Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Phoebe who is a British/Australian TCK and had her sons in France. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

I’m a British/Australian expat since birth currently living in France. I’m really not « from » anywhere having lived in 9 countries, I’m what’s called a TCK (third culture kid). I have 2 boys aged 15 and 9.

having a baby in france

Why did you have your children abroad?

I had my boys in France as it’s where I was living. It didn’t feel like « abroad » as I don’t have a « home » other than where I’m living in the moment !

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

As there was nowhere else I’d go to have my kids I can’t really say what the benefits were over anywhere else. But I can say that France has excellent medical care and everything to do with maternity and childbirth is 100% reimbursed by social security making it completely free. As I was considered an older mum for my 2nd baby I had a higher risk of certain problems and I really appreciated all the extra tests/ultrasounds etc I was given throughout my pregnancy. I was massively in pain towards the end of my 2nd pregnancy and hugely appreciated having my baby induced 2 weeks early to end my pain. This pain wasn’t life threatening for either me or the baby but my comfort and ability to function was considered important. My sister had exactly the same thing at the same time in UK and had to persevere till the end. I know which option I preferred and certainly felt the benefits of a more medicalised approach in France at this stage. For the births I had a double room for my first child, though there was no one else with me for most of the time I was there and a private room for my 2nd child. Both had private bathrooms. My babies were with me in the room but could be taken away and looked after if I wanted to rest. In France you stay in hospital for longer than in many countries and for me the benefit of this was that I felt rested and confident handling my newborn by the time I went home.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

For my 1st baby I’d only been in France for a couple of years and my French was OK but not great so I chose to give birth at the Franco-British Hospital in Paris as I thought there’d be more anglo influences and some English spoken. It turned out the only English thing was a portrait of the Queen Mother in the lobby!! At the time there were no parenting blogs or online help so I relied on English books on childbirth/pregnancy etc. All my influences and ideas were very British, not French; things like birth-plans & pain relief differed hugely and I went into the birth process feeling disappointed that nothing was how I wanted it. For my 2nd child 6 years later I was much more confident and my French heaps better so I chose the local “clinique” which turned out to be way nicer than the Franco-British Hospital! I also chose to go with the flow and do it the « French way » not fighting every bit of advice I was given and in doing so had a much happier and satisfying birth experience. « When in Rome and all that.. »

having a baby france

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

If I take my « home » country to be UK then yes I continually came up against differences of opinions, particularly concerning what was OK to eat and what wasn’t during pregnancy, drugs during birth and the whole medicalisation of pregnancy. However, unlike many of the others talking about France in this series, I was fully encouraged to breastfeed and continue as long as I wanted. Yes, many health professionals were surprised to hear I was still breastfeeding at 8,9, 10 months but they were impressed and encouraging not negative. And as I mentioned above, once I’d accepted more of the French way of doing things I was much more relaxed. Differences of opinions continued throughout babyhood and toddler years (and still continue now I guess), I had the French side saying things like put shoes on very early to encourage walking, and the English side saying wait till the baby can walk before putting shoes on so as not to harm the feet ! Let’s face it, in the end all French and English babies learn to walk at pretty much the same age and neither has obviously more or less feet problems when older, so many of these things are just cultural differences, neither better nor worse.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

I would say go with your gut feelings but try not to fight the host country’s ideas too much as it’s likely to all work out all right in the end. Stand up for what you believe in but listen to professional advice too. (I’m referring to pregnancy and birth here rather than parenting choices). If you don’t speak the language of the country you’re in do your best to find an English-speaking doctor/midwife as it’s hugely important to feel like you can communicate properly. Try not to assume your way is « better », learning to accept other cultures is enriching and if you’re like me at all then ultimately it’s more relaxing!

Find out more about Phoebe here: 



Want to share your story? Get in touch

What’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication

I’m often asked what’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication (EC).

