It's time for your story! In MOTHERSTORIES, we introduce you to a colourful mix of mums who all have something in common: they are passionate about sustainability and are Orbasics customers.
In our latest edition you'll meet Phine. She lives in Berlin with her three children and husband Johannes and is one of the co-hosts of the @mutterbeidiefische_podcast, where she and her friend Sophie talk about life as big city mums. Find out how Phine recharges her batteries by taking time for herself and how family life in the city has changed in these Corona times!
Image © Josepine Weigang
Hi there Phine! Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your family life? How did you grow up, where do you live now and what is your family life like?
Hey, I’m Phine, well actually it's Josephine, but nobody calls me that. I'm 32 years old and I live in Berlin with our family of five. We live in the beautiful neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg in a 2-bedroom apartment in a typical historic Berlin building. Originally I'm from a small town near Berlin. I moved here 12 years ago to study, This city is where I met Johannes and really became an adult.
You had your third child at the beginning of the year – congratulations! How has this changed your everyday family life?
Thank you! The jump from two to three children actually didn't feel as crazy as from the first to the second one. Family life is different in the sense that everything revolves around a little human again - being quiet when she sleeps, leaving the house when she's awake and nursed, and so on. This is our routine now and somehow she's already four months old.
Image © Josephine Weigang
What is a typical day like for you? Do you have something like a specific routine?
Personally, I don't really need that much of a routine. Without a family, I would simply live every day spontaneously. But with one child in school and two smaller kids who still need a lot of structure, we automatically have a lot of routine at home. As I'm on parental leave right now, my everyday life is all about being a parent. It starts when they wake up and ends when they go to sleep. I really love breaking out of the daily grind on weekends though, and I'm super excited for the summer, when we can finally go on camping trips again!
What is life like as a big city mom? Especially in times of COVID-19, can you imagine living somewhere else?
My husband and I have been thinking about this topic for years. While he was ready to leave the city before Covid, the pandemic has had a big effect on me. I love Berlin with all that it's got to offer, I became who I am here. But the pandemic has erased everything that makes this city special to me. Relaxing in a café with my girlfriends, having dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant around the corner, going to the cinema to see the latest Indie film, experiencing great musicians at concerts…
Berlin never had so little to offer. Hence why I long for nature, having a lake nearby, that the children can cycle to. I still love what Berlin has to offer, but I can also imagine just enjoying the benefits of the city on weekends. The idea to leave Berlin is turning into a solid plan more and more.
What do your children think about this and what should parents consider when wanting to leave the city?
Our oldest child is especially aware of our plan to leave the city. Of course he is worried about losing his friends and his familiar surroundings, but he also sees the many positive sides of moving out of the city. As long as there’ll be a tree house, everything will be fine. And since we won't be moving to a tiny village but a small town, there's not that much to consider. To be honest, I don't really know. The other way around would actually be a lot more difficult I think - for example having to find a nursery space in time.
Image © Josephine Weigang
How has becoming a mother changed you? What are the things you don't want to miss even though you have children?
When I became a mother for the first time, I was still studying. I realized very quickly that university was not compatible with wanting to be with my son as much as possible. At least it was difficult for me, but I also heard of mums who had different experiences. The best solution for me was a 9 to 5 job, and thankfully I quickly found one in publishing. To this day I'm extremely glad I made this change, because my job as an editor really feels like a calling. Who knows where I would be today without my first-born son!
I also feel that I've become much more relaxed thanks to my kids. I used to stress out easily (and my husband would say that this is still the case), but I am waaayy calmer now, compared to my childless self. Another thing that has changed is that with our newborn, I'm putting my needs second for a while. This is absolutely no problem for a certain amount of time, but it wouldn't be possible without my friends. One of the most important things for me is to have conversations with my friends, that are not just about kids. I need to have talks that revolve around more than peeing and pooping. And since we can't meet in person right now, we do regular Zoom calls.
Where do you draw strength from when family life overwhelms you?
When things get too much, I talk to my husband about it and he packs up the kids and takes them to their grandparents. It helps immensely when parents give each other space to be alone and to have some real peace and quiet every once in a while.
I recharge my batteries by having some time to myself (and I love being by myself), even if it’s just for one day. Music also does wonders to lift my mood and gives me energy. A year and a half ago, I also developed a newfound passion for plants. Burying my hands into the soil grounds me and lets me switch off my head for a while.
What do you do in your spare time, if you have some?
In my free time, which I don't have much of right now with a baby, I like to simply do nothing. I put my phone away, everything becomes quiet and I just enjoy the silence around me.
When I'm not doing "nothing", I like to dive into new worlds by reading a book. Doing sports in my free time would also be a nice idea, but unfortunately I don't enjoy sports. Instead of making me feel more relaxed, I can't stop counting the seconds until the exercise is over.
What female role models inspire you?
I have a big passion for children's books and my role models are female writers who enchant children and transport them into other worlds. Cornelia Funke, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Suzanne Collins and many more. I keep trying to write a children's book myself, but haven't gotten past a rough idea yet.
What does sustainability mean for you and how do you live it in your private life?
Sustainability plays a very big role in our family life. I buy a lot of things second hand, which just makes so much more sense for younger kids. It's way more affordable and the items are usually in such good condition, that it makes no sense to buy them brand new anyway. I think everybody should look up how many resources are consumed in the production of new clothes - it's frightening! When I shop for new clothes, I only buy them in high quality so that they can be passed down to the next sibling.
Avoiding plastic as much as possible is also very important to us. Even if the non-packaged alternative costs double than the one in plastic, I go for the non-packaged option. And when I pick up food from our favourite restaurant or bread from the bakery, I bring my own Tupperware and bread bag with me.
Image © Josephine Weigang
That's a very good question! I've known Orbasics for a while now. I came across your brand when I was looking into sustainable kids fashion for a blog post in early 2019 and I'm still a fan today.
What is your favorite Orbasics piece and why?
Straight after having my third child, I absolutely fell in love with the Women Easy Pants. The high cut makes them so comfy and of course I still love to wear them now that the baby is a bit older.
What are your favorite Orbasics kids items?
I really like the shorts and T-shirts for kids, but also the long sleeves. Everything is so insanely soft that even the boys love to wear them.
What wish do you have for the world?
Most importantly, I hope that we get this pandemic under control as soon as possible. I also hope that our politicians start to think about the environment more and that all the countries in the world start working more closely together. But there is so much more. I want my children to grow up in an equal world without discrimination, where everyone is allowed to be who they want to be.
Please complete the sentence: “Children are wonderful, because…“
...they force you to take a break and because they are so brutally honest. Nobody is more honest than children. I love their authenticity!
Image © Josephine Weigang
Dear Phine, thank you so much for your time and for giving us a glimpse into your life! We are sure that many of us share your desire for nature and leaving the city behind. Balancing family life, everyday tasks and time for yourself can be a huge challenge and a home surrounded by nature might just be the answer!
Thank you so much for your insights and inspiration! We wish all five of you the very best and a smooth move when the time comes.
If you also feel like chatting with us about your personal and family life, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Header Image: © Josephine Weigang