Being a blended family of 7 isn't easy – but we treat all of our children the same, says Myleene Klass04/25/2021
WITH five children between them and a household that is, more often than not, “utter chaos”, time alone is a rare occurrence for Myleene Klass and her fiancé Simon Motson.
But despite the mayhem and the strain of continued lockdowns, they are clearly still crazy about each other – you only need to check out Myleene’s Instagram to see that.
They certainly look as if they really, really like each other… Myleene hoots with laughter.
“It’s true, we have an amazing chemistry! Even when we message each other, I’ll be like: ‘Oh my god, this still feels really brand-new,’ and that’s quite lovely. We appreciate each other and what we’ve got because we’ve both had our fair share of how hard it can be.
“I was a single mum for a very long time, and he was a single dad for a very long time, and we had very similar experiences with both the break-ups and how we had to raise our children. So we have a mutual understanding and a huge respect for each other.”
She’s momentarily overcome with emotion. The thought of not having met him, she says, is frightening.
“The scary thing is that without him, I could have seriously lost out on life. I could have been living this kind of half-life. Had I known that he was waiting at the other end, I would have raced through that fire. No tiptoeing. Before him, I didn’t know what I was missing.”
PR guru Simon, also known as Sim, proposed last August on the fifth anniversary of the blind date that changed both their lives.
Myleene’s first marriage in 2011 to Graham Quinn, the father of her daughters Ava and Hero, now 13 and 10, ended after just six months. They had been together for 10 years before that and the split was devastating.
Myleene was left to pick up the pieces while holding it together for her babies, who were only four and one at the time. She has since said that, even before the break-up, the relationship had made her nervous and insecure and at one point she vowed never to marry again.
Walking down the aisle this time will feel very different.
“When you start convincing yourself about how things should be or what’s right when it just isn’t… I didn’t know that I could feel this love or have the chance to show this love as well.
“And to have my children see that love – to think that I would have short-changed my children is quite terrifying. [Marriage] is something that I take very, very seriously this time around because there are children here and we’ve got to make sure we get our boat to shore. We want to get it right.”
Which is also why she and Sim, 46, are prepared to wait for Covid restrictions to be fully lifted so they can have the day they all want. It already sounds like it’s going to be one to remember – Hero, for example, has very specific plans to attend dressed as Wonder Woman.
“We wanted to get married really quickly, but every time we went to book something, the numbers and the rules and regulations changed. I’ve got friends who have had to rebook their wedding three times now and that’s just not fun… We’ll get there.
“We made that promise to each other and we’ve made that promise to the children and I’m going to honour it. It really does mean so much to all of them. We know we’re going to be together forever.”
Baby Apollo (who is known as Snoopy, which was coined during pregnancy and stuck) came along 20 months ago and Myleene, 43, has said he is very much the “glue” that binds her blended family together – Sim has a son and daughter who are the same ages as Ava and Hero from his previous relationship.
But there has been sadness amid all the joy. Last October, inspired by Chrissy Teigen’s gut-wrenching images of her stillbirth and other women opening up about their experiences of miscarriage during Baby Loss Awareness Week,
Myleene spoke for the first time of the four babies she lost before having Apollo.
The details were heartbreaking, but her words were powerful and they resonated. She’s found relief in both sharing her story and helping drive a conversation about a subject that often feels taboo.
“I was watching what was happening around me and I thought: ‘If I’m the kind of woman I think I am, I need to speak up.’ It was women coming together, and hearing that people like Beyoncé and Michelle Obama – women who are known to be fiercely strong – had experienced this, gave me comfort and I took my strength from them.… I want to be part of the change.
“I want to be honest with my daughters so they know what’s going on with their bodies, because they need this information – it’s information that was never shared with me. I just hope that when my babies are having babies and if it doesn’t go as straightforwardly as they’d hope, women like myself have cleared a path for them. And that’s why I did it. Because I felt so lonely.”
One of the changes Myleene would like to see come about is the way others respond to baby loss.
“People would say: ‘Oh well, at least you’ve got two children,’ or ‘You can always go again,’ – everything that you don’t want to hear. It’s really made me think about how I speak as well. I don’t ever ask anybody if they’re planning a family, ever.
“You just don’t know if the woman you’re speaking to is pregnant or trying or whether she miscarried last night.”
Apollo is her “miracle”, but it was a pregnancy wracked with worry.
“I went for scan after scan, after scan. I was just terrified every step of the way. All that holding your breath just before they find the heartbeat, followed by sheer relief. Every single time.
“As a woman, I have to be bloody organised because I’ve got a family who rely on me. And this was something so out of my control, there was nothing I could do – I was completely helpless. I don’t think you ever forget. You think: ‘Oh, they’d be starting school now…’ Or you see someone who was pregnant at the same time with their child now. It still hurts.”
The whole family dote on Apollo, whose expert dishwasher-emptying skills have also captured the hearts of Myleene’s social media followers (“He just knows where everything goes and there’s a part of me that wonders if it’s because he’s a lockdown baby and that’s all he’s watched for a year.”).
Myleene still has to pinch herself because she could never have imagined this set up a few years ago.
