PARENTS

Denise Van Outen: I Was Selfish Before I Became A Mum

10/09/2012 12:26 | Updated 22 May 2015

Denise Van Outen: I was selfish before I became a mum

Denise and Betsy. Pic: PA

TV presenter Denise Van Outen is mum to Betsy, two, her daughter with her actor husband Lee Mead. She is competing in this year's Strictly Come Dancing.

We had a chat about the pressure put on parents, why having a baby made her less selfish, and explaining to Betsy why daddy is 'in' the computer...

Are you having to deal with the terrible twos now Betsy is a toddler?

She's not been too bad actually, although she is growing up so fast! We've just been on holiday to Thailand and she threw a few tantrums over there, but she's usually very good. She's got her own personality, cheeky like me but loves her sleep like her dad, which is fine by me!

Lee's been working away in America recently, how have you found that?

It's been OK, I have a great support network with friends and family - and he's home very soon! He's only been away for two weeks, plus I've been on holiday with Betsy. The flight was hard work with her though! She misses him but has chats on Skype with him regularly. Although it's hard explaining that suddenly daddy isn't in the computer anymore when we switch him off!

Lee recently gave an interview about smug celeb parents making everything seem easy. What do you find the most difficult aspect?

Knowing how firm to be with Betsy. I think I should be strict but then think, 'Wait! She's only two!' I really don't want to be too hard on her but know she needs discipline.

What's your favourite thing about being a mum?

I was selfish before I had Betsy, and didn't have anything else to worry about. Now I love that she is so important and is without a doubt my number one priority.

You're the Tesco Mum of the Year ambassador. Why did you want to get involved?

It's all about people celebrating their own mum or a friend's mum, which is so important. Mums always put their children, and usually their children's friends, before themselves, and the awards recognise this. I'm with it all the way along from the nominations now to the award ceremony in March.

Denise Van Outen: I was selfish before I became a mum in progDenise at the launch of Tesco Mum of the Year Awards 2013

How has your life changed since you became a mum?

Absolutely everything has changed. Having a child changes the way you behave and the choices you make.

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If someone had told me five years ago that I would be moving nearer a good school but giving myself a long commute into work, I wouldn't have believed them!

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How do you cope with press attention on your family?

It's really not been too bad. We made the decision when she was born about whether we wanted her to be photographed or not. We do allow it, but that might change once she's older and has started school.

Do you find it difficult being in the public eye when others talk about your parenting skills and choices?

Every parent has pressure and hears other people's ideas about raising children and parenting, you just have to get on with it and know that you are doing the best for your child, which is what I know I am doing every step of the way.

You've spoken in the past about the 'breastfeeding bullies' (Denise stopped breastfeeding after she didn't produce enough milk). Do you think there is too much pressure put on mums to breastfeed?

The pressure is huge, and I was really surprised when I became a mum and experienced real bullying around it. I needed to say what I had experienced and I am very glad I spoke out about it.

Would you like more children?

Yes, we both would like a bigger family, but I did have Betsy relatively late (Denise was 35 when Betsy was born) and there are obviously all sorts of things to think about.

It's not just a case of 'I'll click my fingers and we'll be pregnant.' We'll see...

Denise Van Outen is the Ambassador for the 2013 Tesco Mum of the Year Awards, taking place at The Savoy in March. If you know an amazing mum who could be next year's Mum of the Year, nominate her before 21st September at Tescomagazine.com.

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