Living in a city such as London and bringing up children can be a challenge for many parents, but with it also comes great benefits such as the diversity of people and exposure to the some of the best museums, art galleries, and parks. We chat with veteran model, and mother to daughter Eliana, Jess Bowen (@modelmother) about bringing up a child in London and her quest to find peaceful time with her family in amongst all of the chaos that big city life brings.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I'm a full-time mother, part-time model, and moonlighting blogger. I am mum to Eliana, a sassy two and a half-year-old, who has me wrapped around her little finger. You have mentioned previously that living in London and bringing up a child was something you were initially wary of.
What are the pros of bringing up your child in a big city like London?
The people! It’s the main thing that differentiates metropolitan living and makes up the tapestry of a city. When I moved to London over 11 years ago, the sheer quantity of people everywhere can be overwhelming; but in time it teaches you patience, acceptance, and camaraderie, and I think any child who grows up in London automatically inherits those traits, along with a requisite sense of humour. Almost everyone in London is an alien, blown in from other corners of the UK and from all across the world. So very few of the mums I met when I first had Eliana had family nearby. We flocked together and became a surrogate family for one another. It meant that my daughter was playing with kids whose roots lay in Spain, Ireland, Romania, Australia, America, Ethiopia, and France. Also, there was always something to do and somewhere to go, whether it was baby raves, mum and baby yoga, to see the changing of the guards at Horse Guard’s Parade and the pelicans in St James’ Park or simply going for a ride on a big red bus.
Do you have any tips or advice for expecting mothers on how to bring up young children in London?
Finding quiet in the chaos is key to my enjoyment of London with a child. We are lucky that it’s such a green city with protected parks. I love places like Holland Park, with its peacocks, Richmond Park with its Deer and Petersham Nurseries for an al fresco lunch in the summer. I was always a country mouse, even when we are living in the city.
Tell us how you like to spend quality time with Eliana?
It doesn’t really matter what the activity is, whether we’re home or out and about – quality time only happens when I stop trying to multi-task and exist in the moment. I can’t think of a more appropriate use of mindfulness than when playing with a kid. I know when I immerse myself in an activity with her; whether it’s eating lunch, playing in the sand or pretending to be a patient to her doctor, if I give it my all she absolutely loves it. I don’t think I do it enough because it’s so easy to get distracted by all the other things that need doing – the washing, the cleaning, the answering of emails, the scrolling through Instagram (admittedly not essential but incredibly distracting nevertheless). Now that she’s started pre-school for a few hours a week, I’m trying to be more conscious about dividing my time properly.
When it comes to evening rituals how do you like to prepare your little one for bed?
I come from a family of night owls and Eliana is no exception; so bedtime has always been a very fluid concept in our household! She is often at her most adorable in the evenings and thrives on having the attention of two adults once my husband comes home from work. That’s often when we play silly games with her and it helps us all unwind. My husband usually does bath time, which is full of squeals and pretend swimming and I calm things down in the bedroom. She is still breastfeeding, so I read to her and feed her and then stay with her until she falls asleep, sometimes humming ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me,’ which is the song I used to calm her with when she was a baby.
What are your favourite storytime reads?
The Snail and the Whale, I Want My Hat Back and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Eliana also has the full collection of Winnie the Pooh books and she carries at least one of them with her everywhere she goes as her ‘map book' (they have a map of the Hundred Acre Wood inside the cover), but she's yet to let me actually read one to her!
What are your favourite new season La Coqueta items?
The hand smocked dresses are beautiful. I love how traditional they look, I’d team them with some ribbed tights and either the Nappa or suede desert boots to give them a tougher edge to match Eliana’s spirit. The Fair Isle jumpers and Arrieta coats are favourites too and of course, I have my eye on the Cromo Girl Nightgown for Christmas day morning.
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