Why did you recently say that mums should stop trying to have it all and concentrate just on the things that we want?
I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to 'have it all.' I mean what even is that?! I concentrate on my son, my work and my husband. That means I don’t have much time for my friends and family. Therefore I am not "having it all" but I think I have a lot! In my view, there are too many women trying to do too much. I don't have any help in terms of a nanny etc, which means my house is far from immaculate and my roots are far from 'done.' Yet that's ok! I’m currently living in France as my husband Richie Myler plays rugby league for the Catalan Dragons. It’s about prioritising the things that are important to us and not feeling guilty for falling short on some things society expects us to do.
What were your expectations of having a baby and working too?
I thought I would be keener to go back to work but since I had Ernie I really prioritise and try to put him first. He's still so small!! I work in a tricky industry, if I take a full year off I probably won't have a job to go back to so I have to keep my hand in. That said, I say 'no' to more things than I say 'yes' to. I make more strategic decisions and only do things I think will benefit my long-term career and, ultimately, keep me in work. That means taking time away from the baby which is welcome and heart-breaking in equal measure.
Any funny moments to share with us when the juggle hasn’t always gone exactly to plan?
I have spent many a meeting with baby sick down the front of my designer suit. I have breast-fed in rooms full of men. When I was seven months pregnant and filming for Countryfile I got stuck in a dry suit in Ireland. I was rolling around the field trying to wiggle myself out of the air tight neoprene suit. It was neither attractive nor productive! I had the camera man and the producer helping me out!
How do you decide which jobs to take on and can you tell us about some of your favourites since being a Mum?
These days the easiest things for me are live studio-based television gigs as you know what time you're starting and finishing, which means I can plan what Ernie needs around that. I take on things I know I will enjoy as I think it's important to make sure I am the best and happiest version of me for my son's sake! I loved doing the World Swimming Championships in August 2015. Ernie and my Mum came with me every day so I was never more than an office length away from Ernie. Rebecca Adlington was working alongside me, she had a baby around the same time (Summer, eight months) so there were a lot of hormones flying around!
We loved the bit in your recent blog about being honest about our strengths. How does that manifest itself with you?
I am rubbish in the kitchen and I hate housework. For me if it is a choice between cleaning and taking Ernie out I am always going to take Ernie out. In the past I’ve felt guilty for that and stressed out if my washing basket is piled high, however, I refuse to do that anymore. I won't make every single meal Ernie eats from the organic farmer's market, I will do my best to but every now and again he will eat from a jar and I refuse to feel like a bad Mum for that! We put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect Mums if we stay at home and perfect workers if we go to work. I think it's important to do what is right for us as individuals and not worry about what society expects! My Mum hates that I don't dust every other day, she hates that I don't wipe my skirting boards clean but she lived in a different time. She stayed at home with me and I love her for that, she's awesome, the best Mum there is but I worry about work rather than skirting boards.
You come across as really together when you’re on TV. Some of our Mums have shared it can be hard finding your feet work wise after becoming a parent – is this something you can relate to?
Haaaaaaaaaaaaa together!!? Who the hell is 'together' these days! We're women and we're expected to rule the world in six inch heels with ripped abs, organic smoothies in the fridge and go home to modern supportive husbands to boot. AS IF! I have days when I don't shower, when I drink nothing other than wine, when I speak to no one without crying. Then I have days when I do a boot camp, write half a book, make a week’s meals and present three hours of live telly. I do a lot, I am a feminist and I am independent - nine days out of ten. On the tenth day I cry to my husband or my girlfriends. I am human! I have fears and anxieties like every woman and since having Ernie my life has changed. When I don't do things I ask myself "have I chickened out, could I really do that? Am I the person I once was?" The truth is I am NOT the person I once was but I am working damn hard to be the best version of myself. This is not to keep up with my friends on Instagram but because there is a little person who is relying on me to set a good example every minute of every day.
Finally we are running a Mother’s Day campaign asking Mums to share their #RealMumMoments – what are some of yours?
The other day Ernie had done one of those epic poos that goes way up their stomach and all over their back. I had changed him and wiped him and thought I had it all but I could still smell it. I checked my hair, my hands, Ernie again, my face (that has happened) and I just couldn't find it anywhere. I went out to a coffee shop and to the market and it turns out it was all down my front. All over my cardigan! Then again there was the time he threw up all over a woman who had flown in from Belgium to meet me for a business meeting!"
Helen will be in Rio presenting the Olympics for BBC Sport. She also has a gardening TV series coming out in May and her second children's book 'Amy Wild: Antarctic Adventure' is out later this year.