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    Blogs — Advice

    New baby, new job

    New baby, new job

    Starting off our series of interviews with people who are able to make our parenting journey a little bit easier is Isabelle, founder of Kinfo, an app for parents to find and share recommend anything from toys to days out to recipes, all of their favourite things.  Isabelle speaks to Onco about how she found being a new mum and why she founded Kinfo. 

    Onco: Hi Isabelle, please tell us a little about yourself.  

    Isabelle: My name is Isabelle Delmas, I have 3 children (Elie 7, Gabriel 9 and Sasha 13) and we live in West London.  I have a PhD in Pharmaceutical studies and started my career in the pharmaceutical industry. That brought me to live in different cities and countries before coming to London, 10 years ago. Before having kids, I wanted to travel as much as possible and I was completely workaholic. Then I got pregnant, had to slow down, came back from the US to Europe and changed jobs to “only” travel in Europe.

    Onco: How did you find being a new mum?

    Isabelle: Becoming a mum was a sort of a revelation as I did not expect myself to go through that intense emotional journey. I realised that my baby was more important than anything else in my life and that changed completely the way I was prioritising things. I soon knew that I wanted more children and we had Gabriel 4 years later, then Elie.

    Onco: How did you know what to buy for your babies and children?

    Isabelle: I did not know what to buy and where to buy things when I had my first baby. My mum was very helpful, although lot of things had changed since I was a baby. So I relied a lot on my friends who had a baby before or my paediatrician.

    Now that the kids are not babies anymore, I still rely on what my friends are recommending, whether it’s an online shop with amazing customer services, a place to go for a Sunday family lunch, a movie to watch or a children book.

    Onco: What is Kinfo about?

    Isabelle: Kinfo is a mobile app that helps all parents share recommendations about meaningful activities for their kids. We have already more than 800 recommended toys, games, books, indoor centres, party places, recipes, clubs, events etc that have been recommended by our amazing community of mums, dads and now carers. Any parents, nanny or friend interested in discovering great products and services that other families have experienced can join the app. It’s very easy to share a product or a place and anyone can do it. The majority of our recommendations are for parents of children at primary school age though.

    Onco: How did Kinfo get started?

    Isabelle: My previous job was very intense and frustrating from a parenting’s perspective: no time to see the kids, no time to organise anything during the weekends and I was – of course – completely behind on any information regarding local activities, fairs, events etc. I also started to worry that my kids would grow without much input from me and, together with a busy husband, we did not want to outsource their childhood. So I decided to stop my demanding and inflexible job at that time and started to design one that would fit better my purpose and my lifestyle. I had the idea of Kinfo with my husband when we realised that it was actually natural to connect with other parents, from school for example, and that they were happy to share their recommendations about what to do with their kids. The main obstacle was time as explained before but also a modern digital way to collect and share those recommendations. Kinfo was born.

    Onco: How can we tell the recommendations are genuine?

    Isabelle: It is very important for Kinfo that all recommendations are coming from parents like us and not from sponsors. We do not accept any form of sponsorship nor promotion to guarantee our integrity. 

    Onco: What’s your favourite recommendation?

    Isabelle: I have discovered a lot of great things parents have recommended on Kinfo, and one of the recent one is FeedMe2: a ready to eat healthy food prepared on the day to feed the family on days you don’t feel like cooking.

    Mums are absolutely incredible to spot on great ideas such as this one!

    Onco: What’s your best parenting tip?

    Isabelle: I think that we, parents, need to be careful not to underestimate the impact of too much time our children spend on digital games and internet. I work a lot on my computer and on my phone so the kids see me a lot in front of a screen but I am telling them that these are tools for my job and that I need them to work. I think a child does not necessary need an iPad or an iPhone to play and we should try harder to let them run outside, use pencils to draw or bricks to build castle or clothes to role play. Toys can be connected and use technology as long as they are meant to develop their creativity, social dimension and physical development.

    Find Kinfo in the app store or Google Play store

    Good Mornings - How will I get the kids and myself ready for work on time?

    Good Mornings - How will I get the kids and myself ready for work on time?

    Fresh back into the working routine after a year of maternity leave, and I’m suddenly remembering just how difficult mornings are when you have little ones to wake, dress, feed and deliver to their childcare before heading into the office.Nights are another story all together (and probably another blog post, to be honest!) but there’s something about the start of the day that is especially tricky in our house. With our eldest daughter, it took about six months before we finally found a routine that worked for us. Hustling one little girl with a mind of her own out the door was hard; hustling two is already a lot harder. So here are some things we’re doing to try and make life a little easier.

    Set a wake-up time, and stick to it

    That extra twenty minutes in bed may feel good at the time, but every time we try to snag a bit of extra sleep, we pay for it dearly. A teeny, tiny lie-in almost guarantees that EVERYTHING will go wrong. Trust me; I’ve been a hot and sweaty mess running down the road with two babies and bags, attempting to catch a bus before it pulls away. It’s not worth hitting the snooze button.

