Edith Bowman: "I’m a big fan of imperfection"
An interview with broadcaster and writer Edith Bowman on how mindfulness for mothers app Quility has not only helped her but her sons as well.
Did you always want to be a mum?
I think so, yes. My mum is one of seven who are all very close to each other so there were always lots of kids around when I was growing up. When my brother arrived when I was seven, I was desperate to be a mini mum to him.
Did growing up with lots of kids around make you better prepared for motherhood?
No way! Nothing can prepare you for the responsibility, lack of sleep and the waves of nauseating love you feel as a mum. I read as many books as I possibly could when I was pregnant with my first son Rudy [now 8], but when he arrived I was like, ‘Whoa’. My mum had the best advice – to learn through trial and error and to go with your instincts.
Do you feel pressure to be a perfect mum?
I don’t because there is no such thing as a perfect mum! I’m a big fan of imperfection. It’s what makes people beautiful, interesting and relatable. Everyone is always quick to portray these perfect lives on social media but the reality is usually far from it. Before I had kids I was first to say I can be a working mum, no problem but the truth is that it can be terrifying and the key is not to be afraid of asking for help.
Describe birth in one word...
In my case, it would be C-section. I find it odd when I tell people I’ve had a c-section that they look sympathetic and imply how unfortunate it is that I haven’t had a natural birth. It’s so judgemental.
The doctors decided I should have a c-section because I have a bicuspid heart valve and people’s attitudes need to change. You don’t know the situation of why people decide to have a c-section and it’s none of your business. The main thing is that your baby is well and healthy. How, where and when we give birth is a personal thing.
What’s your favourite thing about being a mum?
The cuddles, giggles and the constant reminder not to take life too seriously. I love seeing the world through their eyes and watching their natural, child-like reactions. It’s beautiful. And of course I love those guilty pleasure moments – sitting in front of the telly with Rudy on a Saturday night watching Strictly Come Dancing and spreading Philadelphia cheese onto our Mini Cheddars!
How would you describe your parenting style?
Honest. Whether I’m having a good or bad day, I’m always honest. I think it’s the best way to be and I want the kids to see that I’m only human. I was stupidly busy working last week and I took Rudy for a hot chocolate after school on Friday and just said, ‘Dude, I’m so sorry I’ve been away and it’s been a crazy week.’ We talked about it.
Who is your go-to person when you’re having a hard time?
My mum, no question. I’ll always remember when my son Rudy was two months old, my husband [Tom Smith, of indie rock band The Editors] was away on tour and mum phoned.
I didn’t say anything but she could sense by the tone of my voice that I was tired and struggling. Four hours later she was at my front door in London having got on a flight from Scotland. I was completely overwhelmed and sobbing when I opened the door to her! It was amazing
How have you changed since becoming a mum?
I feel younger! I’m obviously more tired but weirdly, I also feel more energised. My kids have also definitely taught me to live in the moment more.
Mindfulness has helped with that too. Quility App is the first ever mindfulness practice solely focused on mothers and I love how the mediations allow me to communicate with my brain. When you’re a mum everyone else comes before you so finding that little moment where you can re-boot your brain is important.
How has mindfulness changed your parenting approach?
I’m a lot calmer now. Quility helps me to acknowledge the way I respond to everyday situations instead of just giving knee jerk reactions. When I started doing the Virgin breakfast show I felt frantic and nervous about juggling everything - I was like a headless chicken.
What have you had to give up since becoming a mum?
Life naturally changes when you have children but I don't feel like I’ve had to give up anything. I don’t drink as much – mostly because I don’t want to be thinking about Jack Daniels and Coke when I’m off to Sing and Sign with my son Spike  the next morning! I’m not saying I don’t drink – only last week we were out for my mum’s birthday at a pub serving litre bottles of Prosecco! But the time has to be right.
Is there anything your husband does better than you?
He would say most things! He’s definitely tidier than me. And both Tom’s parents are teachers so he’s great at helping Rudy with his homework. I feel really lucky with Tom on so many levels but he’s a wicked dad and I’m so grateful. He’s strict when he needs to be but fun and stupid too. I love eavesdropping on his story times with the kids, when he’s doing all his Mr Men voices.
How do you and Tom make time for each other now you’re parents?
I think it’s so important to remind each other that you’re important to each other and to say thank you. I’d be lost without Tom. We like nothing better than having a takeaway together and watching an episode of House of Cards or going to the cinema. We also had a lovely weekend in Brussels together recently. It was our first weekend away since having Rudy and we left the kids with my in-laws. To be able to lay in bed and watch the tennis at 2 in the afternoon was amazing!
What’s your perfect family day?
Tom’s away working on a new album during the weeks at the moment so I love being together at weekends. Mostly, I enjoy just letting the kids dictate what we do. A Saturday usually starts with football for Rudy, then maybe a skateboarding lesson, pizza out somewhere, a walk on Hampstead Heath, and back home for a movie or to watch a bit of Steve Backshall. Rudy absolutely adores Steve Backshall - he’s God to him!
Are any more babies on the cards for you?
We haven’t done anything to stop us having another one so never say never! But probably not right now. We were with friends at the weekend and having a joke that if we did have another baby it would definitely be a boy! And could we be that family with The Three Boys?! Could we cope with that?
Edith’s Mini Heroes:
Quilty App: Mindfulness for Mothers
Quility App is the first Mindfulness app specifically for mothers and it’s really helped me to slow down and put less on my plate. I also love that it has ideas the whole family can benefit from. Kids’ moods go up and down all the time and mindfulness can really help.
Quility.me, available on iOS and Android
Disco Light Bulbs
I found these amazing party light bulbs that turn your room into a disco when you fit them in the place of a normal light bulb. They flash different colours and spin so the whole room lights up. The kids love them.
Red5 Party Bulb, £11.99, John Lewis
We’re really into Mega Jumps, a massive warehouse of interconnected trampolines and foam pits. They’ve got sessions for adults and kids and Rudy loves the special socks they give you for extra grip on the trampolines.
Quility is the first Mindfulness app specifically for mothers and is available on iOS and Android now - Quility.me.