Alpine Mummy

A new life in the middle of nowhere

The ‘gap year’ comes to an end…


This crazy move to the Alps was only ever going to be for a year – less, in fact, as I could take a year’s maternity leave and we didn’t move until Alpine Girl was seven weeks old.  She is now nearly 11 months old so it’s time to start thinking about the next chapter in our life…

Time to give all this up...?

Time to give all this up…?

It’s always felt a bit strange really.  On the one hand we’re totally at home here: we moved ALL our furniture over (except for a couple of garden chairs.  Not sure why we left them in the UK.  Weird.).  We even managed to unpack everything within the first couple of weeks (unlike our last move, where there were unopened boxes in the spare room for about a year…).  We’ve made friends here, Alpine Boy is happy at school, and it does feel like we’ve been here forever.

Yet at the same time we’ve never been properly settled – a year is not very long after all, and the end of my maternity leave has always been hiding just behind the horizon, waiting to surprise me.

Settling in, meeting the locals

Settling in, meeting the locals

I think the hardest thing for me has been seeing the seasons change so quickly, with a slight feeling of panic each time another one comes to an end.  I spent most of the summer desperately running up and down mountains with a baby strapped to my front (well, OK, walking.  Quite quickly though!), trying to cram as many treks in as possible into my one summer here.  The same with winter – this season has been fantastic, with non-stop snow on the ground since November, and even another 30 cm overnight on Monday and Tuesday last week.  But it’s all passing so quickly, and every time it gets a bit warmer I realise that it can’t last for ever, that our only winter in the Alps is coming to an end.  Time is running out on our gap year.  How sad.SAM_3707

So as the snowline around us gets slowly higher, and the birds start to sing again, I reflect on all the things I have done and achieved over the last year.  Not much really, but hey, that’s the nature of maternity leave I guess.

I was going to teach myself to play the guitar.  Fail.  I was going to put Alpine Girl in a nursery so I could go skiing once a week.  Fail.  I was going to make some curtains for the bathroom and downstairs loo.  Fail.  (Every time we have a wee, or get out the shower, the neighbours get an eyeful.  Lucky things.)

I have achieved some things though.  Training my children to nap AT THE SAME TIME – success. (Unless you have more than one child, you cannot imagine what a huge and worthwhile achievement this actually is.  Otherwise they nap in relay, and you never get time to have a nap yourself do the housework.)  What else?  I’m six kilos lighter than I was before I got pregnant with Alpine Girl (or at least I was when I weighed myself about four weeks ago.  I don’t have any scales but I would say that, thanks to the copious amount of cake-tasting and wine-drinking I have been doing recently, I’m now probably only about three kilos lighter than I was before I got pregnant with Alpine Girl.  Not bad though.).  I cook family meals every day.  I bake every week.  I can do fakie turns on my snowboard.  I can make amazing Lego towers.  I’ve written a blog (you should read it, it’s great).  And I have survived being a stay-at-home-mum to two kids in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country without: (a) killing either child, or myself, and (b) opening the gin before 7.00pm.  Success indeed.

But every chapter must come to an end.  And so, with a “hi-ho, hi-ho”, it’s back to work I go.  The City is calling (as is my bank balance) and there’s an empty desk and a big pile of work with my name on.  Who am I to refuse?

London calling...

London calling…

But wait!  You didn’t think I’d give all this up that easily did you?!  Did you not work out just quite how much I LOVE it here?!  The solitude, the mountains, the fresh air, the cheap wine?  I can’t help but compare it to our life in the London ‘burbs – orange skies (from street-lights, not beautiful sunsets – don’t let the photo above fool you…), planes constantly overhead, screaming sirens throughout the night, packed commuter trains, a fight on our hands to get Alpine Boy into the local school at the end of our road rather than a random one six miles away…

Nope, we’re not going back there.  Not yet anyway.

I’ve struck a deal with my amazing boss.  The ‘best of both worlds’ deal, as I call it.  Yes, I’m returning to work, part-time.  But I will be working from home, in my little wooden chalet with my view of the mountains.  I will go to London for two days (one night) every fortnight, where I plan on: visiting Starbucks (a lot); going out with my fantastic friends, without having to worry about babysitting; doing cultural city stuff (yeah right, I’ll keep you posted on how that one goes…); and generally enjoying city life without actually having to live there.  Oh, and doing lots and lots of work, of course (I think my amazing boss might be reading this…).

We’re getting an au pair to take care of the kids, so it’s all change here.  Getting used to having another person around the house might be a bit strange, but I’m really looking forward to her joining our family.  It’s been a bit stressful sorting it all out, not least because our first au pair pulled out less than 24 hours after I’d bought three months’ worth of plane tickets to London, but the new ‘Alpine Au Pair’ seems lovely and things are all set for her arrival after Easter.

Working from home

Working from home

In the meantime, I have 10 days in which to do all the things I have been meaning to do since we got here.

