Myleene Klass has opened up about how she is struggling to combine the mothering of eight-month-old daughter Ava with work.
“I am tired, tired all the time,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like crying because I am so tired. People say I make it look easy, but I don’t have any of the answers, I’m still trying to figure things out.
“My relationship with my fiancé Gray [security guard Graham Quinn] has been under huge pressure and I have never felt so lonely and isolated. I wonder how other working mums do it – how do they make it look so easy?
“Things haven’t worked out the way I thought they would and just when I think I’m getting there, something else comes along. Just when I had got sterilising bottles down to a T, I had to start making purées. Christ – I can’t even cook for myself! It’s hard – harder than work.
“Some nights you have changed the baby, fed the baby and tried to put her to sleep but she is still crying and you feel like the worst mother in the world. I might look like I’m smiling, but that’s my job.
‘One of my worst nights was when I was hosting the red carpet at the Baftas. Gray was away with work and I had left Ava with a friend for the first time when I got a phone call to say my burglar alarm was going off.
“I couldn’t leave, so I didn’t know if someone was rifling through my house. I was worried about Ava and I had to put a big smile on my face as I interviewed Ricky Gervais and Daniel Craig. I thought: ‘What am I doing? How do people do this?'”
Her seven-year relationship with Quinn has been so strained since Ava was born three weeks prematurely last August, she reveals, that at one point she considered leaving him.
“In the weeks after Ava was born I genuinely wanted to kill him,” she shared. “I was knackered from looking after the baby and then he would come home and say something worthy of murder like: ‘Jeez, I’m so tired, I haven’t eaten all day.’ I wasn’t in a good place and I even told one of my friends that I was going to leave Gray.
“He couldn’t understand why I wasn’t his old Leenie – he thought I should be back in my old clothes, but I could barely get out of my pyjamas. Gray is a great dad and he is the same person he always was, but somebody took my body and shook it up and I have changed.”
Although Ava still sleeps with the couple, which cannot help matters, Myleene insists that her relationship is now much better. She says they are focusing on organising Ava’s christening, before they plan their much-talked-about wedding – the pair got engaged three years ago.
She says: “I can’t understand all these people who talk about how wonderful their relationship became after having a baby.
“It is hard on a relationship. We will never be back to normal it’s a new place we have found. I just want him to appreciate what my day is like. I don’t need the sympathy or adulation, I just want some understanding.
“When I get home, my day is not over. I need to prepare for the next day, I need to sterilise the bottles and I might even get around to making Gray some dinner. I know it is the same for every working mother – but it seems like nobody really talks about it, what a challenge it can be for a couple.
“I know I can’t change Gray and I don’t want to change him. Our relationship has changed a lot, but now that it has been eight months things are getting better. We love each other and we are a family.
“Gray and Ava came with me when I did an M&S shoot in Portugal a few weeks ago and there was nothing nicer than seeing Gray taking his daughter for her first swim.”
She added: “I don’t want people to think I don’t appreciate my life – or that I am moaning. I know that I am lucky. Sometimes I walk around my new house and I can’t believe it’s mine. And when Ava wakes me up in the morning by grabbing my nose I know I have never been happier.
“All I am saying is that while being a mother is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done, it hasn’t been easy.”
Myleene worked right up to having Ava – she went into labour while presenting The One Show on the BBC – and was back at work just three weeks after Ava was born.
She has a full schedule. She is a model for M&S, DJ for Classic FM, recording classical artist for EMI, TV presenter, film reporter for CNN, plus she has written a book about her pregnancy, is designing a range of childrenswear for Mothercare and is due to host next week’s Classical Brits. She is also considering offers from both the BBC and ITV for a prime-time Saturday night show from mid June.
She knows there will be plenty of people out there who believe she could help herself by giving up work – or at least cut down on her commitments.
But Myleene, 30, has been there when the phone does not ring – after Hear’Say disbanded she did not work for close to a year – and having Ava seems only to have made her more determined to grab the opportunities she is offered.