#ECchatAs a mother who started ECing Baby in Provence (BiP) when she was 3 months old, I’ve never had first hand experience of traditional potty training as she decided a few months before her 2nd birthday that she wanted to wear no longer wanted to wear a nappy/diaper. Amusingly, her decision to stop wearing nappies was just as we were boarding a long haul flight and she was very determined to have her own way!

Before I get into the differences between Potty Training and Elimination Communication I’d like to start with the definitions:

What is Potty Training?

Toilet training, or potty training, is the process of training a young child to use the toilet for urination and defecation, though training may start with a smaller toilet bowl-shaped device (often known as a potty). Cultural factors play a large part in what age is deemed appropriate, with the expectation for being potty trained ranging from 12 months for some tribes in Africa to 36 months in the modern United States. – Wikipedia

What is Elimination Communication?

Elimination Communication (EC) is NOT potty training. It is a gentle, natural, non-coercive process by which a baby, preferably beginning in early infancy, learns with the loving assistance of parents and caregivers to communicate about and address his or her elimination needs. This practice makes conventional potty training unnecessary.- The Diaper Free Baby


What’s the difference between Potty Training and Elimination Communication?

In short, Potty Training is about training the child whereas EC has nothing to do with training the child – it’s about training the parent to understand the child’s rhythms, cues and signs to help get them to a potty. EC is not about sitting around staring at your baby waiting for them to pee or poop! For more information on EC and our personal journey you can read all about it here.

Other differences between Potty Training and Elimination Communication include:

  • Signs of the child’s readiness are important in Potty Training vs. with EC readiness isn’t even acknowledged.
  • Some Potty Training methods have a reward scheme for the child who uses the potty vs. having little reaction to a child who goes to the potty with EC, as rewarding a normal bodily function is thought to be bizarre.
  • Potty training is often treated as a mission – something to get done vs. EC which is a journey with your child.

What are the similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication?

Obviously there are a lot of similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication! Pee, poop, more pee and poop, and accidents!

Other similarities between Potty Training and Elimination Communication include: 

Nappies/diapers – lots of them are used with both methods!

Equipment – both methods use Potty Training equipment; potties, steps, training underwear, cloth diapers etc – I did buy a fair amount of my potty training equipment from Tesco.

Mixed emotions – Potty Training and EC can frustrate you as a parent, at the same time you discover a level of joy about seeing a poop in a potty that you never knew was possible.

Criticism – no matter which method you chose to use you will be doing it wrong by someone – this does seem to come with the territory of being a parent!

Relief – Neither method lasts forever – eventually you will no longer have the need for nappies, you can carry a smaller bag and you’ll probably become an expert on the public toilet locations in your local area pretty quickly!

That’s a brief look at the differences (and similarities) between Potty Training and Elimination Communication.

What was your experience?

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: ITALY

This week I talk to Angie, a Canadian who had her son in Italy as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about experience of having a baby abroad!

Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself?

unnamed-4Hello, I’m Angie from Reasons to Dress, my lifestyle blog. I work in fashion for my husband’s exotic leather belt brand, but decided to stay home and raise my son 2 and a half years ago when he was born so that he could be bilingual. I still work part time from home, but without any of the special events, traveling and glitz and glamour of working in Fashion. I was sure that becoming a SAHM would leave me frumpy, outdated and with no reasons to dress! I couldn’t have been more wrong. Italy is filled with reasons for moms to get dressed up and go out on the town WITH THEIR KIDS!

I’ve blogged about going out for “aperitivos” as a family, the Italian ritual of the “passeggiata” and the importance of Saturdays for Italian living (and fashion!)

This is a country where any occasion to be seen is taken and neither moms nor kids get left out. I blog about what I wore, where I went, expat stories, travel and what life is really like in Italy. I also feature real stylish moms that I encounter while I’m out and about as part of a Real Mom Street Style Series.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Toronto, Canada and have been living in Italy for about 6 and a half years. I am now living in Modena, Italy which was Pavarotti’s home town and also home to Balsamic vinegar and the Ferrari! If you are interested in knowing more about Modena, I’ve done a whole series about it here.

