‘I’m not superwoman’ – Helen Flanagan on making it work as a single mum
Helen Flanagan admits she’s “no superwoman”, and isn’t saying being a single parent is easy.
But despite “running around like a blue-arsed fly” as she puts it, the former Coronation Street actress, who split from her footballer fiancé Scott Sinclair last summer, says her new single family life is working really well.
“I co-parent with my ex-fiancé Scott – we’ve got three children together, and we were together for 13 years,” explains Flanagan, 32, who has just appeared on I’m A Celebrity… South Africa.
“My friends help me with the children, because I do work nearly every day. I have a friend and we’re a girl gang together – I’m not superwoman! So that works nicely at home.
“Scott’s living with his mum at the moment in Bristol, and my children are really close to their nana, so it works really well. My kids just have a really happy environment, with me and my friend at home, and then they have a really nice happy environment with their dad and their nana.”
Flanagan, who lives in Manchester, says she has the children – Matilda, eight, Delilah, five, and two-year-old Charlie – “the majority of the time”, as their dad’s away playing football for Bristol Rovers a lot.
“So it kind of can’t be helped, really,” she says. “But his mum is absolutely fantastic, we get on very, very well. She’s known me since I was 19, so I’m close with his mum, and she helps me a lot with the children.”
The actress admits that although she misses her “babies” when they’re with their dad and nana, she makes the most of her child-free time.
“I had my children not young, but young-ish – I had Matilda when I was 24 – and I just feel like I spent all my 20s being pregnant and breastfeeding at home,” Flanagan reflects. “So it’s kind of nice sometimes to have that time, because I know they’re in the best hands with Scott’s mum, and it’s lovely that I can spend some time with my friends and concentrate on my work and have some fun. So it’s nice, it works well.
“Of course I miss them, they’re my babies, but I know they’re really, really happy with their nana and their dad, so I don’t have to worry. I do feel like the happier you are as a mum, the better it is for your child.”
Most of Flanagan’s time these days is spent either working or looking after the kids – and deflecting her daughters’ pleas to get on social media.
“I’m not ready for my five-year-old and eight-year-old to have social media yet – I don’t think it’s healthy for children to have social media too young,” she says. “Matilda’s desperate to go on TikTok and create her own content, and sometimes I feel a bit guilty because I’m on TikTok and Instagram and she sees that. So I said, ‘Why don’t you have mummy’s?’ and she said, ‘No, I want my own!’”
As a compromise for the time being, the girls have been allowed a NickWatch connected smartwatch, which is free from social media but features games, music, safe connectivity with parents, and a GPS tracker.
“A GPS tracker is such a comfort as a parent to have,” says Flanagan. “You can see where they are at all times, which is great. For me as a parent, I never keep my eyes off my children, they’re too precious. It’s just to have peace of mind.”
New research by NickWatch found 41% of parents with a child under 10 years say their child has walked off on their own without them being aware. According to the survey, parents of children aged under 10 say they’ve ‘lost’ them five times on average.
Fortunately, keeping a close eye on her kids means Flanagan has never been in that position, although she admits: “I’ve had a moment in a supermarket where I’ve kind of gone, ‘Where’s Matilda?’, and then I’ve seen her. But it’s common for people to lose their children, which is really scary – it’s the worst feeling in the world, and you need to have eyes in the back of your head.”
But it was her daughter’s eyes that were on her, when Flanagan took part in I’m a Celebrity… South Africa recently, more than 10 years after she first took part in the show in the Australian jungle.
“I loved the jungle, I really, really, did,” she declares. “It was just such anamazing experience. It was great to go back and redeem myself. I didn’t want to be pathetic and rubbish at the trials, and I had my little girl watching from home, so I couldn’t have not done it – she’d have been gutted, so that was my motivation.”
Now she’s back, Flanagan, who last appeared as Rosie Webster on Coronation Street in 2018, says she’s currently doing a lot of work on social media and auditioning, and has “things in the pipeline that I can’t really share just now”.
But she adds: “I’d absolutely love to go back to Coronation Street at some point, it’s just timing – I definitely want to do it at some point.”
Helen Flanagan is helping to launch Nickwatch, a new connected smartwatch for children aged six to nine with built-in GPS tracking.
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