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Rhythm: Bedtime

As you may well imagine, bedtime in a home where all four members of the family are of different ages, on different schedules and all basically sleep in the same room can be a little…hectic. I won’t lie, bedtime has been a huge challenge for us lately. Arthur’s at an age where he really should be dropping his midday nap but, as he’s in the education system here in France, will most likely continue napping for another two years. My husband gets home between 2-3am from work and needs to sleep for a full eight to nine hours. Fred is six months old and is our least erratic sleeper right now! Summer adds an extra problem to sleep when you’re a parent. Kids don’t understand why they have to go to bed while it’s still bright and sunny outside so black out blinds and sitting in the dark in the living room for half an hour after they go to bed have become routine. 

But today I’m not going to be writing about any of my boys or their various sleeping issues. I’ll be writing about mine. I am twenty seven years old and I have a stricter bedtime routine than my toddler. 

Why?

  • Self care is my absolute number one priority once the kids are sorted. I have two children who for some reason have decided that they are morning people. Ugh. 
  • A bedtime routine means that I start the next day on the very best foot possible every single day. Everything is prepared, everything is ready for me to just make it the best day possible. 
  • I’m a control freak and it pleases my control soul to have little things I can control to make the most out of my days.
  • I need to take intentional pauses. I can slowly feel myself turning into my mother. Not an entirely bad thing but she does not stop. Ever. 

How?

  • A Lack of Distractions: Keeping my evenings past 8pm free of housework, kid stuff, paperwork and other stuff on my to do list really forces me to make the time for self care. Two blogs that help me do this are The Organised Mum Method and Organised Motherhood . They’re two seriously inspirational ladies who make my life a lot easier!
     
  • An evening beauty routine: This miraculous little oil from Aesop and coconut oil are my evening beauty staples (coconut oil used for everything from makeup removal to moisturising!) and once or twice a week I do a full facial with a mask. I use Aesop products but I’ve been lusting after all things Eve Lom for ages.
     
  • Cozy Pyjamas: I am obsessed with all things Monoprix, but especially their pyjamas. The ones I’m wearing are theirs from last season and so soft! I really think that The White Company have gorgeous GORGEOUS Pyjamas and lounge wear too, and TOAST if you have the budget!
     
  • Screen Replacements: This, I am not so great at. Screens are easy, my phone is RIGHT there, Instagram is addictive, Netflix is bottomless, I really NEED to watch all eight seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer this week (but we all do, she’s timeless). I’ve been trying to switch off at least half an hour before bed and read, but I’ve not found a book that’s really gripped me in ages. Any recommendations? 
     
  • The Perfect Candle: For me, there’s nothing more soothing than NEOM Organics’ Tranquility candle. Light it an hour before bed, spritz your pillow with their accompanying pillow spray and that’s the deepest night’s sleep around. I’m actually not using it right now because it works TOO well and I need to be able to rouse myself sufficiently to feed Fred during the night!
     
  • A Calming Drink: France has a staggering amount of Tisanes to throw at this issue. My favourite is the Pukka nighttime tea but in the winter Whittard’s hot chocolate will be seeing me through. This also helps with the Wine O’Clock issue which I’ve written before about here. Drinking alcohol before bed may seem like it’s making you tired but really doesn’t contribute to a good night’s sleep. 
     
  • A Bit Of Help: We can’t do everything on our own. When I’m having trouble sleeping it usually means I’m having trouble turning off my brain and it’s stressing me out. Something that helps is keeping my notebook by the bed to jot down anything that comes into my head, keeping my phone on the other side of the room so I can’t start scrolling and playing a sleep aid meditation over the speakers. My absolute favourite right now is Clementine which I pay for but there are lots of free options like Buddhify on the app store. 

What about you? How are you getting your eight hours a night? 

