Candice Brathwaite: Modern motherhood, back to school prep and diversity in media

candice brathwaite

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

As a bestselling author, TV presenter, founder of Make Motherhood Diverse, and mum of two, Candice Brathwaite is an inspiration to many mothers. Along with looking at those back to school essentials, we caught up with her to chat about the challenges of modern motherhood, fears over sending kids back to school and packed lunch dilemmas.

The challenges of parenting

When it comes to the challenges of parenting, personally my main challenge is not to throw my trauma onto my kids. It's important for me to remember that I am raising them in a completely different environment to which I was raised, and the things that trigger me, they don’t even understand.

It was hard for me growing up, I would go to my friends’ fridge and not ask for certain foods because I just knew my family didn’t have it like that.

Esmé’s favourite food is seabass. When she asks for it a part of me always wants to go ‘do you know how lucky you are?’ and then I remember my therapist telling me ‘yeah that person has to be quiet’, because that is not Esmé’s childhood.

She’s like, ‘ah no but you bought me seabass before’ so this is just the natural expectation. I can’t sit there and judge her for what she thinks of as normal.

I don’t ever want my kids to feel like they owe me, if that makes sense. That would make me feel really bad; you don’t owe me – I chose to have you and you chose me as your mum. So I’m just trying to work really hard so that I don’t push any of the things that I’ve had to work through onto them.

Modern motherhood

The modern world is a different world to the one I grew up in. As to whether it is a better and more positive world, from a personal perspective I would say yes completely. In our home anyway.

I would say that in the world, everything has changed, especially in terms of the internet and social media. This is just the way the world is now. Part of modern motherhood is having to encourage my children to use their devices because you want them to learn, but also help them understand that there are not so nice people out there that they need be aware of and cautious of.

Then there are some things that haven’t changed one bit. I’m doing a campaign with the vitamin company Haliborange at the moment on healthy eating and they’ve made these recipe cards for lunchboxes, and it’s really funny because when I think back, my grandad – he raised me – always used to sit me on this wooden stool and give me my vitamins in the morning. Now I find myself doing the same with my kids, and I’m not going to lie I do gobble two myself sometimes.

It’s really nostalgic to be repeating that behaviour with my children.

The older I get the more I realise you’re just on some kind of loop. I think the hope is that for every bad bit in that loop you learn something, so then when these things come around again you handle it in a different way.

Diversity in motherhood

I’m really grateful to be asked to work with brands in this way. It’s the root of my entire career. I started a platform called Make Motherhood Diverse, where I asked for there to be more equal representation in the motherhood and parenting field, and to see brands now really take that on is amazing.

The great thing about Make Motherhood Diverse is that it’s now become a consultancy of sorts. So many big brands come to that space and they’re like, we’re doing a mother’s day campaign, we do not want to mess this up, please can you help us find the most diverse group of mothers and people for this campaign? And what that has meant is that then we’re able to support women and people being paid.

Whenever people talk about money, especially women or people who refer to themselves as women, there just seems to be that dip in octave because we’ve been taught not to speak about it, but I am for women and people feeling like they are entitled to build great businesses and that they are worth the money people and brands are paying them. So to see Make Motherhood Diverse develop into that has just blown my mind.

Instagram: @candicebrathwaite

The good and the bad side of social media

Social media comes with the good and the bad. I think the bad is that we do naturally compare ourselves and you see the Hollywood bit of someone’s life, not the reality. I think we’ve been sold this consistent rhetoric, the idea about the striped t-shirts and expensive pram and the shiny bob and it’s like, hang on a minute – there is way more to motherhood and parenting than this.

There is a rawness to being a parent and I think we need to be honest about this side. Mothers should be allowed to be like, ‘yeah I’m just not great at making sure my kid is eating well’, or – Esmé used to do this a lot – ‘my child is coming home having only eaten one thing out of the lunch box’. I’d be doing calculations on her day like ‘right so you left here at 8am, you ate one thing at 12:30, of course now you’re tired and grumpy’.

This is where social media can be a negative space – we see the child learning fluent Spanish at three years old and we’re like, oh I’m just not doing this well, I can’t even get my kid to eat their lunch.

Lunchbox wins

Things like simple recipe cards can really help to get those back to school lunchboxes filled.

Having lunchbox ideas to hand, frees up space, for mums especially, to just go ‘oh thank god’ because they might struggle with ideas. Having them is the help that I know a lot of parents need right now.

I think being able to say, oh well I’m really bad at that and I’m glad that I’ve got these some recipes to help, or me – I’m very open and honest about the fact that I do not cook or wash up, I’m not very domesticated, and to have support around who I am as a mother and woman is really important.

Even though I’m not a cook per se, having children has made me more invested in learning about and understanding what I’m eating because more often than not they’re going to be eating it.

Bless my dad’s soul, he’d send me to bed with a pack of six Bakewell tarts and be like ‘oh I hope you enjoy your dinner’. We’ve changed so much since then, we’re more informed, we’re more aware and more than ever at the moment I think the important thing is keeping our child’s immune systems boosted.

Back to school

There is of course, and I’ll be brutally honest – if a parent doesn’t say this they’re lying – you fear them getting sick. You fear the worst. That’s one reason every morning both Esmé and my son RJ have their vitamins – so in one way I’m like ok, this is the small thing I can do to support your immune system.

They’re just naturally not going to be as careful or washing their hands as much as you would at home.

Candice Brathwaite is working with Haliborange, the UK’s No 1 kids vitamin brand, to help parents take the fuss out of lunchbox prep, making it simple and quick to put together a lunch that’s as tasty as it is nutritionally balanced – just like Haliborange. Recommended by 9 out of 10 parents, Haliborange is available from Boots, supermarkets and pharmacies. Click here for more information on products, for recipes visit our Instagram.

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