When midwife and mother to two daughters, Clemmie Hooper first started blogging about her maternity leave in 2010, she could never have predicted that it would pave the road to them becoming one of the country’s most well-loved families. Eight years, twin daughters and two book deals later, 1.3 million people are now following the family of six on Clemmie and her husband Simon’s respective Instagram accounts: ‘mother_of_daughters’ and ‘father_of_daughters’.
Through the trials and tribulations of family life, Clemmie’s honesty, relatability and style shines through, as she gracefully navigates 21st Century motherhood. Here we discuss the realities of parenting, talking to children about mental health, and the importance of creating adult-only sanctuaries in our homes
Hi Clemmie! You’re at the centre of a movement of women opening up about the realities of motherhood. Why do you think that is?
Social media, for one. When I first started blogging, I remember reading a blog by Sarah Turner [The Unmumsy Mum]; her baby was quite young and she wrote about being overwhelmed and bored. It was the first time I had seen this documented. There are the lows where people are struggling with postnatal depression, but there’s also this grey matter we didn’t talk about of: “I’m not depressed, I’m just finding today particularly boring.” It’s just honest, and I think times are changing for the better.
You have 'adult-only’ rooms in your home. Why did you create these spaces?
When I was growing up, my parents had a room where they had their books and music, and an open fire, and lovely sofas. When we were younger we didn’t want to go in there because it was boring – we just wanted to go into our TV room. I wanted to recreate that; it’s so peaceful, and having your own space is very important.
And it’s a screen-free room?
Yes, and I think that’s the main thing. In the evening we put on music and it’s a really nice space to sit with Simon and chat. Funnily enough, the kids just don’t really go in there. I make the joke that they’re banned from going in there, but obviously they can go in – I’m not that precious about it.
Do you think these spaces help preserve a sense of yourself, outside of your role as a mother?
Oh, 100%. I remember when the girls were all tiny babies and they would sleep in our room in their little cribs. I was so desperate to get them out when they were six-months-old, because I wanted my own space back, and to be able to sit up in bed and read and not have to creep in. I think we all slept better when they went in their own rooms.
What’s the key to creating that sanctuary in your home?
It’s about not having toys in your bedroom; having pictures on your wall that you love, music playing that you love, furniture that you want to sit on and isn’t just there because it’s durable and practical for children. I’ve got a candle on my desk that’s got a swear word on it. Obviously it’s not appropriate to have in a place where children are, but I think it’s really funny and it’s my room, so I want to be able to have those things.
You’re not just a mother, you’re a woman, and you’ve got lots of different arms to your being. It’s quite easy to lose that identity, so creating areas that are that bit of you is so important.
You definitely have lots of arms! You recently launched a jewellery range with designer Rachel Jackson. How did that come about?
I’ve loved her jewellery for a while, and last year she contacted me to ask if I would be interested in doing a collaboration with her. I love jewellery – it’s probably my biggest guilty pleasure – and this collaboration couldn’t be a better fit, because Rachel resembles so much of what I identify with: she’s a working mother who started her business from the kitchen table.
How do you balance everything?
I try not to say “balance”; I actually think that “balance” is bullshit. If I’m really engrossed in work then my kids aren’t seeing me, and if I’m really engrossed in being a mum then I’ve missed 20 emails that day. I think you just have to completely separate them out. I don’t always get it right, I’m only human, but once the kids are in bed, I’m on that sofa, or I’m cooking dinner or listening to music. That’s really my downtime.
If you’re feeling stressed or down, is that something you can show in front of your children?
Yes. I think it’s potentially dangerous to always say everything’s fine. If I’m losing my temper, or I’m upset, it’s better for me to explain why. Like when I’ve done a 12-hour shift and I’ve got home at night, I’m tired, I’m not grumpy. I’ve got to be honest about it, and make time for me. That’s self-care, isn’t it?
What advice would you give to parents who are struggling to find time for self-care?
Some days you might meet all the expectations, like going to a play-group and meeting other parents, and then the next day you might have a really bad day because your baby is a baby and they’re not very predictable. But the key message is that it’s OK to have a bad day. It’s OK not to enjoy it all the time. It’s definitely OK to admit that and say: “Oh God, yesterday was a complete write-off; it all went wrong. But let’s have a better day today.”
Clemmie’s jewellery collection, in collaboration with London-based jewellery brand Rachel Jackson, is available from the end of October, and can be found on racheljacksonlondon.com. Follow Clemmie on Instagram @motherofdaughters