Bubbly CBeebies presenter Katy is as enthusiastic at home with her son Charlie as she is on-screen. She talks to M&B about her life as a mum
Known for her boundless energy and enthusiasm, Katy Ashworth is likely to be a regular guest in your home via CBeebies programmes I Can Cook and Justin’s House.
As well as appearing in live stage tours and writing a new series of children’s books, the 28-year-old is mum to 16-month-old Charlie. And as a mum she’s just as full of fun and enthusiasm…
Have you always been the energetic Katy we see on TV?
I have! I’ve always been a naturally bouncy person, even as a child. I was the one who used to get the kids singing on the bus to school.
Are your energy levels lower now you’re a mum?
I’m constantly exhausted – it’s my default mode! I’ve just finished a panto season, where I worked every day from morning till night, while waking up with Charlie during the night if he didn’t sleep through.
How do you combine CBeebies Katy and mummy Katy?
My life is crazy, unstructured and erratic but I try to concentrate and compartmentalise. When I’m in the studio I have fantastic childcare with a part-time nanny and nursery a few mornings every week. I only work two or three days, so the rest of the week I’m just Mum.
When I’m on a tour like CBeebies Live, it’s all-consuming and I don’t see Charlie as much as I’d like. The day I started filming the CBeebies panto, Charlie took his first steps without me being there. I burst into tears when his nanny told me.
Do you find it a challenge to be such a busy working mum?
Right now, I’m trying to accept the compromise of combining work and being a mum. I’ve realised I just have to live with it and get on with it. It quickly became apparent how unrealistic some of my expectations were about juggling work with Charlie. I figured I could work or catch up when he was napping. Wrong! I’m just too dog-tired. So, if I need to work, he goes to nursery. And when I’m with Charlie, I focus on him.
Did you feel better prepared to be a mum after all your experience working with kids?
Yes, being so used to children I instantly felt comfortable and natural becoming a mum. The biggest skills I’ve learnt from children’s telly that I use with Charlie are patience and staying calm under pressure when you’re juggling a million things. You can’t have a meltdown on telly because things are too hard or not going your way, and it’s the same at home with me. Laughter helps a lot too! But certain things did feel alien to me as I’m such a spontaneous person.
I found it hard to get used to planning and making sure I had got everything I needed before I took Charlie out.
What do you enjoy most about working with kids?
They have such a raw, honest energy, which is much harder to find in adults.
I also have the same sense of humour as a five-year-old. In the studio, we’re like naughty schoolchildren and the director sometimes has to send us off set till we can pull ourselves together – like when the kids spit things out or if we have an animal on set that inevitably does a large poo.
Are you as good a cook at home as you are on telly?
I love cooking for Charlie! His favourite is carrot and coriander soup, and he’s a big fan of sweet potatoes. I always keep breakfast simple, but dinner time is when I experiment with new foods or tastes. I want him to have an eclectic palate. He hasn’t tried my Grape Pizza (one of Katy’s most popular I Can Cook dishes) yet but I will try it with him soon.
Does Charlie help you cook at home?
He’s a bit young yet, but when I’m cooking, I explain everything that I’m doing in the kitchen to him in simple, clear words, so he understands. We have to eat and we may as well take joy in it. Teaching children this at a very young age is essential so that it’s ingrained. Ninety-five percent of the time on I Can Cook, children will eat food that they’ve refused to eat before, simply because they’ve participated in making it.
What does Charlie think about his mum being on telly?
I’m not sure he’s totally grasped it yet because he sees me in the room and then I’m also on the screen, although he does go ‘mmmm, mmmm’ excitedly, trying to say ‘mummy’. I took him on tour with me last year, which was pretty arduous, but he loved seeing all his favourite characters, like Mr Tumble. When’s he a little bit older I’ll take him down to the CBeebies studio more often.
Do you ever switch off?
It took me a long time to realise that, after a long day being energetic in the studio, I need quiet, calm time at home, reading or in the bath. No one can be quite that perky all the time, but I try! n
Katy appears on CBeebies daily. For details of her summer tour, visit katyashworth.com