Tag Archives: raising a child in Germany

Life with two kids

It has been now nearly five months since little Nathalie joined our family. Our everyday life changed a lot ever since then when it comes to organizing daily tasks. We knew from the beginning that life would certainly not get any easier with a second child and many friends even “warned us”. The thing is that each child is different and needs a different approach when growing up. In our case Nathalie proved to be the exact opposite of our first-born Nathan.

Our little Nathan back in 2015

When Nathan was born we still lived in Finland in our tiny 40 sqm apartment (~430ft²). Our neighbours were surprised how quiet Nathan was as they never heard him cry. Sure he was crying sometimes but that was very rare. Friends of us with children were always wondering how calm Nathan was and how easy it seemed to take care of him. I am not saying that everything was golden with him but we were blessed with a pretty easy-going child. Later we moved to Germany and even had my parents to help taking care of him. First because I was working and my wife was going to a six month integration course and later because we both started our own business so my parents where taking care of Nathan in between.

We always wanted two children and in the case of my wife she always wanted a boy and a girl. Even though we were very busy starting our own business we decided to have a second child. The timing seemed perfect for us as Nathan would be by the time Nathalie is born over three years old and starting kindergarten, giving us more time to raise the baby girl. Though the timing was indeed perfect everything developed a bit different than hoped for. First of all Nathan started kindergarten half-year later than planned as the city had messed up some paperwork in between for his registration. Then our business suddenly developed a bit too well and gave us (especially my wife) extreme work load which had to be dealt with until Nathalie was born. In fact my wife worked until a few hours before Nathalie’s birth and starting again three days later to finish some leftover orders.

Having help from the family is always wonderful (even with MIL)

Now I come again to the beginning when I mentioned that every child is different when growing up and needs a different approach. For us Nathalie was so very unlike her brother. Sure she looked very similar to him when born, to be precise she was more like copy paste of Nathan except of having more hair. Her temperament however was very different. By now she is going by the names “Demon”, “Gewitterziege” (German for “Thunderstorm Goat” and according to dict.cc means sour old hag…) and “Devil”. These are certainly not the nicest names to give to a baby but they are kind of accurate. Little Nathalie pretty much controls the family, not only us but also her grandparents. This all took time to get used to, especially when trying to combine taking care of her and starting work again.

Now five months after her birth we developed a more or less working daily schedule. Despite the many hardships when trying to balance raising two kids and running your own business we do not regret anything. We love our two kids, no matter what trouble our demon girl brings  because in the end she brings us more happiness each day than exhausting crying time. We also love to have our own business as it allows us to work from home and gives us much more time with our kids. The downside of being your own boss are the unregulated working hours, no paid holidays, no maternity allowance (my wife still got 80% of her income when Nathan was born in Finland) and higher health insurance costs.

My parents who have helped us so much since we moved to Germany

Life with two kids is very different to having just one child. It is nothing like “Oh I know by now how to take care of a baby and raising a kid, so it will be very easy”. My cousin who has four children told me once “Having one child is very easy but when the second one comes the real challenge starts, it is a huge difference. After that it is not such a big difference anymore when you have a third or even a fourth child”. I did not really believe her back then but now I agree at least with the part about the challenges when having a second child. I am also really thankful to my parents as they are tremendous help for us as they live so close by. Without them everything would have been much harder and I believe we would have never managed it without them past the initial stage when starting our business as they helped to take care of Nathan.

What is your take on having one child compared to have two (or even more!)?

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Taking Care of a Child

Ever since my wife was pregnant back in 2013  we started to do research about having a baby. Of course my wife had her memories from her upbringing and I had my own and they had their certain differences. These differences came even more apparent after Nathan was born and we visited other Chinese couples who had children about the same age as our son. Now that our little warrior is already over 1 1/2 years old we heard and saw so many different things that I just have to share with you some of the major differences when it comes to raising a child in China compared to Finland/ Germany. Please note that these points are not a generalization for countries but in fact just what we personally experienced thus far. I don’t go too far into the details as it is just too much then for just a single blog post.

