When you’re in the newborn trenches and so used to a routine that involves feed, sleep, eat and repeat, considering there might be an alternative to something as simple as baby wipes seems completely impractical. The ease and convenience of a wipe surely can never be underestimated, but when you actually delve a little deeper, it’s clear that there’s more to this nappy bag staple than meets the eye. That’s what drew French-native and Bondi-based mum Canelle Leforestier to create her own ointment that cleans, moisturises and protects little bottoms without any harsh chemicals or negative impact on the environment...
The Baby Bum Cleanser by Petit Kiddo is a liniment-oleo calcaire product which pays homage to the French way of traditionally changing nappies and cleaning babies’ bottoms. The olive oil-based cleanser is a no-rinse product that replaces the need for often chemical-filled wipes that could be doing more harm than good to delicate skin. Canelle’s “aha” moment sounds all too familiar – “When a friend handed me a wet wipe to remove a stubborn chocolate stain on a t-shirt and it worked, I freaked out. Do people really use this on the delicate skin of their kids?” After searching for a way to use less cosmetic products on her own kids, Canelle started creating the all-in-one natural cleanser in her kitchen as a way of replacing store-bought wipes and nappy cream, and the rest, as they say…
We caught up with Canelle to talk about her French way of living in Bondi, how she juggles three kids with a new business and why we all need to be more aware of the environmental impact something as simple as baby wipes has on our future.
What has motherhood taught you?
Unconditional love. My heart and fascination for my kids have no limit. Dealing with young kids requires a lot of patience, like A LOT, and creativity and imagination.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To dream big and be patient (not my forte). Take one step at a time and try to be consistent in the long run. But it’s ok to make mistakes and change routes. And travel, travel, travel.
What brought you to Australia and what do you love about the Australian way of living?
Both my partner and I come from the same little village in South Eastern France. We wanted to go as far as possible to experience a real change… Jonathan ended up with a job offer in Sydney. We decided to give it a go and packed two backpacks each. This was 13 years ago.
I find people here are happy and optimistic. This feeling that anything is possible with hard work and passion. I love it. I also know we have decided to live in a little pocket of happiness when we chose Bondi. There is something about letting go here, you guys know how to unwind. The outdoor lifestyle with young kids is priceless. I’m a country girl, I grew up on sunny hills, outside most the time and I am very grateful for it. Being in Sydney is very exotic for us. A different outdoor scene as well as a good-sized city.
So far, what has been the most challenging part of motherhood and how have you overcome any challenges?
There are few. One is to realise that children, despite coming from the same parents, with the same upbringings, same lives, same school, can be very different. My three look alike a lot but their temper and their personality is so so so different. It’s not always easy to please everyone, and nearly impossible at the same time! We make sure they are treated equally.
Another big challenge we have to face is not only from being a mum and dad, but being so far away from our relatives. Skype is the best compromise and making sure our kids have an extended support network here. It takes a village. Teenage years are around the corner – I might finally open one of these parenting books we have.
How have you handled any sleep deprivation/getting up in the night?
Ha! That’s a good one. None of my kids “slept through” the night until they were approximately three! Marcel was even closer to four. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping saved me. I can fall asleep very quickly and anywhere. Early risers are the more challenging. Marcel used to start his day at 4:30/5am. 6am is a sleep-in!
How do you juggle the needs of three children?
The answer is in the question: I juggle. Our social agenda works around theirs. In-school activities are great: music, dance, sports. At the moment, the eldest enjoys doing the same extracurricular activities: surfing, capoeira, even netball (for a bit). Marcel is still tagging along. Oh and childcare/family daycare. They all started going three days a week around their first birthday. It’s our way to extend their “family-like” circle…
Tell us about your nighttime routine?
It depends on the day and on activities after school, but in a nutshell: shower, pyjamas, dinner, games. At some point, in the mix, we squeeze in some screen time. We only have ABC iview on our smart-tv screen and the kids have some favourites. Screentime is a massive dilemma, I feel guilty as kids get addicted very quickly; however as Jonathan, my partner, arrives home quite late, it’s the easy option for me to get a few things done – such as finishing meal prep. That said, we are phasing it out!
What’s your approach to health and wellbeing?
I’m French so food plays a big part of my wellbeing. My dad and step-mum had a restaurant for more than 30 years. I’m not a chef but I’ve got the basics of cooking healthy meals covered. My kids always ate like us… until now, they are getting difficult and picky and no two of them like the same thing! It’s a phase/age thing.
I like cooking and working from home helps with prepping. I go organic where I can but I’m not 100%. We eat mainly fresh food, made from scratch, but not too fancy. And then, the occasional frozen dumplings = lifesavers! A balanced diet, veggies, fruits, meat, dairy as well as sweets. Big chocolate addict here! The kids are involved in cooking and they play outside a lot.
I’d love to say that I exercise daily but I don’t. However, I’ve joined a netball team earlier this year. We are all mums with girls playing in school teams, we have weekly games, we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we recently won our comp! Netball doesn’t exist in France, so this is a big accomplishment. I started surfing last year, too. There is still “room for improvement” but I have a lot of fun and deeply cleansed sinuses from all the salty water! Oh and yoga; this is new to me, I was probably the only person not doing yoga in the Bondi bubble, but I found the perfect small class I needed. Team sport, nature and breathing are a good combination.