How She Does It | Iota Leoni

This month’s journey to the unearthed secrets of Parenting is a nostalgic one for me, since I get to revisit an old friend.

Iota and I go many years back. We were classmates in high-school, but had lost touch for years after she had moved to France. I found her again in a school reunion some years ago, and I remember the utter shock I felt when she told me she had two kids already. I had just been out of surgery to have an ovary removed, doctors were giving me slim chance of ever having kids, and I had only just met the one who would rise to become my future husband, only detail is that I didn’t known it at the time!

To cut the long story short, I was nowhere near the family milestone, so I could not relate to any of her stories about how life with two young kids looked like. But now that I reflect on our chat, her narrations resonate so, that I can’t help but smile at the sweetness she brings forth when she talks about her kids.

Iota Leoni (Photo: © The Tamarind Tree)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Panagiota (Iota) Leoni and I am the proud mom of two little monsters, 5 and 3 years old! 

I have been living in France since 2006. After my engineering degree in Computer Science, I decided to pursue my studies with a Master’s degree in Management and Information Systems in the south of France. I started my career in 2007 with a consulting company in Paris. After several years in Project Management, I felt like changing my career so, in 2014, I decided to do an MBA degree in Copenhagen, Denmark. I have been working in Risk Management for an Insurance Company since 2016.

My passion in life is my kids. I enjoy every moment with them. Also, I am an animal lover who helps in shelters whenever I can, both in France and in Greece. My latest addiction is cooking and food photography. You can check my IG @cookingwithmymonsters!

Stemming from your personal experience, what is the toughest part of being a Mom, and how do you manage it?

I always wanted to become a mom. I knew that, from the time I would have my kids, my life would radically change. For me, the hardest part of being a mom is managing to understand the needs of my children, in the best possible way, to face their tantrums smoothly, and to be present when they need me.

To better anticipate such moments and be well equipped, I decided to ask for some help from a psychologist specialized in children’s development. With her help, I worked first on myself to have more confidence in me as a mom, and then on ways to better understand and manage such situations. Our focus was mostly facilitating the expression of the feelings of the kids.

Who is (are) your go-to person(s) when you need support as a Mother? What type of support are you mostly in need of?

As my family lives in Greece and my husband’s parents are not very close to Paris, my husband is my main support. Whenever I need to discuss my concerns, doubts or simple thoughts, he is the one to support and advise me. 

Until now, the support I mostly need is on finding the right balance between my professional life and being present as a mom.

What’s the No1 Skill (or Ability, or Knowledge) you have found handy in your role as a Mom?

I think patience and being a good listener. To better understand, one has to listen to the other person. A child cannot really express himself correctly, or at least in an easily understandable manner. Being equipped with patience and listening to what the child has to say (in any way expressed) truly helps!

I remember one day in particular when my 3-year-old daughter decided – after I had just parked my car – that she did not want to go to school. She started crying, screaming, rolling herself on the pavement…People were passing by looking at us (but of course this was not at all my problem). I did not want to push my daughter by taking her in my arms and bringing her at the class by force. I wanted to understand what had bothered her. I decided to sit down on the pavement next to her, and give her the time she needed to calm down.

Do note that, in France, the doors at the school close at 8:45, and it is strictly forbidden to let any kid enter after this time). Time was running out, but for me it was important to give my daughter the time she needed. Once she saw that I was sitting next to her, at the same level, she started speaking to me about what bothered her. I have to admit that not everything was clear, but showing her that I was there, that I acknowledged her feelings and that we took our time together to reach a compromise, I suppose it was all that mattered to her.

We spent 10 minutes (not that long in my opinion, but still precious in the morning rush) to turn around a day that started in a negative way. After this discussion, my daughter hugged me, and then started to run towards the school’s entrance.

What advice do you have for a new Mom?

My advice to every new mom reading this would be that no one knows better than you what your kids need! People like to give advice to new moms insisting sometimes that their advice works. Personally, unless I ask for it, I do not appreciate people telling me they know better what my children need or how I should react. 

At first I did not want to seem disrespectful to people offering me insight, but trying to follow an advice I did not really believe in was a source of stress for me. So, ever since,I follow my instinct, and I try to do the best I can for my kids, maintaining the right balance between my professional and personal life.

Thus, believe in you, keep it simple, listen to your children’s needs and it will work!

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