Kate Ferdinand: Blended families, life as a step-mum and honest parenting

kate ferdinand baby five

by Lorna White |
Updated on

We've always admired Kate Ferdinand for her warmth and honesty when it comes to life as a mum. She's made no secret of the fact that entering into a new family and becoming a step-mum is a very difficult responsibility to take on, but she's done it all while sharing her experiences with the wider mum community through her Instagram, Blended podcast and now, her latest book.

Kate's life as a mum

Kate and her husband, ex-footballer, Rio Ferdinand, have been married since 2019. Kate is Rio's second wife following the very sad death of his first wife, Rebecca. Kate took on the very difficult responsibility of step-mum to Rio's three children, and she has been very honest about her journey.

While both Rio and Kate keep their family life very private, she has opened up about the struggles of entering their family, helping the kids through those dark moments of grief and also sharing the happier times. She shares regular glimpses into their lives on her Instagram.

When we recently caught up with Kate, she shared how she’s had to keep reminding herself of the seven year rule.

“I'm sitting here now and act like I’ve got it all together, I haven't, there are still really, really hard days. And when I think back to those early days, I didn't feel like there was a way out. But just know that it takes four to seven years, to feel really comfortable in your position in a blended family and know your role. So if it's early than that, then it's quite natural, that you're going to be feeling uneasy or not know your position in the family and struggle with things.

“When someone told me that, I was two years in thinking I've got another however many years to go. But actually, we're now six years in and I really do feel a lot more comfortable and content. So I think it's helpful to know that a lot of people struggle at the beginning. And there is kind of light at the end of the tunnel.

She and Rio have also had a baby together and their second baby is on the way. From sharing photos of her postpartum body to updating us on her pregnancy journey, Kate has a very honest and open approach to life as a parent.

When talking about her pregnancy, Kate says she has her fair share of highs and lows.

“Some days, I'm full of energy, and I'm ready to take on the world. And some days, I want to get back into bed. That's just how it's going. I'm quite tired. But I've got a healthy baby. So I'm happy and I'm ready to meet her. But I've got a little while to go.

While Kate and Rio are excited to meet their new arrival, the same can’t be said for their kids.

“They aren't that excited. They were at the beginning. So when we told them they were so excited. But I think the novelty has worn off until she arrives. And I'm just moaning a bit more and in bed a bit more. So they're not that excited at the minute but I'm sure they will be for her arrival.”

Kate's miscarriage

Kate was also open about experiencing a miscarriage in summer 2022. Over a year after welcoming baby Cree into the world, Kate shared that she and Rio had lost their baby. Sharing the devastating news on her Instagram, Kate revealed that it was at their 12 week scan when no heartbeat could be found that they found out the news.

Writing on Instagram, she said 'We were so excited & planning a space for our new baby in our family, we just couldn’t wait to share our news with you all, but unfortunately sometimes life just doesn’t go as we plan.

'So much to say, but somehow I can’t find the words. Absolutely devastated & heartbroken …but couldn’t be more grateful for the hugs I got from my big(er) babies coming through the door when we arrived home 💔🙏🏻'

On blended families

As well as bringing up her family and writing her books, Kate hosts her own brilliant podcast, Blended (if you haven't already, we highly recommend you add it to your library), which is all about the world of blended families and exploring divorce, grief, adoption, second marriages and more.

Speaking both in interviews and in her podcast, Kate has been very honest about sometimes not feeling like a part of the family in early years, and that it's taken a while for her to feel fully comfortable within the family.

In an episode of her podcast, she said, 'I still feel... no one makes me feel like this by the way, this is me and myself... that I'm sometimes not part of the family.

'I sometimes get over emotional about some things and certain things trigger me because it makes me feel like an outsider.

'None of my family do anything to make me feel like that. They are welcoming, they do everything that they could possibly do in all honesty but I'm just so emotional about it.'

Her latest book, How to Build a Family, goes even more in depth into these areas of the less 'traditional' family dynamics. Sharing the news on her Instagram, Kate shared that the book is the kind of book she wished she'd had as a new step-mum. 'It's packed full of advice from experts, everyday stories & some of my experiences along the way. It’s there to guide you on your journey & pick you up when you're not feeling so great.' Kate shared.

Her latest book on blended families is aimed at young children. The Family Tree follows the story of young children who are in the process of being introduced to their parent’s new partner after losing their mum.

“I think when I was growing up, and even when I come into, you know, my family now, all the books are kind of about evil step-parents. And I really want to change the narrative, I really want children to be able to see themselves in a book and resonate with it. So I'm hoping that this book does that. And it helps open conversations for parents to have with their kids. And also just, you know, if someone's going through something at school, it will help other children understand their experiences.

“In the book when they first meet Hazel (the step-mum in the book), they don't really like her. And they think, oh, god, she's coming to take mum's place. But actually, you can mix two households, they mix the cake mix, a little bit of what their mum taught them, and a little bit of what Hazel's taught them as well. And it can make a really good mixture. So it's not about getting rid of one parent when another one comes in. It's just about everyone joining together.”

On the best parenting advice she’s ever received

When writing her books, Kate spoke to various experts in the parenting field who have given her some excellent advice to live by as a mum and step-mum.

“Whether you're a mum or a step-mum or in a blended family, just taking time for yourself and making sure that there's time for you. You can't really pour from an empty cup, I would say.

“I think it's really hard to be a parent, work, spend quality time with your kids and go to the gym, it's nearly impossible. So I think, start by taking the pressure off, because you can't do everything. I've only recently realised that I really can't do it all. Some days, I get up and I make smoothies and my kids are really happy and I'm doing a good job at being a mum. And some days, I feel like I'm being great at work. It's hard to make every single thing fall in line and work together every day but as long as you take the pressure off yourself and know that not everyone has got it together, I feel like that makes it a lot easier. In an ideal world, I'd love to spend quality time with each of my children every single day, go to every single club with them, cook dinner, be a businesswoman, but it's not realistic. So just trying to set realistic boundaries.”

For parents finding themselves blending a family, it’s all about how you include the kids according to Kate.

“Sometimes feel like a lot of issues arise when kids don't feel involved. So for us, I can only go by my experience we met as friends and the kids were involved in asking, when Rio asked if I should go on a date with them. They're involved in asking me out as his girlfriend, they're involved in everything. So I think when the kids feel involved, then they feel a part of it. And that kind of sets the precedent for the rest of the relationship.

On the stigma surrounding different kinds of families

When your family doesn't look like the stereotypical family set-up, it's easy to feel a little stigmatised and conscious. At one point, even Kate felt a fear that she'd be judged for being so open about her new family and the struggles she faced.

"I was a bit scared to speak out in case I'd be judged, and you know, that I haven't got it all together. I think the more that we have the guts to speak out and share our problems that aren't always great, the easier it is for everyone else. And the more normal it seems. So I'm hoping that by just having these quite frank, everyday conversations about real stuff, that it will make it more normal for everyone."

Kate Ferdinand books

This is a brilliant book to help any families going through difficult changes in life, and an amazing guide to help guide you and your children through, with expert advice and real mum experience from Kate.

The Family Tree

Rrp: $15.99

Price: $11.82

This book is aimed at children aged 3-5 years and aims to help children understand that having a new mum or family member isn't something to be worried or angry about, and helps children understand their new family dynamic.

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