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Zara Tindall's guide to parenting: 7 tips the royal swears by

The Queen's granddaughter shares Mia and Lena with husband Mike

Nichola Murphy

Zara Tindall and her husband Mike may be permanently in the public eye as members of the royal family, but the down-to-earth couple doesn't let that impact how they raise their children.

The pair are mum and dad to two daughters: Mia, six, and Lena, two, both of whom are growing up to be close to their family, including their cousins Savannah and Isla. So what parenting rules do Zara and Mike follow? We take a look... 

MORE: 18 unusual royal baby names and their secret meanings

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WATCH: Mike Tindall shares glimpse of garden as his children play

Encourage competitiveness

With an Olympic equestrian and a former English rugby union player as parents, it's no surprise that Mia and Lena are encouraged to enjoy a bit of healthy competition. On Joe's House of Rugby podcast, Mike recently revealed his eldest daughter is already showing a keen interest in sport, and he is trying to make the six-year-old youngster "more competitive" by refusing to let her win. 

Over the Christmas period, Mike was pictured teaching Mia how to surf in Australia before he raced her to the shore. Fellow co-host and good friend James Haskell observed how Mike "flat out beat" his daughter, but Mike defended his actions, explaining: "[I'm] trying to make her more competitive is what I was trying to do." 

Pets help them learn

Both of Zara's children have shown an interest in horse riding, even at a really young age. The Queen's granddaughter told Australian publication Now to Love: "They both ride. Lena is in a little basket on the saddle, purely a passenger. But we just bought Mia a new pony called Magic."

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Mia and Lena have both inherited their love of horses from mum Zara!

And while Mike said pets provide lots of learning opportunities for children, he maintained they would let their daughters make her own choices. "I love that they have the opportunity of working with animals, being outside, all the traditions that you learn with treating an animal - looking after your stuff, looking after the animals and learning good balance, all those skills you learn - but I think Mia will probably want to do her own thing anyway," he told Now to Love.

They should choose their own career path

Zara and Mike both have exciting respective careers, and any parent would be flattered to see their children take an interest in their passions and follow in their footsteps. However, Zara has plainly stated that she would prefer their children to choose their own career path. "I'm going to keep [Mia] away from horses and rugby," she joked to The Telegraph in 2014.

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Mia enjoys many sports, including horse riding, football and tag rugby

Since Mia and Lena both already seem to love horses, we imagine riding and rugby are still encouraged as hobbies, especially considering the sports would improve their athletic abilities. Their dad said: "If I was completely honest, I would really like Mia to go for tag rugby because I think it's fantastic for body awareness, athletic ability and just a general all-round hand-eye coordination."

Family time is important

Not only are Zara, Mike and their two daughters a close-knit family-of-four, but the royals have also ensured Mia and Lena spend lots of time with their extended family, too. The little girls are often pictured with their cousins Savannah and Isla, including at events such as the Festival of British Eventing in August 2019 where they shared many cheeky moments

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Savannah and Lena spent quality time together at the Festival of British Eventing

Meanwhile, both Zara and her brother Peter Phillips live on the Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire, so their close proximity means their daughters can also enjoy going for rides together. Mike explained: "She's going through that period where she thinks she knows what to do so we have someone teaching her. Her cousins, Savannah and Isla, and Zara's brother, Peter Phillips, all ride as well and they go riding together."

School gives them structure

Mia recently returned to school following the coronavirus pandemic and her parents appeared to be pleased they were no longer responsible for homeschooling her. Mike told the Telegraph that homeschooling his eldest had been "nice but also frustrating". "Zara still has hopes that the horses will get back, they still need training and working on, so I get to be a teacher in the mornings which is sometimes really nice, sometimes really frustrating," he shared. "I don't think any child is a great home schooler because they definitely listen to other people better than they listen to their parents!"

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Mike revealed Mia is not afraid to speak her mind

Let them speak their mind

Zara's six-year-old is not afraid to speak her mind, according to dad Mike. Speaking to England women's national rugby union player Jess Breach on Joe's House of Rugby podcast, the former rugby star joked that Jess' tales of being a naughty student reminded him of his daughter.

"I think I got easily swayed," Jess told him and his co-stars. "I would not be afraid to speak my mind. So my friends would be like, 'say this', and I would and then have to go stand outside." Laughing at her recollection, Mike replied: "I definitely should introduce you to my daughter, I think she's heading that way!" When his co-star Alex Payne asked him if there were "problems in that department", Mike simply responded: "Freedom of speech!"

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Zara admitted she struggled to juggle work and parenting

Set an example of a good work ethic

Just like the Duchess of Cambridge, Zara has admitted to feeling mum guilt while juggling work with being a parent. In December, the 39-year-old revealed she feels bad leaving her young daughters when she and Mike are both away for work at the same time. Speaking to Now to Love, the Queen's granddaughter said: "If I'm away and Mike's here I don't feel guilty, whereas if we're both away then I feel much more guilty."

However, with her busy work schedule, it would be impossible to be at home all the time. The short breaks away from her children can be seen as encouraging a strong work ethic and portraying the message that parents can maintain their own careers with children. 

READ: Mike Tindall reveals romantic wedding anniversary plans with wife Zara