“When my daughter was born I was all attachment-parenting everything. I held her and rocked her and nursed her as much as she wanted. But now I’m really questioning that whole approach.” Kait Vanosch, Canadian-born but living in the Austrian Alps, talks family, nature and living in a small home…
Kait Vanosch, 29, lives in a small village in the Austrian alps (near the Lake Constance). She has a daughter, Liv, who’s six months old. Before going on mat leave (which is up to two years in Austria) she was an early childhood educator. Now, in Kait’s words, “I’m a mom and a wannabe blogger, blogging about life in Austria and motherhood/early childhood educator stuff.”
Our mornings are … well, I’m on mat leave so they are pretty darn relaxing at the moment! My partner leaves for work before we get up, which is good because he has a strict no-talking policy in the morning. I used to be the one who had to leave the house earlier than him, and he would wait in bed until he heard the front door close, just to be sure our paths didn’t cross. God help anyone who has to engage with him before 8am!
I’d describe our house as … small, but enough. I come from (one of the more affordable cities in) Canada, where there is space galore and many people wouldn’t dream of starting a family before owning, or at least renting, a house. It’s different here in Europe: entire families are living in two or three bedroom condos. There’s no basement playroom, no “kids” bathroom, no second tv. I love our condo, it’s beautiful, but for a long time I couldn’t imagine living as a family of four here. Over time, I’ve come to see the advantages of small-space living. We accumulate WAY less stuff, simply because we don’t have the room for it. It’s easier to clean. And it forces us to get outside and into nature more when we’re starting to get a little stir-crazy or feel like we’re living on top of one another.
My kid mainly wears … a mixture of organic, ethically made clothing and used clothing. I can’t afford to dress my kid exclusively in the former, as much as I’d like to. That being said, I’m wracked with guilt each time I purchase kid’s clothes from one of the big-box fast-fashion chains (H&M, Zara, etc). What if it was another child who made this for my daughter? Or a mom with kids of her own that she doesn’t get to spend enough time with because of unfair working hours/wages? So I compromise by buying high quality basics that I know she’ll get a lot of use out of, and going to the used-clothing store for seasonal things like a Christmas dress or summer t-shirts. Because Liv is still so young, the used-clothes for her age are in near perfect condition. Some kid wore them for a month or two before growing out of them, and I often see pieces that are still for sale at the original store but for a fraction of the price used. I know that buying her used clothes that are still in good shape will get harder as she gets older, but at that point, things will also fit her for more than a month or two, so I can justify spending the money on quality items she’ll get a lot of use out of.
I cope with clutter by … throwing it out! My partner gets angry at me alllllll the time because I give away things that he still wants. What’s the opposite of a pack-rat? That’s me. I have to force myself to be sentimental and keep things I’m told are special.
Our favourite family meal is … on Sunday mornings. Traditions are still verrrry important here in Austria, so everything is closed on Sundays (the whole day of rest thing). I hated it when I first moved here-so inconvenient but it’s really forced me to slow down. Since we have no where to go on Sundays, we take it slow in the morning. It’s rarely anything fancy – bread and butter and homemade jam. Multiple cups of coffee with a side of reading the paper (him) and surfing Pinterest (me). Amazingly enough, our baby hasn’t interrupted this routine. Yet.
I never leave the house without … kissing my dog goodbye.
When no one’s looking I … scroll my own instagram feed. Which is super embarrassing/vain but whatever – if I’m not doing it for myself who am I doing it for?!
Having a child has made me … softer. I have struggled with anger all my life, something I got from my parents but that is up to me to control. I’ve made some progress over the years, but I still have a lot of work to do. But not wanting to pass this on to my daughter has been the greatest motivation to break old habits. I never want her to live in fear the way I did. I don’t want her to be insecure, and use anger and aggression as a shield, the way I do. I fail, I fail almost every day, but I’m trying so, so hard. Trying to be softer, gentler, more patient, less angry.
I encourage creativity … by setting an example and being creative myself. I try new things, even when it means investing time and money into something that in six months might not interest me anymore. But how will I know if I don’t try? When I need a boost of creativity, I get out of the house. The act of walking combined with being in nature always gets my mind-a-joggin’.
I’ll never be able to part with … M&Ms. They are my weakness. I think I want to breastfeed my daughter till she’s 5 just so I can use all those extra calories in M&Ms.
Bedtime tends to be … stressful. When my daughter was born I was all attachment-parenting everything. I held her and rocked her and nursed her as much as she wanted. But now I’m really questioning that whole approach. I often wonder if, when she was in that newborn sleep anywhere anytime phase, I shouldn’t have simply laid her down on her own more often. She never learnt how drift off on her own. She wakes up at least every two hours to nurse, not because she’s hungry, but because she doesn’t know how to fall back to sleep without me. So now we’re trying to establish a bit of a routine and teach her how to fall asleep without being rocked or nursed (although we’re still lying next to her until she’s asleep). It’s hard on everyone: she’s confused and frustrated, our hearts are breaking as she cries, but I’m hopeful that it will lead to a more peaceful bedtime/sleep through the night.
When all else fails we … pull out the Häagen Dazs ice-cream.