Loose Woman presenter Stacey Solomon is known for her refreshing honesty when it comes to body image, being a mum, and celebrity life.
So who better to ask for parenting tips?
With two kids – Leighton, five and Zachary, ten – who just happen to be BIG Beano fans, Stacey couldn’t wait to give us her very unique – and tongue-in-cheek – take on motherhood.
I always do packed lunches, not because I’m a good mum, but because I like to save money. Although when your children get to a certain age, they can get free school lunches, so obviously take up that opportunity as soon as it’s offered.
I will often put something really healthy on top so I look like a good parent, some cucumber and carrots batons or something. But the reality is that underneath that is a packet of Monster Munch and a cheese sandwich and they won’t eat the cucumber and carrot batons.
Sometimes I take my own trophies or medals because they don’t celebrate winners at my children’s sports day. The first time I did it I said to Zach, ‘I’m going to bring in some medals’, and he said, ‘Ah, for me?’, and I went, ‘Yeah – if you win’.
I want my kids to know that you only get a medal if you win, and you only win if you care enough.
You don’t go for a job interview and the boss goes, ‘Do you know what? I don’t mind. I don’t mind who gets it, really’. No – there’s one job opening, and Zach better get it!
Lying to your kids
I try to be really honest with my kids at all times, because I want them to be honest with me. But I do sometimes lie in front of them without even realising.
For example, if we go to a theme park, my little boy’s five and he’s classed as a ‘big kid’ in terms of the entry fee, but he can’t go on half the rides because he’s not tall enough, which is unfair, isn’t it?
So I always say, ‘One under-five, please’, without even thinking about it. And of course he overhears and goes, ‘I’m not under five, why are you lying?’.
And so then I have to explain that lying is usually not okay, but in this instance Mummy thinks it’s fine because Mummy thinks these people are taking the mickey out of her and exploiting her.
If you get a stall at the summer fete, your child thinks you’re wonderful. Kids actually care about this stuff. If your mum has a stall, it basically means she is really looking after your school well and you can be proud of her. So try and get one.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not very good at making stuff – I’m not. My sister is one of those mums I can’t live up to, so she made some amazing cupcakes when I had a stall. I just brought in some little make-up sets that I’d been sent, and sold them to the mums. Easy.
There’s nothing a teacher could say that would persuade that my children are not perfect. By all means go along and hear how they’re getting on at school but we know our kids best and you’re not going to persuade me that they’re not wonderful human beings, sorry.
Try and stay clear of ‘phonics’. There is a phase as a parent when you spend your whole time going ‘mm, ahh, sshhh, rrrr’.
As lovely as it is to teach your child to read, it can be infuriating. My very intelligent wonderful son would sit there reading aloud: ‘Biff and Chip went to the park’. Then he’d turn the page and go, ‘B – I – F – F’ and I’d go, ‘It’s Biff! You just said it on the last page, son. It’s the same word!’
So my advice is, let the teachers do the phonics. Just read to your kids. I’m sorry, but I find it too hard. It takes two hours at bedtime waiting for my son to get through a Mr Men book. Mr Men books are deceivingly long at the best of times and they’re a lot longer when you try and do it using phonics, trust me.
Play dates / birthday parties
I prefer my kids’ friends to come to my house because I’m a control freak. My children haven’t been to many of their friends’ houses, to be honest!
I don’t really want them coming back from someone else’s house full of E numbers. And I just love watching them with their friends. My kids call me a ‘smother’ instead of a mother because I’m always hanging around going, ‘let me into your life!’.
Luckily I’m at that age where their friends are all adorable. I’m sure I will change my mind when they become teenagers.
When your kid is sick
My children don’t have sick days. They have to be sent home from school, or have a really alarming temperature, in order for me to even consider letting them stay in bed. If I’m going to work, so are you, son.
I just don’t think it’s appropriate for an adult to phone up and say, ‘I’m sick’, unless you cannot get out of bed, so I don’t allow my children to do it either.
And kids will always try it on, don’t they? Every day they’re moaning about something or other. But if they get to school and I get a call from a teacher saying they weren’t putting it on, I don’t feel bad. I just think, ‘Great, thanks, now I know for sure’!
I am that parent sitting in the front row whooping and cheering. Zach banned me from his Hanukkah concert. He had a solo and he told me not to come because he was worried I would ‘woo’ really loudly.
We had a whole sit-down conversation about how inappropriate my ‘woo-ing’ was, and how I should just clap politely at the same time as all the parents.
But I went, and I kept quiet until his solo. As soon as he finished, I ignored all his instructions and whooped. In fact, I tried to encourage the audience to do a standing ovation. That’s my baby, singing the solo! I’m not keeping quiet for that!