A Kid’s Life: Belgium

18 Sep

In my life I have ties to three countries.  Italy, Canada and Belgium.  I’ve already done an interview with a Canadian and an Italian family and now it’s time to hear about daily family life in Belgium.  These three countries mean a lot to me and have three very different cultures.  Like I’ve said in the past, we’ve adopted different aspects of all three cultures into our daily routine and it really seems to work for us.  My kids eat dinner relatively early like in Canada, eat chocolate for breakfast like in Belgium and they eat gelato every day in summer like in Italy.

For my Belgian interview I immediately called my sister-in-law Julie.  Julie and I have a lot in common and have known each other for more than 15 years.  We met as young and innocent (!) university students and now we have 6 kids between us and have both opted for the stay-at-home-mother route in family life.

Julie lives in a beautiful house that is full of colour and style.  They’ve slowly renovated it over the years and they were even on a house make-over show in Belgium showcasing their kid’s room in the attic (gorgeous!).  They just welcomed their third child a few weeks ago so they’re busy to say the least (this interview was before little Billie arrived).  And can I just say that Julie and Michael’s kids are absolutely gorgeous?  And I’m not just saying that as a proud aunt…they’re seriously beautiful (and funny)!  Let’s take a look at what their life is like…

What country do you live in?


Are you and your husband the same nationality?


How many languages are spoken in your house?  What one(s)?

One, Dutch.

How many kids do you have?  What are their ages?

Two and a half.  Corneel is 4, Rosalie is 1 and there is a little one coming up in August.{Jillian: Little daughter Billie was born on August 29th!}

At what age do kids start school in your country?

At 2,5, but we only send them when they are  3.

During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?

Around 8 o’clock.  Rosalie wakes up around half past 7.

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?

Toast and jam or breakfast cereals and  Rosalie still has a bottle of milk.  On Sundays Corneeltje eats some slices of sugar bread with raisins … his favourite! {Jillian: I have to add here that most Belgians start their day with chocolate.  Whether it’s a chocolate spread, chocolate sprinkles or actual pieces of chocolate on bread…it’s a Belgium custom that wasn’t too hard for me to adopt!}

What time does school start?  What time does it finish?  What is the weekly school schedule? 

It starts at 8.45 and finishes at 4 every day except for Wednesday, then it also starts at 8.45 but it ends at 12. On Saturday and Sunday they have the day off.

Do your kids learn a second/third language at school?  From what age?

Yes, they learn French from the age of 9 years old.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?

They eat at school.  They have to bring their own lunch which is rather boring in Corneel’s case because he is a picky eater!  It is always bread and jam or bread and Parma ham, and then I include a little box of raisins or some peeled carrots and some apple or raisin juice.

Do your kids do any after-school activities?

Yes, every Tuesday Corneeltje has a gym class from 5.30 till 6.30, on Friday he goes swimming and on Saturday morning (from 9 to 10) he goes to judo with his dad.

What time do you eat dinner?  What’s a typical dinner you would eat?

The kids eat at 7PM, we eat at around 9PM.  In the weekends we eat together, but during the week we can’t because Michael only gets home between 7.30 and 8.30 and that’s too late for the kids.  A typical dinner for the kids would be some sausages or chicken, vegetables, potatoes for Rosalie and apple sauce for Corneel.  But I also make lots of pasta for them, they adore spaghetti carbonara and penne al pesto but with a bit of honey in it.  For us, I almost always make some pasta but with a different sauce everyday.  In summer my favorite is penne with cherry tomatoes and mozarella di bufala.  When we go out for dinner together we almost always go to an Italian restaurant or we go to a restaurant where they serve delicious ribs in a honey/barbecue sauce which Corneeltje adores.

How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis? 

They watch television 10 minutes before school and then in the evenings they can watch TV 6 to 7.  In the weekends they hardly watch TV except for Sunday morning, because we always go out to do stuff.  Rosalieke doesn’t play on the computer yet, but Corneeltje likes to play on the Ipad.  I guess he plays about an hour a week.

What time do your kids go to bed?

Corneel goes to bed at 8, Rosalie at 9 or sometimes even 10 … she still naps during the day and when she has a long nap, she stays up later.

What are some typical family week-end activities?

We love to go out for breakfast, then to a park or playground and in the afternoon we like to go to the city to walk around, go for a pancake, do some shopping.  Most Sundays, we go to the market in the morning, in the afternoon we go to a playground (if the weather is nice), or to the swimming pool and then in the evening we go out for dinner.

When do your kids have vacation from school?

They have one week in February, two weeks for Easter, two months in July and August, one week in the fall and then two weeks for Christmas.

What do your kids do during the summer vacation?

We go on holiday for a month and the rest of the days are filled with playing, seeing friends, hanging around in our house, meeting up with family, going to the sea, going to the park and playground.  And Corneel is part of the gym club and in August they organize one week where the kids can come to the club every day from 9 till 12 in the morning and they get to hang out together, play games and do some gym exercises.  He is really looking forward to that.  And then the week before I am supposed to give birth, he is doing an art camp, also from 9 till 12.  Rosalie is staying with me, so we will do some girls stuff together.

What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?

At first milk, and then when they are 4 months old they start to eat mixed vegetables, potatoes and later on meat (when they are 6 months old) for lunch, and at 4 o’clock  we make a mixture of fruits and cookies and we call it ‘fruitpap’.  For dinner they drink a bottle of milk.

If you’d like to read previous interviews from the A Kid’s Life series here they are: Italy, Japan, USA, The Philippines, Tasmania and Canada.  And if you’d like to participate in the series contact me at jillianinitaly@hotmail.com!


10 Responses to “A Kid’s Life: Belgium”

  1. Tom September 18, 2012 at 16:04 #

    Schoon kindjes! What a glamorous life in Belgium with pools and champagne.


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