Two hours. That’s how much uninterrupted sleep I managed to get the night before I was due to interview Marina Fogle, the bright-eyed, bouncy-haired wife of TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle about her latest venture, a babysitting app.
Mum to two adorable kids – Ludo, seven, and Iona, six – an author and co-founder of ante-natal course The Bump Class, Marina appears to have this motherhood thing licked.
Whereas I – itchy-eyed and dull-haired thanks to the lost sleep of breastfeeding and co-founder of a house that looks like a tip with a dishwasher stuffed to the gunnels with dirty dishes because I forgot to buy the tablets, don’t.
There’s nothing like someone apparently winning at life to exacerbate feelings of failing at your own, so if I’m totally honest it was with some effort that I put on a bright smile and mustered up the energy to interview Marina over the phone.
Why all mums deserve a break, by Marina Fogle
The latest string to Marina’s bow is bubble, an app which uses social and community networks to enable parents to find and book babysitters trusted by their friends at the touch of a button.
All babysitters are identity and criminal records checked and you can pay them via the app, so there’s no need to have cash to hand, plus you can book them at the last minute. Think Uber but for babysitters.
“If your husband comes home on a Friday night and says he fancies going out for pizza you can do it,” Marina told me. “There’s no need to check if family are available and arrange it all in advance, you can just go.”
Which you have to admit does sound appealing.
The thing is though, although we’ve gone on holiday without the kids and we do treat ourselves to the occasional mini break, we’ve never left our three with anyone but family and friends. Leaving them with a stranger seems a bit, well, indulgent.
But Marina said: “It’s really important to have a bit of time out. You might think ‘I’m going to be a full-time mum, I shouldn’t need any help’ but your previous job wasn’t 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Everybody needs a break. I don’t think it’s indulgent to have time out, it’s a necessity.”
It was at this point in the interview I began to understand why Marina has made parenting her niche. She’s clearly passionate about her subject and although I was supposed to be the one interviewing her our call felt like a form of therapy with her telling me why I should be making time for me. She was saying things I needed to hear.
And she’s also quite right: time out is a necessity.
“Of course having a baby is lovely but three months in you’re at home doing menial stuff like sterilising bottles and emptying the dishwasher and you’re largely doing it on your own. There’s no-one to talk to – parenting can be really lonely,” says Marina.
Indeed a recent survey by One Poll found 22% of parents report feeling isolated and cut off from friends and family, 17% feel frustrated and 12% feel resentful and wished they had a bit more freedom.
“I remember going to Ludo’s first nativity play and looking round at all the children,” Marina told me. “You can’t tell which ones were born by cesarean or which ones were born in water, but you can tell which ones are happy. Investing in yourself and your relationship is the best thing you can do for your child.”
I hadn’t thought about it like that before, but she’s right.
“Having a child doesn’t give you a glue or bond meaning you’ll always stay together,” she says. “It’s almost like they’re born with a pick axe and start chopping away at you. And when communication stops it’s very hard to start it again.”
“When you have time out you’re reminded why you fell in love in the first place. It recalibrates that.”
Which is what bubble is all about.
“Most people are good people and this is about being put in touch with them,” Marina says. “I remember the first time I used bubble – I thought: ‘should I get her to come half an hour early?’ You know when you just know with someone, well the moment she walked through the door I knew it would be fine. The kids were asleep and all we really needed was someone to be there. I remember shutting the door of my house and thinking ‘this is amazing’.”
It certainly sounds amazing.
And just what I, in my itchy-eyed, dull-haired state, need.
Do you leave your children with a babysitter in order to have much-needed time out? Have you used the bubble app, and if not, would you? I’d love to hear your thoughts!