Clemmie Hooper met her husband Simon whilst they were in their last year at university in Bristol. Clemmie says: “We met on a dance floor of a very well-known but incredibly cheesy nightclub. Think sticky carpet, jugs of redbull and vodka and ‘90s dance music. It was obviously meant to be as the night ended with a drunken snog and a swap of numbers. Simon promised he’d call me the next day and take me for a drink, he kept his word and we’ve been together for 11 years”.
The couple live in Crystal Palace, South East London with their four daughters – Anya Rose, Marnie and newborn twins Ottilie and Delilah. They bought their home almost three years ago after renting for what Clemmie tells us “seemed like an eternity”. Clemmie describes Crystal Palace as “a wonderful little hub based around a triangle and huge beautiful park” she says: “ we’re very settled here and love our community of friends we’ve made”.
Also known as ‘Midwifey Hooper’ and ‘Mother of Daughters’ in social media circles, Clemmie is a caseload midwife at King’s College Hospital and writes a blog called Gas & Air. The idea for Gas & Air came to her when she was on maternity leave five years ago with her second daughter Marnie. Clemmie tells us “A neighbour had been to a bloggers event for mums as she was starting a food blog and said there was loads of mums writing blogs – especially about pregnancy and birth but none were midwives. I had actually been her midwife for her second baby and she felt there was a gap in the market for a more modern midwife”. Starting off as a place for her to share tips and stories, it’s grown enormously over last few years and Clemmie now has 35.3K followers on Instagram and has just finished writing her first book.
Simon is an Operations Director for a management consultancy in the city. He says “My world takes me all over so it can but a strain on us but we find our way through it all. No one has the magic formula but we’ve found a rhythm that works for us”. He’s also started an Instagram account recently called ‘father_of_daughters‘. He tells us “The aim was to give a voice to all the men out there behind the camera and quietly getting on with things. I wanted to show that we are parents too and share some insights and advice that I’ve gathered from being outnumbered by girls”.
Find out more about Clemmie and Simon’s family life in our interview with them below…
Simon: It’s all about being regimented and balancing parenting responsibilities between us. Although I have the flexibility to work from home from time to time, I’m usually in the office, which means I’m out the door and on my bike by 8.15am. That said, I still make sure the older kids are dressed, fed, watered and have brushed their teeth in the morning so that Clemmie has a fighting chance of getting to school on time and avoiding ‘the look’ from the teacher on the gate as they tap their watch – which is no small task itself, especially when everyone wants to have a look at the twins the playground.
Clemmie’s mum, Jude, drives up from Whitstable and stays with us to help out with childcare from Tuesday to Thursday most weeks which is a lifesaver and helps keep us on the right side of sane. We don’t tell her enough I’m sure, but she really is a wonderful grandmother (or gaga as we call her) and we owe her a lot.
The evenings are timetabled and managed carefully, they have to be or it turns in free-for-all which is a nightmare! I take the girls to evening clubs (street dance etc) and Clemmie looks after the little ones. Dinner at 6pm and then before you know it 6.45pm comes around and baths start. We both then feed and settle the twins and finally move on pinning the bigger ones to their beds while removing iPods and headphones that they’ve strategically hidden in their rooms to play with after lights are out. By this time it’s 8.30pm – If we have any energy left, we’ll cook food, check Instagram and half watch some nonsense on TV before collapsing into bed at around 11pm. Before you know it, it’s daylight and the whole process kicks in again.
Clemmie: Now I’m on mat leave I’m taking FULL advantage of the weekends and filling it with loads of things (much to Simon’s annoyance). We often end up spending one day in our local area, there’s loads of great parks, the Horniman museum is brilliant on a wet day. We both have sisters who live east so depending on how knackered we are we’ll either jump on the overground and see them or have them over here for lunch. Basically we’re outnumbered by our kids so an extra pair of hands at any given opportunity is key for survival. The kids eat tea whilst I jiggle babies on my knee – Anya is a huge help and will often help me prepare dinner or hold a baby as I serve up the grub.
Clemmie: I’ve always taken pride in my appearance whether that’s something as basic as having clean hair or having a mani / pedi. It’s hard to always be on top of it all so I make some things my priority, ie if my fringe is greasy and I’ve got no time for a shower before doing the school run out comes the dry shampoo but I’ll always make sure my clothes are clean and I’ve got some sort of make-up on. I guess we’re all followers of trends in one way or another, I have a lot of clothes and shoes and try and mix my style up a bit. Thankfully the ripped jeans, grey sweatshirt and strong trainer look is completely acceptable and everything looks better with lipstick.
I feel very fortunate to have four daughters especially when it comes to clothes. My eldest has gone from being an impossible child to dress (we went through many years of screaming tantrums in the morning) to now where she really enjoys clothes, is interested in fashion and likes to come shopping with me! I let her express herself in her clothes and hair styles and gently guide her when she may be moving too fast ie wearing make up. Our second daughter is a free spirit and is constantly drawing and painting and doing cartwheels. She loves dressing up and will still let me dress her in gorgeous outfits and shoes that make me go weak at the knees. I know time is running out and soon she’ll be wanting to wear jeans everyday but for now I’m taking full advantage. The twins are obviously really small but they have their sister’s amazing hand-me-downs to wear as they get older. I always spend that little extra on coats and shoes – that was my mum’s tip when we were growing up. Buy cheap buy twice as they say. My husband would let them be kids and wear whatever they wanted but I like them to look nice especially if we’re going out for lunch, seeing family.
PARENTING SURVIVAL TIPS
Simon: Remember that your children are just that, children. They are going to make a mess, act up and test the boundaries because that’s what kids do. As parents, you need to be calmer, kinder and more patient than you ever thought was possible, but be firm when needed. It’s a difficult balancing act but in the end we all find our way.
Clemmie: Easier said than done Simon! But definitely pick your battles, Simon is good at reminding me that – like when I’m fretting that the house is a tip by 10am but we’re trying to get everyone ready to leave the house for the day. Let go of the small stuff and stop worrying about the state of their bedrooms, once you’re out of the house all the fun can start. Kids don’t grow up and remember how ‘nice’ their homes looked they remember how much fun their parents were.
All photography by Philippa James Photography