Mother and Baby

Luisa Zissman opens up about mum shaming, competitive parents and how to raise independent women

Section: Celebrity Mums

Gruelling jockey trials, homemade (and jel-inducing!) grazing brunches and co-host of the brilliant bi-weekly podcast Loose Lips, Luisa Zissman is always on the go. 

"I never really have much downtime" Luisa admits to Mother&Baby, "I like being busy, I don't like sitting down watching TV, I never watch TV!" 

The former-Apprentice star is mum of three to daughters Dixie, Indigo and Clementine.  

We chat to Luisa to talk about mum shaming, parenting styles and the dreaded G-word... 

Don't compare yourself to anyone

"That's the worst thing you can do I think. Go with the flow and do what feels right for you and your child. Competitive parenting is just a waste of time and emotion!" 

Children don't die from crying 

"I think it was my mum who said that also a couple of nannies I've had have said when I've been anxious. If you need to take a couple of minutes, then take a couple of minutes! They'll still be there. I think we jump quite quickly and sometimes we don't always need to."

I'm quite routine-lead as a mum

"I very much do my own thing and do what feels right for me. I've always done what I want to do. I don't really take much advice off people. I'm quite confident, I guess in being a mum. I think that's important, to know that you know what's right for you and your child. 

"Generally, as a person, I'm quite a confident person and in my own ability. The only time I lack confidence is actually just after I've had the baby and I'm not feeling like myself, that's when it always gives me a bit of a wobble. Every time I have a baby I'm like, "Oh god, who am I?!" 

"Generally, just know that everything is always going to be ok, Everyday is a new day. I'm quite routine-lead as a mum and that's the only way I survive!"

What I say, goes!

"My parenting style is fun, but firm and very much encouraging independence in the children. I don't mollycoddle at all, no mollycoddling, no pandering to crying. Very much what I say, goes.

Then trying not to back down too much, because I just think if you give an inch, they take a mile. With that, it sounds quite strict and rigid, when actually we have fun!

"We dance around the kitchen to Disney, I want childhood to be magical. I want them to grow up and think 'Oh my god, we had the best childhood!' I don't want them to be stressed and anxious, I just want them to always have fun and really be confident, young women when they grow up, it's a big thing for me." ​

I'm a very miserable pregnant person 

"I really really do not enjoy being pregnant at all! It's quite possibly the worst thing I could ever do to myself. It's painful, I'm a very miserable pregnant person. I basically don't cope well with it at all. Sickness and the fact it's quite limiting for me to be pregnant because I'm very active and I find I can't be as active as I want to be when I'm pregnant. It's a sad time!

"You just have to know that there is an end, but the end seems very far away. Definitely no pregnancy glow! I don't know who invented the pregnancy glow thing, I think they made that up..."

I didn't predict how popular Loose Lips would be 

"It's so lovely we have a cult following, people really love the podcast. I don't think Anna (Williamson) and I predicted it would be that popular. I think it's popular because we're very blunt, we're quite brutal and very honest about ourselves. Neither of us pretends to be something we're not, we're open about our lives.... the bad and the ugly. I think it's just refreshing and funny and very, very relatable."

People call me selfish 

"I've had a lot of mum shaming as a lot of things I decide to do with my children are not a popular choice. I didn't breastfeed, I bottle fed, I have let them cry it out, I've left them, so I've come across a lot of mum shaming.

"You know what, I know what's right for me. In some ways, I think that more mums need to be more selfish because if you're happy as a person your kids will be happy.

"I know for me, that breastfeeding, I tried to do it with my first and it made me absolutely miserable, I completely blame breastfeeding for my postnatal depression. So, I didn't do it with my other two. People call me selfish, but they don't go to school and tick a box saying whether they were breastfed or not. It makes absolutely no difference. I just think, being confident and having conviction in your decisions. It comes down to doing what's right for you and your family.

"If something isn't right for you, then don't do it. People are like, 'Oh my god, you've done controlled crying, your kids are going to be emotionally and mentally scarred'. I've got a nine-year-old, I did control crying with her, I did sleep training with her.

"She's the most well-rounded, confident, mature young lady out of her peers in school, which made me sure of myself when I had the other two and what to do with them."

It's important for my girls to have a good role model 

"I think it's completely normal and natural for all mums to at some point experience mum guilt. I think nowadays we are pulled in so many different directions, with work life is busier. social life is busier and playdates... life just seems busier and faster paced. This week for me workwise it's a bit mad. But they don't really care as much as I care!

"So, I think just remember why you are doing things. It's important for me, for instance, to go to work for me and my mental state. It's good for me to have something, I'm a high achiever I suppose, so I always have to be achieving something. I think it's important for my girls to see that, as much as I love being at home and I'll always be cooking for everyone and the house is always nice.

"I think it's important for my girls to have a good role model of a working mum. So that lessens my mum guilt, knowing that actually, I'm setting a good example for them to be independent young women. I think we overindulge them sometimes and it's actually to their detriment. 

"We all suffer mum guilt but if I didn't have time with my husband, what would our relationship look like? It probably wouldn't be as happy and as calm and as easy, because we would be with our kids 24/7. I think it's important to realise that you need time, so that breaks the mum guilt for me."

Luisa Zissman is training to be a jockey as part of the Magnolia Cup Charity Race which is taking place at Goodwood this August and will be raising funds for the Wellbeing of Woman charity

Luisa Zissman and Anna Williamson host the popular podcast Loose Lips, new episode every Monday and Thursday

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  • Author: Aimee Jakes Aimee Jakes
  • Job Title: Shopping and Community Editor

Aimee is the Shopping and Community Editor at Bauer Media where she works on fitness, fashion and beauty content across a number of titles such as heat, Closer and Grazia.

Her hobbies include truffle mac and cheese, Class Pass and relentlessly checking (and scolding!) the weather app.

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