    Plan breakfast ahead of time

    I’m still in the process of perfecting this, but I am trying out some new things over the next few weeks. If you’ve read my earlier post on parenting, you’ll know that I’m a feeder. Nothing makes me feel more guilty than sending my girls out of the house thinking they are hungry. They could be wearing totally mismatched outfits with ratty hair and runny noses, and it wouldn’t phase me (much). But empty tummies, and I will feel guilty for the rest of the day. Currently our go-to includes a selection of the following – fresh fruit, a handful of dried Cheerios, porridge, bagels, toast, Naked bars, yoghurt or fruit compote. I’m looking forward to trying these homemade blueberry and banana oat bars, porridge in the slow cooker, and overnight oats with coconut yoghurt (my youngest has a dairy allergy). The key is finding options that take two minutes or less to get on the table. If breakfast is easy to take along when you leave the house, even better. Especially if your kids are slow eaters, like mine.

    Pack the night before

    I used to laugh at my parents for doing this, but it honestly does make the mornings less stressful. We’ve even gone as far as putting bags, buggies and coats in the car before we go to bed. It’s the last thing I want to do after dinner, but I am shocked at how much it’s helped. I used to always feel I’d left something behind, but now am able to focus on just getting out the door.

    Agree a morning chore list

    The first time I went back to work after maternity leave, part of our stress came from not agreeing who was responsible for what before leaving the house. My husband and I were tripping over each other, replicating jobs, and leaving important stuff to last minute, assuming that the other person was about to do it. We now have a chore list for the house, and a morning routine list. Knowing exactly who is doing what has made things run a lot smoother. Of course, there’s flex. But we communicate every time we deviate from what we’ve agreed, and we both know that everything is covered, which helps loads.

    Keep a change of clothes downstairs

    I can’t count how many times I’ve had to take one of my girls back upstairs for a last minute change before leaving the house. Potty training accidents, breakfast,a short swim in the cat’s water bowl – they’ve all happened, and usually one minute before we need to leave the house. So now I’ve got an emergency kit for both girls stashed in one of our kitchen drawers, and another in the boot of the car.

    Set a ‘leave’ time that leaves you room for error

    During my maternity leave, we left the house every day by 830 to get my eldest daughter to nursery by 9. I knew that I could leave at 840 or even 845, but that extra ten minutes took away so much stress, and meant I could have a five minute conversation with my daughter on the way, instead of hurrying her along. I was happier. The girls were happier. It was a nicer start to the day for everyone.So now, instead of leaving everything to the wire, we are doing our best to get everyone out a bit before we actually need to be on our way.

    Slow down to speed up

    This is probably the hardest and most counter-intuitive, but is actually the one thing that has made the biggest difference. I find that when I’m barking orders or rushing, my little ones find it hard to keep up and are more likely to throw a tantrum. One morning, we were running late and I was trying to dress my eldest at record speed. She was resisting, and I was getting more and more short with her. A tantrum was brewing, which would have eaten up even more time, so I stopped, hugged her, apologised, changed my tone, took her clothes downstairs and let her get herself dressed while I pulled breakfast together. I often forget that things I take for granted - like buttoning a shirt or tying a shoe – those things are actually big challenges and accomplishments for the little ones. And taking those things away will only upset them. So if you really want to get out of the house quickly, sometimes slowing down is actually the best strategy.

    What are your morning routines like? Any time-saving tricks you’d like to share? Anything that you know absolutely does not work? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

    I spy mince pies... What would you like for Christmas?

    I spy mince pies... What would you like for Christmas?

    I actually first saw mince pies in my local Co-op at the end of September, and almost cried. But I pulled myself together, clutched a box of Claudi and Fin ice lollies, and repeated the phrase ‘Indian summer’ to myself until I left the shop.

    Whether we like it or not, Christmas really is just around the corner. And, horror of horrors, we’ve actually uttered the following words to our three year old daughter.

    ‘What would you like for Christmas?’

    For a girl who suddenly really gets the concept of presents, this was like offering her a lifetime supply of Yo-Yos and Bear Paws. Her face lit up, and she danced around laughing, calling out various things. And ever since, every now and again when there’s something she wants that we don’t have, she will pause and state matter-of-factly, ‘Don’t worry mum, Santa will bring it’. And my heart stops a little because I can already see that we’ll have to start introducing some boundaries so that she knows what to expect and can enjoy the day. But, what are the right boundaries to introduce? And in what way?

    In the past, we’ve used Christmas as a way to replace things like pyjamas, socks and jumpers. We’ve also stocked up on new books, and art supplies, and started a few rituals to make the run up to the day special. It was about having something for our daughter to open, more than anything else.  What was inside didn’t really matter to her. I think that ship has sailed…

    Last year my husband and I decided to try out the ‘Four gift rule’ of buying each other something you ‘want, need, wear and read’. This worked perfectly for us, and we will be repeating it again this year. But when it comes to the girls, this feels a little over their heads. Especially our youngest, who will be just over one year.

    So I’m curious – for those of you who celebrate, what do you do? Do you focus on traditions? Do you use Christmas as an excuse to spoil your gorgeous little ones once a year? Do you moderate, and encourage them to think more about others than about themselves? Is it an opportunity to do a clear-out and toy donation? I’ve even heard of some families volunteering together in the run up to Christmas, to shift some of the focus away from presents. I think it’s a lovely idea, and one I’d like to introduce when the girls are a bit older. But in the meantime, how do I make this a holiday that is as much about the important stuff as it is about Santa? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!