Random things lately

Marne river

The spring has went by too fast, the summer arrived to Paris last week with temperatures rising way over 25 degrees! Suddenly all the greenness is just overwhelming. The little one is now crawling everywhere and standing against things, and us parents have been kept busy running after him. Yet some random things have happened lately:

  • I applied a while ago out of curiosity for the Berlin coding challenge organized by Ironhack, got accepted, and have been learning HTML and CSS so far to my geek husband’s great amusement. I never thought I would be interested in coding, but I have found it weirdly addicting, seeing the results immediately. I’m behind the schedule but planning to complete the challenge at my own pace.
  • We almost entered into marital crises after I found out that hubby has been watching Casa de Papel behind my back! So now we are stuck with Marseille, unfortunately the second season has been a bit disappointing. Luckily there is Brooklyn Nine-Nine. We are still watching season 1, the baby and the coding project have sadly eaten up all my Netflix time. In addition to Netflix we’ve end up watching Scènes de ménages conveniently just after baby’s bed time on M6. Maybe we’re getting old, but it’s actually hilarious and at least in French.
  • I love the Marimekko x Uniqlo collection! I have not been a huge fan of Marimekko clothes (apart from one silk shirt), but especially this collection of T-shirts and cute pants were great.
  • After my latest post about social media rehab I got back into my old habits. Seriously considering deleting the social media apps again. The lack of self-control and all those mama groups…
  • With the baby our cultural sorties have been much in decline. We did go to couple of expos, but it was not always a success. Once a loud video installation woke up a napping baby, once baby’s baby friend ate the museum ticket, once there was an installation about US army war training center that I judged suspicious for such an innocent little one. But now everyone is talking about the Klimt expo in Atelier des Lumières, we are planning to check it out soon! Stay tuned for obligatory Instagram material…
  • This week our nanny is off, so I’ve been at home a couple of days. It’s been great, just to be at home without travelling and spending precious time with the little muppet. After getting back to work you truly cherish the time spent with the kiddo, that’s not a bad development.

Flower petals

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Mommy life tactics

Parc Georges Brassens Paris 15

So in France the maternity leave is 10 weeks, yes, two and half months. Most people generously extend this with their annual leave, up to three or four months. As a Nordic mama, I took a few extra months of parental leave and now I’m already back to work, which I find actually quite relaxing in comparison to the maternity leave. My initial plan was to enjoy my maternity leave sitting in a sunny park, drinking take away coffee and reading magazines while the baby is sleeping in a stroller. Or have coffee with girlfriends while baby sleeping next to me peacefully. Well I did have quite a few cups of coffee, alone and with friends or hubby, even in the park, but usually this scenario included a curious little one wide awake, ready to have a meltdown any moment. During the first months I also walked countless kilometers through Paris with a baby in a carrier as he disliked the stroller, which is not so much fun as it sounds in those early weeks post partum (luckily French social security pays for getting one’s pelvic floor fixed.)

Some people told me that I will have time for myself during the first months when the baby is sleeping the most of the time. Muahahaha, our baby was wide awake long stretches of time straight after we got back from hospital, needing constant attention. The most time was spent actually figuring out how to put him to sleep. Some people might start a new project during their maternity leave, such as learning a new language or writing a book or a blog. I barely had time to order sushi during the first months.

McCafe Coffee

Little did I know that babies can be fussy most of the time. They have physical growth spurts and mental growth leaps when they require more attention. Then they can get upset after vaccinations or when they are sick, most are irritated when they are teething. Even easygoing babies can get cranky at these times, but the ones who are already demanding, need even extra attention. And these phases are frequent, actually it is more rare to have some calm days in between. Oh and did you know that during the first 3 months most babies have stomach pains and colic wits? No, I did not know either.

Luckily from early on our little muppet was very curious and communicative, and when he soon started to smile, we did forgave him everything, such a charmer he is. Now at 7 months he’s a big boy, sleeping and eating well and getting more independent so it’s a very different ball game. But in the beginning there were some rough days, for which I have developed survival strategies.

