Parenting Lessons From Spanish Mamas

So we got the French take on parenting in the book “French Children Don’t Throw Food” but how do the Spanish do it?

Very differently to Australians, let me tell you.

Now my husband’s Grandfather’s town has around 1500 people in it. There are no huge shopping centres, cultural events or even decent restaurants, but they do have bars aplenty.

So in this sleepy little town you think that there wouldn’t be much night-life right?


At any given time (and by that I mean midnight) people are visiting friends, strolling the streets or heading out to a bar. I saw more than a couple of 80 year olds riding their bike around during the twilight.

What on earth were they doing for all that time prior?

Sharing a meal with their family and hanging out. They really make eating food a big deal which I think is fantastic. There is no eating at desks or on the run. It’s slow food at it’s best.

One night we had a very disappointed six year old at our door who had come over to play with his “cousin who speaks English” after dinner.

Why was he disappointed?

It was 11:30pm and Julian was asleep.

We went round to visit at midday the next day but it was Julian’s turn to be disappointed – his cousin was still asleep.

Obviously during school holidays time this would be absolutely fantastic. Imagine keeping our children up to midnight.

You could be dining out with friends every night of the week!

And imagine what your mornings would look like? I could get up at 8am and meditate. I could get a couple of blogs done. Bake stuff. Clean the house. Exercise.

When the kids rose for the day I could be serene and relaxed and ready to be a playful Mama.

Though it doesn’t quite work like that now does it?

We are struggling with jet lag and the kids and I have been sleeping in which has been soooo nice. Except school started back today so I literally dragged Julian sideways out of bed, threw on his kindy clothes while he was still asleep then went to dress his snoozing brother. This was at 8:30am this morning. They had toast in the car and I got nothing but coffee until 10am.

So, practicality means we can’t take a lot of their lessons literally, (who has time for a big lunch everyday and a siesta), its not in our culture to live this way but we can try to adopt a few of their pearls of wisdom:

A Slow Food approach – Dinner has been stretched out a little later, with all our meals and sleep times a bit crazy from the trip, so we have been able to eat as a family which has been really nice. The only time we did eat on the run in Spain was at the Mercado San Miguel – and we all wished we had headed to a restaurant. The place was packed with tourists and the lady micro-waved our tortilla on a plastic plate. I drank my glass of wine in about ten seconds to get over my horror and was pretty happy when the kids didn’t want it. Though just looking at the produce stand was worth the visit.

Relaxed bed times – I used to think that my kids could never sleep in. They would stay up on a special occasion and then be up with the birds the next day, just like normal. But you can adjust their clock and they do seem to make up for it eventually – a nap here or there or a couple of mornings sleeping longer in bed. This is a big one for me as I can be quite maniacal about getting them into bed.

Food With Alcohol – This is just common sense – especially with your kids around – but I think serving tapas with all alcoholic drinks makes the whole evening just that little more family orientated. The kids had water and shared our bread and jamon, olives or spanish omlette.

Children Sitting At The Table – I was amazed that one of the restaurants we went to had a full-on play centre inside. We were puzzled however that there was nobody in it. We went through to the dining part and there were kids sitting at the table, eating their first course of soup and being quite serene. My two were hyperventilating over the fact we had by-passed the playground for our table. We set our stuff down and Daniel immediately got up and took them over – it was shut until four. The waiter explained that otherwise the kids would be running in and out… isn’t that the point? Apparently not. Needless to say my 18 month old didn’t understand the word “closed” in Spanish or English and the waiter opened up the playground early for us…….

These are obviously fantastic tips and I would love to tell you their secrets to how they achieve some of these but unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish 🙂 


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