CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell talks about the best-and worst-bits of being a mum
Did you always plan to be a mum?
Yes. Even when I was quite young, it was something I hoped would happen one day.
Describe birth in one word.
‘OH! I see!’ That’s not one word, is it?
How was birth for you?
I had a water birth, with no epidural. On paper it was lovely – in reality it was an intense 19 hours!
Who has been your biggest parenting influence?
Undoubtedly, my mum. I was so lucky – she gave me such a lovely childhood that was full of imagination. It was as if we were in a magical Enid Blyton bubble. Other parents play an important part too, just by seeing what they do.
What’s your favourite thing about being a mum?
Just that – being a mum. I suppose it sounds really clichéd but it is absolutely the best thing in my life. Coming home and having someone fling their arms around me and call me ‘mummy’ is just so brilliant.
Perfect family day?
A sunny day in Brighton with other friends who have children. Ice cream, doughnuts and maybe a beer on the beach.
What made you choose your baby’s name?
I always loved the name Amelie, long before the film of the same name came out. When I was younger, we went to France each summer and, well, Audrey Tautou was just the icing on the cake.
What’s the best gift Amelie has been given?
Her scooter. That certainly sped things up in getting a three-year-old around London.
What’s the best advice you’ve had?
To trust your instincts. It came from a lovely lady in our local supermarket. I was breastfeeding and exhausted, and we were talking about the whole sleeping thing. There was lots of advice about not having the baby in bed with you, and she just said to me, ‘Mama knows best’. So I did what came naturally and it worked for us.
What have you had to give up?
Lots of things in a practical sense – my freedom, because you do become beholden to your child’s routine to a degree. But actually I don’t really see it like that. I just feel it’s a different way of life with a whole new set of rules.
The biggest mistakes you’ve made?
Motherhood is a series of mistakes! But you learn as you go along. Every day is full of little mistakes and little triumphs, and you can’t have one without the other. You constantly adapt and renegotiate as your baby changes.
What was Amelie’s first word?
A whole string of words all came at once, but her earliest were ‘mama’ and ‘bollo’ – which was her word for her bottle. She still calls it that now.
And what makes her laugh?
Being in trouble – she finds that hilarious. She has a cheeky personality and if it looks like I’m losing the plot, she sees that as a victory to be celebrated.
What’s been your most embarrassing moment with her?
I think the worst was when I was presenting an award for the Art Fund Prize and I was on stage with Michael Portillo. Amelie managed to escape from the people who were looking after her, got up on stage with me, and danced around Michael Portillo, singing a song. No one could get her off!
And your biggest panic?
When she was four days old she stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital. Within a matter of hours she was fine again, but it was absolutely terrifying.
If Amelie was a fictional character, who would she be?
Lyra from Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy because she’s fearless, she’s brave, she’s brilliant. And she’s difficult! She’s everything Lyra is.
Is she a mummy’s girl?
I think she would probably choose her grandparents over me whenever possible! But yes, she is a mummy’s girl too.
What could you do better as a mum?
I could be less tired and give her more time. That’s the thing about being a working mum, the constant guilt. I read bedtime stories in front of the camera all day and then come home to do it all over again. But I try really hard to never miss reading her a story and to do it with as much energy and devotion as I do at work.
Who would be your fantasy babysitter?
Definitely Katy Ashworth from I Can Cook on CBeebies. She’s so lovely – just as wonderful and as natural in real life as she is on telly.
What’s the one thing you’d like to pass on to Amelie?
To be herself, to trust in herself and to have confidence in her own brilliance. I want to teach her that all her dreams are achievable and she can accomplish anything.
What has she taught you?
Everything about being a mum. I’d worked with kids a lot and I thought I knew what it was going to be like. But when she arrived, I realised I knew nothing. Being so exhausted and feeling like you’d rather die than get up again during the night, and then doing it anyway, makes you realise you’ve been taught the true meaning of selflessness.
What do mums have to accept?
Your figure may never be the same again – but you’ll let go of vanity in the face of love.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Apart from chocolate, it’s curling up with a magazine. Before being a mum, I always thought I should be reading a play or something like that. Now I just want good articles, glossy pictures and to be entertained.
What’s your most useful baby product?
Our Tangle Teezer hairbrush. Whoever invented that, I will love them forever.
And any complete wastes of time?
There are loads of those I think. When you’re pregnant, you think you need endless products in order to succeed as a mother when actually, you just need to be calm, to have support, and to love and enjoy your baby. If you could invent something for new mums what would that be? A switch you could flick to instantly give you confidence and reassurance that everything will be fine and not to doubt yourself.
Would you like more children?
Yes, but not for a while. That’ll give me time to work on my invention!
Cerrie was chatting to Pip Jones