Living in Switzerland with children in the local school system can be a shock for many parents who have not had the experience of the seemingly huge gap in the middle of the day. Lunchtime. For both working and stay at home parents unaccustomed to having their children back home for almost two hours in the middle of the day, it brings up a crucial question… what to do about lunchtime?
The Swiss local system still generally relies on the assumption of having a stay-at-home parent. This can be tricky to navigate for parents in different situations already juggling work and other commitments. Those parents working locally with a company that encourages the two hour ‘work-life balance’ lunch or a support system to help, can find it easier to create a solution.
There are options available; the after school program parascolaire, hiring au pairs or maman du jours, lunch-sharing, but these themselves come with their own set of challenges. Being low on the priority list, spaces available, costs. Add to that the long waiting list and options are limited.
A possible solution
In the beginnings of the pandemic in 2020, Nyon based Anouk Demper, mother to four girls in the local school system was struggling to find a new lunch solution. One that would accommodate all four of her children, now in different schools. A stay-at-home mum with a slim chance of getting into the parascolaire system that could cost her family up to 100CHF a day.
She decided to take action into her own hands and do a little investigating and came across the exact solution she was looking for! Similar to what is run in her home country of Holland, a lunch club – Les Petits Midis, started in neighbouring Bursins and run by volunteers, and then another in Perroy.
Where to begin?
Anouk set about turning this already successful working model into a reality here in Nyon. Enlisting the help of friends and teachers to help write letters, put up flyers and create a business plan, she then approached the Nyon commune. Not sure of the response, to her delight the plan was warmly received and not only approved but supported. Les Petits Midis Nyon was born. Next steps… set it up as an Association, find a venue and volunteers to help run it, and bring it to life.
How does it work?
The LPM team will pick up and drop your child from school to the buvette they are renting from the Stade de Marens, home to FC Italia. They look after the children as they have their home-brought packed lunch (with an option to be heated) and offer fresh fruit, water and playtime indoor or outdoors.
It is open to all – just become a member and register for the specific days you would like, and the trade-off? You volunteer for two lunchtimes per month (min).
How to sign up?
- For more information and to register go to the LPM website.
- There is a 15CHF annual membership and the cost is 6CHF per day.
- Currently for children at the schools: École du Couchant, École des Tattes D’Oie 1P-6P and siblings in 7-8P at École du Cossy.
- Stuck at an appointment? LPM also run a dépannage service to all members and will pick up your child last minute if you are delayed.
As we have recently seen, plans can change in an instant – work status, parenting status, etc. The biggest draw to this lunch club is the flexibility. It also has a big social aspect too. Parents and kids alike who didn’t know each other are forming friendships and building up community through volunteering. It has enriched the social life of the members, and the children have found new friends with whom they can play with after school, as this extended support network is being built.
After a successful pilot year, LPM were given the green light for a second year. There is potential to adopt this scheme at different schools throughout Nyon as part of the Association.
Get inspired by this project and think about how you, like Anouk, can make a change in your community. Reach out to people with an idea or proposal that you think could help improve the quality of life of your community but were hesitating to put forward. You will be surprised how open people are and how much they want you to succeed.
Get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org with Les Petits Midis to sign up or for more information.