From getting to grips with her new balance bike to spending time in the sunshine with Ola, three-year-old Ella was bursting with excitement to tell HELLO! about her plans for the day as she enjoys her summer away from nursery. See the mini star's impressive balancing skills in the exclusive clip below.
In this week's column, Ola opens up about how Ella copes while James is away and shares her experience with 'mum guilt' as the couple navigate their toddler's break from school.
Ella's confidence grows by the day
HELLO! gets an unexpected surprise when someone other than James or Ola answers the family phone…
Ella: Hi, how are you? Nice weather today!
HELLO!: Hi Ella! What are you up to today?
Ella: I'm going on my balance bike, but I also have a pedal bike and a scooter. I always have to wear my helmet.
Ola: [Laughing] Ella's very sporty you see! She's very into her bikes and scooters and climbing, she loves it all. Her climbing frame has a fireman pole attached to it and she can't get enough of it, she's impressed us so much with her strength.
Ella: I've got big muscles because I eat my dinner! And I'm getting very tall.
Ola: She's really chatty this morning as you can see… I currently have one of her baby dolls sitting next to me.
Ella: I'm her mummy and you're her daddy - tell her I'm coming back for her, I'm just going to play on my bike!
Ella heads out to play in the garden by herself…
Ola: She really is turning into such a chatterbox. She's so sweet. Although everything is 'why this?' and 'why that mummy?' or 'how does this work?'. I love seeing things through her eyes.
Ola opens up about 'mum guilt'
Ola: Ella is so good when James is away. Obviously she still has her tantrums and meltdowns, but she's only a toddler so I think it's quite normal for young kids her age while they're learning to control their emotions. She does that whether he's here or not!
We've had a lot of work done on the house recently which has been quite disruptive for her. I spent the whole day tidying up the mess yesterday, but she was so well behaved.
I'm sure so many parents can relate to the feeling I've had during Ella's summer holidays. It's so hard sometimes because she needs to be entertained all the time. She's only little, so she does get bored and she needs her mind stimulated - but it can be difficult for James and I to give that if we have to work or run errands as you do! Ella hasn't quite grasped the fact that she's on her school holidays yet.
I've experienced so much guilt on the days where I can't take Ella out for the day, I often feel regret that I didn't take her on her bike, or take her swimming, or that she's bored. We physically can't entertain her all the time though. I know we're only doing our best and she has everything she needs and more, but that 'guilt' still creeps up on you! I'd love to know how our readers who have experienced those feelings cope with that.
When Ella goes to nursery, she has so much to do all day and she comes home completely exhausted. She's writing, reading, painting and playing pretty much all day, so when she's off nursery it's hard to keep up that level of entertainment for the full six weeks. I just want to keep her happy, but luckily she is really understanding. She let me clean all day yesterday and was perfectly happy playing by herself.
I feel so lucky that I don't have a 9-5 job and can work from home. Ella is growing up so quick and I'm so grateful I don't have to miss out on her growing up. I would really hate to miss those special memories, it's something I feel lucky for every day.
Ella's fussy eating on dinner dates with mum and dad
Ola: I've noticed that Ella can be such a fussy eater sometimes, but it's more with texture rather than taste. Have any of our readers experienced that?
James and I took her for dinner the other day and she got her favourite - spaghetti bolognese. However, the restaurant had put the dish in the oven to crisp up the cheese and it had made the pasta go slightly hard; Ella hated it! Even though it tasted exactly the same as we make it at home, she was spitting it out and saying: "Mummy this is disgusting!"
At the end of the day, it's easier to give her what she wants rather than let her go to bed hungry. She's brilliant when we're on holiday, though. She loved trying new fish and flavours she hadn't tasted before when we were away.
Ella's return to nursery next month
HELLO!: Is Ella looking forward to going back to nursery?
Ola: I think she is! She keeps talking about how she misses her best friend from nursery, so we're going to arrange a playdate with her soon. I am expecting Ella to find the first few days back quite hard though, she gets very upset especially after spending so much time with James and I. But I know she'll be fine once she sees her friends again.
HELLO!: Remind us, how did you find it when Ella started nursery for the first time?
Ola: I was really emotional, nobody can prepare you for how that felt. When I dropped her off for the first time I just remember her screaming after me saying: "Mummy I want you!" The teachers told us to drop her and go, because if you hang around it can make it worse. But she never stopped crying - it was heartbreaking!
I called James in the car and he thought I'd had a car accident because I couldn't get my words out. It was the first time we left her with people we don't really know and it took a while to build that trust up.
Luckily, she absolutely loves it there now and her separation anxiety has got so much better.
For more Ola, listen to her podcast episode with HELLO! about her IVF journey, saying goodbye to Strictly and the wake-up call that made her re-evaluate her lifestyle...