Hermione Norris juggles her busy acting career with spending time with her husband Simon and their two young children, Wilf, 7, and Hero, 4. So just how does she do it?
MFM: We think you’re supermum, acting, raising two children and walking 20 miles in aid of charity this Friday – how do you balance everything?
HN: “With difficulty to be honest! I think that any woman who works and has a family is doing a juggling act, especially when only 40%* of women enjoy less than an hour of ‘me’ time a week and I don’t really even have that! I think it depends on how old your children are. Mine are still quite young and it’s a juggling act, but it’s an ongoing challenge that every woman faces.”
MFM: Do you ever feel guilty when you’re at work or at home?
HN: “All the time. Guilt as a mother is part of being a mum. I don’t think I know any mum that doesn’t feel guilty on some level, for not having a tidy house or doing enough for her husband or not doing enough at work. It goes with the territory really.”
MFM: British women apparently spend over three weeks on household chores a year*. How long do you spend?
HN: “If I’m in production then honestly, I’m doing 12-hour days on set and I don’t have the time. I’ll be working from around 6.15 in the morning to 8.10 at night so I’ll come home and I will bath my children. Even when they were tiny I’d make them stay up so I could have that little bit of time with them before putting them to bed at night.
“When I’m not in production I get all obsessed with trying to clean the house and make it tidy. My motto is ‘tidy house, tidy mind’ so I’ll have the odd cleaning blip but then it’ll all go out the window again. I’m not very consistent!”
MFM: So who looks after your children when you are in production?
HN: “My husband, but we do it between us and take it in turns.”
MFM: Why did you choose to lend your face to Philips? (Hermione is helping launch the brand’s new Steam Generator)
HN: “Anything that is supportive of women and women that work is great. The steam generator is something I believe in, as it’s seriously a fantastic product. If you want to cut back on time spent ironing, you have to have it.”
MFM: When you do get the chance to clean, do you have any timesaving tips for household chores?
HN: “My tip is to have as many time-saving devices as possible. This is why the Philips Steam Generator is brilliant. Any timesaving devices like that I am well up for – a good washing machine, a good hoover – anything that cuts down time is brilliant.”
MFM: When you do find some ‘me’ time, what do you like to do?
HN: “Eat chocolate and watch television. At the moment, my husband and I will just fall into bed and we’ll watch an episode of 30 Rock or something on his computer!”
MFM: You’re two children are a little bit young to be watching you in Spooks for example, but are they aware of what you do?
HN: “Oh yes. Wilf is aware because he is now 7 and people talk at his school. Plus he’s been with me when people have come up to me and said things like, ‘Oh, did you get blown up?’ so I’ve had to explain things to him from a really young age, that mummy wasn’t really blown up, so he isn’t scared. It’s hard for him to get his head round but it’ll get easier as he grows up.”
MFM: How do you think they feel about having a celebrity mum?
HN: “To be honest, I don’t think they are aware about the whole celebrity thing. I mean it’s quite weird for me because it’s not something I grew up with so I’m wondering what it’ll be like for Wilf and Hero who will grow up with it. People come up to me and talk to me when we’re out and about so they probably just think it’s normal to be honest, you know no other as a child. Wilf sometimes calls me Hermione Norris, which makes me laugh, because he obviously recognizes that Hermione Norris is part of mummy but sort of nothing to do with mummy.”
MFM: What if Wilf wanted to go into acting in the future, would you encourage him?
HN: “I wouldn’t encourage him to be an actor, but if my children want to do something, then I will give them every ounce of support I possibly can. So if he does want to become an actor then I’m glad he has many people as he has to protect him and guide him on the way to go.”
MFM: It’s September and the start of the school term. Are you a school-run mum?
HN: “Yes. Wilf only just started back to school last week, so I spent a week before he went back naming everything! Especially in places where they can see it but even then Hero’s already lost half her uniform and she only started on Monday! It’s quite exhausting that first week back, especially for them because they come back and are tired. It’s usually quite charged I find, because children have a long holiday and then have to go straight back into everything. I’m relieved that first week of school is over. Hero’s just started reception at school and I’m really pleased with how it went and at how happy she is.”
MFM: Do you feel you have to look good on the school-run because you’re in the public eye?
HN: “No, not really, I don’t care! (laughs) I’m always amazed at the women who turn up at school looking beautiful, but to be honest, because I have to dress up for work and have the luxury of that, I spend my life in t-shirt, jeans and trainers, feeling comfortable. It’s all too early in the morning and by the time you’ve done breakfast and got all their kit together for the day, it’s a miracle that the kids are at school at all to be honest.”
MFM: Wilf and Hero are such gorgeous names, how did you come up with them?
HN: “Wilf was Simon’s idea actually because we both love Wilfred Owen [famous war poet] and I really do love the name, Wilf. With Hero, I always wanted to have a little girl called Hero, so it was like a dream come true for me. When I was at drama school there was a little old lady called Hero who used to shuffle around with her long silvery hair and she was so cool. It’s also a Shakespearean name and from Christopher Marlowe’s poem about love at first sight. I just think it’s a lovely name, she of course will think she’s a superstar!”
Hermione Norris is supporting the launch of Philips PerfectCare, a new steam generator that can be used quickly, gently and safely on any fabric. For more info on this innovative new product, head to Philips.co.uk.
* From a recent survey of 2,000 Brits by Philips PerfectCare and online market researchers One Poll