family & friends, motherhood, new horizons

Holiday in Samoëns (or, how I learnt to embrace holidays as a baby mama)

February 23, 2015
How I learnt to embrace holidays as a baby mama - Fiona Lynne Koefoed-Jespersen

A few weeks back we were invited by good friends to join them at their family’s chalet in the French Alps. Well, as another friend said when I told her, You never say no to the Alps. 

So we packed up our little seven month old and her not-so-little supplies (I guess we’re still trying to figure out the packing-light-with-a-baby thing) and joined them there, with a stop off in the beautiful town of Colmar on the way, and then a four-hours-longer-than-planned drive through a snowstorm for the last stretch. We arrived in the dark, carrying our sleepy girl in from her car seat, unpacking the thousand bags from the boot, and collapsing a little exhausted into bed.

The next morning we woke up to this view…

Samoëns pre-dawn

Samoëns- coffee in the sun

That morning the four of us took our coffee up onto the balcony and sat in the sunshine chatting, all the while I was pinching myself that I actually got to stay here and enjoy this beauty.

The week was a lazy mix of playing in front of the fire, wandering down into the village for cheese-based meals, and roasting the occasional marshmallow or two (or more…).

The chalet was perfect. The village was lovely. The mountains were stunning.

Rasmus and our friend went skiing one sunny day, and Kaya and I headed up at lunchtime to meet them for a snowy picnic with a view all the way to Geneva.

Samoëns chair lift

Samoëns Baby enjoying the view!

It was really a lovely week. And I was offline the entire time. I’d half-thought about going offline for the week anyway, and then we arrived and there was no wifi in the flat, so it was decided for me. My phone remained upstairs for most of the time, functioning only as my camera occasionally.

Here’s what I realised during this week:

Holidays are a whole new experience with a baby. Of course, I already knew this would be true, but it’s one thing to know it, a whole other thing to experience it at 5am when your little girl is very definitely AWAKE, but your wonderful hosts are very definitely not, and would like to remain that way for a few more hours please.

Holiday with a baby still involves middle of the night wakings. It still involves stinky nappies. It still involves the near-permanent thought process of figuring out when she’ll need to eat next and do you actually have any food in the fridge that she’s allowed to eat. It still involves breast feeding and spit ups and drool everywhere coz girl MUST be teething even though there is no sign of them because that much saliva is ridiculous. It still involves a cranky baby when her nap was too short. It still involves finding creative ways to entertain her in a snowed-in chalet with limited toys (kitchen utensils for the win!). It still involves early nights because, hello, 5am start tomorrow!

So in many ways, it’s not as restful, not as rejuvenating as the holidays of my pre-baby days. And I can either let that upset me and ruin a week in one of the most stunning places on earth. Or I can embrace it, embrace this new season and have a great week anyway.

That looks like eating copious amounts of local pastries (thank you breastfeeding as the perfect excuse!). That looks like dining in every evening with homemade crepes and local pasta dishes and ALL THE CHEESE. That looks like long lazy breakfasts with multiple cups of coffee when baby girl goes down for her morning nap. That looks like loving how sociable your sweet baby is, how enthusiastically all the local French Grannies greet her as she toddles around the cafe with her Daddy at lunch. That looks like breastfeeding at the top of the mountain through multiple layers of clothes. That looks like breathing in her warm baby smell when she falls asleep in happy exhaustion on the way down in the cable car.


Samoëns bakery

Samoëns at night

Breastfeeding in Samoëns

Here’s what I also realised: It was good to have a break from being online. It was healthy to reset all my habits around my phone, to not have the temptation to go online when I should be playing with my girl, to not waste time on social media when there are other things I wanted to do during her nap time.

But truly, in this often-stuck-at-home, frequently-overwhelmed-and-confused, honestly-often-bored season, my phone keeps me feeling connected, feeling stimulated, feeling involved.

There’s a right balance to be found, of course, and too often I’m in danger of allowing my phone to become an extension of my arm. But also? I am learning good habits. And with those good habits in place, my phone has the potential to improve my life, make me a better mama, keep me feeling motivated and strengthened in this tough-but-wonderful time of life.

And also – I get to snap awesome moments like this one…

Dad and Baby enjoying a beer ;)

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  • Andrew Marsh

    Hi Fiona, Rasmus and Kaya!
    Your post reminded me of those long ago days of young parenthood. Well i say young since i was 40 before i had my son. I remember the feelings of how on earth will i manage to do everything right. The thought of giving up because exhaustion was setting in. Early nights cos I knew I’d be awake several times in the night. And the relief when they were getting bigger and there was no more baby stuff to do. But believe me i miss it. I miss seeing the eager little faces beaming at me when i came home from work. I miss the excitement of being shown what they have created at playgroup that day. I miss the talks i would have with them or rather when i would listen to them. But most of all i missed putting them to bed and reading a story. Those were good days. Hard days i agree but good days. And many times i sit here alone and wish i could have those days back and maybe live my life differently. So it’s a trade-off really. Hard work early nights early mornings. All of the things that you describe in your blog. Set against childless days and nights no one to talk to, no one to comfort, no one to encourage and no one to cuddle. My goodness writing this is making me feel so tearful! But Fiona and Rasmus, even though the days and nights can be very hard when babies are so young, i have this old man’s advice: Relish these days. Cherish them carefully in your heart. And nurture all of the time you have together. When there are days that you think life is getting quite hard there will be times in the future when you look back on these days and realise that they weren’t so hard after all. God bless you for the adventures that lie ahead!
    (Please excuse the lack of capitalisation in this post. I dictate all of my correspondence using google’s voice recognition service which is generally good apart from the fact that it does not recognise that capital letters are needed for personal pronouns and proper names).

    • fiona lynne

      Thank you Andrew. “Cherish them carefully in your heart” – this reminded me of what Luke wrote about Mary, that she treasured these moments with Jesus, and pondered them in her heart. I think there is so much potential to allow parenthood to be a refining tool in the hand of God. And oh the joy they bring us! I’m glad you have the memories of those early years, even if things look different now.

  • Oh, I love this so much! It reminds me of all the places I had to nurse Asher: at the entrance to Trim Castle, on a double decker tour bus, on a park bench in St Stephen’s Green, in the car parked at the beach, etc etc. I’m so glad it was such a blessed week for you three.

    • fiona lynne

      Right?! I feel I could make a photo album just entitled “beautiful and strange places I have breastfed…” When she’s hungry, there’s no waiting! x

  • Once again, so encouraging to hear your motherhood stories! We’ve been talking about summer plans, and I will definitely be travelling back to Canada with Baby. Instead of getting nervous, I’m focusing on being excited about experiencing places at a new pace and in new ways with the little one.

    • fiona lynne

      Yes! I love your attitude! I think we tend to scare each other with horror stories of travel and holidaying with kids, but it is also such a wonderful experience to get to experience so many of their “firsts” with them! First chairlift ride for example 🙂

  • Jo Cameron Duguid

    Beautiful location and beautiful photographs. I especially like the back view of you and Kaya looking at the scenery. I’m so glad you had a happy time which made all the organisation required to get there worth while. If there is no cake shop like that in heaven, I ain’t going…

    • fiona lynne

      It’s a selfie from behind 😉
      And oh yes, that bakery was heaven! I could hardly stop myself from just saying, “one of each please!”

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  • Amy

    Thank you for this post. I relate to so much of it. So glad you guys had a great trip, a different kind of great…a new kind of great :). XO