Sheree Murphy: My Precious Moments
The actress chats about life with her four children and husband, former footballer Harry Kewell
Did you always want to be a mum?
Yes. I always wanted four kids, and was lucky that Harry wanted the same thing. I come from a big family: I have four brothers, and one of them was born when I was 15, so I had a lot of practice bringing up little ones. The older children do help me a lot, too. Harry has always travelled and been away for work, so having the older ones makes it easier – I wouldn’t be able to do it without them now.
Who’s your biggest parenting influence?
My mum. She was brought up in a children’s home, so all she wanted was a nice husband and her own home with children. Mum and Dad had really good values and brought us up in a nice way. She’s always been there to help or is always at the end of the phone.
Describe birth in one word.
Did your experiences of pregnancy and birth differ with each of your children?
Even doing it four times, each time is totally different. The common thread is that you cannot wait to meet your baby: it’s the most exciting thing ever. It can be painful and hard work, but it’s amazing. I have said, ‘Oh, no, how can I do this again?’, but you forget. Taylor’s birth was long and stressful – I had an epidural that slowed everything down and he got stuck in the birth canal. Then Ruby was easy and pain-free – she just flew out.
So I thought Matilda would be the same – really easy – but it was so painful and so long. Then Dolly was great again, so they were all different. I thought after Dolly maybe we’d have one more, but I’m done. I’ve turned 40, so that’s it. I need a puppy or something!
Your favourite thing about being a mum?
Those moments when we’re all sat on the sofa watching a film, and I can’t believe me and my husband made all these little people. I love it.
What’s your parenting style?
I’m very organised – it’s like a military routine when they come in from school. We have fun, too, but there’s a line that the kids know not to cross. Manners and respecting other people are important. I like to think I can take my kids anywhere and they’ll behave.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Use your support systems. I didn’t listen to that advice with the first one, but I certainly did with the second. My mum taught me the benefits of taking a bit of time out for myself. She’d book me a hair appointment and tell me to go off and enjoy it while she had the kids.
What’s your perfect family day?
It would start with a nice lie-in, then maybe a long, lazy lunch, and then we’ll all pile into our bed together to watch a movie.
Your most embarrassing mum moment?
Matilda is at that stage at the moment where she doesn’t have a filter and drops you in it all the time. A few weeks ago I told a little white lie to another mum and she just outed me in front of that mum! She’ll blow you up at any time, and it’s so embarrassing. We’re trying to teach her she can’t just say what’s in her head.
And your biggest panic?
When they’re poorly. Dolly’s just had her pre-school jabs, and her temperature went up so high. I had her in bed with me. I try not to show it, but I do panic when they’re ill.
Do all the children play together?
Taylor is outnumbered by women at home. The three girls are always cartwheeling and singing, and he’s like, ‘Oh, god.’ Ruby is quite tomboyish, though, so she’ll play football in the garden or jump on the trampoline with him. Harry always says to Taylor, ‘Just wait until the girls are older and start bringing all their friends over – then you’ll like it!’
What does Harry do better than you?
He’s got more patience than me. Because I’m on my own a lot with them I have a shorter fuse. Where I’m trying to do a million things at once, he’ll come in and just play with them, which I don’t always feel I have the time to do. He’ll do bathing, homework and everything – when he’s gone again I feel like I’ve lost my right arm. He retired last year so we had him at home for about a year, which was brilliant. Now he has a new job down south, so I feel like a single mum again. But it works for us.
How do you manage to juggle your career and being a mum?
My mum helps so much. She’s 65 now, and I’m conscious she needs her own time. But if I have to be in London for a meeting or something, she’ll get the train over to look after the kids. And I did Neighbours last year and was away for about eight weeks. It’s nice to be in a position where I can pick and choose work.
What one attribute would you like to pass on to your children?
Maybe my cooking skills. They loved it when I was on Celebrity MasterChef, and have always watched me in the kitchen making everything from scratch with fresh ingredients.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Even having a shower on my own is bliss. There’s always one of them knocking at the door. Or two. Or four! The last one goes to bed at 9pm so that’s my downtime. I can’t go to bed too late because I have to get up so early, so I probably get about an hour to myself where I can watch what I want and relax.
What’s your top parenting tip?
I’d always say that if someone offers help, take it. I’ve been there, where it’s 4pm and you’re still in your PJs and it’s hard to ask for help because you don’t want to feel like you’re having a breakdown. A nap or a long bath for an hour can make you feel so much better.
And if you could invent one thing for new mums, what would it be?
When you’re delirious from lack of sleep it’s the hardest time, so I’d create a second pair of eyes to watch the baby all through the night so you could fall into a proper deep sleep.