Kristina Rihanoff Kristina Rihanoff

Mila’s first Christmas – and getting her back into a night routine!

Hi everyone,

How are you all? I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! I have a lot to update you on this week…

Mila’s first Christmas

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I dressed Mila up in a whole bunch of outfits including a Santa one – I couldn’t resist. It’s such a memorable thing and in years to come it will be the thing that you look back on and think ‘What a cute picture’. It was quite special as we had a full house, a big family celebration. Ben’s brother and his family stayed with us, my Mum and Ben’s mum and the baby – it was a full on house and it was a lot of fun. Mila got cute little presents and a baby piano because she loves listening to music. When she listens to music she moves around and sings a little bit, cooing along. It was special to have her first Christmas.

For the New Year we went to Champneys’s Resort and were invited there. There was a band and we had a dance; it was a fantastic party with great friends around. It was a great couple of days there, and obviously we had treatments etc. It’s such a great place, I always love going there. No matter what time of the year it is, it’s always unwinding and you feel so refreshed afterwards. My mum loved it too as it was her first time in a resort like that.

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Photo: Joe Alvarez

My mum turned 61 this week, so I took her to London and we had a dinner with a bunch of our friends. It was nice as Ben stayed home in the evening with the children, so I took Mum for a bit of shopping and for dinner. Last year on her 60th birthday I was in the Big Brother house and obviously it’s a big number, so I missed her birthday because I was going into the house. I wanted to give her a lovely celebration this year. I bought her a lovely skincare range with lotions and moisturisers as that’s all she wanted – a bit of pampering!

Doing One More Dance with Gleb

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Obviously it was absolutely incredible to be back dancing and to be on the stage once again. We had an amazing response, because we had so many family and friends and fans in the audience! For Gleb it was very special because he missed this year on Strictly because he’s now on the United States show Dancing with the Stars so he had his friends in the audience and loads of mine. It was just incredible. We did two shows, a matinee and evening, and both shows were absolutely incredible. I was so happy that we received such great reviews. We now have several companies who are interested in taking us on tour in the UK and Ireland, so we’re really looking forward to getting that show on the road. It would be fantastic to have my own project, my own show and my own vision of the shows that I’ve always wanted to do.

Once the show was over, I just felt like I was so behind on Christmas. I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping – nothing at all! I was absolutely panicking that I needed to sort everything out.

Mila was ill over Christmas

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Unfortunately, Mila got extremely sick. It was coming anyway because everyone at that time of the year gets sick, including everybody in our household – Ben, his mum who looked after Mila while I was in rehearsals, myself – we all were sick. So it was only a matter of time before Mila caught it. She got really unwell and obviously, being a first-time mum, when your baby is sick for the very first time you’re very stressed. I took her to the doctor the day after the show because she had a really bad cough, she was sneezing and couldn’t really breathe properly. The doctor said to do lots of steam showers so that she could breathe and rubbing lots of baby vaporubs and everything.

I’d been doing it for three days but she was getting worse and worse – I had three nights where she didn’t sleep at all. She was coughing all night and crying from tiredness and I thought, “I can’t do this, I need to go back to the doctor”. When we went back, the doctor said she needed antibiotics and listened to her heart – it was the first time I had to give her antibiotics. That wasn’t fun because it’s one of those things where you feel like you have to give your baby something which you don’t believe you have to take yourself, but it is what it is and there’s nothing you can do. It was the right thing to do at that point because she was getting so unwell.

During those three nights when she was really, extremely sick, her whole routine went out of the window. She stopped breastfeeding because she couldn’t suck anymore and she couldn’t breathe. So now she has food from the bottle, but I’m happy that I got to breastfeed for six months, I know it was the right thing to do.

After she recovered, thankfully, I was trying to put her back into a night routine but it was extremely hard and I thought I could use some help. It’s my first baby, so I’m learning a lot as I go along and learn from Mila myself how she wants to nap. The nights were really hard because she was constantly waking up so I’d give her a cuddle until she settled. I know by this time she’s supposed to sleep through the night. It’s such an adventure too – she’s now on solids so she’s loving all of the new food, she’s trying everything, but the nights are still hard.

Getting Mila back into a night routine

I started looking for answers, and I read the famous Gina Ford books that everyone refers to. For me what was amazing was that the reality was exactly by the book. Somehow Mila fell into that regime, taking naps every two hours and a small one in the morning. I’m sure that the Gina Ford books are incredible for a lot of parents, but for me I couldn’t do the ‘crying down’ thing. Listening to my child cry for twenty to thirty minutes was like listening to it for an eternity. I was trying to leave the baby for five minutes, then ten, but the longer it was going Mila was getting into such a state that I couldn’t calm her down at all afterwards. It just felt like torture to me. I needed to see what alternatives I had.

I follow a lot of accounts about motherhood on Instagram and Twitter, and found an article on sleeping babies by a sleeping guru, Jo Tantum (www.jotantum.com). We followed each other and she basically got in touch and I asked for her advice and said I was struggling with the night routine and wanted to know more. She said, “Okay, I’ll help you”. She offered different services and actually came to stay with us for 48 hours. I’ve done a few things Mila wouldn’t like, for example letting her settle herself to get comfortable once she’s in her cot rather than me gently rocking her to sleep – it was little things like that. Jo also gave me amazing advice on feeding, such as how to feed Mila, how to settle my day routine better with her. So now I am following that, I need to stick to a week of it! But now I’m really happy that Mila slept through the night without feeds. I was very happy because I felt that actually I don’t have to stress out, listening to the crying and closing the door on my child, that perhaps there was a different way to approaching night routines. It was absolutely fantastic. I just want to say to those mums who don’t want to sit there and be tortured by your baby’s crying and you want to sort out a night routine, maybe this is the answer. I was very appreciative to Jo. I just need to persevere – and Mila seems like a much happier baby.

Reader’s questions

Thank you for your questions. Please tweet @hellomag and @KRihanoff with your questions using the hashtag #AskKristina and I’ll try and answer them in my next blog post! These are a couple I received from readers this week…

Would you ever consider opening a dance school one day?

Yes, I’m working up to opening a dance school! Not only that – I’m also a massive fan of Bikram yoga, a hot yoga. I’ve been doing it for many years and I love it, so I’m actually thinking I want to do open a school where I can teach yoga and do Latin dancing. It’s just something that I really enjoy and it’s very good for the mind and the body. I find it really healing, so I’m looking into it!

Have you made any New Year resolutions?

I was never a fan of those. I think if you’ve made a decision to lose weight or get a new job, you don’t need to wait until the first day of January. I did make a decision to explore other things in life, like the yoga training. I’ve always loved it and I thought, why not open a studio that combines both? I’ll probably try and go for yoga training in Thailand so that’s exciting. I think be open-minded about new opportunities and don’t be afraid to do something out of your comfort zone – it’s never too late!

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