The Duchess of Cambridge may have help from her live-in nanny and her mother Carole Middleton, but the royal has admitted that raising children is no easy feat. During an engagement on Wednesday morning, Kate empathised with a group of mothers, admitting: "Parenting is tough."
Stepping out just two days after her 35th birthday, the Duchess called on an organisation close to her heart, the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, of which she is patron. She visited the centre's Early Years Parenting Unit in Holloway, north London and when asked if she was braced to spend the morning with under fives, Kate smiled, saying: "I did just leave a room of six under threes."
Prince George and Princess Charlotte's mum learnt about how the centre supports families who have children under five years old. Her visit marked her continued desire to draw attention to child mental health issues and the importance of early intervention.
She wore a blue Eponine London coat, showing off her elegant style on her first official royal engagement of the year.
Kate wore a blue Eponine dress
Kate was told about an assessment and treatment programme on offer to parents with personality disorders – often the result of abuse, trauma and addiction in their families. She met parents who had completed the programme and heard about their experiences of what bought them to the unit, and where they are in their lives now.
She praised a group of mothers, saying: "With the history and all the things and the experiences you've all witnessed, to do that on top of your own anxieties, and the lack of support you also received as mothers... I find it extraordinary how you've managed actually. So really well done."
She heard from one mother who was trafficked from Nigeria, and had not wanted her son when she was pregnant. "I got depressed really badly," the mum said, revealing that she and her little boy have a much better relationship after her treatment programme.
The Duchess also watched a 'theraplay' session which promotes the attachment relationship between parents and children.
Her last part of the engagement focused on another of the centre's services, the Parent Infant Psychotherapy programme. The service supports expecting and new parents, acknowledging the need to understand and to make sense of the impact that the baby has on the parent and vice-versa.
One little boy, 18-month-old Le'Jaun, was taken by Kate. His mum Amber, 19, said, "What's this strange woman?" as her son stared at the Duchess. "I don't think the work that is done here is publicised enough," said Amber, who has been receiving treatment at the centre for four months to help her cope with anxiety attacks.
The Duchess continued to champion her mental health cause
Kate, who was making her second visit to the centre since becoming patron in May last year, will continue her day of engagements in London with a visit to the Child Bereavement UK Centre in Stratford. She will join Prince William in celebrating the centre's one-year anniversary.
William and Kate will be introduced to local professionals and volunteers who work at the service, before meeting families and children who have been supported by the charity. The couple will attend one of the charity's Family Support Group sessions where children, their parents, and carers can meet other families to explore themes of memories, feelings, support networks and resilience.