Sorry, it's been a bit crazy around here and I haven't gotten to blog at all! My youngest is in a play right now and parents are also required to volunteer 25 hours! Next week it's going to get even crazier.
Thanks so very much to all of you who stopped by to read, What We Could Learn From the French. I really loved all your notes and comments. It has been my most read post so far, thanks in part to Jennifer Scott and her blog, The Daily Connoisseur. I especially loved hearing about how everyone is trying to put a little French lifestyle into their daily living. Most people I heard from really liked the French habit of a nightly family dinner as a ritual. One especially inspired me from a new friend and dress designer, Andrea. Andrea is a mom of grown kids, (a son at West Point and a daughter who is a NYC actress) who recently started her own business designing A-line dresses. Her dresses are classic and beautiful and I hope to have a post about that soon. She wrote to me personally, but I asked her if I could share it with you too. She kindly agreed.
FABULOUS post Kim! I have been living the 'French' way for many years now and find it particularly satisfying. Mind you, I have a husband who does all the hard work, for which I am truly grateful. When I was a young mum like you, I made sure that by the end of the day(before he got home) the house was picked up, kids under control, music on, wine corked, candles lit and a homemade dinner ready to be served. Even now that the kids are out of the house, I still stop what I am doing to cook dinner, set the table, light the candles and savor the evening. Such a respite gave , and still gives, everyone in the household the energy and will to face the next day. I also never volunteered or worked during the hours that my family needed me to be available for whatever reason and always made sure that household chores and duties were a priority. Far from being a dull way to live, it freed up time for reading, planning and executing dinner parties and a host of other activities that made life for our family very enjoyable, regardless of where or how we were living, our income and general stress of living and working in America.
What I like the most about Andrea's letter is that she found a way to make her life as a mom enjoyable and not a drag. She motivates me to make life fun. It's all in the attitude that you assume. Some of us have jobs and even less time to get a family meal on the table. What I think the French do, and we can too, is just make the family meal a non-negotiable event that is going to happen no matter what. It may be late, because we have school (like our play!), sports or dad working longer hours. Of course there is going to be a night here and there that it isn't going to work. If you can never make it work, then maybe you need to have your family doing less.
I also love Andrea's point of volunteering not so much that it interferes with your home life. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Some volunteer so much at their kid's school and sports they don't even have time to make the family come first. A lot of times we moms are guilted into it. We have to be strong and just say no. You only have so many years together as a family unit and boy do they go by quick. I think I'd rather have my sons remember our family times together than if I was the mom who volunteered the most. As my oldest son fills out his 9th grade class choices tonight, I am shaken to think that I have only 4 more years with this precious boy in my care and home.
Tonight, inspired by Andrea, I set our dining room table instead of our kitchen one. I lit candles and had music during our dinner. It was a hectic night with one son planning his high school classes and another needing to be picked up at 6 from play practice. I did the dinner in parts, my husband picked up my actor, and finally I got us all at the table somewhere around 6:40, much later than usual, but we were together. The boys really appreciated the candles and I swear tried to behave nicer and engage in our chat about the day. It was worth it when they both said. "Thanks Mom that was great." This is far from a perfect house and most nights involve kids complaining about their food and me feeling unappreciated, so this was encouraging!
|A Paris dinner party. Pinterest|
All this talk got me thinking of a French experience a few years ago. I remember one night in Paris, the first time we rented an apartment for a week with our kids. It was a humid evening and we had our balcony open. The rush hour traffic died down and it seemed suddenly everything got quiet and then we could hear the very distinct sound of plates, forks and conversations float throughout our little street. My husband Max and I were thinking how interesting that we could hear everyone sitting down to dinner. It seemed as if the entire block stopped time to begin their evening. I recall thinking that everyone was having a dinner party, but now I realize it was just their families they were enjoying.
Thanks Andrea and all who have given me the inspiration to change our family life in this happy way!
I always love your comments and thoughts.