 

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Our Tiny Home: Office & The French Admin Hunger Games

Hey beauties! I thought I would do a little combined post today about our tiny office space AND the apocalyptic Hunger Games situation that is French Administration. I’ve been talking loads lately about the Admin situation with various people. From those who want so badly to get control of it and understand it, to those who willingly give it up to their French other-halves (with mixed results!). I wanted to share my plan of attack, how I combat it so I don’t find myself drowning under the sheer amount of paperwork required by this country to be completed for every little request. 

Office Space

Office space is the smallest need in our small space. I work from home right now but it’s still pretty mobile – I can work at the desk, on the sofa, in bed etc. The main thing we need office space for is our vital family documents, communicating with various government agencies and our pretty basic filing system. 

I have a big ring binder with file dividers that houses all of our paperwork, a printer that is also a scanner and a photocopier (vital equipment that I’d recommend to every French family!) and internet access codes and the app for every government agency I deal with. 

Admin Advice

  1. File it as it arrives. There is nothing, NOTHING as important as this for being able to find documents when you need them. Open letters as they arrive and file them into the correct folder.
  2. Have a clip-board in-tray. One of your folders will be stuff that needs to be filled in, dealt with, sent back. I like having a clipboard. It all sits behind my monthly calendar so it doesn’t take over my desk space. Every month, when I turn over my calendar I see what’s left to do and it gets done. 
  3. Admin day. Once a month, usually within the first week of the month I sit down and get all our filing, admin and finances in order. I send all the forms that need to be sent, update all the “situations familial et professionel” that need to be updated on CAF and make sure our various dossiers are up to date. Keeping it to one day of hell, occasional tears and need for a massage by the end of the day keeps my marriage safe, my mind clear and my filing organised. 
  4. Keep a “Dossier” of vital documents to hand. In the front of our filing ring binder I keep a selection of documents that I’m most likely to be asked for when presenting a “Dossier” for anything and everything. (Things I’ve needed to present a dossier for include; creche, school, giving birth, renting apartments, signing up for CAF, signing up for social security, joining the library, extra-curricular sports, joining a gym, applying for child benefits, applying for jobs, maternity leave, parental leave etc etc etc…) The documents I keep there are our passports, marriage certificate, the boys birth certificates, each of our last three pay slips, our last two tax returns, a “justicatif domicile”, our latest electricity bill…Keeping all of this stuff together in a smaller folder in an easily reachable place means that you can grab it on the way to the Mairie, when you sit down to fill out the endless online forms, whenever! 
  5. Sign up to do as much as possible online. This one is obvious, it makes so much sense. Save the planet, reduce the amount of paper you have to keep in your apartment and reduce the amount of shredding you have to do every couple of months. Having said this, sometimes the only thing to be done is to go to whatever office you’re currently battling with and cry at them until they give in. 

Other Vital Equipment For Admin Day

  1. Coffee
  2. Anti-stress essential oil roll-ons
  3. Leuchtturm Notebook
  4. A relentlessly optimistic attitude

That’s it! If you’re in France and need help sorting out your admin life, there are many many knowledgable women on the facebook groups “English Speaking Mums/Moms living in Paris” and “Mums Space France” both professionals and just old hands. There’ll always be someone around to help!

As I went to hit publish on this post I picked up a phone call from the crèche where Fred is due to attend in September. They told me that the Mairie has NO record of Fred even existing, or the application to the crèche system which we made when I was six months pregnant. Fred’s dossier is due to be examined by the Mairie in order to approve his Crèche space THIS WEEK. So on Monday morning I will be hot-footing to the Mairie at 8h30 to give them an original of his birth certificate and some ID. Which brings me to my final but potentially my most vital piece of advice.

Be Assertive.
Don’t just trust that your applications, dossiers and various documents will be seen to in a timely fashion. Make the phone calls, send the follow up emails, call the person in charge, demand to speak to supervisors, put in the leg work. It’s exhausting, it’s frustrating, it’s seemly never-ending but you can do it. It might mean being a little more “direct” than you’re comfortable with but you will get there. May the odds be ever in your favour. 

