Louise Pentland on her new book Mumlife, her childhood and managing screen time

Louise Pentland

by Stephanie Anthony |

Following the release of her fifth book, Mumlife, we caught up with Louise Pentland to find out how life has been after releasing her more personal book and to talk to her more about how her upbringing has impacted her as a mum.

If you’ve read Mumlife, you’ll know how the lovely Louise opens up about her tough childhood. From the death of her mother when she was just 7, to being abused, Louise’s story takes you on a journey of emotions, so it’s no surprise that the response to her book has been so overwhelming for the mum of two.

‘It’s been a crazy month. I really thought this book was just going to be a very gentle fluff book. It all started because I finished the Wilde books and I didn't have another idea for another fiction. So, I said to my publishers, perhaps I'll just write a nonfiction about motherhood and that'll be lovely.'

Buy now: Robin Wilde Books Collection Set By Louise Pentland

'The more I got into it, the more I realised, to write about the kind of mother I am, I need to write about the kind of mothers I've had. My mum died when I was little and then my dad brought a woman into my life who was very abusive, and all of those things really shape you as a person. So, I ended up putting all these experiences in the book and it was a bit cathartic for me. Almost like a therapy session.'

'I’ve had so many people reach out to me, and not just mothers. People have said that they've gone through similar things or that they've taken strength from reading that somebody else has survived those experiences. So, it's been pretty lovely.

'I've been writing books now for five or six years, this is my fifth. And this is the one I've had the most feedback on. I thought this would be just be like a little filler book to fill in the gap before my next proper book. But this one's been a bit of a dark horse, which has been amazing. It was also in the bestseller charts for two weeks! I also got to record the audio book myself, which is the first time I've done that, which was really nice to just have it so much more personal.'

As her first, more personal book, Louise found the writing process more difficult than her previous books.

‘Before writing the book, I thought this will be so easy. It'll be really nice to write it all down, but it wasn't easy or nice. I just basically ate my bodyweight in chocolate buttons and cried and had a lot of bubble baths. Liam, my fiance is so lovely, and was really supportive and also, just having my own girls just so that I could cuddle them was very healing.

'I think it’s so important to talk about these things because I'm not alone in that. Bereavement isn't individual to just me. Child abuse is such an important topic today because it's still taboo. No one talks about it, people turn away from it and say, it's not my it's not my place to say something. I've recently become an ambassador for the NSPCC as this is really important to me. People always say this classic line, but it's true. Even if one person read my book and said, I think the girl next door is going through that, I'm going to say something and that girl next door got out of that situation, then it was the right choice to share my story.’

'My experiences make me much more grateful as a mother because I'm grateful for all the time we have. I'm just so aware that you never know when your time's up, which again, is so morbid, but it's so true. My mum died when she was 37 and I was only 7. So I cherish the moments and we make memories. Even in lockdown when we’ve not been able to do big, wild days out, we instead cherish all the little moments, have an attitude of gratitude, and that's something anybody can do. You don't have to have had something horrific happen to you to really change your mindset.'

'I recently heard a psychologist say "change the word got to get". So instead of I've got to do bath time, change it to I get to do bath time and I get to have that time with my children. It's that sort of mindset that's just shifted slightly because my childhood so rubbish I might say well, now we get to have a great one.'

In the book, Louise also talks openly about her experiences as a single mum, so we asked her what advice she might have for single mums that may not have a mum of their own to help out with childcare.

'First of all, if anyone reading is a single mum without a mum, hang in there because you're doing better than you think you're doing. And, and in my life, I've always found other mums have helped me a lot. Also aunties or nice neighbours, or family members. I spend literally half my life online. And you know, they say it takes a village – for me, Instagram, and Facebook and YouTube, but mostly Instagram is my digital village, there's so much support out there for you. And if you look for it, sometimes I just search a hashtag, like, I didn't know #bedtimehack, I'll search that. And there's so much information out there. So now more than ever, we've got more information than we've ever had. And that has its downsides of course, but you can do it, but I do take my hat off to single parents because it is, it's a slog.'

If you’re a fan of Louise and her books, we have good news as Louise has revealed she is currently writing another book so watch this space!

Buy now: Mumlife

Another project Louise has been working on recently is the Google Family Safety campaign to help get parents and kids to have a healthier relationship with their screens.

‘Darcy, my nine year old obviously is now getting into tablets and computers and screen time. But you've got to be so careful because obviously, just having an Instagram has its highs and lows, and there are dangers to the internet. I want her to be able to enjoy the internet without being frightened, to have really great digital wellbeing and a good attitude to it and understand it. So I partnered with Google, which was amazing. And they have a game which teaches you all about online safety and boundaries and limits and little tips like you know, who would you give your password to. We also have a family link app, which is the best if you’re a mum or dad or carer because it links their tablet activity to your phone. So I can be on my phone and I can be like, right, you've had an hour of screen time this morning. That's enough and I can switch off a screen from my phone. It just helps you have a bit more control to help them have a really, really great level of digital wellbeing, and to use the internet safely and healthily.

Read more: What is Kiddle?

'I feel nervous about the day they ask for social media accounts because having been so involved in social media, I have the seen dark side. Every social media platform does have static safety settings so you can put restrictions on and you can block things, you just have to spend a bit of time getting to know them or working out what you need to do. The important thing is just have communication open all the time and not make children feel embarrassed to talk about anything that they’ve seen. Just keep that communication open and talk about it like it's the real world because for children the online world is the same as the real world – they've never had a time like we have where we can remember what it was like before the internet.'

  • If you're concerned about your child's relationship with their tablet, you can find more guidance from Google here.

Louise is involved with Google’s Summer of Little Wins campaign to help parents look after their families digital wellbeing over the summer holidays. Follow #SummerOfLittleWins on Instagram

What one piece of advice would you give to your younger pregnant self?

'Sit down more and rest! And in the first week of having your baby, don't have every visitor round in the first week, just spend that week for you. And like very, very nearest and dearest and get to know your baby. With Darcey, everyone come over and I felt overwhelmed, tired of it. And then with Pearl, I learned my lesson. I just really politely messaged everyone and put it on Facebook.'

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