This is the first time, since the launch of Motherstories that we interview a blended family (divorced and re-married both with kids). We meet up in a charming and lifeful house in canton of Vaud where Laetitia, Thierry, and their 5 children live: Matteo, Paul, Lisa-Marie, Alicia, Louis, and their supernanny, Lydie. In a way, it looks like a remake of the “7th heaven” show new generation where the housewife and the preacher father are replaced by divorced / remarried / in charge working parents.
Laetitia can you introduce yourself in a few words ?
I’m 40 years old. I am originally from canton of Vaud, but I have lived for 20 years in Geneva before coming back (with no regrets) in Vaud almost 2 years and a half ago. I co-direct a relocation company with my brother. I was married for 8 years. I had 2 boys Matteo and Paul with my first husband, the first at the age of 25 years old. Today they are respectively 13 and a half and 10 years old. After a painful divorce and a long period ( of 5 years) as a single mum, I finally found love and happiness again with Thierry, father of 3 kids himself, Lisa-Marie 13 and a half years old, Alicia 10 and a half years old and Louis 8 years old. United more than ever, we tied the knot and celebrated our love a few months ago sharing this moment with our children and our family.
How do you feel about this new blended family status ?
It is intense but wonderful. At first, we had to find a certain balance. We had to learn how to live all together which implied some adjustments. Honestly, things settled down quite quickly and naturally. The kids being older it was also easier for them to understand. Everyone’s role is clear. Thierry and I have a very special place in each other’s kids’ life, however, we will never replace their mum and dad. Each of us has his own place and respects it.
All the kids get along, what is your secret?
Natural chemistry (for the record, you need to know that our two elders were born on the same day of the same year), some luck but mostly space! In order to co-exist in a healthy and facilitated environment, it is important that everyone has its own space, ideally its own room. Jealousy and rivalry issues between brothers and sisters are then considerably avoided. Amongst them and, depending on the age, period of time, and interests, certain affinities flourish spontaneously.
How do you handle the kids’ education?
Fortunately, Thierry and I share the same values, which in the end is what matters the most.
Everything else is details and adjustments. In everyday life, I’m more of a strict kind and Thierry the cool dad. We allow each other, if justified, to reprimand the other’s kids. If we don’t agree, we don’t show it in front of them. We handle our disagreements in private and we find common ground (laughter). We have an au pair, Lydie, who has been with us since the beginning of our new life. She is part of the family and is a tremendous help. She handles the kids’ homework which makes our life easier as Thierry and I both work at 200%… The kids being older, Lydie is only working part-time now but she still lives with us.
What are the fundamental values that you want to teach your kids?
Respect, honesty, love, and sharing.
What was the biggest adjustment in your new life?
The move to Vaud 2 years ago. A very difficult transition for my sons who had to change canton, town, school, and moreover move away from their father and their friends. The first 6 months were extremely tough! However, today none of us regret this decision. However, once again, thank god Lydie is with us every day. She is somehow our sixth kid and plays the role of the older sister(smile).
Mum of 2 + 3, working mum at 200% (you co-lead your own company), young spouse, how do you reconcile all those roles?
Thierry and I have every other weekend to ourselves which enables us to spend time as a couple… quietly (smile). We spend a lot of time all together but we also do our best to spend time with our respective kids. For example, on my side, I spend Wednesdays with my sons by working from home. I have to admit that I am less stressed since I opened an office in Lausanne which allows me not to go back and forth to Geneva commuting every day like I used to do.
Additionally, from a pure logistics and practical perspective, I have to be organized in order not to get overwhelmed. Here, everything is thought through, cooked, washed in gigantic proportions (laughter). The washing machines run non-stop, the toilet paper runs out at high speed and the freezer is always full.
After all, one should not fool themselves, you need to be two even three in order to take care of this tribe. By the way, at our house, Thierry helps a lot, it is mainly him who cooks and Lydie helps with the kids’ agenda driving them to their activities and homework. Now that they are older it is easier. They know more and more how to keep themselves busy and even the youngest who is 8 years old follow his sisters and half-brothers’ rhythm, so everything rolls.
What are the most challenging moments?
I would say when there are conflicts between the kids even if those are quite rare. The worst is yet to come with them entering their teens. (laughter).
How do you find time for yourself?
From 5h50am to 6h20am where I force myself to do a mini work out session at home.
After all, I took advantage of my 5 years as a single mom (after my divorce) so I don’t necessarily feel the need to take time for myself. I feel good and fulfilled when we are all together as a family. Thierry and I like to eat tête à tête in the evening once the kids are done with dinner, along with a good glass of wine. Just simple things.
Would you have some advice for young or future blended families?
Lots of space and a diary management app’ (laughter). In case this is helpful, I use Tip stuff. Also, remember to accept not being able to handle everything and learn how to let go.
A woman that you admire?
Well, actually there are two: my mum and her mother, my grandmother. The first one, a real fighter who always gave my brothers and I, unconditional love. The second one for her strength, her positive attitude no matter what but also the couple she was forming with my grandfather. Thanks to them, I always believed in real love which is what I’m experiencing with my husband.
Laetitia, what can we wish you today for tomorrow?
I put aside my personal life for a couple of years in order to focus on my job. As a woman, we often feel guilty because we want to do things right and we want to do it ALL. Since my brother joined the family business, I can now breathe, take a step back, and re-assess my priorities. So all you can wish me is some quality time with my loved ones. At 40 years old, I know what I want and where I want to go. I finally have the life I always dreamt of.
One last message to pass on?
If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would remarry and have a blended family of 5 kids, I would have definitely laughed! I was the first one to get married amongst my group of friends, the first to have kids but also the first one to get divorced. At 35 years old, I thought I was “out”. However, life is made of twists and turns and some challenges. You need to allow yourself and give yourself the chance to start over, reinvent yourself. Everything is possible, it is up to us after all.