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Nourish Paris

It’s been a little quiet on Tout Simple of late. I have effectively taken a much needed two month holiday but September has crept up on us and here we are again at la rentrée. Tout Simple is officially one year old and to mark this occasion, I’m here to tell you about how it’s changing!

For over a year now I’ve been working on my business Nourish Paris. In the quiet, still moments in between naps, after bed times, stolen moments from life as a mum; Nourish Paris has grown from the tiniest seed of an idea to something that I have taken on full time. I never thought I would be someone who ran her own business, let alone this business, and yet here it is – all mine and I’d like to take a moment to tell you about it.

Nourish Paris home cooks and delivers Real Family Food in Paris 75 (and close suburbs for now.) with a focus on food for post-partum mothers.

There was a time that a new mother would be cared for by her family and community for the first three months of her child’s life. With the rise of people leaving their home communities to come and live and work in big cities, this tradition is massively on the decline. People live away from their families and their villages and mothers are finding themselves increasingly isolated and alone in a time where they should be surrounded by support. Nourish Paris aims to support new parents in a time when their lives are being turned upside down by their new arrival, not just through the practicalities of a home cooked meal, but also through thoughtful, supportive nutrition for breastfeeding, energy and good sleep. 

We believe that families have a pressure on them now that has not been felt in previous generations. Most of the families we know have two parents who work full time, have children in full time childcare and yet have less money and less time available to them than previous generations. The cost of living has gone up, not just financially, but on our time as well. We have less time to spend in the kitchen and however much we might like to be making every meal from scratch for our families – it’s just not the reality of modern family life. Nourish Paris believes that families run on their stomachs and our veggie packed, balanced family meals help to ease the chaos of dinner time.

Basically we have a heart for families and what keeps them running. We want to support the support bases, fuel the fuel tanks and keep your family running at its absolute best. We believe that meal times are a perfect place to start and can’t wait to get serving you!

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Here And Now: Early Summer

Making : Progress…little by little
Cooking : Homemade baked falafel pitta pockets
Drinking : A larger amount than usual of black coffee
Reading: The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Trawling: Pattern sites for a pattern for that elusive year round skirt
Wanting: To declutter…again
Looking: A little dishevelled today If I’m honest
Deciding: On not venturing out into the rain today…
Wishing: I could pop in on my mum & have a cup of tea
Enjoying: The rest of my maternity leave – returning to (freelance) work in September feels like going back to school!
Waiting: For real sunny summer days to truly make an appearance
Liking: Arthur’s new expression “Ce n’est pas rigolo maman!”
Wondering: If the laundry will ever ever end?
Loving: Re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It. Never. Gets. Old. 
Pondering: How many times Arthur can avoid bed by asking for a cuddle
Listening: To Jack Johnson and imagining that I’m lying on a beach in the sun
Considering: All the options…
Buying: Nothing at all – I’m trying to go this whole month without buying a single thing for myself.
Watching: Six month old Fred playing on the mat next to me
Hoping: That the stars align
Marvelling: That I’ve just managed to send out my first invoices!!
Cringing: At the imposter syndrome I’m feeling because of the above!
Needing: To learn some better I.T skills for what’s to come
Smelling: Mostly the rain. But also my husband’s aftershave on my baby’s head
Wearing: The rose gold GLDN necklace the boys bought me for mother’s day
Noticing: The many ways in which I procrastinate
Knowing: That I can do anything I set my mind to
Trouble-shooting: Childcare! The bane of every working mother’s life
Opening: The windows to let in a breeze
Closing: The blinds to shut out the sun
Feeling: A little conflicted…a big post coming up on this one!
Dreaming: Of our summer holidays
Hearing: All the church bells all the time. We live in between three churches, all of which chime every hour. It gets a little noisy, but in a good way!
Celebrating: Having food in our bellies and a roof over our head
Embracing: Life, Motherhood and all it’s hurdles

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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!

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Pelvic Floor Re-education…What, Why & How?

Today I want to write about a topic which is always surrounded by much intrigue in our English Speaking Mums in Paris facebook group: Perineal re-education. Not a week goes by where I don’t see a question about this mysterious therapy asked by a mum who’s been prescribed it after giving birth. I asked the lovely mums in our group what they’d like to know about re-education and got some fantastic responses. It seems that there’s a lot of mystery and myth surrounding re-education, what to expect and why it’s practiced so widely here (hint; it’s not, as the myths might suggest merely to make monsieur feel a little more snug!)

I’ve enlisted the help of three experts in their fields to explain to you all the what, why and how of Perineal re-education.

