Tess Daly arrives at Café Cibo, the ultra-chic café in Mamas and Papas’ London flagship store, looking stunning in a black pencil skirt, pretty lace top and towering heels. Tess is here to talk about life as a parent to Phoebe, 5, and Amber, 10 months, and, after chatting to the mums assembled, who’ve won an M&P competition to meet and talk to Tess, she gets ready for a Q&A session with the audience – hosted by Prima Baby’s Deputy Editor Claire Roberts.
Q. How did you get your figure back so quickly after the birth?
A. Two words: control pants. They hide a multitude of sins! Plus, I never sit down. Running around after Phoebe, who has tonnes of energy, is better than any workout, and seeing to the needs of a 10 month baby keeps me on my toes, too.
I’m a grazer – I nibble throughout the day. And I refuse to get obsessive about weight or losing the pregnancy pounds. I eat for energy and for good health. Us mums have enough to stress about without worrying about what the scales say! Also I make sure I dress to emphasis the good points…
Q. As a working mum, do you get a lot of help with your daughters from your family?
A. Yes – both sets of parents visit regularly, and Vernon (Kay, Tess’s husband) is great with the girls. We do the nights between us, but during the day, the grandparents are great – they keep the tea and toast coming, and are really hands-on with the kids. I couldn’t do without them – although sometimes they expect three meals a day, the same as the girls do!
Q. It easier being a parent second time around?
A. Much! You feel much more confident and panic less about the little things. Although perhaps I find Amber easier because she sleeps 12 hours through the night – thank you, Lord! Phoebe didn’t sleep for 3.5 years. Which is why we waited 4.5 years before having another one…
Q. Does Phoebe love her little sister?
A. She does – now! At first she used to say, Mummy when is Amber leaving? But now she’s used to her baby sister, and really adores here. I’m really looking forward to when they can play properly together. I’m sure there will be a great dynamic between them.
Q. How did you feel about going back to work?
I’m very lucky in that I love what I do, and I was really looking forward to having adult company again. But there’s no denying that going back to work can be tough – especially after sleepless nights, which makes it hard to fire on all cylinders. It’s a constant juggling act, but I always find that as long as I know the girls are in safe hands, I can relax and focus on work. But the best part of my working day is coming home to the girls. They’re so thrilled to see me – it’s the biggest ego trip! I just want to enjoy every minute, as they’re not little for very long – it goes so fast.
Q. Has your sense of style changed since you’ve become a mum?
A. Not really. It’s still my idea of heaven to hit Top Shop! I did buy a one-piece swimsuit to hide those new-mum wobbly bits. I found buying maternity clothes challenging – your body is doing all these weird things, and that ‘inbetween’ stage when you look fat but not pregnant is tricky. I loved to emphasise my bump. In fact, I loved being pregnant – apart from not being able to see toes!
Q. Did you find that your bump became public property – and did you mind?
A. No, because people mean it affectionately. Being in the public eye, people feel they know me anyway, and often stop for a chat in the supermarket, and ask about the girls. It’s lovely!
Q. How did you prepare for giving birth?
A. I knew I’d be having a C section with Phoebe for medical reasons, so that was that – although the recovery period was longer than I’d anticipated; friends of mine who’d had natural births were back at home eight hours later cooking a meal, and I was a long way from that. With Amber, I was terrified. I was scared about when and where I’d go into labour – what if it was while I was driving on the M40? I wanted a natural birth but was scared of going through hours of labour and still having to have an emergency C section for some reason. My birth plan was pretty loose but I was definitely up for pain relief. I had an epidural and it was fabulous. And the reality of giving birth was so much better than I’d imagined.
Q. Did you do any exercise while you were pregnant?
A. Just some stretching and yoga when my back ached. I had 10 sessions booked with a personal trainer, which I never used! I do need to get back in the gym, though – not to lose weight but to get strong. Your core muscles and pelvis take the strain during pregnancy, so I need to concentrate on strengthening them.
Q. How did you come up with your daughter’s names?
A. We bought every baby book on the market but we still couldn’t agree. Phoebe and Amber are the only names we both liked! Secretly, though, I still call Amber Tallulah – I love that name, but Vern was having none of it. I’m sure she’ll unleash her inner Lulu when she’s older!
Q. Would you like more children?
A. I’m really happy with my two girls – I’ve always seen myself with two daughters. Two’s great; three’s a people carrier! But children bring so much to your life, so never say never.
Q. How have you changed since becoming a mum?
A. Your whole life changes! You can no longer kick up your heels and do whatever you fancy. I always railed against routine but I find my daughters respond really well to one – it makes them feel safe and secure. It’s not just about you any more. Your focus entirely shifts. It’s a massive and major change.’
Q. What’s the best thing about being a mum?
A. Your baby! It’s love like you’ve never known. For me, it was a revelation. You realise for the first time how much your parents loved you. There’s nothing better than putting my arms around my babies and just loving them.
The Baby Diaries, by Tess Daly, published by Vermilion, is available now at Mamas & Papas stores and online at the Mamas and Papas website, priced £14.99,