Well, for once, I think that I miss France. Am I allowed to say that being a mother is so much easier over there? In London, being a mum can be, well, challenging. Nothing is designed to help you.
Let’s start with the delivery of your baby. In France, you will be able to recover in hospital for a few days and, if you want, your baby will be taken care of during the night. Well, in London you will be kicked out after a day. Then, you are on your own. If you are lucky, a health visitor will come to visit you every other day, but most of the time they are too busy to bother anyway.
In France, you will be offered free physiotherapy sessions to get your flat tummy back. In London, well, you have no help to get back in shape. It is entirely up to you, but as you will have a lot on your plate, it is likely to be very low on your priority list.
I am starting to believe that there is a conspiracy against mums over here. For starters, the cost of childcare is prohibitive (twice as much as in my home country, as a rule of thumb). The worst is, as far as I am concerned, the opening hours of the schools and nurseries. It is simply a joke. Basically, nurseries usually open at 9.15/9.30 and, before you child is 4, they will only keep him or her during the morning, or until 11.30 am. Yay! You have been kindly given two whole hours of freedom. It is hardly going to help you get back to work, isn’t it?
In France, you can start school at 2 or 2 and a half and they will keep your child from 8.15/8.30 to…4.30 pm! And the best part is that it is completely free. I can assure you that my daughter was not traumatised at all with such long days. She was running to school every morning and I had to follow, half asleep.
That said, every cloud has its silver lining, right? In France, everything is taken care of, everything has been designed to help you, and there is, in general, little need for additional support. As it is clearly not the case over here, mums have to build a network of support. All mums know and help each other, and I can always count on another mum to pick up my daughter if I am stuck somewhere. We all cover for each other. We even lost weight together after the birth of my younger daughter. Simply put, we are on the same boat and I have found a solidarity that I didn’t have in France, which is nice.
Wherever you live, there is a group of mums ready to help with local information and to provide some support. In my new neighbourhood, I found Kensington Mums, a site run by Dina. And the dynamic Dina is organising a Kensington Mums Motherhood exhibition on the 7th of June. If you are around, you are welcome to join. I decided to participate and it was good fun (you will see on the day…). I can’t help thinking that such an initiative wouldn’t have happened in France.
Don’t get me wrong, I still wish that London schools had a sibling policy, the same holidays and longer opening hours. But at least, in London, I have friends and shoulders to cry on when it all gets too much!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London