  • Vicki is a UK based physiotherapist specialised in female health care and she’ll be telling us all about the amazing muscle, or group of muscles that make up the pelvic floor and why it’s considered so important to re-educate them.
  • Sharon Bales is a wonderful yoga teacher whom I’m sure many of you know personally. She specialises in fertility, pre and post natal yoga and is also now teaching hypnobirthing classes here in Paris. She’ll be talking about how we can care for our perineal muscles in our daily movements and how to keep them healthy.
  • Diana Powell-Bodrone is a midwife and lactation consultant who works here in Paris under the French healthcare system and is going to tell us all about how to get your free re-education sessions.

Vicki

  1. What is my pelvic floor and why might it need to be “re-educated”?
    The pelvic floor is a layer of muscles within the pelvis. Its functions include support of internal organs (bladder, bowels and womb), maintaining continence of both the bladder and the bowel, assisting in bladder emptying and sexual function.

    It can be weakened by both pregnancy and childbirth, menopause, recurrent coughing, constipation/straining, lack of general fitness and neurological damage and the common conditions associated with pelvic floor weakness include incontinence, prolapses of bladder, bowel and womb and faecal incontinence. 
     

  2. Why do I need to worry about this if I’ve given birth, either vaginally or by c-section?
    When you’re pregnant with the growing foetus inside your womb, the muscles are stretched significantly over a long period of time. Without muscle retraining, they will not necessarily spring back into place following childbirth (whether you gave birth vaginally or via c-section). Therefore exercise is needed to shorten and tighten the muscles again, reducing your risk of the above conditions associated with a weakened pelvic floor. 
     
  3. Why have I never heard of this reeducation where I am from?
    Unfortunately, lack of education. This country (The UK) is particularly poor at education in the ante natal period. People are handed leaflets within a pack of information regarding childbirth and pregnancy by their midwife but are not specifically trained or educated regarding the importance of this muscle. 
     
  4. Why is this so important?
    Leakage of urine is a common and well known problem for women following childbirth. It is known to affect 1 in 3 women.

    The incidence of 3rd degree tears is as high as 1-9% of all vaginal deliveries, as recognised by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RCOG). This could have a huge impact on a women’s continence, both bladder and bowel in the short and long term. It can also affect sexual relations due to pain. The incidence of faecal incontinence as a result of these tears is as high as 50%, but is not discussed as openly as urinary incontinence. Failure to manage these conditions at the time of injury could be detrimental to a women’s quality of life and many become socially isolated as a result.

    The menopause can highlight problems with discomfort, leakage, pain and prolapse as a result of hormonal and vascular changes. These symptoms can be minimalized in the future with regular pelvic floor training immediately following childbirth and for life. Up to 30% of women who attend physiotherapy on their first session are not correctly performing a pelvic floor muscle contraction. It is vital that you know how to do this correctly for long term protection.
     

  5. How common are these problems?
    1 in 3 women suffer with Stress urinary incontinence
    50% of women have some degree of prolapse
    1 in 10 people suffer with some form of bowel problem
    21.8% of women complain of pain with intercourse

Sharon

The first step in maintaining a healthy pelvic floor is to establish a healthy connection to it.  There is so much bad and old information out there about the pelvic floor.  Many women never even consider their pelvic floor until pregnancy or post-birth recovery, and many, many women honestly have no idea what the pelvic floor is.  Understanding that these muscle bundles, which should operate in harmony with the respiratory diaphragm are in fact an integral part of your core strength is key.

Another great myth of the pelvic floor is that every woman needs to tighten and strengthen and do kegel exercises to achieve this.  Oh dear, this is such an oversimplification that it is simply worthless information.  It’s important for the pelvic floor to not only be able to contract and be strong, it is just as essential to be able to relax these muscles.  In fact, a “too-tight” pelvic floor, or what is called a “hyper-tonic” pelvic floor, is often the culprit in pelvic pain and other pelvic issues.

Once you can connect with your pelvic floor and it’s clear which muscles we’re talking about, learning to engage these muscles in movement will make you feel stronger… because you are stronger when using these muscles correctly!  We have so many movement habits in our lives, it’s important to start thinking about the way we move, sit, stand, and carry things and how this impacts the balance of those muscles.

Connecting with and maintaining the health of your pelvic floor will not only strengthen your core power, but will also do much to prevent prolapse of pelvic organs, allow you to breathe more deeply and efficiently, prevent and resolve some pelvic pain issues including pain during sex.  Training those muscles to engage and release properly will usually resolve problems with leaking pee when you laugh, cough, jump, etc.  