How old is your son and where did you have him?

I have one 2 and almost a half year old. He is a feisty red head and I had him in the Italian town of Sassuolo (A Series for soccer fans), which is about 20 minutes away from Modena where I live.

Why did you have your child abroad?

There was no way I was going to take a flight back to Canada while pregnant (even though I did contemplate it)! I had already made the decision to live in Italy so I try to rely on the Italian health care system, Italian government (scary I know!) and soon the Italian educational system for my son.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

It certainly wasn’t easy, but then again I don’t think having a child anywhere really is. I have to say that overall I was quite pleased with my experience. Well, not ALL of my experience. In Italy there is a public health care system that supplements most of the cost of care. You pay a “ticket” for whatever portion you are responsible for, but in general it is all very affordable. The problem is, that in a country with 60 million people the public health care system is often really back-logged and it can take months to get an appointment. This is actually not new to me, since in Canada, where health care is also publicly funded, this is often also the case.

I had some really bad pains in the beginning of my pregnancy and since the public doctors were giving me appointments for three months down the line we ended up going to a private gynecologist. He was VERY OLD. I think he helped give birth to the entire city of Modena! His office was FILLED with pictures of babies that were ranging from the 1960s to last week!

His wife was his assistant (not a spring chicken herself) and their views on a few things were very old and set in stone. How do you argue with a man who has helped give birth to literally THOUSANDS of babies?

Each time I went for an appointment I would wait for close to an hour and a half in the waiting room (standard Italian wait times), I would pay between 100 and 130 euro for a visit (standard Italian gynecological visit prices) and often I wouldn’t get a receipt (it’s also standard practice for EVERYONE to work under the table!

He wanted to know EVERYTHING. What was I eating, drinking, watching, wearing? At one point I would have to call his wife every single night with my blood pressure reading!

I didn’t have the easiest pregnancy but I was not alone. I felt cared for, and that’s what counted.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I know first hand that giving birth in a country that is not YOUR country is very scary. Apart from the language barriers that can occur when you are unable to describe something or unable to understand something being described, you are often treated as a foreigner. I think the best thing to do is to go online and seek out the appropriate communities and associations that may exist to help get you informed.

For example I had no idea how the system worked in Italy. You can’t just go to a specialist, for example, you need a “ticket” and an “impegnativo” which is like a request. Plus you must pay this ticket in advance and you can pay it at a grocery store! There are all kinds of roundabout ways for getting something simple like blood work done that it is enough to drive anyone crazy, let alone a pregnant woman.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Of COURSE. I wanted an all natural birth, my gynecologist suggested a C-Section! I wanted to do cord banking, my gynecologist said it was a waste of money. I wanted to keep the placenta attached, my husband, gynecologist and just about EVERYONE I told this to got totally grossed out and asked me if I was getting enough sleep!

There is a whole world of differences between how Italians wean and interact with children as well….but that’s another story!

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

ASK A LOT OF QUESTIONS. To everyone and anyone that will listen and answer you. If you want to get information and understand how the system works you need to ask questions, know that they aren’t dumb and get answers. Don’t be afraid to speak up if there’s something you don’t understand and don’t be afraid to stick up for your ideas.

At the same time you must remember that things really are different here and if you are not getting the support or information you need from one hospital / doctor than try out another. Instead of giving birth in Modena’s hospital, which followed a very traditional birthing policy, I went to the neighbouring town which was much more natural and supportive of mother’s choices. They offered bouncy balls, a water birth option, music therapy, no epidurals, lactation consultations and a huge birthing shower. You can read all about my birth story here.


You can follow Angie at Reasons to Dress on her blogFacebook, Google +, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Bloglovin’! I love hearing your comments and suggestions, please feel free to share any of my posts with your friends and don’t be a stranger!

Three ways to help poor children without giving them money directly

Three ways to help poor children without giving them money directly

130930_DX_KidsKarachiPuppets.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlargeWhen you walk down the streets of third-world countries, scenes of children begging for alms are a common sight. Knowing that these innocent kids have been suffering from their homelessness, as well as possible physical and emotional abuse from parents and peers, saying no to them when they ask for some loose change can be very heartbreaking.