 

Pregnancy

So you are pregnant, congratulations! Lets see what we have there already for differences. What we learned from my wife’s family, Chinese friends, Chinese forums and last but not least customers of my wife is that a pregnant woman should pretty much do nothing. You surely still can go and take a walk, go shopping and similar things but anything beyond that is life threatening for the unborn baby. When we were in China in 2013 (few months after we found out that there is little Nathan growing) my wife did something which shocked the entire neighbourhood in Xi’an. She did dare to step on a little wall surrounding some flowers which is incredible 50cm/ 1.6f high and also stepped down from it. All around old ladies came storming in and shouting that the unborn baby might just drop out! After this she was advised to stay in bed for several days to let everything settle again. Another thing was about the food and drinks she was allowed to consume. Cold drinks? Oh hell no! Cold drinks are anyways considered the root of all evil according to the Chinese we have met thus far. Food? Oh, the more the better as wifey needs to pound up in order to be strong enough for the delivery and nursing the baby. Advised was from some people  around 30kg/ 66lbs weight gain during pregnancy.

Now lets see what we experienced in Finland/ Germany. Taking a walk was of course also allowed for my wife and she was actually encouraged to do some light sports such as to go swimming, fast walking or easy exercises in the gym. Only during a certain time in the beginning some movements should be avoided and that is basically it. I know someone who did still most of her professional swimming practice until few weeks before the due date but that is again some extreme case and I would not recommend it for others even though everything worked out for her and there were no complications. Now to the food and drinks. Right in the beginning we received from Neuvola a list of food and drinks which should be avoided completely or only consumed in a very very little amount. This list was easy to follow as most things were just common sense such as avoiding alcohol, smoking and caffeine. My wife was checked monthly at Neuvola and when she gained over 20kg towards the end of the pregnancy they just told her not to worry even though it was already several kg over the average of 15kg.

Mommy should look like this nice statue

 

How to dress the baby

What we certainly learned from other Chinese, especially from MIL was that there is no such thing as putting on too many clothes on the baby. The more and the thicker the clothes are the better it is. The baby is sweaty and has red cheeks? No it is not due to wearing too much but it is a sign that the baby is happy! In case it is only +30 degrees Celsius/ 86 degrees Fahrenheit outside you better put on some thick clothes as it is really too cold for just t-shirt and shorts. For some nice depiction on how to proper dress a child in China check out Point number 10 on this post of Marta’s blog. Diapers are another thing best to be avoided as the little baby parts down there will just rot away from being compressed all the time so better just use split pants and let the baby do its business where ever it wants to (especially cute when doing so in the middle of the street or shopping mall as seen too often in China).

In Finland and Germany its been a bit different thus far. Of course the baby shouldn’t freeze to death by wearing nothing during winter time but it is very much different as the encountered Chinese way. Dressing the baby lightly was encouraged to us, avoid putting on too much as the baby has already a bit higher body temperature than adults. In case the little one starts sweating, remove some clothes. In Finland they even told us to take the baby out to the balcony or garden during nap time in the middle of winter. Not naked mind you but dressed accordingly warm so the baby could breathe in some fresh cold air as long as the temperature would not drop below -15 degrees Celsius/ 5 degrees Fahrenheit. To the topic of diapers nothing was really encouraged or discourage. We should just go with whatever worked best with our baby so we went with a mix of standard diapers and reusable ones (washable).

No winter jacket during summer time? And playing in the water? Worst parents ever!

 

How to teach basics to the child

Now this one is a tricky one as in China it certainly suffered a lot due to the one child policy and hence the result of young kids being treated like little empresses/ emperors by their grandparents. This led also that many nowadays parents have not really a clue how to raise their spawn of evil. Too often we heard how exhausted some of my wife’s friends were because on how busy the baby kept them. You might think it is pretty much usual until you hear that there are sometimes up to 7-8 people taking care of the baby. Not only the parents would be involved daily but also the grandparents and specially hired nannies. Each person would have one task and…just wow I don’t know what is going on. Could be that my wife’s friends are just very special cases and it never ever happens anywhere else in China which I highly doubt after the 100% coverage of her friends doing this insanity. Whenever Nathan did something wrong and we gave a little punishment which usually led to him complaining a lot or even crying MIL just came in running, cuddling him, giving him some snacks and telling him that he can just go on and do this again. She fervently defended her position by explaining how strict she already is and that other grandparents in China are so much worse. Well, it is actually true as I had read in some other blogs and my wife found out more often than not in Chinese forums. More you can find out of course by counseling your friendly online search engine or also by reading some stories from Jennifer’s blog.

With Finnish and German families it is a bit different. The parents do most of the times everything alone and might get help from time to time by the grandparents. Here most people are kind of shocked about this so-called little emperor syndrome in China. I can’t add any other things to this as there is basically nothing else to it here. But once again I have to say that this is just what we have encountered and it can not be applied to the entire countries.

No, we ain’t giving beer to the kids

 

 

How are your experiences in your home country? In case you are in China, how much of our Chinese examples you have encountered yourself or are even totally different?

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