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The Original Yummy Mummy

Melinda tells us what it’s like to be a mother of three, a wife and a career woman!

It’s obvious you love being a mum, but how do you cope with being a working mum – do you live by routines?

Being a mother – regardless of whether or not you work – is one of the toughest jobs on the planet. But when you have another daily job to do in addition to being a mother, then the pressures and demands just double up.

The way I survive is by having routines – which actually goes against my nature. But it’s what makes things tick along in my household. Wayne and I try and plan ahead as much as possible – we have to be so organised with our time. It’s really all about prioritising. Looking after three children under seven is a considerable feat, so having structure is essential.

I am very lucky to be able to combine my career with being at home. I don’t have nannies or a cleaner. It works for some families, but home-making is part of being a mother so I choose to take on all the household responsibilities.

What gets me through the routine of homelife is the fact that my job is so varied. Right now, I am working on City Hospital, so I’m observing operations, interacting with new people all the time. The new challenges I face at work constantly change with each project I get involved in. I wouldn’t miss being a mum for the world but I have to admit, having support from both Wayne’s family and mine is a total godsend.

What do you most enjoy about the work that you do?
Well, I absolutely thrive on feeling challenged. Like I said, I can get lost in routines so I love the fact my working days are very different.

The downside is that I usually have feelings of fear all the time – especially on live shows. I remember when I went on a celebrity version of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, I was paired up with Alistair Stewart and I was petrified about being asked a really easy question and not knowing the answer. But we both did really well and each project I tick off spurs me on to try something else.

What do you least enjoy?
Certain jobs are mentally exhausting – so they’re hard to unwind from. There’s really not a main negative aspect – if there was, I suppose I wouldn’t be doing what I do. Sometimes I take on too much…and there’s the usual issue of finding yourself working alongside someone you just don’t see eye to eye with. That can be stressful but at least, in my job, I know that any given project will come to an end soon. Oh, and like most people, I hate early morning starts!

What do your husband and children (Morgan, seven, Flynn, five and Evie, three) think of your fame?
Wayne and I recently celebrated nine years of marriage and 11 years together so he’s been around me and the industry long enough to know that my fame is all about public perception – it’s related solely to the work I do. Sadly, I don’t get away with being a diva or anything at home! My family life keeps me grounded and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The younger two children don’t really understand what mummy does. And it’s only just registered with Morgan in the last year and that’s because he’s aware of other people commenting on it. I must admit, I did Family Fortunes a few months ago and Morgan was excited about seeing his family on the telly.

Other than that, there is no indication of what I do in daily life – I’m just mummy to them. Some people in the public eye will say: “I just want my kids to have an ordinary life”, but not me! I don’t want my kids’ lives to be ordinary; I want them to be extraordinary but not by exposing them to fame and fortune. Ordinary isn’t bad, but making their life special and magical is my way of giving them that extraordinary aspect.

Do you find it difficult spending time with your children when you have a busy schedule?
Not really. I usually work two days a week, or if I have to work everyday, I will try and be home in the afternoon. I hardly ever take on jobs where I have to stay away from home overnight.

Planning events around the children means I don’t over-commit. We like to do things as a family every evening – from sitting at the dinner table together and chatting about what we all got up. Sunday is a real family day – we’ll do whatever the children fancy: a picnic in the woods, nature walks; or if it’s raining, we’ll set up tents in the house and make like campers! It’s a great chance for me and Wayne to behave like kids too!

What did you snap up in your last spending spree?
This is going to sound boring but I’m not a big shopper – I don’t have the time. I tend to wait until I’m desperate for new clothes and then go out and get everything I need. I do love a bargain and I am a fan of high-street shops such as Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Oasis and Warehouse. My shopping Achilles heel
is anything for the home or for the kids.

I love buying the children beautifully crafted wooden toys with lots of great detail. But to answer your question…I suppose the flight tickets I bought online for a recent holiday to Marrakech would be the latest big purchase. Wayne and I treated ourselves to a few days away for our anniversary.

If you’re on your own, what do you secretly watch on the telly?
I don’t have the telly on a lot during the day but when I do, I’m drawn to the home makeover shows – and MTV’s Celebrity Cribs! Television is a bit like fast food for me – great while it lasts but after a while you’ve had enough! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy making and contributing to the shows I’m involved with, but I just wish there was less dross. I’d like to have a hand in changing that in the future!

Would you ever go on another reality TV show?
I get asked to appear on new reality shows all the time. I wouldn’t do Celebrity Big Brother again, although that was quite an experience, but I really would love to do Strictly Come Dancing. It’s such a great show – and the celebrities face the most amazing personal challenge. Plus, it’s so magical with all the great costumes. Part of me would love to have a go in the jungle for the survival aspect, but I definitely couldn’t cope with the creepy-crawlies. No way!

You’re known for your amazing figure – how do you stay in shape?
With great effort! It’s confusing for the public when they see heavily pregnant celebrities transform their shape in what seems to be a matter of weeks. What the public don’t appreciate is the hard slog that most celebrities go through after giving birth. Obviously, being in the public eye is a great motivator. Also, the images of them you see in magazines are of them looking their very best – hair and make-up is taken care of and they are styled perfectly. So it’s probably misleading for real mums in normal every day life.

I would say it takes around nine months to a year to lose your pregnancy weight. In my case, I learned my lesson after Morgan. When I was expecting him, I put on a lot more weight than with my other two pregnancies. So the next time around I ate healthily, went for walks and afterwards I started with gentle exercises.