Thing is, some countries have rules against giving alms to the poor and for good reason. A lot of street kids are being used by underground syndicates. The money that these poor children get from passers-by, of course, won’t be used for their benefit but as funds for illegal activities done by the very people using them.

So instead of giving street kids money directly, here are a few alternatives that you can do.


There are a lot of charities no matter where you live in. Help in soup kitchens, gather clothes for the homeless, and reach out to schools that are in dire need of teacher volunteers. Sometimes, there comes a point that charities have more money than volunteers, so it’s always great to help physically. Share your talents to the world! If you’re a doctor, participate in medical missions. If you’re an engineer, help build schools for kids. If you can, help your local charity instead of giving aid to international ones. Chances are, your local charity isn’t given much attention compared to globally-recognized agencies.

Child Sponsorship

There’s a saying that goes something like, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. But teach a man to how to fish and he can feed himself for as long as he lives.” Child sponsorship is a great way to give children a second chance in life. By providing them with basic needs and education, you will be able to help a kid get out of poverty forever. So instead of giving out some loose change to kids on the streets, why not sponsor a child until he or she is old enough to be employed? There are a lot of charities that help kids break away from poverty. UnaOil Kids is one of them, and is particularly dedicated in helping children from politically-unstable countries.

Give them food and talk to them

If you can, give food instead of money to street children. Giving street kids food and talking to them is a great way to make them feel that they’re loved and remembered. Talking to them would also allow you to know how to help them best. Treat them to places where healthy food is served. Most fast food joints don’t really serve healthy choices that are necessary for a child’s growth.

Kids are the world’s future and each of them deserves a good life to live. Sometimes, money isn’t the answer to break them out of poverty but long-term commitment in making their lives better.


Photo credit: Eric Johnson

Why you won’t see my kid’s face online (or know her name)

Just over two years ago I wrote a post about why I will never post my daughter’s face online.
Nothing has changed, you won’t see my kid’s face online, or know her name, at least not on my profiles.

BiP (Baby in Provence) is 4 and a half now. A huge fan of selfies, being filmed, making dance videos – you name it. But they are all OURS!

A few years ago I was accused of being a fake mummy blogger because I didn’t show my daughter’s face online – I even had people ask me if she had a physical deformity, which is why I wasn’t showing her face. I was stunned. No. She’s perfectly fine, adorable, a smart cookie and a real firecracker – it’s actually hard for me NOT to share publicly what she gets up to! Inspite of the scorn I still got voted #5 of the Circle of Moms European Blogs.

Not to repeat what I wrote 2 years ago, but BiP one day may hate her name. She may cringe at pictures of herself but she has the choice as to where they appear!

And if you ever need a reason to reconsider what you share online then Take This Lollipop.

Last time I shared this with a friend she deleted every picture from her social media accounts of her children.

It’s easy, we can do it in a second. But is it necessary?

One mother had her Instagram profile taken down for a fairly innocent pic of her toddler’s belly and it sparked a big media storm.
I was interviewed – click the pic to view (and the headline was off but hey, sensational reporting!)Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 11.06.05 PM

It’s too easy to snap a pic an upload today. But we don’t really know who is looking nor what they are doing with the images.

Do I need to see your kid’s genitals? – NO

Do I need to see your kid’s face covered in cake/food/poop/some random crap – NO

Do I need to see how much your kids epically f-ed up something – probably NO but I’d LOL! I
If you posted it I guess you might be ok with deeming them idiots for eternity.

See how it works?

In this digital age where most things have an archive and a history, do we really want everything we posted about our kids available for years to come?

Maybe you do.

I chose not to and will uphold it until she’s old enough to read and understand.

It will be an interesting journey from my side (and I look forward to when BiP is old enough to fully embrace her own online presence).

