Former Spice Girl Emma Bunton is mum to Beau, 7, and 3-year-old Tate. When she’s not doing her Heart FM radio show or appearing with Mel B on X Factor, she’s going through the stuff we all recognise - juggling childcare, pre-teen tantrums and having playdates (although ours aren’t probably with a Beckham and a Brown).
Emma’s also fronting the Pampers/UNICEF 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign – a life-changing inoculation programme aiming to protect pregnant women and newborns from tetanus. She recently went to see the campaign in action in Madagascar...
Emma, this is your second year fronting this campaign. What does it mean to you?
Being a mother I can see it’s such a simple way to help. All mums can get involved, because buying wipes and nappies is what we do every day. Last year the campaign eliminated Maternal and Newborn Tetanus from 10 countries. Just a year on, it's 5 more. I feel very, very lucky that we have a brilliant NHS and amazing opportunities – we take things for granted.
When you met the mums-to-be in Madagascar getting their vaccinations, did it take you back to when you were pregnant?
Absolutely! Even though these are very different circumstances you can still see it's a complete joy for the women. They are excited, happy, nervous - it was lovely to see. And holding those babies made me so broody! It all came flooding back.
Your mum’s always been a big part of your life, even in the Spice Girls. Did your relationship change after having children yourself?
Yes! At the moment, my son Beau is 7 going on 17. You look back and think "I was horrible to my mum.” But we are so close, I don't know what I'd do without her. She's my babysitter, my friend, my carer, she's everything. That hasn't changed. Obviously as you get older the friendship becomes stronger but I still need cuddles!
What mum tips have you learnt from her?
Giving lots of affection and respect. My mum was never too strict but if I wanted to go out and play, she would say "You be home by this time or I will come and get you." I sit down and talk to my children about everything. Dinnertimes are a special time in our house as we all chat about our days. And I’m very lucky as my partner Jade [Jones, of boy band Damage] does all the cooking!
So Jade does the cooking. Anything else?
Jade is such a hands-on dad. I’m not there in the morning due to my radio show so he does all that, then I'm there by the time the kids come home from school. Because he’s now doing music again, it means he’s spending nights working in the studio. But we make it work and our parents are great, because we don't have any other help. They’re the ones who come in when we want a date night.
Do you have different parenting styles? Is one of you stricter than the other?
It doesn't always work out like this but generally we try to stick together on rules. That's the main thing for us.
Like other working mums, do you struggle with guilt about juggling a career and home life?
Oh my goodness, I think it just comes with parenting! I get it 100 per cent because all you ever want to do is keep your children safe, keep them happy. It's always going to be a balancing act but I want my boys to know a work ethic as well.
Tate is 3 - does he ever have tantrums?
We have had a few little tantrums, nothing too bad - hopefully we missed that. We missed it with Beau, he was brilliant, but we are getting it now instead – he’s a bit like a teenager! My boys have both got great spirits, thank goodness. I think it’s because Jade and I have stuck together on what we believe in. They are very good boys, touch wood.
Do you worry about the attention they get due to your fame?
I think we've kept that part of our lives as private as can be and I live a little bit outside of London, so it’s not too much of a worry. We've kept things quite private.
Has your relationship with the other Spice Girls changed now you've become mums?
We talk about the kids all the time! When we catch up, it’s always with the children now. My youngest is the same age as Harper and Madison [Victoria and Mel B’s youngest children], so they love to play while we have a chat.
Do you feel that we moved from an era of Girl Power to Mum Power now, letting mums know it’s OK to have a career, dress how you want and so on?
It’s definitely changed, especially now dads are so hands on. When Jade's at work he tells me now much he's missed the kids. It's definitely balanced out; it’s a different generation.
Finally, what is the one piece of advice you would give to another mum-to-be?
Everyone deals with motherhood in their own way but just try to enjoy every second. From being pregnant to every year, I try to soak up every moment as it goes so fast. The women who I met in Madagascar took everything in their stride - that’s how I try to be but I’m sure I still worry about something unnecessary!
For every specially marked pack of nappies or wipes bought from this October, Pampers will donate the cost of one vaccine to help UNICEF in the fight against Maternal and Newborn Tetanus (MNT) as part of the 1 pack = 1 vaccine campaign. Watch the video below or visit Facebook.com/PampersUKIre to find out more.
Read more about Emma’s trip to Madagascar in the new issue of Prima Baby & Pregnancy, on sale now
Alex is the former deputy editor of Prima Baby, and mum to 2 boys.
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