I guess job number one should be making those curtains…

Author: Alpine Mummy

Now an ex-City lawyer, I gave up London life 'just for a year' to spend my maternity leave in a tiny village in the French Alps. Nearly three years later Alpine Family is still here - the legal career is gone but we're living the dream (most of the time) and skiing and hiking our way through life. Walks and fresh air are now the order of the day - bye bye smog, hello mountains...

22 thoughts on “The ‘gap year’ comes to an end…

  1. Some people say ‘you can’t have everything!’ I say your life is what you choose to make it. Congrats on getting the best of both worlds!


    • Thank you! I agree, though it’s also lovely when people go out their way to make things happen for you! I’m looking forward to benefiting from the best of both worlds indeed (and hopefully not the worst of both worlds!)


  2. Wow, wow! What brilliant news!!! Thrilled for you. That is just
    Perfect. What flavour au pair have you gone for then? French or anglaise? X


  3. Brilliant – that really is the best of both worlds! And with the travelling only being once a fortnight, hopefully shouldn’t wipe you out too much! Congrats on this next chapter! Look forward to reading all about it!


    • I hope so (there will be a few early starts, and I’m not good with early starts…)! It’s a six month trial period though so we’ll see how it goes. I will (hopefully) keep you posted as the Alpine dream continues…Thanks for stopping by x


  4. That is so cool! I was feeling a bit disappointed to tell the truth, because I do love sitting down to laugh at (with) your blog when it pops into my inbox – and hopefully now it will continue to do so – I imagine it even more hilarious as you add work to your juggling act. Anyway, work plus the approaching terrible two’s – what a great combination – methinks the gin may be a great anaestetic!
    But then again if you can get parrallel naps organised, I imagine it will be a piece of cake!


  5. Sounds like a lovely arrangement!!!! How great you can stay! A year maternity leave is amazing too! If they ever let us do that here maybe more moms would go back to work. Congrats on your decision!


    • A year unpaid (well, pretty much) but yes, it is a long enough break to just about feel ready to return to work afterwards – there’s no way I could have gone back to work after 6 weeks! (I couldn’t even remember my own name after 6 weeks, never mind provide meaningful and acurate advice to top clients…). Thanks!


  6. What a perfect solution! I am glad you can have your cake and eat it too. I so hope you can find the time to fit in a blog post every once in a while. 🙂


    • hhhmmmm, cake….

      I will certainly try not to let it slip, but my past performance doesn’t give me much hope. I’ve just retruend from my first epic trip to London and am struggling to sit down without immediately falling asleep… I’m sure it’ll get better though (aaahh, I hope!!)


  7. That sounds great! So fantastic that you get to stay. I wouldn’t want to leave either. It sounds wonderful. Glad you get more time with your family and maybe some blogging time too! Congrats!


    • yes -I’ve worked out that although I literally squash up a whole week’s normal commute into just two days (‘normal’ in London being at least an hour each way), that leaves me 12 days during the rest of the fortnight with ZERO commute and therefore TONS of extra family time! Result!


  8. I really enjoyed reading this. At first I thought that you were going to have to head back to London, but I am so pleased you have found such a great solution – what a supportive boss you have. So great you get to stay in the Alps – and now with an au pair – doesn’t get better than that!


    • aw thanks! Alpine Au Pair arrives tomorrow, I’ll keep you all posted on how that one goes. I’m so looking forward to having an extra pair of hands around at tea-time, when all my perfect organisation during the rest of the day seems to just disappear and life descends into total chaos… (now I plan on hiding in the bedroom while the au pair deals with it all. Nah, I wouldn’t do that! Would I?!)

      I survived (just about) by first epic trip to London and back, and I’ll blog about that just as soon as I can learn to stay awake past 9.30pm…


  9. Aaaah modernity! working from home and flying to work. Isn’t it awesome? By now you’re probably getting the hang of it, this new routine. Hope all is good. PS~a year of maternity leave in Canada as well. In Quebec it’s a year paid. Yup. That’s socialism my friends! But don’t worry, money doesn’t fall from trees either there…but I digress. PPS~I’m in California now and have a friend who were lucky enough to have 12 weeks off….


    • I know – it’s crazy what the modern world lets you achieve! I went on my first plane in 1996, when I was 16. I would not have believed that 17 years later I would be commuting fortnightly by air! Just about getting the hang of the epic commute, thanks – the first time nearly killed me but I’ve got used to it now and now manage to keep my eyes open and remain cheery throughout my working day!

      Wow, a year paid! Next time I feel the urge to move somewhere new I’ll go to Canada! (Unless the country has gone bankrupt by then, paying all that mat leave?). I will not be moving to the States – at least not to have a baby!

      thanks for stopping by!


  10. Pingback: The fabulous international jetset life of Alpine Mummy (ahem) | Alpine Mummy

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