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General Articles

The Adventures of Parenthood on the Riviera: Bringing Children Into The World

Handling toddlers on the Riviera:

Why didn’t anyone tell me it was going to be like this you scream as you enter your fifth bad hair day, feel and maybe look like Miss Piggy and can’t remember what it feels likes not to have a human accessory hanging off your arm and sabotaging your every move! Are you feeling guilty about loving your toddlers more when they’re asleep or only thinking they look cute when you are showing your iPhone photos around the office? If so read on and take heart - we’ve all been there, even if fellow mothers don’t say and admit it. So let’s be honest, once the excitement and novelty of the new baby has worn off, what you are left with is hard work and a lot of frustration on a daily basis and especially on the Riviera where many live in small confined spaces!

Of course you will experience great rewards and much happiness from your bundle of joy but I’m hear to help you with those moments when you want to scream “beam me up mother Mary”!

Look after number one!

It may come as a surprise to know that in fact YOU are number one. If Mum is NOT happy, fit and healthy then the family is going to mal function. I have seen so many dysfunctional families that it almost begins to feel like the norm but it doesn’t have to be like that. So start taking better care of yourself from today:

Time out is your priority for doing whatever you want to do for yourself, gym, childfree coffee with friends, reading a book, lying on the beach, whatever. So organise a baby sitter, mother’s help, child minder or friend to help out REGULARLY and ROUTINELY. Make this a habit. If you are a working Mum your toddler will probably already be organised into a crèche but remember that only covers your time at work and you also need time out to relax so although you may only take the odd hour or so to yourself - make sure you DO do it and banish feelings of guilt.

Reclaim your sex life. You cannot feel sexy or even ‘up for it’ if you don’t create the circumstances to feel the way you felt before the baby. This means organising weekends away or getting the grandparents over while you two escape for a few days. It takes organisation I know, but if you get your friends to check up on the grandparents while you’re away and show them which parks and shops they need, you will get that much needed romantic break and it will reboot your relationship.

Learn to discipline your children “à la française”

We’re very used to hearing what the French do wrong but one of the joys of living on the Riviera is that you can learn something that French mother’s do very well – showing their children who’s the boss. French women really believe it when they tell their toddler "NON." The great Gallic “NON” really comes into its own with children. Not the feeble « Darling don’t do that! » that many Anglo Saxons opt for but a full-blown, calm assertive “NON “. Authority (as you will have noticed when you visit your local paediatrician) is one of the most impressive parts of French parenting. French parents have an easy, calm, authority with their children. You may have noticed how they make their children (from a very young age) say « bonjour » to people when they meet them and « au- revoir » when they leave. Failure to do this receives a quick and firm reminder from the mother. If a French toddler tries to interrupt your conversation, the French mother will tell her toddler to wait in a polite and very firm tone. No raised voice but calm, assertive discipline. You will have also noticed that French mothers are in much better shape that their northern European counterparts and that is because they believe in time for the parents and time for the children. There is no over-indulging of children and toddlers learn to play on their own and be happy with their own company.

If you want some gold star tips on how to discipline when you/ the kids have really lost the plot, then start watching “Super Nanny” – one of my favourite shows. It’s never really the children that need training, it’s the parents! One of her greatest tips is getting parents to understand the importance of the “naughty” corner/chair/ step, for time out. If repeated negative behaviour occurs for whatever reason, you should let them spend 2-4 minutes “calming down”. Super Nanny recommends one minute per year of age.

Keeping up contact with far-away family

One of the tough aspects of being an ex-pat is that your close friends and family are so far away. Get your toddler used to regular Skype or Face time calls with relatives and as far as possible get the family to come to see you, even if it means organising hotels. ‘Air b & b’ is making accommodation affordable for everyone. Anyone who travels regularly with a toddler will testify to the nightmare that can be, especially on planes where your normally cooing angel becomes a demonic deafening foghorn killing the trip for you and all the fellow passengers. If you want to « enjoy » your holiday, cut travel with toddlers to a strict minimum. Wait until they are older and able to understand what’s going on. We live in a beautiful part of the world – the family will love it here smiley

Give your ‘gardenless’ toddler lots of exercise

We are fortunate to live in a pace where the sun shines for most of the year – except when you have a toddler and then rainy days are multiplied by 10 or a least it certainly feels like that! Get your toddler out as much as you can to the well-equipped parks in our area, as living in flats takes its toll. When you can’t take them outside then take them down to the swimming pool and get them in the water. Monaco has a great children’s pool at the stadium. My personal recommendation is to get them into sports activities from an early age. I took a swimming coach for my two and they could both swim 25 metres non-stop before they were three – a great relief if you have a second home with a pool. I also got them into toddlers’ judo classes locally which gave them an opportunity to wrestle with other children « legally ». This gives your energetic Munchkin a great sporting start in life and gives you a peaceful time back in the confines of your apartment.

Get fit and reclaim your body!

Ok let’s face it you had lots of good intentions about how ‘you’ were not going to let ‘your’ body fall to pieces likes ‘hers’ and guess what – now you hide it under baggy sweat shirts and can only sit and dream about 75% of your past wardrobe that is a fast fading memory…

Well I’m happy to say that help is at hand. Lucy from Befit Monaco who has two toddlers of her own and has regained her former stunning figure in record time told me that she has come up with an idea to help other mothers do the same. Here’s what she has planned.

Be Fit Monaco will be offering one on one and group post-natal packages from the end of July this year. Says Lucy “Having a baby is one of the most punishing experiences for your body (although the rewards obviously greatly outweigh the negative points)."

The changes that occur during pregnancy and birth can leave mothers feeling unattractive and unfit for a long time afterwards. Be Fit Monaco's highly experienced personal trainers have in-depth knowledge of postnatal rehabilitation including fat loss and abdominal restructure to help mummies get back to themselves faster. Postnatal training will be tailored to each clients needs following a planned programme from start to finish.

To get back in shape fast, an appointment should be made at Be Fit Monaco for your initial consultation as soon as possible after the arrival of your baby. During the consultation your coach will carry out a basic structural balance assessment and set you a simple programme of 2 minutes per day to carry out at home to aid the internal healing process which starts quickly after birth.  Once you feel ready to commit some more time to your programme (normally between 8 and 12 weeks) you carry out a second assessment ready to commence the second phase of your programme either training one on one at home or in the gym or with a group.

For more information about the programme please contact Lucy Be Fit Monaco on +377 97 97 36 45.

Sounds great to me and I can only reinforce the message that it’s too challenging to try and get back to fitness on your own. People asked me how I did it and I too had a coach. I was a competitive track and field athlete before the birth of my first child and remember the desperation of trying to shift the unwanted kilos following the birth and feeling like Nelly the elephant when I tried my first jog. But I was fortunate that my coach eased me back into a full training programme and I was out running 400 m races within 6 months so take my advice and go for the help, you deserve it!

Judy can be contacted by email on judy.churchill@orange.fr or via her website www.Judychurchill.com

Friday, 1 May 2015    Section: General Articles    Author: Judy Churchill
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