We all have the choice as to what we post, how much me share and to think for our kids.

I don’t judge those who share pics of their kids and I often like them, as often as like cat pictures.

What do you think? Do you share your kid’s photos freely? Or do you do censor?  


Why I will never post my daughter’s face online

Just over 2 and a half years ago I became a mother, a mummy blogger, and I have never posted my daughter’s face (or her name) online. Here is why.

Before I get into my reasons, actually our reasons, I just want to clarify that our daughter is (thankfully) happy, healthy, and doesn’t have any facial abnormalities – yes, that has been suggested on numerous occasions when I continually refuse to publish her face.

The fundamental reason you will never see our daughter’s face or name online is because we feel that SHE has the right to choose her online identity when the time is right.

Our stance may seem extreme but as cute as she looks with food all over her face she is quite likely to be embarrassed by some of her photos later in life – why would I compound that by publishing them for the world to see, and refer to forever?

I am know I am not alone in this stance to keep BiP out of the public eye; Carla Bruni, when her daughter was born stated “No Photos“.

BiP (Baby in Provence) obviously has a name. A proper name but I don’t know if she’ll like it when she grows up. Again, this is our choice.

Some have said I can’t be a real “mummy blogger” without publishing my child’s picture. After all, this blog is all about our journey through breastfeeding, EC and BLW. It does include hilarious stories of BiP pooping in a car park and times she’s dined out in Provence.

But mostly the stories are shared from MY point of view and all you get are pictures of me, the back of BiP’s head or an arm.

BiPs second birthdayBiP lunchingMummy and Bipmummyinprovencea





We live abroad with family and friends flung at all corners of the world – sometimes the easiest way would be to post her latest picture to Facebook but then how many others, who don’t know us, will see it?

Do you know everyone personally on Facebook? I know I don’t.

I have a hard enough time managing my own social media presence and have no desire to get on top of BiPs.

In addition, I do have a pretty strong stance when it comes to the use of children in advertising but I’ve written enough about that.

Obviously there are concerns with safety but they are minor at this stage as she’s too young to read but I would hate for someone else to use BiP’s face without me knowing (and yes, I have friends who have had their baby’s images in Picassa used for company newsletter).

Yes, it is challenging to keep BiP’s face offline.

BiP is adorable, an extension of us, our love, and wow, it is tempting to post those pictures online to get all the compliments that you get everyday which just make you want to burst with pride but NO.

It’s our duty to protect our daughter and the digital world we live in we feel that it’s our right to keep some aspects of our life private.

What are you thoughts on this subject?

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: AUSTRALIA

Having a baby abroad AustraliaThis week I talk to Tasmin, an American who had her baby daughter in Australia as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about the benefits of being raised as a dual citizen, the challenge of getting affordable baby stuff and the importance of getting professional baby photo’s done. Here is her story:


Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

I’m Tasmin and I grew up in Texas, but my dad is from New Zealand so I was raised a little cross culturally (eating lamb, loving to travel). I had visited family in Sydney before and always wanted to live here since it is a big city, but clean with heaps of friendly people and things to do on beautiful beaches. I married another American and we moved around the U.S. a bit after University (where we met studying abroad in New Zealand) and I finally convinced him to sell everything and hop on a plane to Sydney 4 years ago. My daughter is four months old and she was born here.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

Being raised as a dual citizen allowed me lots of opportunities like studying abroad at a non-international tuition cost in New Zealand, sometimes travelling under the radar in developing nations, and being able to live abroad in Commonwealth countries without prolonged visa applications.  I’ve always wanted my children to have those same opportunities.  Growing up in a small Texas town it made me feel special to have a connection to another country since so many of the people around me didn’t even have passports.  I think it gave me more of an open view of the world and its possibilities from a young age.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

The U.S. has a certain way of doing things, and when it comes to birthing and raising babies, it’s not usually my personal preference.  Australia is very family friendly and the work arrangements especially appealed to me.  It is very common, if not expected, that you will take a full year off for each child.  Provided you return within 52 weeks, you have full job security at the same position with the same pay. In addition to your employer’s leave payment (averaging 8-12 weeks full pay), you also get 18 weeks paid from the government at minimum wage (replacing the old baby bonus scheme this year).  It means you do not derail your career by spending the first year of their life with your child full time.






