Mum in a Klass of her own
Myleene Klaas tells Emily Davis about becoming a parent, finding her own way and having the confidence to rely on her natural mothering instincts - against others' advice
I think any first-time parent will tell you that absolutely nothing prepares you for the life change that having a baby brings," says Myleene Klass, who is pregnant with her second child and whose daughter, Ava, has just turned three.
"I thought that the physical side, from painting the nursery to buying nappies, and the mental preparation -- well you do get nine months to get accustomed to the idea -- would be sufficient. But it's the things you don't expect that rock your world, although I'd like to add that's for the good!
"Everyone tries to prepare you for the sleep deprivation -- but nothing can," Myleene says. "It almost engulfs you. My partner and I both work in the entertainment industry and have been known to work 20-hour days, but I was not at all prepared for the effects lack of sleep brought upon the household."
But there is the upside: "You also don't expect how much you'll get to view the world with fresh eyes. The other day I was plumping the pillows and as the dust (I'm not the greatest housekeeper) flew up in the air, Ava exclaimed, "Ma-ma, fairies". We ran around the room trying to catch them."
You find solace in other mothers going through the same experience, Myleene points out. "I was told by one that in the same way that trimesters work when you're pregnant, three monthly hurdles act as markers when your little one comes along. She was right -- as each three months came and went, I could see changes and achievements in, not only Ava, but how we, as a family, were progressing and finding our footing and confidence." The key is time, says Myleene.
"I knew the birth of my first child would change a lot but I was not prepared for the paperwork, the continuous jabs and the pure uncertainty of what I was meant to be doing next," laughs Myleene.
And as for tantrums: "I try to stay calm and hold firm. There have been times when we've been out shopping and Ava has wanted something and then thrown an almighty tantrum at my refusal. I have found the more I try to hide or shuffle out of such tantrums, the more effective Ava realises them to be. Fingers crossed, we haven't had that many -- although maybe she's saving them for the terrible threes instead!"
Ask for advice if you need it, but don't feel you have to follow it, says Myleene. "People kind enough to help should still respect that this is a special time and you and your partner will make mistakes, but you have to learn for yourselves.
"You will know what's best. I was told not to take Ava on planes as children should stay in a routine at home. She has a routine of her own but that doesn't stop us travelling the world together. She has been to 52 countries and has had countless adventures which have fired her imagination, from dancing to the jungle drums in Australia to spotting monkeys in Costa Rica and listening to the bells in Berlin. She also learned to swim without bands at eight months old when we were in a rainforest for six weeks in Costa Rica. I'm glad I didn't listen -- I can see how my daughter has benefited from travelling and always being with her mother."