Helen Skelton has kayaked the Amazon, cycled to the South Pole and completed ultra marathons – but she’s now doing her most exhausting challenge yet, as Mum to two small boys (Ernie, two, and seven-month-old Louis).
The former Blue Peter presenter, whose more recent TV credits include Countryfile and joining the BBC’s sports coverage line-up, has recently been living in France, while her husband, Richie Myler, plays rugby for the Catalans Dragons.
Here, the adventure-loving TV personality talks to us about how motherhood has changed her life, fitting it all in, and the advice she hopes to pass on to her sons…
There’s no doubt becoming a parent changes things hugely, and for Helen, 34, this has meant a shift in outlook and priorities.
“For me, I’m a lot more chilled out about stuff. Before, I would focus on work or holidays or buying things, but all of that stuff becomes insignificant when you’ve got kids.”
Laughing, she adds: “Your priorities become a lot more mundane and humbling, I guess.”
Life with two young boys might be pretty hectic and constantly changing, but there’s one thing that won’t change – and that’s the pearls of wisdom Helen wants to pass down to her children: “You get out of life what you put in,” she shares. “My mum always says that to me.”
As anyone who watched Blue Peter when Helen was on it will know (she was a presenter on the popular children’s series from 2008-2013), she’s quite an active person. Her achievements are certainly impressive – including becoming the second woman ever to finish the 78-mile Namibia Ultra Marathon in 2009, and then running the London Marathon just weeks after.
Of course, becoming a mum has changed her approach to exercise, though it’s still important to her.
“I would like to say I still keep fit,” Helen says with a laugh. “But no – before I had the boys, I was a total gym bunny, working out five or six days a week – but now I feel guilty if I go to the gym, thinking I could be doing something with them.”
However, this isn’t to say she’s no longer fit – far from it. As Helen reveals: “To be honest, running after a two-year-old is more exercise than I’ve ever done at the gym! Yesterday we were playing dinosaurs, and I think I did 35 minutes of sit-ups!”
So are they one of those couples that schedules in date nights? By the sounds of it, not exactly…
“What the hell is date night?!” Helen teases, laughing. “We don’t have date nights, but we love the idea of them,” she adds. “At the moment, one of us will go to an event, while the other one babysits.”
The family recently went on a road trip for 11 days around France, and Helen and Richie realised they spoke more to each other in the car then they had in months.
This doesn’t mean the experience was all plain sailing, however. “11 days driving across France probably wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had with two small boys, but it was good overall.
“Nine days were great,” Helen adds with a smile, “but the last couple of days were a bit full-on!”
Helen Skelton is supporting P&G and Sainsbury’s #HelpUsHelpThem campaign, raising funds for The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. Until November 21, Sainsbury’s shoppers can buy selected P&G Health & Beauty products – including Oral B, Olay, Gillette & Pantene – in store or online and trigger a donation (1 pack = 1 donation).