“There is pressure from other women,” she said. “They look at me and say: ‘She’s so ambitious.’ Yes, I am driven, but I could never just stay at home and not work – I would consider myself lazy. I don’t think it is possible to have the perfect balance – so I am doing things the best I can.
“I think there is a real WAG culture – why work when you can find someone who can give it to you if hang around in the right nightclubs and sleep with the right man? He can marry you in the manner of 1820s and keep you in the style to which you are accustomed.
“I’m not like that. I know I have a privileged life, but I work hard for privileged life. I like to work and I like to feel I have achieved something. I’m not the prettiest, or the most talented and I’ve got wobbly bits and a lazy eye, but I make up for it with sheer hard work. I like to push myself and be the best I can.
“I am the breadwinner for my family, and when I am doing a rubbish job like standing in a frozen field for hours to do a link, the thing that keeps me going is the idea that I am doing it for Ava.
“When it comes to work I may be my own worst enemy, but I have turned work down. I quit as a DJ on Capital as that was taking up five hours every Sunday, and I quit The One Show as it was too much to do every day. Having Ava means I have a clearer idea of where I need to go.”
One might assume that to help her behind the scenes, Myleene would have an army of nannies, a housekeeper, cook and cleaner. But for many months, assuming her mother would take on the role of ‘granny nanny’, Myleene had no help at all.
When it became rapidly obvious that Myleene’s jet-set lifestyle would not fit in with her mother’s while Gray went on a six-week tour as security with The X Factor, she was forced to hire help.
She has a friend of a friend called Tash, who she hires for three days a week as her ‘extra pair of hands’, to hold Ava when she is doing a television appearance or to pick up her laundry. Ava goes with Myleene wherever she is – although the star realises this is not a situation she is going to be able to keep as the baby becomes more mobile and attention-seeking.
She says: “I thought my family would be able to help me, but they have got their own things going on – so I have had to find a new way to make it work. There was no balance in my life, but having Tash to help out has taken a lot of pressure off me.
“I take Ava everywhere with me. We got stopped at customs leaving LA a couple of weeks ago because she is eight months old and has already been to places like Canada, Portugal, Egypt, New York and Cape Town. She is coming to Cannes with me for the film festival later this month.
“In our bathroom, we have a travel board for her of all the places she has visited. I know that as she gets older it is going to get harder and harder to take her everywhere – but that is just another challenge I will have to overcome when the time is right.”
For Myleene, inspiration has come from far and wide. Suzanne Shaw, her old Hear’Say bandmate and recent winner of Dancing On Ice, who has a three-year-old son, has provided both a shoulder to cry on and a host of mothering tips. And her fellow M&S model Twiggy also gave her hope.
“Twiggy said to me that she did what I am doing, she brought her baby to work with her, and she said: ‘I made it work for me and you will make it work for you.’ It was great to hear something like that.”
Myleene was signed up by M&S after coming out of the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! jungle, where her showers in a white bikini attracted huge attention. Unbeknown to them – and to her – she was already pregnant with Ava.
She posed while four months’ pregnant in a bikini for the company and the range sold out. And despite putting on four stone during her pregnancy, she was back in a bikini for the company just five months after Ava was born. Despite looking enviously skinny, she says she still weighs half a stone more than she did before she got pregnant.
“My weight has gone down, but my shape has changed,” she shared as she enjoyed a bowl of chips and onion rings. And pulling on an almost non-existent bit of flab around her waist, she said: “I’ve got this muffin top now while my boobs have gone down.”
She insists there is no big dieting secret – she is just eating less and running around after Ava.
“I ate so much in my pregnancy, but I am trying to eat healthier. I am cooking things like chicken and carrots for the first time for Ava, so I have them, too. I haven’t done any exercise yet, although I do plan to, but I try and walk as much as possible.
“Ava is in the sling a lot and when I was on a recent trip to New York to do research for my Mothercare range, Ava’s buggy got lost by Terminal Five, so I was carrying her around for about ten hours a day. It means I have got really strong arms.”