Milo wrapped up warm for an early Autumn Winter a few years back
Many of us build opinions on child-rearing way before we have any children of our own. Some of these beliefs we then look back on and laugh at and others we go through with. Maybe I am alone in this but I don't think so? Some examples of pre-parenthood ideals I built and kept include:
- not having my children christened - I am non-religious myself & believe my children can choose their own religious beliefs one day if they wish
- using 'Time Outs' - I couldn't wait to get going with time outs and whilst I wish my son didn't push me to needing to use them, there is actually a part of me that is excited to put all those hours of 'Supernanny' watching in to practise
- Having some 'me time' - Whilst I have great respect for women whose only wish in life is to procreate and to raise their brood with all their might, I am very much a person that still needs to keep track of the me that is 'Sarah' and not just 'mummy'. Before I had Milo I swore I would make sure I would still do some of the things that made me 'me' and I have kept to that.
Now, if that isn't enough. Raising a child abroad can add a whole bucket load of extra opinions on top. It is one of the big challenges of expat parenting and one that I have struggled with in the last few years.
Go out with your little baby on the streets of Berlin and it won't be too long before you'll have your first telling off from a perfect stranger. Your baby will either be wearing too much or too little. I'm not kidding! I was pretty lucky on this front with Milo but I did receive a ticking off on a few occasions. Once, a fellow passenger on the S Bahn decided that my child was clearly wearing too much for the heat we were having that day. She told me this despite the fact that she couldn't actually see Milo as he was in his pram. He was under the cover bit asleep as we were on our way home from a swimming class and I might add that he was also practically naked. Did the fact that she couldn't see what my child was wearing stop her? Did it ever?!
I've had friends who have been told off for their children not wearing hats, not wearing a jacket or a scarf and once there was panic from a woman on the train next to me as Milo and I were sitting near a tilted open window with his head bare. Oh the horror!
Since Milo has left his baby years behind, I haven't had any problems with random passers by giving their opinions on what he's wearing but I have been
It's fair to say that Germans and Brits have very different attitudes when it comes to weather and clothing. I am of a nation that will happily wear mini skirts (without tights) on a windy, rainy night out and spent a lot of my late teens and twenties going out for a late night without a jacket because I couldn't be bothered to carry one around with me. No matter if it was cold out. Then you have the Germans. I swear, as soon as the weather takes a slight dive, out come the black winter coats, the scarves, the hats and the gloves and people will pretty much hibernate inside these until late Spring. Ok, I am exaggerating a little. Only a little though! (sorry German readers but you've got to admit I have a point here?!)
My apartment has laminate flooring throughout. It's pretty laminate but laminate all the same and of course, in comparison to carpeted homes, the floors can get a little chilly. No Brit has ever asked me to supply them 'Hausschühe' (slippers or thick socks) but pretty much every German who has entered has. I get laughed at when I turn down the offer of thick socks to wear when I go to a German's place. ''I'm British'' is my standard response these days. Nothing more needs to be said I reckon.
I went off on a bit of a tangent there. Sorry. As I was saying, the big problem I have is with Milo's nursery. I have been told off so many times I have lost count. We were told he had to wear tights under their trousers in the Winter (it's quite normal for boys to wear tights here and I've adapted to that). This year I was all prepared and went out and bought 4 pairs of tights for Milo to see him through only for the nursery to tell us that they want him to wear leggings instead as these are better for when the children climb on the wooden equipment at the nursery. Ok. We then have to of course make sure there are a pair of rain trousers, a rain jacket and a pair of wellies should it rain. This is also in the Summer which has meant trying to source or buy wellies that may well never get worn before your child grows out of them. Unless it's a particularly rainy summer of course. I tried sending Milo to nursery with those wonderful thick socks with the rubber underneath as slippers as they are much cheaper than slippers but alas no, for some reason those are not allowed. I can't tell you how costly it can get making sure Milo has everything the nursery demands when your child also lives between two different homes. You genuinely find yourself needing triple the amount of clothing! Thank God that Milo's dad and I live around the corner from one another as we are constantly having to bring around an item that the other one needs for nursery the following day.
The new thing we've been told on countless occasions we need for Milo are woollen vests. This is the second year in a row that we've been told we absolutely MUST buy them as they will help protect Milo's chest and theoretically make him less prone to getting a cough. I am not convinced. To stop the stupid moaning we have decided that we will give it a go though and Milo's dad put in an order online somewhere for 2 woollen vest and a pair of woollen tights. He called me up to tell me how much they cost (I am footing the bill) and it's a shocking €50! €50!!!! I can't remember what my exact reaction was when he told me this but I'm pretty sure some expletives were involved. This is the man that complains that I sometimes buy new clothing for Milo and he just went and spent €50 of my money (from his maintenance payment admittedly) on 3 items! Ouch.
I swear this would never be asked of me as a parent in the UK?! Don't get me wrong, I am all for protecting your child against extreme weathers but I also think us Brits wear a hell of a lot less at similar temperatures and we aren't all dying and permanently ill! I also think we deal better with the weather because we are more hardened to it. I don't think there's anything wrong with that?
What do you think? Am I ranting about something completely pointless or do you have similar culture clashes like this where you live? or with your partner?
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