We’re back with part three of expat dad Paul Reed-Peck’s account of his move to Switzerland (click here to read the first part of Paul’s story: “Moving to Switzerland”, and part two “Settling in Switzerland”).
In this interview he’ll tell us more about his experience of becoming a father for the first time in Switzerland.
Remember you can find out more about Paul’s expat adventures and pick up some very useful tips on his fab blog: Erniemcpeck – Adventures in Switzerland. Happy reading !
How did you feel becoming a father?
I mentioned earlier that moving to Switzerland was the scariest thing I had ever done. This was superseded by becoming a father a little over a year and a half after moving. I was cool, calm and collected throughout the pregnancy, feeling confident that we would be good parents to our future child. It was only towards the end, as the birth approached, when I began to worry.
I was not particularly worried about the idea of being a dad, or having a baby depending on me for everything, or even about the financial impact that babies inevitably bring. Instead I worried about how I would manage to be a dad in Switzerland.
My knowledge of my adoptive country was fine in terms of places to visit, where to shop, nice restaurants and where to watch a live broadcast of an English Premier League football match. But this knowledge was severely deficient when it came to hospitals, schools, childcare, insurance for children, and any other child-related areas. What should I do in case of an emergency? Who should I contact if the baby is ill? How do you sign your child up for a crèche or daycare? These plus many other questions floated into my head, causing me many stressful moments and sleepless nights.
Once again, my wife came to my rescue. Her Swiss-ness meant she at least knew who to contact for certain questions, and this helped to calm my nerves. When the day of the birth came, I was excited to meet our child, and not even a little bit scared. I had always said that I didn’t want to see the baby coming out, or cut the umbilical cord, but when the time came I did both these things. I even shouted words of encouragement to my wife in French!
The moment when our little girl was born was magical and so emotional. There was enormous relief that the birth was over (after a long and tiring 30-hour labour) mixed with joy at meeting our child. I proudly held her in my arms and felt for a moment that we were the only three people in the world.
What are your thoughts on raising a child in Switzerland?
Over the course of the first few weeks and months after Lydia’s birth I began to find out more about raising a child here. Firstly, visits to her paediatrician for check ups and the occasional illness taught me more about professional childcare, as well as how much it costs. I also learnt how much equipment parents need in order to care for their baby: from pushchairs to food processors to thermometers, we got the lot. I can now name every baby shop in the Lausanne area and give tips on where to get the best value for certain items.
One area that I found out about the hard way was the crèche system in Switzerland. It seems that there are not many crèches around, meaning that – much like apartments – demand far exceeds the supply. This leads to long waiting lists to get a place for your child, to the extent that you practically have to sign up at a crèche before you are even pregnant. Luckily my wife left her job at the end of her maternity leave, allowing her to look after our little girl full time. It was only earlier this year when she went back to work part-time that we needed a crèche, and luckily we managed to find one.
These days it is a pure delight to watch as my daughter grows up in Switzerland, spending our family time strolling along the picturesque shores of Lac Léman, walking in the forest at Chalet à Gobet, or visiting the many events that happen in and around Vaud. As her language skills begin to blossom and her curious nature making everything around her seem interesting, it promises to be an exciting future for all of us.
Do you regret moving to Switzerland?
With a loving marriage, a cheeky daughter, a job I love and a home in a beautiful country, I can honestly say moving to Switzerland was a very good idea. I don’t regret leaving England, even though I miss my family and friends, as I enjoy life in my new home.