Learning to be mummylicious

Christine Amour-Levar makes time for husband Steve and kids (from left) Yasmine, Louis, Angeline and Malcolm. – Photo from The Straits Times

Most people would say marketing consultant and freelance writer Christine Amour-Levar is a yummy mummy. She is not coy about it either.

In fact, she has just published The Smart Girl’s Handbook to Being Mummylicious, a 160-page book that advises women on “getting your body and your groove back post-pregnancy.”

Far from advocating an obsession with good looks above all else, she says the guide emphasises the “mummy” in “mummylicious.” “Being mummylicious doesn’t mean you spend hours in front of the mirror or at the gym while you neglect to care for your children and family.”

They are top priority, she says, “but you nurture them without losing your sense of self or giving up on your figure and looks.” She adds: “It takes strong will power to want to get back into shape after a pregnancy, let alone four pregnancies.”

The lanky mother of four children – two girls and two boys aged two to 11 – is nothing if not disciplined.

“Once I stopped breastfeeding, I started jogging and did pilates once a week. Sometimes, I swam or alternated with some machines such as the Nordic Track elliptical and StairMaster, or did other sports such as tennis and biking.

“All in all, I tried to work out three or four times a week for at least 30 minutes at an elevated heart rate.”

Also important to her is a good education. Doing their best in studies is a must for her children, says Amour-Levar, who studied business, economics and Japanese at Sophia University in Tokyo, graduating summa cum laude.

The 39-year-old of French-Filipino descent also speaks six languages, including French, Spanish and Japanese.

Her influence and the example she sets have rubbed off on her kids, who are clearly well schooled in their future career matters.

Nine-year-old Malcolm wants to be a professional football player when he grows up. The Lycee Francais de Singapour pupil trains with the JSSL-Arsenal club in Singapore and plays in league matches every other Sunday. But he toes the line when it comes to hitting the books.

“I agree with my parents that a university degree is important even for a football player. Because if I get injured and can’t play football any more, at least I can still get a good job if I have a degree,” he says.

His sister Yasmine, 11, is similarly forward-thinking. She studies at United World College and also takes French and Chinese classes. “I like French, it’s very pure. But I would also like to speak Mandarin so that I can get a good job in the future,” she says.

She and Malcolm would make their mummy and daddy – Australian-born Croatian Steve Levar, also 39 – so proud. Levar is the publisher of the Singapore-based Racing Guide magazine.

Amour-Levar has worked around the world including in France as an interior designer for Philippe Starck, and as marketing manager in the United States, France and Singapore for Nike between 1995 and 2007.

The Levars are Singapore permanent residents and have been based in the city-state for the past six-and-a-half years.

Fewer children are a norm for most parents these days. Why did you have four?

We love children and we’d always wanted a big family. But four is a handful for any couple, so I think we will stop at that number.

How important is grooming in your family?

: I am very particular about how the children look. We don’t buy them expensive clothes but for special occasions, I like to buy outfits that match, from Zara, Gap or Gingersnaps, for example. Yasmine, how much time does mummy spend on dressing you before you go out?

: Not too much but she always checks how we look before we step out.

Do you think it is important for mummy to look good?

Yes, because that way it sets the right example for her children, especially for her daughters. We like feeling proud of our mummy when we go out with her.

How do you discipline the children?

I am the disciplinarian. I want the children to be well-mannered and thoughtful individuals. I also check their homework every day. I was a good student myself, so academic performance is very important to me.

: I generally leave it to her to manage the kids and their education but I’ll step in if they are really naughty. For example, when they don’t want to go to bed. We don’t believe in physical punishment. We’ll take away something they like, say, watching TV.

Do you restrict the children’s computer usage?

My children don’t have Facebook. I told them that maybe they can when they turn 13. The two older ones use Skype. Their time on the computer or social media sites is very strictly monitored. All homework must be finished first and no computers or gadgets after 7pm. And bedtime is between 8pm and 8.30pm.

: My mum tells us not to use the computer so much or we’d become dumb.

: I meant they will get groggy, like watching too much TV.

Which of the children are closer to mum or dad, and why?

My husband says when I am around, my baby girl only wants to be with me. But when I’m not, he becomes her favourite.

: They have their moments. The youngest is closest to my wife at the moment but maybe it’s because she is still so young.

: The older kids sometimes complain that we are a little softer on the little ones compared to them. But I think that’s often the case in many families. We try to treat all the children in the same fair manner.

If the parent-child roles were reversed, what would you do differently?

I am proud of mummy, she’s amazing and I would raise her exactly the same way she raises me.

: I can’t imagine being the child of my own children, so this is a difficult question to answer.

: I’d probably just try to have more fun with my children. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

* The Smart Girl’s Handbook To Being Mummylicious will be available soon in Borders Malaysia. For details, go to www.thesmartgirlshandbook.com.


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