Louise Nichol is the Editor-in-Chief of the premier luxury fashion magazine, Harper’s Baazar Arabia. She is married to Andrew and they have one daughter, born just over a year ago in Dubai, called Leo. Louise is one mother who I admire for countless reasons but, most of all, I admire her ability to prioritise what is important when it comes to her family and career. She tells us how she juggles pressures of a demanding career with a young family and she also shares with us about what is important to her when it comes to Leo’s upbringing, her fears and worries, and what qualities she hopes to instill in her little girl.
Congratulations to Andrew and you on Leo’s first birthday. She is just a gorgeous little girl with an incredible wardrobe! Thank you so much for taking time out to talk to SOTP.
1. How would you describe your childhood? Were your parents strict on you being the oldest? Do you think your parents became more relax as they got down to number 5?
So strict! I always complain that my sister (who is 12 years younger than me) has the cushtiest ride. But I don’t mind really… Much.
2. Has having your own child changed your view of your parents? What will you take from your mother’s teaching to pass down to Leo.
Mummy is an incredible mother – she still devotes everything to us. I could never hope to replicate her selflessness. She encouraged me to follow my dreams and really supported me in my education and career (journalism is not the best-paid job when you’re starting out). I hope I can do the same for Leo.
3. What do you vow never to do with Leo? (we will check in on you on 10 years time …HA!)
Plonk her in front of the TV. Let’s see how long this lasts! We are pretty free and easy with letting her loose on our iPhones though; my aim is for her to be writing code by the age of five and running Google by 12, so Andrew and I can retire. Although, while I am definitely pro-technology, if she doesn’t like reading books (or a Kindle), my heart will break.
4. You look amazing, and Leo is a year old. How did you get back into shape so quickly? What is your exercise regime?
I wish that were true. I exercised throughout my pregnancy, which kept my strength up, but I also ate for England, gaining nearly 25 kilos (won’t be doing that again if we have another baby, inshallah). It was hard to get moving again after her birth as breastfeeding Leo was a round-the-clock job but by three months I forced myself to carve out some time for the gym and the occasional run round Safa Park. I now do CrossFit-style workouts. Andrew and I share a trainer, Marlene, and she is completely invested in the health and wellbeing of our family; we are so lucky to have someone as amazing as her in our corner. Leo is a massive motivation as I want us to be active together as a family – and for her to be proud of me come parents’ races at school sports days. I am so taking gold in the egg-and-spoon race!
5. What kind of parents would you describe Andrew and you? Do you have the same parenting beliefs or do you slightly differ on certain fundamentals on parenting?
I think we’re pretty similar. He’s very supportive of all my choices, which is invaluable in a partner. Although he would probably prefer it if I spent a bit less on Leo’s clothes!
6. You have an amazing career so how do you balance Leo, Andrew and work?
I am lucky to have an incredible team at Harper’s Bazaar; without them I couldn’t have returned to work. At home, our nanny Dories is part of the family; we all love her to bits and I have no idea how we functioned without her. Andrew and I try to make sure we have a date night once a week, although, let’s be honest, we end up talking about Leo all night.
7. What do you feel most guilty about when it comes to Leo?
Not being there. I time my working day so that I can wake her up at 7am and put her to bed at 6pm each night, but I am still at work from 8am-5pm five days a week. However, even though she took her first steps while I was at the office, it was such a joyous time that I genuinely didn’t mind missing it; I just couldn’t wait for the weekend to get her into the park.
8. Now that Leo is eating solids, what is your take on organic foods? What percentage of her food is organic?
We buy organic where there’s an easily available option, but we don’t go out of our way to look for it. I am super-strict on no sugar or processed foods, however, and all of Leo’s food is cooked from scratch (by Dories; I can’t claim credit!). We base her meals on Annabel Karmel recipes, with a few tweaks. I breast-fed her for a year before she lost interest (much to my disappointment, although it was a relief to stop pumping at work), which I hope got her nutrition off to a good start.
9. Motherhood can sometimes be relentless and isolating for all mums. Can you describe one of your last mummy meltdowns? What do you need to do to ‘pull it’ together again?
When Leo was about four months old and I had not slept for longer than an hour uninterrupted since her birth I came fairly close to cracking. The internet was my savior at this time you can always find someone who’s having a tougher time of it. Parenting websites are fantastic for reassurance that you’re not alone and that things will get better. Since the age of six months she has slept like an angel, so we got there in the end.
10.How would you describe your pregnancy and birthing experience? (Not the gory details, of course) What was your feeling when Leo was first placed in your arms?
I LOVED being pregnant, mainly because of the unfettered access to cake it afforded me. And the excuse to go to bed at 8pm every night (mind you, I still do that now, although I have laid off the cake). I can’t lie, getting to 10cm was pretty hideous, even with an epidural, but the pushing part of the birth was great fun – I assume this was down to some crazy rush of hormones. I wouldn’t put Leo down once she was in my arms. In fact, she pooed all over me and I didn’t let go of her to get into the shower until 24 hours later.
11.As a mother, what are the three qualities you hope to instill in Leo?
Bravery, loyalty and confidence. And curiosity, drive, creativity…. Three isn’t enough!
12.What do you worry about the most about when it comes to Leo?
Getting her into a good school. I am passionate about education.
13.What have you discovered about motherhood that you wish you knew before?
That you can chill out about everything; babies normally get there on their own.
14.What ‘mothering’ books/websites have you found useful when it comes to pregnancy or childcare?
The best birthing book I read was Birth Skills by Juju Sundin. I read, and got freaked out by, Gina Ford; especially as Leo just would not conform to any sort of timetable. I wish I’d not worried, as eventually she figured it out by herself. I loved kellymom.com for sensible info when Leo was small and I spent all night playing Words With Friends on my iPhone in between feeds.
15.What are some useful websites that you would recommend to any mother?
16.Also, we have to ask the Harper’s Baazar Editor – who are your favourite designers for children?
Chloe for dressing up, Baby Gap for every day and Pablosky for first walking shoes.