Amanda Holden: My Precious Moments
The TV presenter and actress talks about home life with husband Chris and their two girls, Lexie, ten and Hollie Rose, four
Did you always want to be a mum?
Growing up I was very career-minded, and children only came to mind when I met my husband (music producer Chris Hughes). I just looked at him and fancied him so much that I thought, ‘I need to make more of you!’
Who’s your biggest parenting influence?
I’m massively close to both my mum and my grandmother, who’s 95. We’re a matriarchal family, and both my grandmothers had quite a big part in my upbringing. My mum and dad did a fantastic job, but my grandmother had a huge influence on me – and still does. She’s so full of life. Her tenacity has got her to a ripe old age.
Describe birth in one word.
What’s the best thing about being a mum?
There are so many things, but watching them grow up is like nothing else. It reminds you of your childhood, and brings you closer to your own parents. The minute you have children you seem to think about the whole world and not just the small environment you’re in. You think of everything on a bigger scale and how your children fit into that.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Someone once said, ‘Only be the mum you can sustain.’ That is such good advice. If you try to be someone you’re not, you’re going to crack. You can take on board practical advice about potty training or whatever, but when it comes to playing with your children and nurturing them, or breastfeeding them or not, there shouldn’t be pressure on parents to be anything but what they can sustain. With my first baby, I did everything by the book and Lexie thrived, but I nearly killed myself doing it. When I had Hollie, she was a great baby, and I was more relaxed so she just slotted into our lives. I did everything with more humour and less anxiety.
‘Children give you great perspective. All the stuff you once worried about doesn’t mean a thing compared to this little person’
What’s been your most embarrassing mum moment?
Every day my girls say things like, ‘You’re not wearing that, are you?’ or ‘Put some make- up on,’ or ‘Your breath smells of coffee,’ so I think I embarrass them more. I do this thing at the moment when I drop Lexie off at school – I wind the window down and shout, ‘I love you!’ and she turns around and glares at me. Or I turn the music up really loud and wind the windows down so I’m like a rapper mum. It’s hilarious!
How does your parenting style differ from your husband’s?
I’m strict, but Chris isn’t – the girls just laugh in his face. He tries to get me to fight his battles, and I say, ‘No way, you do it, it’s not that hard.’ You just ban the iPad or TV for a bit and that seems to work. They’re good girls, though. We do have a ‘time out’ step, but we put Chris on it more...
What does Chris do better than you?
He’s so good at making the girls laugh. He does weird things like ‘neck attack’, where he tickles their necks and makes them giggle. We’re quite a traditional household, I think – he throws them around, tickles and plays with them, and I do absolutely everything else. He’s got a good deal. He’s the hero, and I’m the disciplinarian, sandwich-maker, homework-doer... everything.
What would be your perfect family day?
We go walking, or if it’s raining we’ll watch a movie or play board games. We enjoy interactive, silly play. We like to relax and have fun without having to concentrate too hard – if anything’s too technical I just can’t do it. In your downtime you’re usually knackered, so it has to be something low-maintenance.
Who would be your fantasy babysitter?
I’d love to say Joan Rivers, but she’s no longer with us and probably not that child-friendly! So I’ll say Sully from Monsters, Inc. – he’d be a great babysitter.
What’s your children’s favourite toy?
Their Pebli Town game – it also includes an app where you can make your own movies – and I love doing that with them. I embrace video games, iPads and all that, because I know our children are of that generation. I like the kids to have something interactive to do.
What’s an attribute you’d like to pass on?
My determination – I don’t give up. That can either p*** people off or get you somewhere in life, depending on your perspective.
What has having children taught you?
That everything is about the children. Your heart is unprotected: there are no walls any more. You open yourself up emotionally and put yourself on the line. I cry at the smallest thing. They’ve made me much more vulnerable, which is a good quality, I think.
What have you had to give up?
Nothing. I’ve gained so much. The biggest worry friends without children have is that they’ll have to give up so much, so they put it off. But it gives you great perspective, and all the stuff you once worried about doesn’t mean a thing compared to this little person.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love a massage – once a fortnight is ideal. Chris and I also try to watch a box set as date nights are out at the moment – we’re both so busy. It’s about trying to carve out a bit of time for us – we have to explain to the girls that they must go to bed and let us have time alone, which is hard. My poor husband – he’s so far down the list he comes after the pet fish.
If you could invent something for new mums, what would it be?
A fairy godmother you can talk to and ask questions of. Her twinkly voice would answer you from anywhere.
What’s your top tip for new mums?
Only be the best mum you can be. Try to relax and enjoy it.
Amanda is working with toysalive.com on the Pebli Town interactive toy. She was chatting to Ali Horsfall.