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Lily Allen says her children 'ruined her career' – it's the opposite for me

Can mums have it all? HELLO!'s Parenting Editor shares her motherhood and career journey…

Lily Allen attends the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival Chanel Arts Dinner
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
16 March 2024
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Popstar and mum-of-two Lily Allen has admitted that having her daughters ruined her career, and many mums will understand where she's coming from.

The singer, now 38, shares her children, Ethel Mary, 11, and Marnie Rose, nine, with ex-husband Sam Cooper, made the surprising revelation on the Radio Times podcast, explaining: "I love them and they complete me, but in terms of pop stardom, they totally ruined it."

Lily Allen smouldering in a close-up photo © Vittorio Zunino Celotto
Lily Allen is a mum-of-two

Lily said she put her singing career on the backburner to spend time raising her daughters after she felt her own parents were "quite absent" during her childhood. She said she is glad she made the decision to concentrate on her children.

"I get really annoyed when people say you can have it all because, quite frankly, you can't," she added.

Lily Allen and husband David Harbour© Dia Dipasupil
Lily Allen and husband David Harbour

While a lot of mums will have experienced the same lifestyle shift, my story is quite different, and I can honestly say that without my children, I would not be doing the job I am today, which I love.

I'm a 45-year-old mum of two children aged 10 and 13 and work as HELLO!'s Parenting Editor part-time. I'm very lucky to have the fulfilling and exciting job I do, but I've also worked hard to get here.

Before I had my first child at age 32, I was working as a Celebrity Writer at a national women's magazine. Life was fast-paced and fun with interesting events and interviews, and a busy social life. Then two years after getting married, I fell pregnant and life changed for a while.

When I was a child, my mum stayed home to look after my brother and I while my dad worked long days.

Back then, that was pretty standard amongst my friends' parents, and I admit, I loved having my mum around. When we got a little older, she worked part time, and bar one evening a week, she was still at home for us before and after school.

I wanted the same for my children, so when they were little I took six years off my career to be a stay-at-home mum.

It was a happy time, and I'm aware how lucky I was that we could afford this choice financially, however, it was also seriously hard work and you really do feel all the emotions caring for babies and toddlers full-time.

HELLO!'s Parenting Editor and her daughter
HELLO!'s Parenting Editor and her daughter

When my son was six and my daughter was four starting school, I went back to work.

It was tough – the journalism landscape had totally changed in the years I'd been 'off' and I vividly remember meeting up with my best friend for a crisis meeting on 'teach Sophie social media'. It's hilarious now but I'd really been living in a baby bubble.

At first, I worked when the kids were at school or on weekends. It was so good getting back to the career I loved, and I felt more like me again.

I've worked at HELLO! since 2017 and during that time have moved from Weekend Writer to Lifestyle writer to Parenting Editor. I know without a doubt that being a mum has helped me do my job, as I can relate to the people I interview and our parent readers.

Of course, you don't have to be a parent to do my role as long as you have an interest in the subject area, but for me, it's the perfect position.

Did I lose earnings having six years away from my career to be with my children when they were little? Yes. I wouldn't change it though. If I hadn't chosen the path I did, I wouldn't be doing the job I do now.

Special times with my children© Instagram
Special times with my children

Lily Allen says mums can't have it all. For her, with an international pop career touring the world, I imagine it is pretty tough to give her all to both her job and her children. It sounds unbelievably full on.

Do I have it all? I really don't know, but I balance those two areas of my life, children and work, as best I can.

I give as much as I can to my career in the hours that I have, and I hope I do a good job. I don't apologise for being a mum, instead embracing it and I try to make motherhood a proud part of my work.

Likewise, I'm happy I am at home for my children most mornings and afternoons. If they want a friend over, that's fine. If I need to give them a lift, I can. School plays, sports days and parents' evenings are a priority and always will be. I don't want them to look back on their life and think 'my parents weren't around'.

I also want to be a role model for my children, to show my daughter that if you work hard, you can have a career you enjoy. I don't want her to think 'all I can ever do is stay home'. If she wants to be home with her children, then amazing, because her happiness is the important thing, but if she wants to work too or not have children, that's also ok.

For my son, I want him to see that mums are not just there to be a taxi and snack service (parents, you know what I'm saying). He needs to know that women can work if they want; they have career dreams to chase too.

Let's not forget about health. Health-wise I know what my limits are. I know when I do too much and get exhausted, and when I'm like that I'm no use to anyone; self-care is so important and us mums with careers need to look after ourselves.

Speaking of which, it's about time the term 'working mums' went in the bin. Do we ever say 'working dads'? No, because we assume dads work. Let's just say mums and dads. I recently interviewed the lovely Oti Mabuse who made the exact same point – Oti, I'm with you on this one.

To Lily Allen, I completely understand where you're coming from. Kids and careers sometimes go together and sometimes don't – it depends on what your line of work is.

I've been fortunate to find a role that suits my role as a mum and a journalist. I've also got amazing bosses who support part-time flexible working hours and champion mums in the workplace.

You might find it surprising that in the busy media world, it's possible to find a manageable work-mum balance, but times are changing and 2024 is so much more about wellbeing and inclusivity than ever before. You don't necessarily have to choose between career and motherhood.

I hope that in the future 'having it all' isn't the desired goal for women, but rather finding the mum-career balance that suits you.

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