Diana 

  1. How can I obtain my free re-education sessions in France?
    Usually you will be given a prescription when leaving the maternity. This is however, changing a little and is not always prescribed upon discharge to mothers who’ve had “normal” complication free births. This does not mean that you’re not qualified for it. Ask your midwife or gynaecologist at your six week check up for a prescription and they’ll be able to give it to you. You can also ask your general practitioner or gynaecologist at any point for a prescription and they will give you one for ten, or more sessions. 
  2. What are the methods of re-education? 
    On the prescription there is usually three things:
    Sondre (this is a wand used for internal muscle stimulation when there is no feeling)
    Manual (this is the part when the practitioner goes through various exercises using their fingers to work the internal perineal muscles)
    Abdominals (It’s really important that this is included in the re-education programme as these are the support of the pelvic muscle)
    Both sage-femmes (midwives) and kinéstherapistes (physiotherapists) can perform just one, or a combination of these techniques to achieve results. You should ask, upon meeting your practitioner, which techniques they practise and make a choice based off of your preference.

Ladies I just cannot over-state the importance of these re-education sessions, if only if as a tool to get to know your pelvic floor. If a medical environment is not your thing, get yourself to one of Sharon’s classes, take a beginners pilates class (lots of pelvic floor connection!) do some reading about your muscles and learn about how your amazing bodies work! Putting some good work in now can truly make a difference in the fight against some of the above listed conditions and, as women we need to take the time to take care of ourselves and do some preventative healthcare! 

If you need any help or advice about pelvic pain, incontinence, pain during or after sex or any other problems, do ask your gynaecologist, midwife or general practitioner what can be done to help. There are options out there!

You can find all of Sharon’s details here.

And all of Diana’s details here.

And finally, these gorgeous designs are by Duvet Days and you can get them here. Designs by Duvet Days Is a subsidiary of DuvetDays.org – An organization that uses design to create awareness, self discovery, and a space for self-love while supporting those affected by rape and domestic abuse. 

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When Wine 0’Clock Becomes a Problem

I’d like to preface this post with an admission. I’ve been avoiding publishing this since January. I’ve been worried about what the reaction might be, I’ve been worried that people might feel judged and I’ve been worried about my own reaction. Because here’s the thing, by publishing this I have to really step up and tackle my own relationship with wine. I have to draw some lines. If I’m calling out a culture that is hurting and affecting women, I need to not be a hypocrite in my own life and I need to cut out the thing that’s hurting and affecting me. Although I’m not in trouble yet, how far will I let it go? How far would I let a friend go?

Let’s get this out of the way. I love wine. Love love it. I come from a family of wine lovers, I live in France, my in-laws have spectacular taste in wine. I am not standing in judgement of any wine lover, any mother, or any drinker – addict or otherwise – at all. I’ve spent most of my working life in pubs, bars and restaurants – as has my husband – and we have both, at different times been heavy drinkers and tee-total.

This is not a post about wine per say. It’s more a post about the things we as mothers are using as crutches and wine happens to be the biggest one and, in my opinion, the most dangerous. Because let’s be honest, when we’re counting down the minutes until we can pour ourselves a nice crisp glass of white every single day, there’s a problem.

This whole issue stems from something good – the honest mother bloggers, the mum’s who tell each other the honest truth, that parenting – particularly motherhood, is hard; here, have a glass of wine. Relax, un-wind. You deserve it. I get it. And you DO deserve to treat yourself, you DO deserve something adult that’s yours. We spend so much of our lives now tied so closely to our children, never alone, their music on the radio, their toys littering our previously glamorous lives that that six o’clock glass of wine has almost become a symbol of our old selves. An act of rebellion, an act of freedom that our children cannot partake in. 

The thing is though, with this wine o’clock rhetoric is that it’s dangerous. Whilst you – the generally happy mum who finds motherhood challenging, but is not depressed, who has a messy house, but is not about to be evicted with your three children and nowhere to go, who likes a glass or two on the odd occasion, but does not struggle with addiction – you can moderate, there are 100 other mums who can’t. I realise that this is a point of personal responsibility, but we also have a responsibility to each other. When every single mother on social media seems to be declaring Wine O’clock every single night at six PM, heavy drinking seems normalised. Well – everyone else is doing it, so I can’t have a problem. The thing is that I know at least three of these lovely ladies who are huge Wine O’clock proclaimers, who in fact rarely drink and have zero problems regulating themselves. 

My wonderful, sensible friend Michelle would point out here that your treat might not necessarily be booze related. The “You Deserve It” mentality is giving us free reign to hurt ourselves. YES you deserve a treat, NO you don’t need to eat a whole tub of ice-cream every night. YES you deserve a nice glass of wine occasionally, NO you don’t need one every night. YES you deserve nice clothes, NO you shouldn’t go on a spending spree with money you don’t have.