“I look at my house today and who knew it was going to be like this? My children call Sim ‘Dad’. To see how he is with my girls and how they are with him is so special, which again, I never saw coming… I never dreamed I’d be living in a household of seven. And you know when you realise there’s no parenting manual?
“Wait until you haven’t got a step-parenting manual because that’s something else entirely. I can’t lie, it’s not easy because there’s always something happening and I don’t feel there’s enough of me to go round.
“But from the start we said we had to treat them all the same. It couldn’t be ‘your children’ and ‘my children’, and that’s been something the kids all really wanted.”
Myleene, Ava and Hero had been going it alone for almost three and a half years before Sim entered the fray. They were a “triangle” and all about the power of three.
“That time really did solidify something in us. We’re extremely reliant on each other – I’m just as reliant on them because they gave me my strength when I didn’t have any. I just look at my children and feel so extremely lucky. And now we have our baby boy!
“Our mantra is ‘Everything changes except your mama loving you’. That’s got us through everything, because when the world around us changes, we are there for each other.”
That said, working, homeschooling and running the household throughout the pandemic has taken its toll. Myleene thought she was “juggling plates” before all this happened, but the last year has been another level.
“Suddenly, it was jumping on Zooms, trying to be productive, coming up with lunch and tea for the bloody 50 millionth time. And I just didn’t feel like I was being very good at any of it. The guilt…
“My baby’s got no friends. I literally don’t know what he’ll do when you can meet more than three people. But I was always around, so I saw all his firsts. He’s my rainbow baby, my miracle, and so to have that time with him felt really magical.”
Trained in classical piano, Myleene somehow found the time to set up a YouTube channel, Myleene’s Music Klass, offering free online music lessons for children during lockdown.
She even made a series of engaging TikTok explainer videos with Ava and Hero, covering everything from musical terminology to what to do if someone is choking and how to change a lightbulb.
“I don’t think there are any other circumstances that would have allowed us to do that. My sister [Jessie] who lives in Australia told me she’d heard about these amazing free music classes, had clicked on the link and saw it was me! So we reached Australia!
“I would never normally be so forthcoming with my children on social media, but they got to show what they could do and so I was like: ‘OK, let’s embrace it’.”
Ava recently passed her grade 8 piano exam and is studying for her diploma. Impressively, she set up her own online tutoring business and currently has six pupils on her books – clearly, she’s as enterprising and driven as her mum.
“She has a ledger and she writes in who’s paid and who hasn’t, how many hours they’ve had and what they’re working towards,” says Myleene.
“If, for whatever reason, somebody hasn’t paid, I make sure she asks them for it, which is important, because I think women are very uncomfortable around finances.
“I’m adamant that my children are raised capable and independent, because if they’ve got their own money, they can make their own choices.
“I’m a bi-racial girl who grew up in Norfolk and who nobody expected that much of. My children know they’ve got the talent to do something –they can play an instrument and they can use it to entertain and teach and stand on their own two feet.
It’s been more than 14 years since Myleene stole the show with that bikini on I’m A Celebrity! Back then she was best known for being one-fifth of Hear’Say, the reality-show pop band who enjoyed success in the early Noughties.
I’m A Celebrity! proved a launchpad and she has since built a multimillion-pound brand.
She recently launched Myleene Klass Kids in Next, a cool collection designed and created during lockdown – the contract was signed outdoors with social distancing.
“I signed on my front lawn with me walking up to a table, stepping back and my manager walking up, signing it and stepping back. And then it’s involved having to quarantine pieces of fabric, so it’s not been easy. But then, I’ve been designing children’s clothes for 15 years.”
The original label, Baby K, which later became My K, went on to sell in 77 countries, but when retail partner Mothercare went into administration in 2019, Myleene had to find a new company to team up with.
“It was so upsetting about Mothercare, because my range had been there for 13 years and it’s where I cut my teeth. But it’s been great to hit the ground running at Next – everything sold out in the first two weeks. So now it’s a lovely challenge to get the orders in as quick as we can.
“When I first started designing, many retailers wouldn’t touch my designs, because they said leopard print was too sexy. I was like: ‘It’s a pattern animals are wearing, it’s fine!”
Ava and Hero both contributed to the design process – reinforcing the importance of teamwork. She might pride herself on her independence, but it’s Myleene’s loyal squad of “queens and queens” who have pulled them through their toughest days.
“We’ve been propped up by strong working women and gay men. They have been the people we’ve relied on. I haven’t done it alone and it’s nice the girls see that.
“It’s fine to say I’m having a hard day today or I’m feeling overwhelmed, because otherwise it’s continuing that facade of perfection, and nothing is perfect.”
Has Sim changed her?
“Definitely. He’s given me space to be me in a weird way. I don’t sweat the small stuff any more. I can slow down, whereas before I was constantly on the treadmill of having to keep providing for my kids. It feels good to have a partner in crime.
“The girls were used to me being loud and alpha female, but Sim has this quiet strength and it balances everything nicely.”
- Myleene Klass Kids clothing range is available exclusively at Next (Next.co.uk).
Hair: Dino Pereira using Kiehl’s Since 1851 Magic Elixir
Make-up: Karin Darnell at Frank Agency using Charlotte Tilbury
Styling: Nana Acheampong
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