Star of TV, radio and the West End, Denise has added her voice to a new campaign to encourage confidence in little ones. Here, she talks about life as a mum to Betsy, five, her daughter with Lee Mead
Betsy’s becoming more confident every day. When she was younger she had a tendency to be a little bit shy, like all kids. Her dad and I do everything we can to help boost her confidence but we do it in small ways. For example, if we go to the cinema, I’ll ask her if she wants to go collect the tickets from the lady at the desk and say thank you. Giving her little jobs to do like that gets her used to chatting to people, rather than have us do everything for her.
We chat about her day and it’s my chance to see if she’s happy
She’s just started school – reception class – and I put time aside to sit with her after she comes home. We chat about her day and it’s my chance to see if she’s happy and find out what she’s been doing and who she’s friends with. It’s easy enough when your kids get home to go ‘there’s your dinner’ and not talk but a chat before bedtime is the best way to learn about any worries or insecurities they may have.
Five is such a delightful age. She’s such a little sweetheart. She’s been away for a few days camping with her dad this week and I’ve really missed her.
It’s not something we’ve pushed her to do, but she does like to sing! She can definitely hold a tune and she sings along in the car and I’ll think ‘wow, she’s got a great voice for her age’.
Being a mum is the best. It’s so much fun and exceeded all my expectations
Being a mum is the best. It’s so much fun and exceeded all my expectations. There are times when it’s tricky and hard work, and of course I’m a working mum so I feel terribly guilty about not always being around. All my working mum friends say the same. It’s mums in general, we all feel guilt. I have friends who are stay-at-home mums and they feel guilty that they’re not working and doing more but I believe there’s no right or wrong. Each to their own.
When it comes to parenting style, I’d say I’m a little bit strict. I’m always fair, and I think discipline is important. Betsy is definitely not a spoilt child but she gets to do lovely things. I’m conscious of the fact that she’s a little bit luckier growing up than I was: my parents couldn’t afford holidays abroad and Betsy gets to do those things. So I always make sure she understands that this is why Mummy goes out to work and works really hard, so she knows that things aren’t handed to us on a plate.
Our quality time is going for a nice walk and feeding the ducks in the park
Betsy and I like to do really simple things together. Our quality time is going for a nice walk and feeding the ducks in the park. I hope that when she’s older she can look back and remember the places she went with her mum, the fun times at the playground. I’ve got a little vegetable garden at my home in Kent and we plant vegetables together and potter around.
I wanted to support the DryNites campaign because it’s about giving children confidence, especially through the night. All kids have accidents and it can be embarrassing for them. My daughter’s been through the bedwetting phase and it’s about making sure they’re confident in themselves to discuss it and not feel embarrassed and know it’s really common. And parents should feel reassured too: don’t be worried, it’s perfectly normal. Confidence in kids is so important: they should feel happy to speak up and have an open, honest relationship with their parents, family and friends.
Denise van Outen is fronting the DryNites® Confident Kids 24/7 campaign which aims to provide parents with helpful tools and advice to boost their child's confidence and overcome challenges such as bedwetting. For more information visit drynites.co.uk