Swiss traditions or traditions in general… They inevitably come up once you’ve got a kid. It’s important to me to pass on an understanding of our culture and customs to E. And clearly, she is so interested. Soaking up all the new experiences coming with celebrating, like a sponge. Yes, we live in a fast, global world, where everything is connected and the world is basically a village and all that. Yes, I want her to be open-minded, to have a cosmopolitan mindset – but with deep Swiss roots. We live in Switzerland, and some things are typical Swiss, unique. It’s so exciting to teach our little Swiss girl swissness. And really, what better occasion than celebrating the 1st of August – Swiss National Day, Switzerland’s birthday – outside? This summer is so freaking awesome. So we went for a BBQ.
We call it “Bröötle”, the Swiss version of a BBW. All you need to celebrate the 1st of August in style with an outdoor picnic is: a fire, some sausages, bread dough to make “snake bread” on sticks and a cool drink. Swiss flags, fireworks and other clichée paraphernalia optional. Granted, saying “all you need” is a bit sarcastic, because it does verge on a logistical masterpiece when you’re going on an outdoor picnic with a toddler and/or a baby, let alone with a fire for cooking in the mix. But: challenges not problems, they say, right? Here’s how we made it work (insert: special toddler approved logistics).
Location is key
Priorities: to make your 1st August bonfire, you need a good fireplace location. There are plenty of services to help you find fireplaces at any given place, for example check out grillstelle.ch for inspiration. Friends of ours joined us for the celebration, with their baby boy in tow. Baby F plus our own toddler girl meant we wanted the fireplace to be nearby, close to our homes. Of course you also want something with a bit of shadow, ideally with a table to feast at.
Disclaimer: Please note that due to the drought and imminent fire danger, there is a general fire ban in Switzerland in most parts of Switzerland. Check out what applies in your region here.
The city also has some nice fireplaces to offer, you just have to be quick or else it will be taken over already by
half an Italian village others already. In German we say “Dä Schnäller isch dä Gschwinder” – first come, first seated. But we knew we couldn’t go reserve the picnic spot with baby and toddler in tow, at, like, 8 am already. And also, making a fire is pretty laborious. And have you ever entertained a fidgety toddler for hours on end, trying to tie her to a spot that’s save – from the fire and from falling over something? Insert: the godsent husband! Thankfully, my hubbie volunteered to go to the location first, bring everything we need there (i.e. half our household), secure our spot and light the fire. That was actually a brilliant move. When we arrived one hour with baby F and E, the fire was ready and the Cervelat was ready for grilling. Bam!
Focus on absolute essentials
It’s easy to tug along half of your household for a picnic already. But insert a toddler into the mix and suddenly the list of stuff to bring along is ten times as big! Plus, personally, I always think “more is better” when it comes to food, as I’m always afraid someone might leave, hungry. But really, you should keep it lean – for your own sake. Think of what you really like to eat, create one signature dish, and reduce everything else. Add some cold drinks (beer for the male is usually a good investment). Less but good things are really the key. And the same principle applies for decoration and paraphernalia. You don’t need x blankets to sit you, heck, you probably don’t really need one. Focus on essential gear and skip the rest.
List of things to bring to your “1st August Bröötle / Picnic with Toddlers” session
To inspire your easy-peasy 1. August celebrations, here’s a list of the things we consider mandatory / essentials:
- Food: 1-2 sausages (Cervelats, Bratwurst) for everybody
- Enough bread or “Schlangenbrot” (made from store-bought Pizza dough)
- Mustard: some really can’t eat their sausage without
- A salad, optional (I made a quick Tabouléh, Couscous Salad)
- Sweets: we opted for (not very stain-free…) fresh berries, but a store-bought muffin or a chocolate bar is nice, too
- Enough cold drinks (and ice packs): water and beer will do the trick
- Paper plates, cutlery and napkins
- Kitchen paper
- Picnic blanket
- Swiss Army Knife to prepare the sticks to pierce the sausages onto and to prepare the sausages
- Dry wood, cole, fire lighters (optional), matches, an old newspaper
- Toys for the kids: a ball is always smart
- Sun protection for all, including sunscreen, hats and cover-ups
- Water to erase the remnants of the fire upon leaving
- Special 1. August paraphernalia like fireworks (if taking place in the evening), flags or lampions
- Change of clothes for the littles ones, should everything get soaking wet and uncomfortable (you never know)
- Nappies etc. for changing
Last but not least: a picnic with kids can be exhausting, things might not go according to plan… Kids might fall over, sit on the food, fall into a puddle, etc… Keep your cool and try to enjoy the moment. Try to find the magic in the little things. Don’t think of the cleaning up, don’t let precious time together be spoiled by thinking of the laundry you have to do after. Simply enjoy the now. And remember that dirt is good, as it’s not only part but often the beginning of so many magical childhood memories.
Dirt is – indeed – good.
Thank you OMO for sponsoring this post!