Moments: Vicki Butler-Henderson

Vicki Butler-Henderson: My precious moments

TV presenter and racing driver Vicki Butler-Henderson talks about the best bits of being mum to four-year-old Una and new baby Oscar


Did you always want to be a mum?

Yes. When I was a little girl, I said to my mum that I wanted four boys. Now, as a grown-up, I couldn't imagine giving birth four times. Twice is enough – the shop is shut!

Who's your biggest parenting influence?

A couple of my friends' mothers, both called Jane and wonderful, lovely people – they were my friends as well as my friends' mums.

Describe birth in one word!

Epic. For both of them! The second one, Oscar, was an emergency caesarean so that could also be described as 'quick'.

So what happened?

With Oscar, they induced me and his heartbeat dropped. They rushed me straight into theatre and about two minutes later, he was born. Una had the cord around her neck and meconium in the waters. I have such wonderful respect for midwives – anyone who works in the birthing unit is amazing.

Best thing about being a mum?

Love. The love I get and the love I give.

How did you choose their names?

Una was after my granny, Una Butler-Henderson, an amazing woman. And Oscar because Phil and I both liked it!

What is the best gift they have been given?

When Una was born, we had a bouquet of flowers made of socks and bibs and babygrows, all wrapped up to look like roses, from a company called BabyBlooms. Now whenever somebody has a baby, I buy them one.

The best advice you've been given?

To have patience and stay calm.

What were Una's first words?

I promise this is true, I remember Una saying 'car'. She said 'Mamma' first but the one after that was definitely 'car'.

What makes Una laugh?

Tickles, funny faces, jumps, going high on the swing... she's definitely a little thrill-seeker.

Most embarrassing mum moment?

One of the most awkward was when I first started breastfeeding in public, when you're trying to get it right for your baby and not whip your boob out all over the shop. It took me a few goes, but now I'm quite adept at doing it all discreetly. In the early days, I'm sure I had a few flashing moments!

And your biggest panic?

There was one time in the night when I'd been breastfeeding and Una was going to sleep on my chest; she was only two weeks old. Sometimes they breathe so lightly – I thought she'd stopped breathing. I leapt up and woke her; she was fine but that's definitely been my most panicky moment.

Which fictional character would Una be?

At the minute, she loves Frozen and she has an Elsa dress so she'd like to be Elsa. It's such a sweet film. It's no James Bond, but it'll do.

What are their favourite things?

Oscar's into milk, sleep and pooing and Una's going around singing Let It Go all the time.

Best baby outfit?

I have recycled quite a lot of Una's onesies from when she was little for Oscar, and remembering what she was like back then has been lovely. And I have put Oscar in a couple of flowery outfits; I'm sure he won't mind!

Perfect family day?

Just being together, a walk in the park, maybe brunch in a restaurant, so I don't have to do any cooking or washing up. Getting outside.

Anything that Phil does better than you?

Cooking... he's also taken over teaching Una to swim and he's very good at that. I don't want to concede anything else though!

What would you like to pass on to them?

I think kindness would be the main thing.

How do you juggle your time?

It's a constant struggle and it involves lots of planning and a good network of helpers.

Has Una ever seen you on TV?

There's a cartoon called Olly the Little White Van and one episode featured me – I was the presenter on a car show and had to test Olly. She loves that, she thinks it's really fun that mummy's in a cartoon.

What has having children taught you?

That I'm much more patient than I thought I was – I can do slow after all! All my life, I've been flat out but now I can just take stock and, you know, go and push my daughter on the swing for an hour and not mind about it.

What's your parenting style?

I'd say I'm both laid back and organised. I'll let her climb a tree but point out that she might fall. I'll say it quite early on but let her do it, then go and help her and make an adventure out of it. You have to give them
a certain amount of responsibility.

Have they ever shocked you?

The other day Una said, 'Oscar wants Mummy's boob.' I didn't realise that she'd picked up on that language!

What's your guilty pleasure?

Reading a book. I love reading, and if I can sneak in a couple of pages before I pass out in the evening then I'm doing well.

What would you invent for new mums?

An instant get-back-in-shape kit. That would be awesome.

What are you doing differently this time?

Just not being so anxious, and I'm letting Phil do more. I did almost everything myself the first time. I'm very keen for him to do more nappies and pick Oscar up more, that sort of thing.

What's your top parenting tip?

To get out once a day, just to potter about, go to the shops and get a coffee. Put the baby in the pram and get out of the house, see life around you and realise that all will be Ok!

Vicki was chatting to Lizzie Catt


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