Kate Ferdinand says ‘Cree has brought us all closer than ever’ as she opens up on blended family

Kate Ferdinand says ‘Cree has brought us all closer than ever’ as she opens up on blended family


Reality star turned trailblazer for the modern family, Kate Ferdinand, is redefining the role of stepmother. Famously stepmum to husband Rio’s three children, the couple welcomed their firstborn together, Cree, at the height of lockdown in December 2020 to become a beautiful blended family of six.

Their brood is as far from the stereotypical 2.4 children as it gets. Yet, with one in four families now stepfamilies in the UK, it’s not just Kate’s relatives who are challenging the norm while providing her with more love than she ever thought imaginable.

Sitting down with us to talk about her new podcast Blended, which shines a spotlight on stepfamilies, Kate says, “Cree has brought us all closer than ever. It’s beautiful to see. He’s so cheeky – and really loud!

“Everyone in our family is quite loud, so he definitely tries to compete with us all, and he’s so funny. He says ‘Hiya’ to everyone we pass while walking down the street.

“I’m just so grateful that I’ve got a lovely big family I wouldn’t have unless I was in this situation. The biggest high is love. I’m so lucky.”

Kate was in her late twenties when she met former Manchester United player Rio, 43, and became stepmum to his three eldest children Lorenz, who is now 15, Tate, 13, and Tia, 10. Their mum, Rio’s late wife Rebecca Ellison, sadly died from breast cancer in 2015 at the age of just 34.

It was a new role for Kate who, as an only child brought up by her mum after her parents divorced, hadn’t experienced looking after kids or siblings before. “I’m stronger than I thought I was,” she says about the challenges of raising four kids.

After Kate and Rio began dating in 2017, the Essex-born star quit TOWIE to focus on family life and help bring up three grieving children. When she married Rio in front of close friends and family in Turkey two years later, Tia acted as Kate’s maid of honour and was the first person to see her in her stunning wedding dress, while Lorenz and Tate walked her half way down the aisle, a true testament of their love and acceptance.

“Of course, we are one family and they call me ‘Mummy Kate’ now,” she says. “We talk most evenings before bed, and we all have a bit of a debrief about our day. I love this age and love that we can get into big family debates about different topics.

Tia is like Cree’s second mum. She’s always around the house to entertain him. And he loves football. The boys are always playing footie with him in the house so he’s kicking a ball constantly. He is the boss and thinks he is a teenager and isn’t even two.”

Cree was born in December 2020 by C-section after a 10-hour labour and was a big adjustment for Kate, who documented her struggles of being a mum to a newborn in lockdown.

“To new mums, mums, step mums… and anyone who is struggling in lockdown, I feel you!” she wrote in an emotional post on Instagram at the time. “Sometimes we just need to sneak in our room and have a little cry. A mix of the new baby, lockdown, kids at home and lack of sleep have well and truly got me.”

Kate has been bravely open about her journey as a stepmum. In the past, she has revealed how she “cried every day for a year” after she first moved in with Rio, feeling heartbroken for him and his children while feeling the pressure of stepping into that maternal role.

Rio lovingly reassured her there was no instruction manual for being a stepmother, and her journey has been the motivation behind Kate’s podcast – there might not be a manual, but there can be a place for people to listen and talk.

“I just hoped it would resonate with anyone who needed a little bit of help,” she says. “I struggled at the beginning of my journey, and even to this day, there’s certain things that I’m hesitant to talk about or I don’t know where to turn, and there seems to be a lot of people who feel the same. We cover so many different topics from grief, divorce, life after loss, fostering, adoption to interracial families.

“So many people go through these things on a daily basis, and I don’t really feel as though there’s anybody else out there championing that for them. A lot of people don’t know where to go for help, so it’s important that everyone feels represented and that they can relate to someone or something.”

Launched last month, Blended covers the complex, everyday dynamics that blended families bring to the surface as Kate champions different voices and experiences by speaking with experts, everyday people and celebrities in the public eye. “It’s been amazing for me – it’s like a weekly therapy session!” she says.

It’s a project she felt as passionate about launching as she was nervous, having been notoriously private about their family in the past. The couple have kept all their kids out of the limelight and while Kate loves to share insights into their blended family home life, she chooses to keep Cree’s identity obscured with stickers or by choosing to photograph him from behind on social media.

“I was a bit nervous at the beginning, I’ve got to admit. We already don’t show the faces of the three big kids because they’ve been through so much. Rio and their mum believed that it was important to let them grow up without the world watching, and I think that’s also important for Cree.

“But because our kids are still kept private and out of the limelight – I always ask them first if I plan on referencing them – I’m OK now. There is power in sharing our stories.”

It has been five years since Kate left reality TV to prioritise her family and is now challenging her energy into projects that she is passionate about. “I’m really happy where I’m at in my life right now – I’m in a good place,” she explains. “I keep in contact with some of my former cast members, but life is so crazy right now.

“Believe it or not, I get really nervous working in front of the camera! That’s why I’ve enjoyed doing the podcast, because you can’t be seen, so it makes me feel relaxed.”

As well as the podcast, Kate is in the process of making a website a bit like Mumsnet where stepparents can chat.

“I’m also working on a couple of books that will be part of Blended , “she reveals. “One for adults and one for children, but I can’t reveal much more than that!”

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