It’s been four years since the end of the Spice Girls reunion tour, but Melanie C has been busier than ever. She’s given birth to daughter Scarlet, now 3; won acclaim for her role in the West End musical Blood Brothers and had time to record her fifth solo album, yet she says she’s just like any other working mum juggling childcare, her career… and lack of sleep.
A new, wonderful person in my life
I look forward every morning to going in and getting my little girl out of bed. I love the big cuddle I get and the stories about what dreams she’s had in the night: every day is a joy. But of course it’s not all plain sailing - there are really difficult times, as all mums know - but at the end of the day it is just wonderful to have such a lovely new person in your life.
When you’re a new mum it takes ages to accept that this is your life now
It’s funny because people always say “ooh your life’s going to change” and you think “yeah of course!” but it’s not until it happens that you think “ah, ok, I get it!” Your life changes, this little person is totally helpless and it’s your responsibility to take care of them.
I’d never even changed a nappy when I got pregnant
I hadn’t spent a lot of time around very young children, so I was reading every single book and going on the Internet, and then I went along to [ante-natal] classes. But on the day of the birth it totally didn’t go the way it was supposed to go and from that moment I just thought you’ve got to be open to everything with this motherhood stuff!
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You just learn as you go, don’t you
Every day there seems to be a new challenge or a new phase, you’re always trying to do the right thing and be a good parent and give them all they need to go out into the world. I think that the best way to look at it is to just accept that there’s no right or wrong way - every child is different, every parent is different, and you have to use your instinct to figure it out as you go along.
The first six months with a new baby is so hard
There’s the sleep deprivation and you’re just trying to get your head around everything - learning how to take care of the child and coming to terms with the whole change of dynamic in your life. But I would say to any new mums that it gets easier and easier and of course there are difficult things thrown in along the way but being a mum just keeps getting better. When you’re in those first few weeks it feels like an eternity. But it’s good to know that that time will pass, you will feel better, you will get some sleep and then you’ll have the smiles and giggles and cuddles -there are so many wonderful things to look forward to.
My mum’s been brilliant
When Scarlet was first born, my mum really helped me out and she lives quite far away - she’s up in Liverpool and I’m in London - but she comes down quite a lot and she likes to spend time with Scarlet. I do have a nanny as well - both me and my partner (property developer Thomas Starr) work long hours and we both travel from time to time, so that was something we needed to do.
Going back to work
When you’re first going back to work there’s so much guilt about not being [at home], feeling like it’s your responsibility to be taking care of your child. But it’s just about getting that balance, I came back [from work] and I’d missed her and I really appreciated the time I spent with her so much more.
My daughter’s such a typical little girl
When I had Scarlet I didn’t know what I was having and I decided to do the room in lovely bright colours, but then as soon as she started making her own choices everything is pink and purple and she likes unicorns and fairies and princesses! It’s lovely, I’m actually enjoying being really girlie with her.
Will she follow in my footsteps?
Scarlet loves singing and dancing at the moment, but I think that’s the same for a lot of young girls. There’s so much available for young children now, it’s brilliant. She goes to ballet and she absolutely loves it and she swims and I think it’s nice that they have an opportunity to try lots of activities then they can see what they enjoy and what they excel at. I started dancing when I was quite young and my mum was really grateful that I had an interest that kind of carried me through my teens and kept me really busy and out of trouble. It can be really positive to have a passion through those tricky years.
The best advice my mum ever gave me…
Was never to do anything you feel uncomfortable doing, and I think that’s really good advice for relationships, career, in fact most parts of your life. Because of the wonderful things I’ve been able to do in my life, I would tell Scarlet to always follow her dreams, never think your wildest dream is impossible because I was lucky enough to go on to achieve mine.
2012 is going to be a really busy year and I’m very excited
I was touring in the UK so that kept me busy for a few weeks - and there’s lots of other exciting things in the pipeline for me too. And we’ve got the Olympics of course, but it doesn’t look like the Spice Girls will be reforming for it I’m afraid. I didn’t think it would happen the first time when we reunited in 2007 so you just don’t know what the future holds, but I don’t think it’ll happen this summer. I’ve got tickets to watch the gymnastics though. My childhood ambition was to be an Olympic gymnast or a pop star, so I’ve realised one dream and get to watch others do the same – but if someone has a fall I’ll have to step in, won’t I!
I’d love to have another child
You never know where life’s going to lead you, do you, obviously you get to a certain age and you have to start really thinking about it and planning it, but it’s something I wish for for the next few years.
At the heart of Team Mum is the video series Raising an Olympian, sponsored by Proctor and Gamble, profiling athletes from across the world, their dedicated efforts to make it to Olympic Games, and the mothers who had tremendous impacts on their lives. Watch the videos on Yahoo! Lifestyle Team Mum.