an English-speaking one!

Maybe try and find out if there's expat groups in Nancy? And see if you can get in touch with mums that way?

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 18:39:19

Brioche - thanks for finding that! Do kind of you to look for me! I think I'll give them a ring tomorrow, although it says it is 'confidential and anon' so I wonder if its not for people with problems?!?

Raleuse - that would be lovely to meet up sometime!

Various - thanks for looking for me! I have tried the Mairie, they do have story telling and stuff but it's for older kids. Re the expat groups, there's not enough expats in nancy I don't think! Or maybe there are and we need a group to bring us together - I should start one!

So baby massage was good, there were only two other people there (quelle surprise!),

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 18:43:46

Oops posted too soon.
So it was me, my belle mere (yup has to take her along as you're not allowed two babies alone), a v odd woman with a zombie like baby and a nice woman with a 7 month old. So am thinking the nice woman could be potential friend, but didn't want to appear weird (and was scared of rejection after the twins club fiasco) so didn't ask her if she wanted to meet up or anything. She'll be there next time though so you never know. How desperate am I! Lol

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 18:50:26

I have a feeling most expats in Nancy will in some way be linked to the university. That is the case in Metz.

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 18:56:31

Yes actually I work at the fac des sciences as an English teacher so have some English colleagues who I see socially but none have small children

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 20:23:26

Thought you might work at the fac (though maybe you told me so before at some point). I do understand where you're coming from. That said the people we do socialise with that have children (that I don't consider mummy friends as we knew them before iyswim) have masses of advice about child rearing that those of us coming from a non-French background might find tricky.

So I tend to avoid the subject of children smile as when we do talk about it they end up looking at me like this hmm and make rod for back type comments grin

Nancy54 Thu 10-Jan-13 20:28:01

yeah i know what you mean. i do wonder about what it's gonna be like bringing my kids up here because i think i'll hava a very different parenting style to many of our friends.

everyone is already horrified that mine aren't sleeping through yet and i y just have been advised by many just to let them cry. they are only three months!

PetiteRaleuse Thu 10-Jan-13 20:37:23

The easiest thing to do is just say they are sleeping through, and you do let them cry it out grin

I think once they are past babyhood it gets easier. French children get moulded into the education and activity system and we will just end up fitting into that. It's while we are on our own doing things our own way that we get the flak for not doing things right.

Remember also that the vast majority of people haven't raised twins, so you can just raise an eyebrow, shrug, and ask how many sets of twins they have brought up. If you are raising them bilingually they might be a little slower speaking (but don't worry they will understand everything as normal) and you will get comments that they should go to the orthophoniste. I'm already getting that for DD1 from well meaning self appointed experts. I just ask them what their experience is in raising bilingual children...

Then a bit later if one of them shows the slightest behavioural issue (and I lean slight) you will have people lining up to give you the name of a psy...

I think we'll get through it with a whole load of smiling and nodding. I am lucky enough to have found a really good paediatrician in Luxembourg who shares my opinion on a lot of French advice. Makes life much easier.

VariousBartimaeus Fri 11-Jan-13 09:09:34

My mum found it funny last night because on the news there was an American report saying you should let babies cry it out and the French news station actually managed to find a French paed who said letting the baby cry is very damaging grin She was most impressed they'd managed to find an expert who thinks this wink

DS still doesn't sleep through consistently (15 months now). I mentionned it at work and another mum said her DS didn't sleep through til 3years (but she's not French) and then a couple of French mums chipped in that their babies didn't sleep through for ages either! The difference is their "babies" are now nearly teens so they can admit it now!

Weta Fri 11-Jan-13 10:15:22

Nancy don't worry too much about the 'confidential and anon' thing, it was the same at the place I went to in Montpellier and the other one in Provence as well. I think it's just some weird French obsession with privacy and worrying that people may be recording your details.

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 07:40:33

yeah raleuse, you're totally right i just need to nod and smile. i suppose you leant that with your first!!
i think the baby period is more difficult but tbh i'm not sure i want them to 'fit in' to the french system. of course they'll have to if we stay here but i'm starting to fantasise about moving back to the uk. i used to work in collège and i must say i do not like the french way of teaching. However, both me and dp have good jobs here, we've bought a house etc so i think i may just have to accept it!!! (anyway, that's a whole other thread for a couple of years time grin

oh god various my grandma (who is english) has been quoting that study to my sister and I! she is 93 though so we'll forgive her.

ok weta; thanks for the advice, i'm gonna try it this week! i'll let you know if it's full of a load of oddballs or not! or just completely empty.....wink

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 09:19:52

I'd prefer mine to go through the British system but without living in the UK. There is a British school in Luxembourg but it's expensive and I have heard some bad things about it. I'll leave them in the French system at least thru primary. Most French people turn out OK after all. Another thing we have considered is home schooling, but that is very frowned upon over here. I do intend on dropping the idea into conversation with the ILs for my own personal amusement though from time to time.

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 15:05:38

haha yes i too enjoy scaring the ils with my 'babacool' ideas. they are horrified that the babies don't sleep in their own room yet.

my sister works in an english high school and from what she tells me it"s v far from perfect too. But the grass is always greener i suppose....

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 15:34:22

It's the lack of creativity and discouragement from questioning what they are told which bothers me in the French education system. OTOH the standard at Bac os high and they study a wide range of subjects to 18.

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 18:13:39

Yes I totally agree. That's what I don't like about it either. I find it utterly depressing. Plus the obsession with marks and rank in the class.

They don't teach how to learn or how to enjoy learning.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 18:32:24

And the perpetual shame that is instilled with them about retaking a year.

And the fact that kids are expected to have masses of homework that parents seem to have to help with...


Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 19:05:54

And the fact that they constantly have learnt things off by heart

Nancy54 Sat 12-Jan-13 19:07:48

Have to learn I meant!

BriocheDoree Sat 12-Jan-13 19:23:40

Actually I was surprised how much homework my nieces in the UK get when talking to my SIL the other day. They are in year 1. DD probably has more but then she is two years ahead of them and gets extra because she's in a bilingual section. I don't know if we will stay here when the kids are at collège. We might have to go back anyway for work and family reasons but my heart does not leap at the idea of collège!

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 19:31:35

There is something to be said for occasionally learning things by heart - brain training - but they do seem to do it an awful lot. When I was an au pair the 8yo hadto learn a looooooong poem every week. Which I thought was excessive. I think I only ever learned one poem off by heart in my entire education, and that was for a public recital (I was 7 and still remember it now).

BriocheDoree Sat 12-Jan-13 19:44:06

I don't know...DD is always proud of herself when she has memorised something, but she is a child that learns quite easily. Have to see how DS gets on when he goes to CP next year. Might not be so easy for him. Also for my kids (who come from a purely anglophone family) learning by heart has been good for their French. Both are fully bilingual now but was a while coming.

PetiteRaleuse Sat 12-Jan-13 19:52:56

That's a good point Brioche. I did pretty well in the UK system but can't help but wonder how I would have done in the French system. I suppose the learning by rote does help them prepare for that specific education system. In the UK it wouldn't have helped except for maybe Latin verbs, if you studied Latin.

But in a country where there is so much focus on maths and science perhaps applying logic to grammar and rote learning helps.

Or maybe I am overthinking it

Nancy54 Sun 13-Jan-13 18:00:21

Yes some learning by heart is great for brain training but here it is totally excessive. Most of the time the kids are learning things that they don't understand off by heart.

I think if you're able and academic the french system suits you well, if you're less so or struggle, the french system makes you feel shit about yourself.

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