She may be a chic Parisian entrepreneur, but Nathalie Christen-Genty is also a hands-on mother to 5 (yes 5!) children. With a busy job as founder of Melijoe, an online designer kids’ fashion boutique with a great edit of boys and girls clothes from designers such as Little Eleven Paris and Stella McCartney, a husband who works in London during the week and yup – those 5 children (Mathis, 13, Antone, almost 12, Mélie, 5 1/2, Néva, 4 1/2, Mahaut, 1 1/2) to look after, she has one serious juggling act on her hands. With her children ranging in age from toddler to early teen, she’s had 13 years experience of parenting, making her the perfect person to ask what she’s learned about being a mother….
Child = Drug
I’m hooked! I need to kiss them all the time (it’s like taking a hit, but it’s starting to get tricky with the older ones), and I never thought it would be this addictive. They’re also the balance in my life… My work is intense, sometimes really tough and filled with obstacles but a child’s world (when they’re little, anyway) is just fabulous.
When you’re with kids, you live in a simpler, easier world
Daddy has to dance with Mummy on the weekend to play Prince and Princess, if you need something done around the house, you just call Mr Handyman; if you need money, you just go to the machine; they think I go to work with my girlfriends everyday.
With kids, dinner or weekend plans can fly out the window in 30 seconds flat…
A sudden fever or laryngitis and you spend the night in the emergency room. You can’t say “stop”, hit the pause button or cut the sound and sleep in mornings. They constantly rearrange your day. And leave a mess everywhere, too. So you just have to stay zen, let them be and pick everything up just before they go to bed.
Although child = drug, there’s a time for kids and a time for parents.
It’s just the balance I need. It may be chaotic now, but one day they’ll be out the door. During the week I’m in 100% Mummy mode after work (I hardly ever go out) because their father works in London. I try to be 100% available to them yet know when to take time for myself without feeling guilty. Sometimes I slip away for a romantic weekend to London, for example.
With children, you never feel like you’re wasting your time
If you spend a morning colouring even though you have a tonne of things to do, it never feels like you’ve wasted your time (whereas it’s easy to feel you’re wasting your time at work, in the Metro, sometimes even on holiday…)
That everything you say to your kids goes in one ear and doesn’t come out the other.
When my children are invited somewhere, or meet someone in the street, people always report that they are polite, say hello, are helpful, interested… but at home, I always have to tell them 10 times to clear their dishes. But in the end, the message sticks and that is so important. So don’t give up!