A French Rentrée: A Transition Back to Life and Health Normalcy


French-speaking students having a lesson in English phonetics at a Canadian convent school / Élèves francophones suivant une leçon de phonétique anglaise dans une école de couvent canadienne

Je deteste la rentrée. Je hais la rentrée.

La Rentrée

Do you know this charming French expression?  La rentrée is a term that is not translated easily into other languages with a simple word. You have to live in France and go through a rentrée to really understand this significance of this word.

What is the French rentrée?

They say that the  rentrée is the fifth season in la bella France, it is that time where the long August vacations come to a (sad) finish and school starts again. It is the period between end of August thru early October.

There are the long lists of school supplies to buy, label and re buy (when you buy the wrong things like me). If you don’t have children, the rentrée also applies to the work mood. After a long French vacation break of three weeks or more, there is the work schedule and your desk to return to, the emails to answer and the work trimester to organize.

But if you have kids and work, the is the hardest part of the rentrée is to organize enough time (and energy) to get everything done. There are the evening rendez-vous(s) with the school parent meetings and organizing what activities your kids will do, like joining a sport teams or participating in art or music classes. (The French do not offer many activities as part of the school time, your child does outside activities that you plan out for them, usually on Wednesday afternoon and Saturdays, the days that school is not is session.

And then there is the whole rhythm to get used to. There is no school bus, and you must walk, bike, drive the kids to school. And pick them up at lunch (unless they eat at school). And drop them off again after lunch and then pick them up around five o:clock, when school is over.

But I am not complaining. We live here in France. You either except it and adapt, or you leave.

And there is a lot to like here. And the following short story is one reason I like living in France.

How did a certain ‘overloaded’ math professor brought a sense of normalcy? By being ‘meal-disciplined’ French.

This is my tenth year going thru this rentrée transition, and (it is true) I hate it (je la hais!). Each year it lasts for about a month or so, until mid-October and then (guess what?) the October vacation starts for two weeks. It seems to never end. But I am sure, (as you read this), that you go thru the same thing where you live?

This rentrée, I had a laugh and a cultural ‘hug’ today. My daughter takes extra math lessons with an energetic teacher who has a full load of students to tutor. He told me today how busy things are (which is great for him!). This teacher told me that on Wednesdays, his busiest day, his agenda is full of students from morning to evening, he only has one hour to cook and eat lunch. He works from his home and he is the one who prepares lunch for himself and his family.

What I liked was his emphasis on one hour.

What I liked was that he cooks his lunch (main meal of the day for himself and his family).

What I liked was that he takes a break and blocks off that precious hour to eat. (I know there are some that might fill that extra hour with another student for the extra income plus the pressure from students to fit them in?)

What I really liked was that he will take the time to have a break, one hour is not bad. Not enough (maybe?) but not bad.

And so I leave you with these thoughts:

I have been a bit absent over the summer, having a balance of vacation time and taking care full-time of my kids. The rentrée is in full motion now and if you give me another week or two, I will be in full motion with you again,you who support the site and facebook page. I can’t wait  to get back to sharing, writing, inspiring and pushing for all of us, like the math teacher, to take that hour here and there, to plan and do it, to keep that hour (or two) sacred for eating, relaxing, working out, to spending time with those we love and appreciate.

Hope you are with me as I am with you!

Bella giornata, Bon journée, Have a great day.

Warmly,

Mary

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