She’s one of TOWIEs original cast members and after a 10 year break Amy Childs has returned to the reality TV show once again debuting her red hair, but this time she’s not alone as she’s accompanied by her adorable four-year-old daughter, Polly.
We spoke to Amy about stepping back in front of the camera and how she manages being a single mum to her two children...
“Leaving the show and then coming back 10 years later with two children has been amazing,” Amy tells us. “TOWIE's always been a part of my life and I've always wanted to come back and this was definitely my time to return. I've never been involved with the drama, I'm just there having a laugh, living the dream and being myself. I’m absolutely loving it.”
While Amy hasn’t changed, she’s still that positive, honest woman with that infectious giggle that we all love, she now has two children, Polly, four, and Ritchie, three, with her daughter joining her on the show.
“Every day she wakes up for school and she goes ‘Am I going to school or am I filming TOWIE today?’ and I go ‘Polly you're actually going to school today’...So after school they just get me and Polly together, she's only in a few little scenes with me.”
While Amy and her ex-partner agreed to keep their son Ritchie off of TV and social media, Polly makes regular appearances on the both. Was the 31-year-old worried about her four-year-old having more time in the spotlight?
“If Polly didn't love it I would never put her on there” says Amy, “but she absolutely loves it. She loves being with the cast, she has a laugh with me and we have fun. For me it's quite emotional, because it’s the show that made me popular and now I've got my little girl on there with me. It's such a surreal moment.”
On being a single parent
No longer with either Polly or Ritchie’s dad, Amy is a full time single mum which she juggles alongside her beauty business and filming for TOWIE.
“I have such amazing help from mum and dad, so I’m very lucky, but I’m very much an organised mum,” explains Amy, who says “routine” is what helps her manage mum duties and life.
“When you've got routine you know where you're at. Some mums don't like routine, but for me working and doing this by myself, I have to look at routine and now I’ve got an amazing one with the children. Even now, Polly's in bed by half seven, my little Ritchie's in bed by eight o'clock, I know what works for them and when they eat their dinner. It’s so important and for me, that’s what’s made it work.”
That’s not to say the mum-of-two wakes up feeling ready to take on the world every day and admits there’s been plenty of times where she just wants to pull the covers over her head and feels exhausted.
“Being a single mum or even when you have a partner it's still so bloody hard. Like not yesterday but the day before, Ritchie was up at half four in the morning and I was just thinking ‘I'm so tired, I'm so exhausted’, but you know what, when you're a mum you just get up and do it. I'm not going to lie to you, I’m knackered and usually in bed by nine o'clock, because the kids go to bed early, but there are some days where it gets tough and I do think ‘wow how have I done this today?’”
Parenting can take its toll on everyone, but something Amy says helps to keep her feeling “sane” is making sure she dedicates time to herself each day, even if it’s just five minutes, and staying connected with her friends.
“When the kids are in bed asleep I’ll have the girls over for a little glass of wine or maybe a cup of tea. I think it's so important when we're mums, that we're not just mums, so in the morning I always make half an hour for myself; I'll get on the Peleton for half an hour, I’ll then have my shower. That's why routine is important, because I like to have ‘me time’. I love being with the kids, but sometimes we just need five minutes to ourselves."
Despite staying social and having lots of friends, loneliness is also a feeling Amy admits she’s felt as a single parent.
“I used to meet mums and go to all these classes, because it gets lonely being a mum, it gets so lonely. I think that was really important and now I've got loads of mum friends. Some of them haven’t even been my friends for long, but I feel like they'll be my friends for life.”
“Being a single mum, or even when you have a partner, it's still so bloody hard"
If Amy isn’t feeling herself she’ll usually turn to her girlfriends and mum for support, but she can’t express the importance of single parents speaking out if they’re struggling.
“When I feel like I'm just not myself I ring the girls up, but my mum is such an amazing support. She helps me with the children and is always there for me. If she knows I'm having a bit of a tough day she'll pick Polly up for me, she’s so good. It's good to have a support network, but even if you haven't got friends or family around you, then just talk to someone, because I think it's better talking to someone than noone.”
Taking care of her mental health is something Amy’s also very passionate about, which she likes to do through exercise and reading.
“I try to go to the gym three times a week in between filming. I bought myself a Peloton and the minute I get on that and burn like 300 calories I feel amazing, I feel like I'm ready for the day. I also have the Mind Space app, so I just chill out and put it on, I watch a little bit of TV and I love reading, reading switches me off completely.”
Dating as a single parent
For single parents, meeting a new partner can be tricky and can even conjure up feelings of guilt, but Amy advises just getting out there and not feeling like you can’t have fun.
“D’ya know what I feel like when you're a mum people are like ‘wow you're a mum you can't enjoy yourself’, but no, I'm a mum twenty four seven, I'm an amazing mum, a full time mum, so what if we have a couple of hours on a date? Enjoy yourself, get treated, get wined and dined you're not doing anything wrong and you still need to live your life. Just go out and enjoy it, that's what I say and even if you don't want to date, enjoy yourself with girls, because you never know who you're going to meet.”
The Only Way is Essex continues Sunday at 9pm on ITVBe & the ITV Hub