  • Go out. No matter how tired you are, always go out to get some fresh air and fresh ideas. If you can have a cup of coffee with another mama / daddy for some peer support, even better, but even a chat with sales person or a granny will do. (Yes, unlike in Finland, in France people actually strike a conversation when you are out with a baby)
  • Take a shower every morning. Even if the little one will cry a bit despite your desperate attempt to place his bouncer close to the shower and sing to him, it is worth it to feel fresh.
  • Forget about reading morning news in peace. When the little buddy gets upset after following me preparing coffee and breakfast, I take him in my arms and we drink coffee together (not him yet) and sometimes I read newspaper headlines out loud to him. He knows already a lot about Saudi Iranian conflict and the implications of Hizbollah interfering in Israel, so he can soon impress his peers in the day care with all this knowledge.
  • Forget about reading paper books. I have started to read e-books with my phone, as you can easily do this while breastfeeding. I tend to avoid reading child psychiatrists and likes that might make you feel guilty for not looking your kiddo in the eye while breastfeeding – hello, this is the only moment of peace! In the first weeks after baby’s birth when everything was confusing, Yösyöttö by Eve Hietamies and Vuoden mutsi by Satu Rämö and Katja Lahti were life saviors (sorry non-Finnish readers, I’m not sure if these have been translated). You need a good laugh at that stage. Later I found The Wonder Weeks also helpful.
  • After singing Saku Sammakko, a Finnish children’s song, a five hundred times in one day – by the way the song is a bit sexist, Hillevi Hiiri running away with that musician Hepokatti Heikki instead of good old Matias Myyrä and saying that woman is always a woman – I decided to make him listen all the Finnhits (and some world music too). Our favorite is Pariisi – Helsinki by Jari Sillanpää.
  • I do some yoga and exercise with Youtube videos while baby is napping, I rather use the 30 minutes that he finally sleeps to clear my head rather than clean. I like Sarah Beth postnatal yoga classes, especially this one and I did Lucile Woodward post-grossesse series that my French midwife suggested. You will find only 15 minutes long episodes so there are no excuses.
  • Instant glow beauty serum by Lumene – some people actually thought that I have slept through a night during the past 6 months, I wish… Thank god for the hormones whatsoever that keep me going. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

Now being back to work I can only say that despite the rough start, the past 6 months were the best time. For all new mamas and daddies I’d say relax, eventually they will grow up and cry less and eventually they will fall asleep every time. For the Finnish mamas I wish that you enjoy the long maternity leave, but remember that in some parts of the world the leaves are way shorter, so don’t feel guilty if you sometimes miss the calmness of the office. And the fact that you can actually finish your lunch in peace.

Parisian baby

Notions of a baby life in Paris

Strolling in Champs de Mars

It has been now three months and two weeks of a hectic baby life in Paris. Time for a recap.

  • It is easy to lose those few pregnancy kilos as you live in the fifth floor without an elevator. Just try to climb five floors with a baby, a stroller carry cot and the groceries.
  • You are likely to be a relaxed mom, once the baby drops his pacifier on the floor in the hall on your way out, you certainly don’t climb back to the 5th to wash it. (Note to self: Carry a bottle of water with you)
  • Parisian grannies love babies, they might even attack the stroller or the baby carrier, so be aware (I have heard this applies to some Asian tourists too). My favorite was the granny who told me to enjoy my time with the baby since when he grows up “il va te faire chier“, he will piss you off. Thanks for the tip, lady.
  • All french women seem to have the same manner and tone while talking to babies, it’s kind of cute. Ça va mon coeur / Au revoir petit crapaud… tui tui tui
  • Instead of believing in all things baby led (sleeping, eating), the French believe in all things parent led. If parents are happy, then baby is too. I try to tell this to my three month old, but he has hard time understanding it.
  • Literally everyone, including a guy at the Orly airport passport control desk, are asking if the baby “fait ses nuits“, sleeps through the night. They are obsessed about this. Well he did sleep through quite a few nights before the three months’ growth spurt, sleep regression and whatsoever. They should see the dark circles around my eyes and know better not to ask.
  • When out and about with the baby, and also while pregnant, you are prioritaire. This means that you can basically skip most of the queues and avoid waiting for your turn in line. This comes in very handy in Primark on a Saturday afternoon or in the airport taxi stop late at night. Muahahahaha, some compensation for those sleepless nights.
  • People treat you as a champion and congratulate you when you are still breastfeeding your three month old. It’s nice to be good at something!
  • French social security pays most part of your pelvic floor and abdominal reeducation sessions. Luckily I had my baby before Macron gets to cancel this policy.
  • If the baby refuses to take a nap at home, he is likely to fall asleep quickly in Paris metro, that strange little creature.
  • If you have a horrible day and the baby is only taking 20 minute naps, you can always use half of those 20 minutes to take a petit verre de rouge in a local brasserie on your way home from park. This naturally only when chocolate does not help.

All in all, baby life in Paris is not too bad at all, but the next chapter will take place in banlieu.