Pregnant Tasmin

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was just fine.  To be fair, I had been here for 3 years before getting pregnant, so we had established a solid network of friends, plus I have cousins that live in town along with other extended family in New Zealand.

Our parents back in the U.S. of course would have liked to be more a part of it all, but Facebook status updates daily, photo posts, and Skype calls weekly have made staying in touch very easy.

Getting a hold of quality, inexpensive baby items has been really challenging since Australia is such a small place.  We have been getting most of our essentials from Amazon, sent to parents’ houses, consolidated and then mailed over to us in care packages.  Not ideal, but saves us ridiculous amounts of money.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Prior to getting pregnant, I would not have considered myself ‘crunchy’ but as I researched my options for everything on childbirth to child rearing, I kept leaning that way with my preferences.  Australia generally advocates everything that it part of my parenting philosophy, in contrast with the U.S.. Not to say you can’t fight for it there, but you would have to.

Here we have public and private hospital options and it was confusing for me to sort out, but I opted to go public  through Midwifery group care.  It was great because I saw one midwife for all my prenatal appointments (if any issues had showed up making me high-risk I would have automatically seen an OB as well).  She was also part of a small team of awesome midwives who would be there when I actually delivered the baby.  The rooms all had big tubs if you wanted a waterbirth, along with all sorts of other things (ball, mat) for the active birthing they advocated. They tried to keep you on a natural, intervention-free path if possible, but of course if you wanted an epidural, etc. it was available.  Since the birthing centre was within the hospital, any emergency situations could be immediately dealt with.  And it was all free.

The hospitals are also “baby friendly” in that they do not take a healthy baby away from you, they are not put in a nursery, never given formula unless that is something you have chosen (then you have to mix it yourself), and they don’t advocate pacifiers at the beginning as they can interfere with establishing breastfeeding.

Here it is expected that you will breastfeed for a year.  There is a lot of support in the hospital to get you going in the right direction, there are lactation nurses available at the early childhood centres twice a week for drop in help (they will watch you and show you how to improve your issue whatever it might be), and the Australian Breastfeeding Association has a 24hr hotline you can ring along with weekly meetings and coffee mornings with related discussion topics.  Inevitably there are some people who cannot or will not breastfeed, but formula use is definitely frowned upon.

There is great Community support as well.  After I left the hospital a midwife visited me 3 times over the next week to help me settle in, answer questions about bathing, pumping, whatever.  Then there is the Early Childhood centre who you have your well-baby appointments with for 4wks (they come to the house), 8wks, 3mths…etc.  You can attend an organised mothers group for the first 8 weeks hosted there, and then branch out and organise yourselves.  This has been one of the best things for me – weekly lunches with other women who have babies the exact same age to compare notes and commiserate.  It’s a fantastic support network especially for first time mums.  Karitane and Tresillian are also great non-profit organisations of nurses who answer a 24hr hotline on behavioural/sleep issues and you can be referred to them for day or week stays where the nurses actually show you how to fix an issue.  It’s mostly free as well.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Decide what you would like and find a carer that shares that philosophy, then as things unfold on the day of your birth, trust their recommendations.  It will never go as planned and you need to be flexible for your own safety and the health of your baby while still feeling engaged and empowered.  Really take advantage of the resources available to you whether they are hotlines to ask questions or mothers groups.  It helps you stay connected (not isolated in a foreign country with a screaming new baby) and realise what is normal and what is not so you can seek out help.  And take lots of pictures of the baby for your family back “home” including a proper family portrait session – you won’t regret it.

Tasmin is a photographer here is her site: www.tasminbrown.com Connect with Tasmin on facebook for “lots of mommy related musings”


Want to share your story? Get in touch: ameena@mummyinprovence.com

Family skiing holidays: Things to think about

Thinking of a family ski holiday?

