The face we all remember from MTV, and the current voice of BBC Radio 1, Edith Bowman has been a familiar part of our life since the early naughties, and today, she has been selected by Proctor and Gamble (P&G) to be an ambassador for their ‘Proud Sponsor of Mums’ campaign. We were lucky enough to chat to her about the findings of the P&G report on ‘The Changing Face of Motherhood
’ which highlighted how a mothers role has changed over the years; as well as discussing how she juggles being a mum and working full time; how she and partner Tom manage with son Rudi, and how important it is for mums to ask for help.
We met up with her at the Soho Hotel in London. Edith was getting ready for her speaking role as part of the evening to launch the P&G 'Proud Sponsors of Mums' campaign and ‘Thank you Mum’ television ad
. I’m invited to her bedroom
where she is getting ready for the event.
Picture this, I get to a beautiful room with half a dozen people in it and Edith is nowhere to be seen. She’s in the bathroom having her makeup applied – there aren’t any seats. Just the toilet. So I sit myself down (lid closed) and get cracking.
Bowman begins the interview showing me a video of her son Rudi dancing to the Dizzee Rascal. He is in hysterics laughing his little heart out. Hope Dizzee Rascal doesn’t hear about it as he seems to find him pretty amusing. It’s a good start – Edith is a proud mum, showing strangers videos of her child. Mad as the rest of us? Box duly ticked. I think I’m going to like her.
Was he a good baby and were you calm when you brought him home?
“It’s all a bit of a blur (thankfully she said that as I can’t remember much of the first 6 weeks either). It’s the most amazing experience that you can’t prepare for in reading books but it just flies by”.
How do you manage juggling work and childcare and being away from home?
“It’s actually just good organisation skills – we don’t have a nanny so Tom [Editors front man Tom Smith is her partner and dad to Rudi] and I juggle being at home and having a great mum and mother in law who come and help. They aren’t close by so it’s not a case of them being around the corner. I really envy people who live near their family and particularly their mums. The P&G research found that gone are the days of people living very close to their families – within the same area, even street. That is now a thing of the past. I really envy people that have parents who live near and have that kind of support but it doesn’t exist in the same way it used to.”
[We move from the bathroom into the bedroom. Edith’s now getting her hair done and I plonk myself on the end of the bed].
Has Rudi tested your parenting skills and if so which one?
“It’s not so much parenting skills rather a part of parenting and the lack of sleep which goes with it. Everyone tells you about it but you don’t truly understand it until you are in the situation yourself. That causes a lot of other problems – it makes everything seem worse – maybe because you are more emotional. I’m really lucky that my partner is so involved and we make a great team. One vents when they are tired and the other listens. One of us will put Rudi down and the other makes dinner – so there is good balance in the house.”
Why do you think P&G picked you for this role?
“You’d have to ask them”.
No seriously – why?
“I’d like to think that I’m seen as a young woman who loves life - I think I’m still a young woman?” [she wonders]. “I love life, love what I do and love being a mum but like other mums I understand the struggles too. Being a mum doesn’t change you but it does bring out the maternal instincts that you are born with. But it brings guilt too and I want to to promote motherhood in a really positive light. You can be a great mum, a working mum too and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.”
You undertook the P&G challenge to live life like a mum from the 1930’s where all of your mod cons were taken from you. How did you find that?
“It made me really appreciate how hard life was back then and made me realise how much we have today. I think if someone took away wipes from me, I’d sob for a week. I just can’t live without them – I’ll never take them for granted again.”
Do you think that womans roles have actually changed since the 1930’s or is the perception that a womans place is still firmly in the home?
“Yes it has. There are so many elements to this. There was a romantic notion that woman back then wore a pretty ribbon in their hair and never broke a sweat but that wasn’t the case. A woman’s role today is far better with the mod cons and products like P&G produce [brands such as Pampers, Ariel, Fairy to name a few] but we chose to fill our time with other things to do. And of course we are working outside of the home too our time is filled in different ways. I think we put ourselves under enormous pressure to be a perfect specimen whether we are working mums or stay at home working mums.
Do you take time for yourself?
“No, I’m really terrible at it. For example, I love massages but never, ever make the time to have one. I’m terrible at stopping – I can be at home and will be finished a task and Tom will say “just sit down” and I’ll say I can’t ‘cos I have to do this. He’ll ask me why I can’t leave it and I just reply because when it [sic the job] is done, it’s done”. I think a few mums will recognise themselves in that comment.
“I’m awful at stopping – it comes from my mum. My mum was a working mum. She worked in a hotel. She didn’t have normal hours or days of the week like everyone else. She worked really hard and was incredibly organised. She’d put me in my big Silver Cross Pram – she’d sit me in the garden of the hotel while she worked inside and keep an eye on me. So my mum had a taste of the pressures of motherhood way back then before it was even trendy to talk about it”.
Do you think that mums put undue pressure on themselves to be perfect?
“I think mums do and they feel they need to put across an image of being able to cope with everything. In the olden days, you never complained about things being hard or going wrong. It’s still a bit like that today.
Do you ever fall over or hit a wall?
“Oh God yes! That’s when I just sit down and cry in front of Neighbours”. [The TV show not the people from No.9].
What about the extra stress and pressure on you to look good? Do you feel added pressure to look amazing all of the time – to be a yummy mummy?
“No I don’t – look at the state of me?!?”.
I should note here that Edith is wearing a pair of navy converse, check shirt and jeans. Her makeup is done by now (including extra long lashes) and her blond hair is being teased into place for her evening appearance. She looks great.
What’s the most important thing that your mum taught you?
“So many things but one thing she is trying to teach me now, is to ask for help. Because I’m really bad at that – aren’t a lot of mums bad at asking for help?”
We end it there. Our time is called and the interview is over. She stands up and air kisses me goodbye with a warm strong handshake. She comes across as a lovely person. A hard working mum who has the same struggles as many of us mums who try and juggle life, sleep deprivation and the endless goal of being the best mum in the world.
Moments later, at the P&G launch downstairs, Edith arrives down. She has changed into a short black jacket and shorts with killer heels and tights. She looks amazing and it’s fair to say, she scrubs up well. Yummy mummy indeed.