Presenter and full-time Mum, Kate Garraway talked to us about juggling her busy career as a host on ITV’s Daybreak and her show on Smooth Radio, with a busy family life. She tells us how she’ll be entertaining her two children Darcy and Billy over the Easter holidays and remembers her favourite things to do as a child.
Kate offers tips to working mums everywhere on how to relax and how to maintain a balance between family and work life, something she seems to have perfected. As the new face of the National Lottery, Kate explains how she feels she’s hit the jackpot already with her amazing family and successful career.
What are you most looking forward to doing with the kids this Easter?
‘We always have a traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. My Aunt Lynne organises that for the family, so we go to her house in Hampshire and it gets ever more elaborate every year.’
‘Now of course we’ve got my kids with which my cousins are helping to organise. So it’s getting more and more elaborate and more and more complicated as more and more people get involved, but it’s great fun.’
‘We’ve actually got a system now where we have plastic easter eggs with clues, because it just got ridiuclous you couldn’t hide that many choclates eggs in a normal semi-detached garden.So you find the small plastic ones and then you can claim on easter egg at the end.’
How can the Flora Buttery funspiration guide help mums across the UK this Easter?
‘I think it’s a brilliant guide.’
‘I think the thing about Easter holidays in particular is you don’t know what the weather’s going to be like. We’ve had hail and all sorts, we’ve even had snow in previous years. Even though you might be thinking: ‘Oh the sun could be out lets go out and lets go to perhaps some events or a picnic or something.’ Actually the reality is the British weather can often foil those plans. I find as well that my two are quite tired; it’s a long term, it’s a long term for mums, it’s a long term for the kids and so I think in a way what’s really handy about this guide is that unlike some brilliant guides of activities where you think: ‘Oh great it’s raining I’ll go see what we can do in that guide,’ and you open it up and it says you take 5 yards of cellophane and you think: ‘Oh god I’ve not got that in the house!’ This is all things that can be done with five simple things you can find around the home and it usually takes about 15 minutes to gather everything together and some of them are about 15 minutes to do. So you think: ‘Ok I can do that, we can do that for 15 minutes or we can make it last an hour if we want to.’ Then if they’re then a bit tired and actually just want to flop about or the sun comes out and you think: ‘Ok we will go to the park,’ you can just leave it and go. I just think it’s really useful to have there.’
‘Already this week we’ve been making the alligators out of the egg cups, we’ve been making the puppets out of socks. In fact we did quite an elaborate puppet show using both alligators as a puppet and the puppet show. My mum and dad were round visiting and they thought that was marvelous.’
What’s your favourite activity from the guide?
‘I do like the baking as well, I’ve got a few cupcake recipes that you can download if you want on the Fun Family baking website but there’s lots of other ideas there too. My daughter always particularly asks: ‘Can I help you cook?’ and usually if it’s in term time I slightly groan, because I think: ‘Oh god I know they’re hungry and I know that her helping is actually going to slow things down.’ Whereas in the holidays you can afford to take all afternoon if you want to making cakes and it doesn’t really matter how they turn out, it’s the fun of doing it.’
Would you say you’ve master the art of baking then?
‘I don’t know about master! I do quite like it and I've learn a lot about method and all that kind of thing, because i think that’s what kids quite like: cracking the eggs and smashing it in their hands is what they love. So yeah it’s probably not something that Mary Berry is going to relish, but we’ve had fun doing it and that’s what counts.’
What is the most challenging thing about being a working Mum?
‘Everyone’s busy these days aren’t they?! Life is just very very hectic whatever you do for a living or whatever you do; I think maybe that’s the biggest challenge maybe to try and make sure that when you are with your children you’re not thinking about work and when you’re at your work you’re not fretting that you haven’t got the cowboy costume for the end of term show. I think that can be really hard, almost separating it off in your head.’
‘I think I'm very lucky though because both with breakfast television and also with Smooth Radio that I do now, I am lucky that most of the time I can either get up with them or be free to pick them up from school. So I do count myself very lucky, because I know there’s lots of mums and dads that work and it means that they don’t really see their children much at all during the week. So I think I’m lucky that I've got jobs that allow me to do that.