Children often start skiing quite early in France, as early as 3-4 years old, they can start skiing in small groups or in private lessons.


But planning a ski holiday with a family with young children can be very challenging especially if you plan to have any kind of holiday for yourself in the process!

Hotels can be a really comfortable and practical option for families, especially as other après-ski options such as indoor pools and games areas are readily available – not to mention babysitting! However, the costs of a hotel can be prohibitively expensive which is why chalet holidays are a great option.

Why a chalet holiday?

Chalet holidays are often a more authentic way to enjoy alpine life. They often have more space for the family to enjoy when they are not on the slopes. In addition they often help you save a lot of money as you will able to prepare meals vs. eating in a restaurant (which are usually super expensive) every meal.  Not to mention the flexibility for meal times for families with younger children who don’t want to wait for the restaurants to open or for children who still need their afternoon naps.

Chalet holidays are also a lot of fun (if you have the right friends) to share on a ski holiday with families – kinder on the budget, you can share the baby-sitting and the children can often entertain themselves.

Many resorts offer chalets with saunas, indoor pools and hot tubs, some even offer in room DVD players and MP3 players. Naturally the more frills the bigger the expense but chalets are often much more affordable than staying in a hotel.

High season for ski holidays is usually very expensive and availability is limited as most places are booked well in advance.

Have you been on a ski holiday with little children? What was your experience?





Image credit SkiTotal



Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: HONG KONG

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Nicole who is a New Zealander, who grew up in Australia, and had her daughter in Hong Kong. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

unnamed-6Ni Hao! Sorry, I’m currently learning Chinese after living in Hong Kong for almost four years, so I’m a tad excited about spreading the oriental love!

So! I am Nicole and I was born in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ (aka New Zealand) but have lived in Australia for most of my life…

A journalist, I’d been working as a television news reader at 24 hour news channel Sky News for the best part of a decade when we decided to do that thing called “live life on the edge” …and make the move to the cosmopolitan capital, Hong Kong.

My husband is a Hotel Manager and when the opportunity came up to move to the so-called ‘City that Never Sleeps,’ we (nervously) jumped at the chance.

Why did you have your children abroad?

Well, funny you should ask – turns out I wasn’t going to get much sleep either! In a twist of fate, that very same week we also found out we were expecting our first baby. Talk about a double whammy!

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

expat baby hong kongNot having had a child in my home country, having Ava (who’s now 3.5) overseas is all I know, but naturally in the lead up to her birth, I was apprehensive about being so far away from home, without family help and support.…

Of course everyone would say “You’re not really having the baby in HK are you, ringing massive alarm bells in my head, but once we arrived in Hong Kong I realized everything was very westernized and the doctors are on an equal par with any in Australia. I had nothing to worry about and it was relatively smooth sailing all the way.

My family were (thankfully) able to come over as soon as Ava was born and that made things much easier.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Certainly did! Locals tend to have quite differing views on giving birth in Asia, so I was met with a few unsettling comments in those early days, particularly being so new to the city, I was still so unaware of the culture (which stems back thousands of years)!

In China, it’s status quo to have a month’s confinement when you give birth which basically means bed rest for four weeks and staying indoors, away from cool air and wind, not bathing or washing your hair and eating specific (often medicinal) food, just to name a few things.

Consequently, I would get some strange looks when I had Ava out at the shops at just two weeks old. I started telling people she was older to avoid the wrath! Locals here are not ones to hold back and were always extremely forthcoming about just how I should be holding/feeding and dressing my new baby. I look back and laugh now, but then as a new (very sensitive) mum it was pretty harrowing at times.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

unnamed-4Ava’s still young so it’s hard to pinpoint what benefits there are for her, but I am sure all of the traveling she’s doing can only be beneficial and she has partially slotted into Hong Kong’s international schooling system which allows her to meet children from all different backgrounds and cultures. Her class is also bilingual with an English teacher and a Chinese teacher.