Alcohol in general is certainly socially acceptable in most places now and, along with food and shopping,  is an addiction that has become socially acceptable too. I think it’s very easy to forget that alcohol is a drug and when we replace “I’ve had a hard day and I need a glass of wine now” with “I’ve had a hard day and I need a line of coke now” suddenly that doesn’t seem OK. Are we getting to the point where we as mothers need to re-evaluate what we use at the end of the day to relax?

For all of these reasons, I’m calling an end to my personal Wine O’Clocks. No more cheers selfies sent to my Whats App groups. I’m not going to celebrate addiction anymore – even when it’s wrapped up in the pretty packaging of a deserving, over-worked mother. 

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Paris Kitchen: Sweet Potato & Spinach Soup with Salmon

It’s February! I’ve been reading everywhere that people have found this January to have really dragged on and on, particularly in Paris where it has rained every. single. day. Honestly I’ve not found it so bad, but I’ve been in a slight new born haze cosied up inside! 

Anyway February is here and with it, the hope of Spring in the air. If you had good healthy eating resolutions for January but actually just ate the Christmas season leftovers all month long, you are not alone! February is an excellent point to really commit to nourishing your body with excellent, wholesome food. The celebrations tins are empty, the Bailey’s is finally finished and the promise of warmer days are just around the corner.

Here’s a gorgeous and SUCH an easy lunch recipe to keep you excited for fresh produce and leafy greens; Spinach & sweet potato soup with a side of grilled salmon. Enjoy!

For Two Servings You’ll Need:

  • One medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 500ml good quality, low sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
  • Three big hand-fulls of baby spinach leaves
  • Slivered almonds or mixed seeds (optional to serve)
  • Pesto (optional to serve)
  • Two salmon filets
  • Olive oil, salt & pepper

How to:

  • Boil your sweet potato in your stock until soft. Add your spinach, cook for a further two minutes and remove from the heat. Blend until smooth with a stick blender.
  • Meanwhile, heat up a little oil in a pan and fry your salmon over a medium heat for about four minutes on each side, or to your desired cuisson. I like mine still pretty rare in the middle!
  • Serve your salmon with a tablespoon of pesto (I used some spinach & walnut pesto I made earlier this week) and your soup with a sprinkling of slivered almonds or mixed seeds.

This whole lunch takes 20-30 minutes to make and is really so filling and delicious. There’s so much scope for playing around with it too. Change up the veg depending on what’s in season, throw some fresh ginger in there to spice things up a little, experiment with different fish. 

Let me know what you end up with! Enjoy!

 

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A Simple Christmas

Another Christmas over! For all the build up, Christmas day really does fly by and because France doesn’t do boxing day, it’s back to business as usual over here. 

This year we had our first Christmas as a family of four and for the first time, we celebrated as our own family unit. No grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or great-grandparents at all! While we certainly missed being with our families at this special time of year, we had such a simple, relaxed Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! We didn’t end up over-eating (although Stan made us THE most delicious roast beef and Yorkshire puddings – I contributed M&S mince pies and Paxo stuffing from a box!). We also had time to enjoy our gifts and time spent with eachother as we had no schedule, no commitments and nothing to do other than kick back and enjoy our days

As we head into the New Year, our Christmas experience got me thinking. What do I want more of in 2018? It’s set to be a pretty exciting year work wise for us, we have two children now and life needs to shift a little again to reflect our new addition and commitments. What I want more of is:

  • Space – not physical, but time in our schedules to explore Paris, get out to the countryside more and spend my maternity leave focussed on the boys. 
  • Spontaneity – I really do thrive on structure and routine, but, as usual, the best parties and days are those where plans are made last minute, meals are thrown together and schedule goes out of the window!
  • Simplicity – as always, I’ll be looking for places to simplify. Whether that’s in my home-making, my parenting, my creativity, our living space or my work, I’ll still be seeking the simplest solution.

I hope you had a very merry Christmas, with your loved ones – or without! What are your hopes and wishes for 2018? How will you be using this coming year? 

xxx

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Minimalist Me: Christmas Lists and Toy Control

Oh it’s really snuck up on me this year but Christmas is truly just around the corner! I’ve been far more organised than previous years – nesting, pregnancy hormones and Christmas planning are apparently a winning combination when it comes to organisation! We are planning on spending our first Christmas as just us three (but hopefully four!) in Paris. This will be the first time that we haven’t spent it with one of our families but we are excited to make some of our own traditions with our own children!