‘Although I did start doing the National Lottery at the weekend on Saturday, which caused my husband to moan a bit because I sort of said listen: ‘Oh you know you’ve Saturday family day with Dad, we’re going to call them Daddy Saturday’s’ and he’s like: ‘Ohhh I thought Daddy Saturdays were a lie-in!’ He doesn’t get them anymore because he’s got to take them out and entertain them whilst I do the lottery.’
What is your top tip for your fellow working mums?
‘I think you do have to be organised and you also have to realise that you do get tired too. I'm quite an old mum and I definitely get tired. I think not to beat yourself up if you have to say to them: ‘Lets sit down and watch a DVD together’ or ‘come on it’s time for bed.’ Sometimes you can feel a bit guilty if you’ve been busy all day and you come home and you feel like you should give them loads of fun activities, but just to think: ‘Right well actually I'm tired too.’ You have to balance everyone's energy levels out.'
‘Also just really enjoy it I think. I think: ‘Ok when I’m at work I’m going to make the most of work and when I'm at home I'm going to make the most of home and not feel guilty of going to bed early and collapsing into bed at the end of the day yourself.’ They do soak up down time children.’
You have such a busy schedule, do you get time for yourself, how do you relax?
‘A friend of mine who commutes into London said: ‘You never see a happier person than a new mum on a commute, because they’re so delighted to not be at work and not be at home, so they’re just sitting there in their own thoughts for 20 minutes.’ I thought that’s so true actually; suddenly many train journeys and bus journeys become this oasis of calm. I think actually I’m really lucky and I just try to make the most of the children. When they’re grown up and they’re saying: ‘Mum you’re really boring and I want to go out with my friends,’ then I’ll get my time back. I’m just trying to make the most of them for now.’
What is it you enjoy most about your job as a presenter?
‘I think its great meeting all sorts of different people. The National Lottery is brilliant because when I'm on my way people tweet me and say: ‘Fingers crossed,’ ‘make my numbers come up!’ Which I obviously can’t do but, what a great life! I’m going to work, I’m meeting some great people and I’m about to make somebody a millionaire; that’s not a bad job is it.’
‘And also with breakfast television and also with Smooth it’s just great to just be able to interview lots of different people and be involved. But I think anybody in broadcasting should feel like they’ve won the lottery anyway because we’re really lucky to have the varied and fun job that we have.’
When you were younger what did you enjoy doing during the school holidays?
‘I liked the time just being at home actually; my mum was always very good she probably wouldn’t have needed this activity guide in the way that I do, because she was always very good at inventing games. There’d be a tablecloth over the table and there would be a den underneath and I used to like all of that.’
‘I just remember that joy of waking up and thinking: ‘Oh I can do whatever I want today!’ It wasn’t about going to a theme park it was about pottering around the house and playing in the garden with my brother and I think it’s that kind of imagination activity with your mum and dad is what you enjoy the most about the holidays.’
If the sun stays out for Easter, what’s your favourite activity to do outdoors?
‘Well we have a tiny garden, it’s like a postage stamp, so generally we try to get out to the parks in London as much as possible. We do this thing called a walking talking treasure hunt. Basically it’s making a walk more interesting. So we go along and I’ll say: ‘OK the next thing you have to find is...’ And I’ll look around without them catching me and then I’ll say: ‘A tree with orange leaves’ or something, and then they have to go find that. As you keep walking along you just have to keep spotting things for them to look for to keep them going. So they absolutely love that but if you were to say to them: ‘We need to get some fresh air lets go for a walk,’ they’d both groan. But if you hide it in what we call the walking talking treasure hunt then they love it, so we do that quite a lot.
'I also think picnics; I’m not talking about smoked salmon and champagne, but packing a few snacks and saying we’re going on a picnic, kids still love that as much as ever. My two will say: ‘Oh it’s raining can we have a carpet picnic,’ so basically you're sitting on the kitchen floor on a rug. There’s just something about the novelty of nothing having to use knives and forks and not being told to use napkins that they find really good fun.’
Kate Garraway is lending a hand with the launch of Flora Buttery's Funspiration Activity Guide which offers 15 weatherproof activities for when mums have 15 minutes to spare.
With a little imagination and a few bits and bobs, mum can have oodles of fun at the kitchen table (or even in the garden if the sun decides to shine).Download your free copy now from www.funfamilybaking.com