Sophie Ellis Bextor has said coping with the arrival of her fourth baby boy has been made easier thanks to her “secret weapon” – her eldest son.
The singer, who gave birth to Jesse in November 2015 , said the jump from three to four children hasn’t been hard, especially having that little bit of extra help.
“My eldest is brilliant with his baby brother,” Ellis Bextor told HuffPost UK Parents speaking about her 11-year-old son Sonny.
“He’s a bit of a secret weapon to be honest – he can carry him for me, soothe him if he’s crying and have baths with him.
“He’s just adorable with him and because he is so good, my seven-year-old is excellent, too.”
Sonny Jones with his baby brother Jesse
Ellis Bextor, 36, – who also has Kit, seven, and Ray, three, with husband Richard Jones – said her three-month-old is a “happy, smiley baby” and the most popular member of the family.
“The boys all want to spend ages kissing and cuddling him before they go to school and nursery in the morning,” she said.
“They want to play with him as soon as they get in and it’s nice because Jesse is just going to get more interactive for them as he grows older.
“My three-year-old is good with him most of the time, but I can definitely tell it’s a big deal for him – he was good at being the baby of the bunch.”
Ray with his baby brother
Ellis Bextor said her boys couldn’t be more different and, for her, that’s the best thing about having a family.
“They all have their distinct qualities and it’s brilliant,” she said.
“You know when you have a baby they’re going to bring something completely new to your family – everything moves a little bit and it changes the dynamic.
“It’s what I love and why I was really excited about having another one. I just thought ‘what a lucky baby, he’s got all these different people here waiting to meet him’.”
With four children to keep entertained – the singer explained the family have a house rule of always doing something active once a day on the weekends.
Sophie Ellis Bextor and her family on a long weekend walk
Be it a walk round the park, swimming or visiting a soft play centre if the weather isn’t playing ball, staying active is an essential part of their days.
“It’s really important for us to go out the house on the weekend,” Ellis Bextor said.
“The boys would happily all sit pottering about inside playing with their toys or watching a movie, but it’s nice to get out and about.
“The rest of the week is a lot more structured with school for the big children and nursery for my three-year-old.”
Staying healthy in Ellis Bextor’s household isn’t only about keeping active, but ensuring her kids are eating well.
While she wouldn’t class any of her boys as “fussy eaters”, she said her eldest Sonny is “probably the fussiest of the four”.
“He’s just a bit more particular about the things he likes,” she said. “He’s always eaten a lot of vegetables and fruit so I haven’t had to worry about his diet.
“Once I had more than two kids I decided I wasn’t going to start cooking them all different meals, because it’s like running your own café and that’s absurd.
“There will always be one thing that gets cooked and Sonny might have raw carrots instead of cooked carrots but that’s about it, I try not to pander to their different needs too much.”
For Ellis Bextor, one of the most important things she wants her kids to know about their diet is where the food on their plates comes from.
Cooking together is one of the ways she does this, as well as answering their questions about what she’s preparing, chopping and baking for dinner.
Sophie Ellis Bextor preparing food with her son Kit
“The boys are always seeing me and Richard in the kitchen preparing food and if I’m preparing something separate for supper they will ask what we’re having and to try a bit,” Ellis Bextor said.
“For me, it’s about dialogue and keeping that relaxed and open.
“Even when they were younger they would understand where their burger had come from and how it had come to be on their plate.
“I was lucky because when my mum brought me up she never used the word diet and she would encourage me to think about healthy eating in general.
“I don’t think it’s different for boys, I think all the same things we think girls worry about, they worry about too. I want them to have a good relationship with their body and the food they’re eating.”
A good relationship with food and their bodies goes hand-in-hand with keeping an open dialogue about her children’s happiness and emotional wellbeing, according to the mum-of-four.
With a family member who has schizophrenia, Ellis Bextor said she it initiated a conversation with her boys about looking after themselves in general.
This is something she’s noticed becoming more important as they’ve grown older.
“When you have babies, their needs are fairly simply met so long as there is someone to feed them, cuddle them and keep them warm,” she said.
“The older they get, the more complex these things are and so mealtimes have become an important time for me to sit down with the boys and look them in the eye when they are telling me how they are and trying to keep on top of stuff.
“They might not come to you with everything, so I ask lots of questions all the time about what’s going on, if there is anything bothering them and if they’re happy.
“Otherwise, a couple of months could have gone by and you think, ‘oh God I had no idea he was feeling that about something’.”
Summing up motherhood in one sentence, Ellis Bextor called it “happy, busy chaos”.
“You’ve just got to embrace the chaos of it all,” she added.
Sophie Ellis Bextor is working with Disney to promote their Healthily Ever After campaign. #HealthilyEverAfter launched in January and is based on insight from parents across the UK on the challenges they face getting their children to eat well and take part in physical activity.