Jennie McAlpine has grown up in front of our eyes, having joined Coronation Street as Fiz Brown when she was just 17 years old in 2001.
These days, the 36-year-old actor’s life is all about her two children, Albert, five, and 20-month-old Hilda. And, in an interview that took place prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Jennie chatted to our sister publication Woman’s Own about her and husband Chris Farr’s chaotic life at home with the kids, why she feels guilty about having continued to work full-time since being a mum and why she won’t say no to more children.
Hi, Jennie. How is life as a mum?
It’s the best job in the world. Now Hilda’s come along I realise how easy it was having just one baby. It’s pretty chaotic, but fun.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt to do differently now that you have a second child?
Organisation! I’m not sure I’m brilliant at it but I’m getting there – it’s a work in progress.
Do your children have many sibling similarities?
You can’t believe they come from the same mum and dad, and we’ve done the same things with them both. They are so different.
Do they both understand the concept of you being on the telly?
Albert does. It’s a little bit weird for him when people stop me on the street and call me Fiz, but most people are lovely. Reading the CBeebies Bedtime Story was a good way of showing him me in his world – even though I’m not his favourite bedtime story – Jessica Ennis-Hill is and he also likes Maureen Lipman, who does a nice one.
Have you always read to your kids from a young age?
I always have and I think they’re sick of hearing my voice. We’ve been going to story-time at the library since Albert was about eight weeks old – although that was for me to have a coffee, meet some mums and get out of the house!
Then, before you know it, he’s in school, so starting from that early age is great. Hilda is at the absolute worst age to read a book with because if there is a pen anywhere near she’ll draw on it and if she can get a good grip, will rip it to pieces!
Do you ever suffer with ‘mum guilt’?
Yes, 100%. All the time I feel guilt and think I could easily be a full-time mum, but I’m lucky I love my job and they understand that. It’s a piece of cake going to work and being Fiz – even if I have to be crying non-stop every day – compared to the logistics of looking after two children!
You’re an ambassador for BBC’s new Tiny Happy People campaign. Do you ever look for mum advice on the internet?
Yes, and the worst thing is you do it at 3am when you’re up feeding the baby. My husband gets all these random screen grabs, like ‘Will my baby ever sleep again?’ ‘Will I ever sleep again?’. There’s so much stuff out there on the internet, so this campaign is great, because it’s all from trusted sources and all in one place.
Do you worry about your children and the impact of social media?
I’m hoping it doesn’t exist in the future. I hope we look at it and say, ‘You know what? I’m not sure that was a good idea. We went through a funny phase of our lives and then we all came to our senses.’
Do you have plans for any more babies?
I’d have 20, because they’re the best, but, practically, our house isn’t that big and we’d have to get a bus for that!I could do it over and over again, but we’ll see – maybe not 20…
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