We caught up with former Blue Peter action girl Katy Hill for a chat about parenting, work-life balance, and why she thinks mums would love to be Stealth Elves!
Now a presenter on Daybreak, Katy, 40, is married to former fellow Live & Kicking presenter Trey Farley and they have two children.
So, Katy – does your little girl watch Blue Peter?
She doesn't. That's a shocking thing I know. Shocking! I don't know why she doesn't!
The other day though at school they were studying Mongolia, and I was like, "Mummy lived in Mongolia once for a week when I worked on Blue Peter." So I got the DVD and she took it into school and the whole class watched me living in a yurt in Mongolia. I was like the hero of the school, it was amazing!
Are all her school friends oblivious to your Blue Peter past?
They just see me as Kaya's mum, although obviously all the mums know what I do. A funny thing happened the other day though; I got asked to record the CBeebies bedtime stories and I didn't tell the children I had done it. In the evening, I was like, "Oh, let's watch a bit of bedtime story tonight."
I put it on, and it was me, and they nearly fell off the sofa, they were so excited, bless them. So yes, I think they think it's quite cool, having a mummy who's on telly sometimes!
How do you manage the whole work/life balance thing?
It's incredibly hard, and in answer to the question, can women have it all? No, they can't. But can men have it all? No, they can't, either. I think the minute you're a parent, parenting is a full time job, and working is clearly a full time job.
When I had my daughter Kaya six years ago I wanted to raise my children myself, and take a downward step in terms of the amount of work I was doing. So that, obviously, was quite a big difference to me. But my husband and I both agree, you never get that time back with them.
So you and your husband share childcare?
My husband and I are both self-employed and we basically juggle who works and who is looking after Kaya and our son Akira, who is almost three, and we kind of flip flop things.
In all honesty, as any full time mum will know, the days I go to work are my days off, completely.
Working, compared to being a full time mum is the easy part. The mummying part is absolutely exhausting!
Back in the Blue Peter days, how did you see your life panning out? Did you know where you wanted to be at this point?
Not at all. My ambition from when I was five was to present Blue Peter, and so to realise that dream at 24 was amazing.
I remember one day it really hitting me that some people on their deathbed, always having wanted to do something in life and not doing it, and so, to achieve a dream was phenomenal!
I knew I always wanted to have children, so that's the thing, the ultimate thing really.
Growing up as a vicar's daughter did you feel that there was a certain stereotype, an image that you had to live up to, because of your dad's job?
No more than anyone wants to make their parents proud, I guess. But no, he was a very cool dad, and he just wanted us to be our own people, so the fact that he would go out reading the Bible didn't really affect my life at all.
Do you think you parent in the same way that your mum and dad parented?
They were incredibly hands on, and gave that unconditional love which you never grow out of, really. My mum was very much about letting kids be kids, which I'm all about with my kids. It doesn't matter if they get muddy, doesn't matter if they break things, within reason.
I think children are probably encouraged a bit too much to grow up too fast these days, certainly with things like how they dress and stuff, I probably do get slightly shocked with what some parents put their children in.
You lived in LA for a while. Did you make a conscious decision to come back and not raise your children there?
No. We had a phenomenal time in LA and just the whole outdoorsy life, which was great. We came back because I was pregnant with Akira, my second, and I didn't really want to have a baby in the hospital system there, and our family are over here as well.
Tell us about your children. Are they very different? Different personalities?
Kaya, my daughter is six. She's a real thinker, really fun. Akira, my son is three, he's probably a bit more crazy and very loud, and they play together amazingly well.
Do you think children are under a lot of pressure these days?
I guess I'm quite glad I live in Oxfordshire, actually, because I think that there are certain areas of London, where there's a kind of pressure on families, just for their children to achieve.
I think it is about having the balance between having them reach their potential, but I certainly would never want to push them in any direction.
I'm quite lucky: the area I live in is full of very normal mums like me, so it's not competitive, and it's not who's wearing the nicest thing at the school gate, and it's not whose child's got the most expensive lunchbox. It's just normal, which is nice.
You're a mummy blogger as well, tell us about that
I do a blog on iVillage. I think people just seem to respond to the fact that I'm very honest and real, and tell it like it is, and I'm certainly not trying to paint a picture of perfect motherhood.
I'm also on Twitter. As a parent, I'm absolutely loving it, because something will happen, and you just tweet, whatever it is.
I think one of the things you miss when you're not in a working environment every day, is the whole kind of office camaraderie. If you're talking to a three-year-old all day long, not to have that banter, it's a bit lonely, and just to be able to put on Twitter this is what I'm doing, and then you get loads of responses, it's just brilliant!
Who are your main followers on Twitter?
I have quite a large male following - they'll find Katy Hill on Twitter and then the next tweet from me is something like "I just had Akira's poo on my finger" or something about bogies or a very real parenting tweet. It's not quite the image that they had in mind, maybe!
That's really bad. I almost feel like I should set up a Katy Hill Twitter account and a Katy Hill the mummy Twitter account for those poor teenage boys who used to have lustful thoughts in their bedrooms, so they don't get all the nappy comments!
I obviously have a whole new following with mummies, but it's a funny world, and then I'll get a tweet from some guy saying, "Oh, you were my first crush", or something like that!
You are an ambassador for Skylanders – are your kids big computer game fans already?
Kaya is way better than me. She tells me I'm doing things wrong. She's just very technically minded. Her dad is very technically minded, and she is totally going to be like him, and I don't have much of a clue on that score.
I do know though there is one character in Skylanders, which I think a lot of mummies would associate themselves with, and it's called Stealth Elf - this elf who literally just disappears.
Sometimes as a mummy just to push a button, and just be invisible for a minute, would be so nice - and then just pop back in when everything's sorted itself out!
What's the best thing about being a mum?
Ultimately, parenting is amazing, but it is exhausting, and I do think parents are heroes, to be honest. I take my hat off to full time mums, because it's...wow!
Skylanders Spyro's Adventure is the number one selling kids video game of 2012. The sequel, Skylanders Giants, is launching on 19th October 2012. For more information, visit skylanders.com
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