This week, we interviewed Nathalie Genty, head of premier online fashion e-tailer, Melijoe. Nathalie lives and works in Paris with her husband and five children. We find out just how she makes it all work!
You’re a mother to FIVE children; did you always plan to have a big family?
I always wanted at least three children, and after the third I wanted a fourth, then a fifth… and why not a sixth! But it’s not my sole decision. And for my husband Nicholas, five is the max.
I’ve always loved being pregnant. Giving birth was always easy. I love babies, they’re my drug of choice. I just want to gobble them up, and they know it… I love it right now, I’m always very moved when I’m with them, all five together or in smaller clusters… It’s great.
Describe a day-in-the-life from when your alarm goes off, to when you get into bed after a long day at work.
I wake up at 6:45am.
I get ready in 15 minutes flat while my youngest daughter Mahaut, gently wakes up in her cot, which is still in our bedroom.
Then Mahaut and I prepare 3 little bottles of chocolate milk before my daughters Melie and NÃ©va join us in the living room. We live in a loft, so the kitchen is also a dining room that opens onto the living room. Mahaut takes the bottles to the two girls. It’s a very important ritual for everyone 🙂 with Les Zouzous, a children’s TV show, playing in the background. While everyone is enjoying their milk, I prepare the breakfast table for 6!
My boys, Mathis and Antone join us and my husband Nicolas who works in London dials in via Skype. It’s freshly squeezed organic orange juice for everyone, wholewheat bread with butter and jam or with Nutella. And a tea for me. The boys are independent enough to walk to school, which is only five minutes away.
I take the girls to school (increasingly with Mahaut, who always wants to come along, and I bring her back to the nanny afterwards). The kindergarten is a few hundred metres from the apartment and my office is between the two which is very handy!
After work, depending on the hour, there’s either everything or nothing to tend to. Whatever the case, I always come home in 100% mum mode (no phone and no TV for me) until all the children are in bed. No two evenings are alike. A week ago, the children made me a surprise dinner with homemade French fries… and honey. Not only did I eat those greasy fries, the whole house smelt like fries for two days!
Once all the children are settled – and I’m lucky enough to have never had trouble putting them to bed – I work or I surf the Internet looking at interior dÃ©cor sites, or hunt for a country house in the Vexin (we’re seriously thinking about buying a weekend place). I do the food shopping (on Monoprix online or Amazon) or else I just turn in!
What’s the most difficult thing about being a mother to five?
For me, the hardest thing is managing meal times. I don’t like to cook, but regardless I have made sure to never serve them a pre-prepared meal or any processed meat. You can just imagine the effort it takes to maintain that standard with six mouths to feed during the week!
Your office is based in the heart of Paris, what’s family life like there?
I’m lucky because the schools, the office and our doctor are within a 500 metre radius of our apartment. So too are the shops and even some of the trendiest restaurants in town right now. There’s a real Parisian neighbourhood vibe where we live. We walk everywhere, and everyone knows each other.
The neighbourhood is just fabulous and the most central in my opinion, because it’s right near the Gare du Nord and the Eurostar, which is essential for us as Nicolas works in London during the week. We’re hunting for a country house to get away on the weekends!
What are you top tips for mothers juggling family life with a career?
The main thing for me is to not try to do several things at once where kids are concerned. I am with them, or I am at work, but never both at the same time or they really make you pay for it. At work, I have no problem juggling 10 things at a time, but that’s never the case with the children.
On top of that, it’s just a matter of finding the right balance between children, work and your relationship ”” it’s important never to forget that you’re a woman.
What’s your secret to staying in shape? You look fabulous.
Oh lÃ lÃ … My gym bag has been sitting behind my desk for more than two years. For two years, I’ve been telling myself that I should start sports again, sign up for classes, all in vain.
Let’s just say that managing five children is already a sport in itself. I also take good care of my skin because I love cosmetics and their fragrances… I don’t smoke, I drink only occasionally (only on weekends), I don’t sunbathe… and I sleep well. That’s probably key…
What are your staple go-to items of clothing when dressing for work?
Most often I’ll wear a pretty designer dress (either by a well-known brand like Miu Miu, Stella McCartney and ChloÃ©, or my favourite lesser-known indie of the season) which I wear with trainers for running from one appointment to the next (Valentino, Nike, Balenciaga).
When do you take the family for a bit of a) fun, b) food and c) culture?
Weekends and holidays only. For fun, food, and culture, we go to London whenever we can. The Eurostar is already fun with five kids! Then, during the weekend, Nicolas cooks, My daughter NÃ©va loves to feed the squirrels peanuts and then cries whenever we get too close…. For restaurants I love Tombo in Knightsbridge. For culture, we go back again and again to the Museum of Natural History or we head to the Tate Modern.
Share with us your favourite family recipe.
A lot of laughs, hugs, kisses and love! Not to mention a crÃ¨pe party once a week!
How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
I guess I would say I’m a mum, just like any other. And then I can just hear my team saying: not really, you’re a mother of five whose husband works in London and a company that has become a leader in its sector, with double-digit growth year on year, 60 employees and which has just been selected by Google France for its Scale-Up programme designed to support 10 French start-ups with their international development strategy!