There’s a huge pressure to spring back into shape but if you relax and just enjoy motherhood then nature will take its course. Breastfeeding and generally meeting all the demands of your baby keeps you busy and active. Once you get the weight off, it’s keeping it off that’s the real job!

Luckily, we’re an active family and I prefer to do things with them rather than work out alone in a gym. So we’ll go cycling, jump on the trampoline or put some music on and dance around. I do try and do some abdominal crunches every day to keep my core strengthened.

Which bits of your body do you love/loathe the most?
I love it all and wouldn’t be without any part of my body. It’s unhealthy to hate your bits. If you aren’t happy with a certain part of your anatomy then by all means do try and improve it but remember that no one is perfect. Even the celebs and stars in the glossies – airbrushing and computer technology is the secret
weapon! It’s time men and women celebrated all shapes and sizes.

Describe your fashion style?
Love anything feminine and fifties.,,.,

Do you have a celebrity crush?
For a while I really fancied Robert Winston – I was attracted to his mind and the work he does is so incredible. I interviewed him and thought he was amazing. He is so intelligent! I once saw Matthew McConaughey in the flesh and thought: “Phwoar”.

Which celebrity would you really like to work with?
Richard Arnold. We’ve worked together once before and had such fun. We’re still in constant touch. He is immensely funny. And I would love to work with Ray Winstone – I’m a big fan.

Do you get many people asking you parenting questions on the street?
I’m always approached. People will ask after my kids and what they’re up to. It’s nice – they talk to me as if I’m someone they know, a friend. I never take it for granted and always enjoy the experience. It’s not an intrusion at all. It’s only uncomfortable when people simply stare!

Do you ever seek any parenting advice yourself?
I ask for advice all the time when I am at the school gates! Parents have a wealth of knowledge. I always welcome advice and will try most things once!

What’s it like to attend glamourous celebrity premieres and parties?
Not all that it’s made out to be. You spend ages getting ready, then you end up in a room full of people you don’t actually know. So, it can be hard work. It’s not like going to a party with your mates or on a work do where you’re familiar with everyone. On the other hand, I enjoy dressing up so I’ll go for that reason!

Are you a domestic goddess?
Well, I don’t know about being a goddess – you’d have to ask Wayne about that. But yes, I love home-making and ensuring the house is clean and warm for my family. I suppose it’s quite lucky that I actually enjoy taking care of things. Preparing meals for Wayne and the kids is part and parcel of that. I just wish I had more time to do more – 24 hours in a day is never enough, is it?

How do you spend the holidays with the kids?
We try and go away to places the children will remember and enjoy. So Euro Disney is a favourite of ours. But our holidays aren’t always extravagant or exotic. As a child, I used to go to Tenby and I take my kids there for a week in the summer. We’re going to Morocco with them in Feb 2007 and I’d also love to do four or five weeks in a motor home travelling through British Columbia in Canada or trekking in Nepal. It’s shocking that prices are hiked up during school holidays and while the children are still young, I would definitely consider taking them out of school a week or so before term ends – holidays can also be very educational, teaching both history and geography!

What’s the best thing about being a mother?
It’s something that is simply beyond words – but I’ll have a go! It’s just a feeling of total and utter joy. To be a mother is hard and challenging but the beauty of it and the rewards are like nothing else. A squeeze of my hand or a ‘Mummy, I love you’ is so heartwarming. It’s not what they do or don’t do that you love – it’s the connection or bond you have with them. Every day I experience something wonderful, I feel I belong with them and they with me. We’re a unit and I would give my life for them.

What is your biggest regret?
Not having more self-belief in my 20s. Looking back, it stopped me from taking chances. Now, I am older, more relaxed and content, I’ve started to lose my inhibitions and I’m now doing things that I know I would have hesitated about 10 or so years ago. I wish I could tell young women not to go for their goals, that it’s okay to fail.

When did you last cry?
This morning! I tend to cry privately. Today I read a story in the paper about a newborn baby being abandoned and it brought a tear to my eye…

Is every celebrity marriage doomed?
Marriages between famous people are not really that different from real life. You still have to learn to accept each other’s ways and respect and trust one another.

Many couples who live together after marriage usually find that a big shock! I think the world of celebrity is a reflection of the world at large – the divorce rate is up for normal marriages too. I think people – celebrity or otherwise – view marriage in a much more light-hearted way. It’s not the biggest decision of someone’s life any more. Maybe I am a cynic but perhaps celebrities marry for other reasons – an opportunity to make money or further their own careers. These aren’t the best motivators for a long and lasting relationship.

Before I married Wyane, I was told by many people in the industry that I’d be more famous if I dumped Wayne and married someone in the public eye. It’s astonishing. Of course, there are many celebrities who remain grounded and hopefully things will improve for married couples as our society evolves.

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Not until I met Wayne. He and I are best friends and I love his company – which is crucial in a marriage. Within a week of meeting, we both knew we’d eventually end up married to each other.

What three words describe you best?
Positive. Feisty. Passionate.

What are your aims for 2007?
I’m writing my autobiography so that’s very exciting. I’ve got more TV work lined up for GMTV, City Hospital and The Wright Stuff too. Later in the year, I’m hoping to help develop a new series with a philosophical flavour to it.

I still want to entertain people but I’d love to do meaningful, real life and factual stuff. And luckily, things are moving in the right direction to make that dream come true!

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