As always when you have young kids, the question of presents comes up early – how many to give, what type of toy, are we doing Father Christmas presents, are we doing multiple presents from everyone? This will be Arthur’s third Christmas and quite honestly, he wants for nothing. I decided, for the purpose of this blog post to take a look at what he already has and loves in the hope of inspiring you, if you’re reading and struggling to buy for your toddler. At the end is a little list of things we’ve bought for this year that you might want to consider. I’ve split it into a couple of categories for ease: Toys, activities, and games.

Toys

  • Wooden animals: these gorgeous, solid animals are always a winner. They’re a brand called Holztiger and I’ve seen them around in a fair few independent toy shops in Paris. They have a few ranges (farm animals, etc.) and they’re just lovely for promoting imaginative play. At this age, any kind of toy animal fascinates Arthur, and he can spend a good hour playing with them.
  • Wooden Cars: we have a set of Janod wooden cars that Arthur is completely obsessed with (seriously – he sleeps with them!) I love them because they’ve proved themselves really really durable, he received them for Christmas 2015 and has played with them practically every day since. Janod is stocked all over France and can be found in most toy stores. 
  • Grimms Rainbow: this classic, beautiful toy from Grimms (pictured below) is one of our more pricy toys, but honestly worth every penny. It has provided hours of imaginative play at our house and gets used as a tunnel, roads, boats, bridges, cradles for baby dolls and everything inbetween. 
  • Brio: self explanatory, if you have a child into trains, I can’t recommend Brio train tracks highly enough. It’s an absolute classic and, happily connects with IKEA train tracks too so you can combine collections. 

Activities

  • Cleaning: most little kids love copying mummy and daddy and last year Arthur received a beautiful wooden broom and dustpan & brush set from Nature et Decouvertes. (pictured at top of page) It gets used every day. Sometimes we pour out things like coloured feathers or conkers for him to sweep up, sometimes he just helps sweep the kitchen but, either way, he loves it. 
  • Sorting and ordering: from six months and up, lots of babies like to sort and order different objects. We have a set of stacking pots from Grimms that Arthur liked to put objects into, and take them out. Now he uses them for counting objects like pegs, conkers, little balls and people. They’re pictured above and you can find them here.
  • Crafts: Generally having a well stocked craft cupboard has held us in good stead, particularly through the winter months when outdoor time is limited. This really doesn’t have to be anything fancy. We keep things like lolly sticks, yarn, coloured paper, glue, paints, chalks and beeswax crayons, play doh, salt doh ingredients and beeswax for modelling. 
  • Dressing up: This is a new thing that Arthur is into and oh, it’s making my heart swell! I loved dressing up as a child and my mum made amazing costumes for us (she also loves dressing up!) if you wanted to read about some great benefits of dress up play you can do so here. At the moment we have a relatively small dressing up selection; bird, wolf, tiger, mechanic – but are looking forward to growing it over the years. The bird costume pictured above is from Okaidi

Games

  • Story cards: I’ve written about these fantastic cards before when discussing our toddler’s morning and evening routine but they’re always worth a mention. There are far more cards in the pack than pictured above and they can be used to make up stories. Arthur particularly loves the one about the tree growing. You can find them at Nature et Decouvertes in their Montessori department. 
  • Lotto: Arthur plays this at his Mamie’s house alot and we’ve got a beautiful set here too. He loves looking at the little pictures and matching them up to the cards. I love that it’s the first game we’ve been able to play together as a family too. Worth a look & you can find our set here.

Christmas

I’ve spoken before about how we try to limit the amount of toys that Arthur is given. We live in a very small space and just don’t have the room. I also believe that it’s not healthy in terms of development for children to be overwhelmed by toys. At Christmas and birthdays therefore, we tend to send a list to grandparents and others of things that we know he will love and play with and ask them to choose one gift each to give. It generally works very well (with the exception of my mum this year who just returned to England yesterday having dropped off SLIGHTLY more than one gift for Arthur…) and we try to work on the four gift principle of: something you WANT, something you NEED, something to WEAR and something to READ. With that in mind, here’s our Christmas list this year.

  • WANT: some wooden beads for threading onto shoe laces
  • NEED: a child size yoga mat so that he stops stealing mine!
  • WEAR: a musketeer dressing up costume
  • READ: the Koala who could (We have the Lion inside and LOVE it)

I hope this has given you some ideas and inspiration if you’re feeling stuck. We’re trying to make Christmas more about starting our own traditions this year than gift giving but it is undoubtedly part of making your child’s (and your!) Christmas magical! 

What’s Father Christmas bringing down your chimney this year?

xxx