For me, in Hong Kong I’m very lucky to have a ‘Domestic Helper’ which certainly eases the load! Life here is relatively easy, with a great public transport system to get around and everything you need at your finger tips. There’s also a great bunch of like minded expats which always helps when you’ve got friends to travel your journey with.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Try to take it all with a grain of salt if you are somewhere where the culture is very different. The locals mean well, but always trust your own instinct and do it your way.

Make sure you research well before you choose your doctor and hospital. There should be plenty of forums and online groups to help, if in doubt.

It’s not easy being away from home and family and having a child only highlights that. Make sure you’re prepared and if you can, do regular trips home. (Mind you flying is not easy until they are about three, so deep breaths!)

Hook up with other expat mums in the same boat. They’ll be your life savers.


Want to share your story? Get in touch


About Nicole:

ZbcT71eHNicole Webb is a former News Reader with 24 hour news channel Sky News Australia. Three and a half years ago she took a whole lot of deep breaths and relocated from Sydney with her hotelier husband (and bump) to the city that never sleeps, Hong Kong. The trio has survived and thrived on expat life and as well as being mum to a hyped-up toddler, Nicole works as a freelance writer, presenter, MC, media consultant and blogger.

Find her expat musings on her blog.

Follow her on Twitter and join her Facebook page.



My top 5 tips for traveling abroad with kids for the holidays!

As an Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK), meaning I was born to parents of different nationalities and different country, traveling is just a part of life. I will admit that traveling before BiP was a different thing altogether! I could take my time, leisurely rock up to the airport, check in, browse the duty free and spend time selecting the magazines I wanted to read – but that was another life!!!

Now it’s about packing “special new” toys, snacks, changes of clothes for BiP (and me) and learning circus acts to keep BiP entertained!

278932_10150248335123895_2027473_oHere are my top 10 tips for traveling abroad with kids for the holidays!

1. Plan where you are going to stay!

If you’re going to visit family it’s probable that you’ll stay with them or nearby. Reach out to friends in the area who have kids if you can’t stay with family – more often than not the welcome the entertainment for their kids and yours will be blissfully entertained! Plus you’ll have the home creature comforts. If that’s not an option, look into renting an apartment vs a hotel – I know that hotels were off limits when I started traveling with BiP – I needed my own space when she went to bed at 7pm!

2. Check your travel times

Getting up at 3am to catch the 5:30am flight was cool when you were free and childless but what will that translate into if you do it with your little one? I’ve done a midnight flight with BiP and she slept most of it but I know I was lucky – I know too many parents who’ve had a terrible time with their kids on flights that have been at crazy time. Oh, and think you’ll sleep too? I doubt it!

3. Make sure you have money

Make sure you withdraw some cash before you travel – you never know when you’ll need it. If need be, try to have some local currency for your destination already exchanged before you go – nothing worse than arriving at your destination tired with a cranky tired little one and not having money to pay for a taxi!

Do check with your bank that your credit card works abroad before you go. I’ve had my cards blocked more often than care to admit when I travel abroad. Look online for the best credit card deals, I know that for my last trip abroad I got a new credit card which made my trip so much easier.

4. Prep the little ones in advance

Talk to them about the trip including the travel arrangements – explain that there are exciting things to come but boring things in between! Get them to pack a bag of goodies for the flight but also have your own reserve of cool things to pull out when you need them.

5. Prep yourself

Grab a change of top for you (if you don’t take it you’ll wished you had!)! Know that you’ll be busy most of the time keeping the little one entertained. Prepare yourself for the worst and hope for the best! From my own experience BiP decided that a long haul flight from France to Dubai was a great time to go diaper free  (for the first time)- she flatly refused to wear a diaper  (when EC backfires or not) and with good reason but it could have been catastrophic!

If you’re worried about how you’re kids will do on the flight you can always do what this family did (they gave candy bribes to fellow passengers with a note!).


Those are my 5 top tips on traveling abroad with kids, what are yours?