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Pilates: Conscious Movement with Elena Falida

As those of you who know me well know, “fitness” is not my thing. In all my years of searching, I’ve never found any sport that I don’t find, to be frank, boring. I’ve never had that rush of endorphins that fitness fanatics claim keeps them coming back for more. I find exercise in general to be, well, not for me. 

And then I met Elena. Elena is Pilates Movement Paris, her own Pilates personal training company and studio which she runs out of her gorgeous apartment in the sixteenth. I first contacted Elena after my physiotherapist suggested Pilates as a helpful exercise for women after childbirth and, although I was skeptical at the time, I am so glad I did!

Within just a few weeks I am feeling stronger in my body, more aware of my muscles and how I’m using them, more energized and finally, not bored at all! I’ve done a quick interview with Elena so she can talk about why she loves and practices Pilates and earlier this week I got to visit her home studio, Pilates Movement Paris for a class with six month old Fred in tow. A true Parisian, Elena has embraced her tiny apartment and runs her studio out of her gorgeous, minimalist space. It was seriously inspiring to see small living taken to the extent of running a business too!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to Paris
I was born and raised in Athens, Greece but after having lived in the UK for many years, Brussels and Luxembourg we came to Paris for an unmissable job opportunity my husband got. We will have been here for two years in June.

What about pilates drew you towards it? 
I first started pilates when I was living in Brussels in 2011. Up until then I had tried different types of excercise. In my teens, I swam a lot and played volleyball. At university I went to the gym and later, I started running and attended boxing classes. Thats when i started to consciously realise that moving my body makes me feel my best. 

Pilates was completely different to what I had experienced until then. After attending consistently 3 times a week at a pilates studio in the centre of Brussels, I felt stronger in my body than ever before, I had a lot more energy and my lower back problems completely went away. Now I want to pass on the huge benefits of conscious movement and especially Pilates to others. 

Why is pilates helpful for women and mothers? 
Pilates was designed by a man named Joseph Pilates. Today, the majority of those who practice pilates are women but generally pilates is for men and women, for all types of bodies and all types of ages. 

After pregnancy our bodies change and pilates can help women regain their core strength and flexibility. Most importantly however it helps body and postural awareness. This is hugely beneficial for women who carry their babies, breastfeed, push the pram, etc. and who suffer from lower back issues and/or tight shoulders and neck. Pilates also helps regain pelvic floor strength. Last but not least, the breathing aspect of pilates can help mothers feel more energised.

How can we apply pilates principles in our everyday movements? 
What you learn through pilates you can take away and apply to your posture in everyday life or to any other sports you might be doing. Pilates is particularly good for runners, horse riders, tennis players and Golfers. For example, focusing on engaging inner thighs and glutes, pulling your naval in and up while drawing your shoulders down when you’re going about your life works muscles that would normally not be working and brings focus and mindfulness to your day.

Joseph Pilates named his method contrology. So, pilates differs from other forms of exercise in that its focus is on the quality of movement rather than the quantity of repetitions. 

How often should we practice pilates? 
Through pilates we aim to replace unhealthy movement patters with healthy ones. This requires some consistency so ideally three times a week but if you attend a private class or small group classes with a lot of one-on-one attention by a good certified instructor then twice a week could also suffice  

Where can we find you and your business? 
Pilates Movement Paris is a home based pilates studio in the 16th that specialises in private and small group classes, with or without your baby. 

My website is www.pilatesmovemlentparis.com 

My Facebook and Instagram are under @pilatesmovementparis 

For me, it’s such a great experience to put my body in the hands of someone experienced and qualified. Elena is passionate about giving her students the one on one attention that they deserve in her classes and I’ve found such a difference already in my body, in my confidence and in my energy that I’m so happy to recommend her to all of you lovely Parisian Mamans. Taking the time out of my day two or three times a week to focus completely on myself is so important and has already made a huge impact on my life. I hope you get the chance to do the same!