Since the Dandelions started school over here we have come across several significant differences that have taken a bit of getting used to. When your children are in school in Spain you have no real choice but to embrace the Spanish routine. You could fight it and attempt to carry on as you would in the UK, it’s not easy, but it is just about doable. We found its easier in the long run if you simply give in and accept your new daily routine.
The school day starts at 9.30am. This is not the same for all schools in Spain, the majority still begin at 9am, so not a major game changer there.
At 10am (as with most Spanish timescales, this is a vast one and can fall anywhere between 10 and 11.30 am, but the schools tend to stick to a specific time) the Spanish have desayuno segundo, or second breakfast (first breakfast for them is generally around 7-8am and just coffee for adults and a glass of milk with fruit or a biscuit for children). Desayuno segundo is their main breakfast of the day- usually pastry, bread or cake based. So, in an attempt to not give in and fill the Dandelions up on processed junk (of which the supermarket shelves are full), the control freak who needs to know whats in their food has dug out her baking mojo (yes, that’s me).
At 1pm the children come home for lunch/siesta. This is when the Spanish eat their main meal of the day, often three courses. That paella we all eat when on holiday? This is the time to eat it, not in the evening as we would. Lunch can last anywhere from 2pm right up to around 5pm when siesta finishes and everyone goes back to work. In bigger schools the children can stay at school, ours is tiny so the Dandelions come home. We did try for a while to do the good old English sandwich for lunch, but you will see as the rest of the day pans out, it fits better to cook at lunchtime. At 3pm the Dandelions go back to school until 4.30pm. Unless it’s Friday; then they start at 9am and finish at 2pm for the day. Most schools do this one day a week, I’m pretty glad ours chose Fridays!
That’s when we begin to factor in after school activities, playdates (yes at that time and they can go on until 7/8pm), birthday parties (yes, they have those after school too) an evening meal of some kind, chill out time and a half hearted, completely exhausting attempt at a bedtime routine. Cooking a family meal just doesn’t work at this time of day and makes those few hours between school and bedtime chaotic and at times unpleasant. So in order to calm our evenings, we embraced the Spanish way. And you know what? it works. And it works well. The entire day is calm and relaxed and we have found ourselves adapting that laid back attitude that the Spanish do so well.
Of course, it all changes again on 1st June when the schools switch to 9am-1pm every day because it’s considered too hot to have the children in school after 1pm.
And then we bring on the 12 week summer holiday. Yes, that’s 3 months! In the UK I know I would dread anything as long as that. Not here, I am more excited than the Dandelions!