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The New Family / 1,000 Families Project: Jenny, Michel, Arlo and Amélee - The New Family
1000 families project jenn michel arlo and amelee

1,000 Families Project:
Jenny, Michel, Arlo and Amélee

We are Jenny, Michel, Arlo and Amélee. A quirky lot, I think. You might call us a little…boho. This could just be what happens when a jazz musician and a writer-turned-yoga-teacher procreate.

We live in Verdun, QC, a little ways out of the big city of Montreal. We eat good, healthy food and read lots of books. The kids play at the park twice a day. They love running, climbing and getting dirty. They collect rocks and sticks and leaves. Amélee has taught her brother how to hide these things in inconvenient places. Pockets, socks, drawers. Not their noses—yet. They also love puzzles, drawing and colouring. The adults love eating. Music too.

My husband and I are self employed and we work unconventional hours. Generally I work mornings and Michel works evenings but everything is subject to change at any given moment. Sometimes Michel will have a gig until late one night and have to be up to teach lessons the next morning.

As a yoga teacher I move around the city—an hour here and an hour there. Sometimes morning, sometimes night.

Working outside the 9-5 allows us to spend every waking moment with our children. Who wouldn’t want that?

This means we are busy tag-team parents. Our kids are with one of us from sun up to sun down except in the cases where we can’t avoid work conflicts. We have a few sweet babysitters and helpful friends, but no family in town. And full-time daycare has never really been for us.

We’re bobbing around, keeping it together with the help of a colour-coded GoogleCal that would make your head spin. Blue for Michel, red for Jenn, pink when we need a sitter and brown in the rare moments when neither parent is working.

When both of us are home for dinner and bedtime, we celebrate—usually with a glass of eau pétillante and perhaps ice cream. It’s the little things.

Once a week, usually on a Thursday, when the entire calendar day is highlighted brown, we take the car and drive far out of the city. We hike mountains, pet farm animals and go out for dinner. We stand on make believe stages and put on “spectacles,” and let the kids do what they want with the undivided attention of a whole parent each.

I’m not going to hide it—we’re stretched and stressed pretty often. Sometimes I look at other families and envy their structure. The routine. The predictability. But I remind myself that I married a jazz musician—a master in the art of improvisation! He never lets me down.

One of the things I take comfort in—no matter how crazy things feel, we know we’ll all wake up beside each other the next morning in our bed built for four. Arlo will crawl over me to find his sister. He’ll pull her hair and she’ll whine about it, kicking her foot into Michel’s crotch.

Yep, this is the life. I wouldn’t trade it in. But if someone could come clean my house, that’d be great.

Photo by Cait Lemieux

This is #1000families post number 31. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

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Jenn Hardy

About Jenn Hardy

An epiphany during her second pregnancy led Jenny to quit her career as a journalist, change her name, shave her head and start teaching yoga to kids, moms and babies. She lives near Montreal with her husband and two kids and is studying to be a yoga therapist—part of the epiphany. View all posts by

'1,000 Families Project:
Jenny, Michel, Arlo and Amélee' have 1 comment

  1. October 22, 2014 @ 4:02 pm susan gamble

    I just wanted to say that you guys seem to have a beautiful family and are enjoying a beautiful life together, that’s nice to see these days


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