"Having Ollie made me grow up over night" - Pippa O'Connor
Mumpreneur Pippa O'Connor says it's all about balance as they enter Phase Terrible Twos, writes Claire O'Mahony
On the morning that Pippa O'Connor's Mothers & Babies interview is scheduled to take place, something far more urgently in need of her attention arises. Ollie, her two-year-old son, has come down with suspected chicken pox. Thankfully, she tells me a week later, it wasn't chicken pox after all, but a viral infection- and he's fine now - so it's back to business for the busy working mum.
And Pippa is extremely busy. The 30-year-old, who recently won 'Most Stylish Woman' at the VIP Style Awards, works on her blog, Pippa.ie, seven days of the week. She also runs Pippa's Fashion Factories, where she provides style and beauty advice to women in various locations around the country. Then there's her collaboration with US beauty brand Blank Canvas, the details of which are top secret at present, but it launches in June and she also says that at some point she'd love to design a range of babywear.
It all sounds like quite the balancing act. "Listen, like everyone else I just juggle it and you kind of wonder what you did with your time before," Pippa says.
"I rely a lot on my husband [TV star Brian Ormond] and family to help with Ollie because I do work so much. But I'm lucky I suppose in another sense. I'm not gone 9-5 and I could be working from 6am to 12pm and I'm home then for the rest of the day so I probably do have much more time at home with Ollie than probably most working people would."
Ollie hit the 'Terrible Twos' s a while ago, which has resulted in some compromising having to be done on her part. "Lots of patience that I didn't know I had is coming to the fore," she says. "They have their own little minds - he does anyway. He's very strong-minded and determined; when he wants something he just lets you know."
The first time Ollie threw a bad wobbler, she was on her own with him in the supermarket and it took her aback. "You don't know what to do and for me anyway, I don't think you can do too much. First of all you can't get annoyed with him, it just makes it worse, so you have to let the moment pass," she says.
"Obviously you try steer away from it but sometimes it's just going to happen and they want something that they can't have and there's nothing you can do. You just have to let them have their little moment and take a deep breath and realise that you're not the only one that this happens to."
While Pippa blogs about family life on her website, she admits that it's all still a learning curve for her when it comes to being a mum. "Every stage is so different, from breastfeeding to him being two," she says. "You're learning every day, learning their personalities for starters and how to cope with them, what's good for them, what you should do."
She's really enjoying this particular stage of Ollie's development. "It's so interesting and funny to watch and he needs so much stimulation all the time. If you bring him out somewhere he's never been before, you just see the eyes and the look of amazement," she says.
"If he sees a man he'll say 'There she is' - everybody's 'she' whether you're male or female. And he thinks 'share' means 'mine' so if you say to him 'Can I have a grape?' he'll say 'No, share!' He hasn't grasped the concept of actually sharing yet. We're trying to teach him that at the moment!"
She didn't look to parenting books for any advice, not even about birth, finding it slightly overwhelming. "I think every woman and every child and parent are so different," she says.
"It's nice to talk to people who have kids, like my friends and my sister, but I don't think you can try and do what anyone does when it comes to anything because everyone is their own person, especially children.
"We had a birthday party for Ollie the other day and his cousins were there and we were remarking upon how different each of them is. Just because something works for one person it doesn't mean it works for another so I talk to people but I try to figure things out for myself."
By her own admission, motherhood has changed her in many ways.
"You grow up overnight. You're not selfish anymore whereas before you only had to worry about yourself and what you were wearing the following weekend. You didn't have to consider other people - obviously you do with your family but if you wanted to go on holidays you could just do it but now your number one priority is your child," Pippa says.
"It changes everything and makes you look at everything differently. You worry about everything, you worry about him going in a car with someone else. Anything, everything becomes a worry."
There have also been, and naturally, physical changes too, but this isn't something that bothers her.
"It's [her body] definitely different in terms of feel and look but I'm ok with that, that's obviously the norm after doing what you've just done. I don't beat myself up about it," she says.
"There are plenty of things I'd like to change and have in better shape but that's just what's happened and that's what you have to sacrifice after having your body go through something like that."
She's of the opinion that the images we're bombarded with of celebrity new mums, who seemingly bounce back into shape and drop the baby weight with ease, are misleading, and that everybody has to find their own way.
"The likes of the Kardashians and people like that don't help. I think that people forget that they all have trainers and that's probably not so realistic," she says.
"At the same time everyone is different and some people do snap back into shape quickly and then some people have to work with it. I think it's bad to think that you have to be one way, that's what I don't agree with."
It's hard not to feel feel pressurised but if you've had a baby the last thing you should worry about is your weight, is her belief. "Your body will do what it's supposed to do in time. Like your personality, everyone is different body-wise," she says.
Pippa is often asked if there are plans to expand the family but says that it's not on the cards at the very moment, because she's so busy, work-wise. But she's certainly not ruling it out, as she'd like Ollie to enjoy the benefits of having a sibling.
"It's nice, especially as you get older and I'm very close to my sister now. I'd definitely like him to grow up with a sister or brother and be a similar age group. I think that's important," she says. this space.
Her parenting essentials
Baby wipes, snacks like raisin and fruit and definitely a book for the car for Ollie.
Her beauty must-haves
My favourites are anything from Image skincare. They’ve a lovely line called the Vital C range, which is just amazing skincare for anyone who wants to up the ante. I like the facemask GlamGlow and I have Clarins Blue Orchid face treatment oil beside my bed. I use it at night time as a cuticle oil and it’s multifunctional. I like a tinted moisturiser if I don’t have time to do foundation.
Her personal style
I’m quite a practical comfortable dresser but I still like to look stylish. I don’t think I’ve changed just because I’ve become a mum. I was always into my skinny jeans and Converse and I’m still the same.
Her advice to other mums of two-year-olds
Just have loads of patience and realise that they’re only two. That might sound obvious but they’re so little and they’re only learning every day. I know that they can be very smart in lots of ways but sometimes they don’t know right from wrong, so it’s all about encouraging them and showing them the world. They’re so excited. I feel that Ollie wants to feel and see and experience new things all the time so I think it’s just to remember how fascinating that must be for a two-year-old and just to embrace it and enjoy them.