Thankfully, in 2018 we’re a long, long way away from the era when women were forced to stay at home and take care of the children. We can all decide what we want to do, whether that’s being a stay-at-home parent, or a parent who works full time, or a parent who works part time!
At Stéphanie, Martin and Romy’s house, everyone works hard. Stéphanie is a technology journalist and works from home, Martin is VP at Frank & Oak, and Romy is a schoolgirl – and, in her own words, full of mischief! Like the rest of us, their time seems to go by faster and faster, and they have to try to make the most of the (rare) moments when all three of them are together.
I went to visit them early one morning, just before Martin was heading off to work. I was lucky enough to spend a little time with them in their beautiful home – in their dreamy kitchen, more specifically – and I discovered a loving, kind, winning little family. Once Martin’s lunch was made and he’d left for work, I had a chat with Stéphanie and Romy, who spoke to me about their busy daily lives.
What do you think is the most difficult part of balancing work and family life?
Stéphanie: I’d say it’s getting all three of us to eat together. It’s easier for me, because I work from home, but Martin’s work hours are pretty unusual so the biggest challenge is really having dinner together. I know it’s a cliché, but I really do think that’s the moment when you turn off your phones, you turn off the TV, and you can talk to each other about your day and just spend some quality time together. I’m lucky because my schedule is a lot more flexible. I can work at midnight, during the day, very early in the morning; it varies. What’s difficult is to coordinate it with Martin, who starts early and finishes late, especially with the traffic! Martin commutes between Blainville and Montreal for work, and that’s really a lot of time lost just to traveling. Because I’m lucky enough to work from home, I gain that time.
What do you do to help yourselves manage it better?
Stéphanie: It helps a lot when I prepare meals in advance. For example, I arrange my schedule so I have time to prepare everything during the day. That way, when Romy comes home from school I can be 100% there with her, and we can have a good snack together so we don’t get too hungry while we wait for Martin to come home. I try as much as I can to organise myself so that come 4:30pm I don’t have anything else to get ready, things just need to cook.
What meals do you prepare to save time?
Romy: Mum doesn’t always cook the same thing!
Stéphanie: (laughing) It’s true, I like cooking a lot, and I try to vary what I cook as much as possible. In winter it’s a bit easier because I can do dishes in a sauce that can stew for a long time, good hearty comfort food. In the summer, it’s more about the barbecue. But I don’t really have particular recipes that I do over and over.
What does a typical evening look like in your family?
Stéphanie: As soon as Romy gets home from school, we go over her lessons and her homework, she takes a shower, then we just entertain ourselves for a bit. Towards 6pm we have dinner, then when Martin arrives we have dessert with him. After that, it’s a story before bed time, and once Romy is in bed, I tidy everything up … or I wait till the next day, depending on the day I’ve had! (laughs)
What tips or advice would you give to people who are in the same situation as you?
Stéphanie: It’s strange, I never really think of myself as someone who gives advice about this sort of thing (laughing). When Romy came into our lives, what I did was I decided to work from home, and to take on fewer contracts so I could be more present for my family. But not everyone has the option of making that kind of sacrifice. I might just say that sometimes preparing meals in advance can help!
Stéphanie: Anything with fish! I’d even say we eat too much sushi! (laughing)
Stéphanie: Comptoir Charcuteries & Vin, which is closed now. But we recently discovered Oregon and it’s our new favourite!
Stéphanie: Hmm. Hard to say! Romy, what do I cook best?
Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Stéphanie: Oh I’m really not into lunch! (laughing) I prefer dinner, it’s more fun to cook!
Your Cook It favourite?
Stéphanie: The April Fool’s fish chowder! I gave everyone the recipe and everyone made it! (laughing)