When you get a chance to sit down with royalty (or former royalty as the case may be), the last thing you expect to find is an average mom. So when iVillage got an invite to dish with the Duchess of York, we were impressed to meet a mother on a mission. She's been a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers, and her fluctuating dress size has been the subject of global speculation since the day she first appeared on Prince Andrew's arm. Now that she's a svelte single mom raising two teen daughters, her mission involves more than cutting ribbons and wearing tiaras. As she spread the word about healthy eating, we found out how a royal mom copes with real-mom issues.
You've got a sign on your fridge that says, "Fridge pickers make big knickers!" What's your advice for iVillage moms who are struggling with weight issues '- and don't want to see their kids travel the same path?
First, iVillagers, don't strive to be perfect! When you're struggling with food, there will be down days. Counter them with family time, real sitting-down-talking time. After 9/11, everyone stayed home more and families started to cherish each other more. We suddenly took a look at our own lives. That's gone away now. It shouldn't take a disaster to wake everyone up to the fact that talking and communicating with family is a good thing.
Also, keep a healthy kitchen. Clean out those shelves. When the kids come home from school, let them snack on crudités. There's no way you can say that raw vegetables are going to break the bank, and trying them with tasty dips will encourage your kids to eat healthily instead of turning to pizza. Stop stocking unnecessary treats. They don't need rewards for success. Just because your child does well, don't insist on taking her out for ice cream. Treats can be presented in all different ways. You can have a wonderful moment just sharing an activity with your kid. Play with those Barbies or that jigsaw puzzle. Spend quality time. That's a real treat!
Do your kids (Beatrice, 17, and Eugenie, 15) follow your habits '- good and bad?
They follow everything I do, which I'm very pleased about. They know that Mom makes endless mistakes every day '- and people all around the world have actually read about most of them! They know that Mom cries. She admits she's wrong. She also admits that she can't manage and she's overwhelmed. And that just because she's Mom doesn't mean she always has to be strong. To be a real role model is to admit to those things. My daughters are the most incredible examples of children raised by a mother who has never hidden from the truth. You frighten your kids when you don't tell them what's going on. For example, I wasn't told about my parents' divorce. I read about it in the newspaper when I was 12, and food became my best friend from that point on. I don't want my girls to have to go through the fear I went through.
I think moms need to remember what those teen years were like. We grow up, become responsible and forget that teenagers slam doors because they're trying to tell us they're unhappy about something. They're just saying, "I'm frightened." When they're little, they cry about dragons under the bed. When they're teens, they slam doors.