Denise Van Outen arrives at Three’s Mums On the Go mobile internet event looking very glam for a jetlagged mum of a 1-year-old. The presenter-turned-theatre-star admits to feeling rather weary after flying home on an 11-hour flight from LA with her baby daughter Betsey. And now, Denise has taken on a new role, encouraging mums to make the most of mobile internet (you can find out more about the campaign in our news story).
The gist of the campaign is parents could get back 135 hours a year just by making the most of the net on their mobile phones, getting stuff done on the go rather than in the middle of the night on the home computer. The tactic seems to be working for Denise – she’s managed to find time to chat to MFM about getting to gribs with technology and motherhood.
MFM: Betsey’s just celebrated her first birthday (1st May). Do you think being a mum gets easier as she grows up?
DVO: I think it’s just different. I remember the first three or four months when I was living in a bubble and I know it was hard sometimes but I absolutely loved it and now I can’t remember any of the bad bits! Every stage I kept thinking I want to freeze her at this age.
I do remember one night early on when Betsey wouldn’t stop crying and I just didn’t know what to do. I was like, “I’ve fed you, I’ve changed you, what am I doing wrong?” But that’s the only night like that I can remember. There were many but it’s weird how you forget.
MFM: You’ve said before that you were constantly exhausted as a new mum. How do you feel now?
DVO: I was more exhausted because I chose to do a West End show. Where most mums would put their babies to sleep early and then have a sit down, watch the soaps and get an early night, I was getting home from work at 11pm and getting to bed at 2am. So waking up at 6am or 7am with the baby was really hard work.
MFM: Do you use the internet more now as a mum?
DVO: I was always a bit technophobic so it’s only in the last few years, and now I am a mum that I’ve really started getting into it. I’ve only recently started using a smartphone because I was always scared of them! Now I have an iPad and I’m a total convert!
I think being online and having access to the internet all the time has become a necessity. I couldn’t live without it because I need to have some connection with the outside world. In the first few months I was at home pretty much 24/7 and I needed that connection with other mums. I found that it was a really good way to chat to mums who were going through the same things that I was – the night feeds at 2, 3 and 4 in the morning. The only other people online then are mostly other mums so I’d use Twitter and Facebook to chat to them.
MFM: Does the internet save you time?
DVO: Definitely. I order in everything for the baby online so that’s one of my biggest time savers.
It’s also changed my life because it meant that I didn’t feel quite so isolated and I’ve been able to function and do all the things I liked to do before I was a mum. Because I was really conscious that I didn’t want to lose me and I didn’t want to lose all the things that I like doing. You know, you can’t just pop out for coffee on a whim when you’ve got a little one. So it means I can still just browse the shops on my iPad and keep on top of what’s out and make I’ve got all the things I want to have. It helps me remember that I’m me too, not just Betsey’s mum, though obviously that’s a brilliant job in itself.
MFM: Any must-have apps you recommend?
DVO: Definitely, I’ve just got back from America and I was really nervous about doing my first long haul flight with my daughter. It was 11 hours and I was absolutely petrified for the whole week leading up to it so I downloaded lots of toddler apps that she could play with and she was amazing! Any time I thought she might be about to cry I just put on In The Night Garden and she’d just stop and stare at the screen. You can do it on an iPad or an iPhone – it’s brilliant.
My mum is so envious. She’s always telling me it was so much harder in her day. And it would have been! I really don’t know how I would have coped without it on that flight.
MFM: What would you say to mums who haven’t thought about using a smartphone?
DVO: Well I had to be forced into it! I am the least techie person and it surprised me how easy it was to use everything that I was always a bit scared of. I think it’s just this generation of mums my age who are a bit old fashioned and think they won’t have time to learn how to use a new phone but it’s much easier than you’d think.