Living with my in-laws is unusual but it doesn't bother me – I don't know any different, says Frankie Bridge

THE prospect of inviting your parents-in-law to live with you would fill most people with horror.

What about the lack of privacy? Would they judge you for not cleaning the bathroom frequently enough – and what if they hear your, erm, more intimate moments?

But none of these things concern Frankie Bridge, 32, who currently lives in Surrey with her husband of seven years, former footballer Wayne Bridge, 41, their two kids, Parker, seven, and Carter, five – as well as Wayne’s parents, Wendy and Mick, who moved in when Parker was a toddler after they sold their own house.

“Everyone is obsessed with them living with us, but I don’t know any different. They’ve not always lived with us, but they’ve always been around,” says Frankie.

“When Wayne was playing football, he was always really busy, so his mum ran things at home for him. When we moved in together, I was really busy too, so I accepted her help.

"I’m not precious about how my washing is hung out or how the dishwasher is stacked – it just means one less job I have to do.

“When we had kids, it was a no-brainer [to have them in the house]. They have a great relationship with their grandparents and my guilt when I leave them is a lot less [than if we had a nanny].

"My nan and grandad looked after us when I was young while my parents worked, and most of my childhood memories are with them.

“Living with your in-laws is unusual, but it doesn’t bother me. Obviously lockdown was harder, but we don’t argue.

"You know when you are getting on someone’s nerves and you get out of their way. We don’t all sit down and eat together, either. So we all live together, but we don’t do everything together.”

Surely there are awkward moments – for example, if the couple has a row with his parents there?

“I’m not an arguer, I wouldn’t shout at Wayne anyway,” says the former Saturdays singer. “But if he said something I didn’t agree with, I would say it in front of them.

"They don’t get involved. We wouldn’t ever have a screaming match – I just can’t. I would avoid confrontation at all costs. His mum and I don’t gang up on Wayne, but she will normally agree with what I say.”

Having live-in grandparents to lend a hand clearly helps Frankie juggle her packed schedule – she’s just had her second book published, as well as presenting her Open Mind podcast, where celebrities open up about their mental-health issues.

‘Living with my in-laws doesn’t bother me!’

And following the success of her weekly Instagram posts, Frankie’s Faves – where she curates her best outfits for her 1.3m followers – she’s also just designed a range for Oasis, and since February she’s been a regular on the Loose Women panel.

But despite Wendy and Mick’s help, Frankie says she still wrestles with working-mum guilt.

“Before I had kids, I looked at every other parent and thought: ‘They have kids, they go to work and have nights out and look happy.’ But I didn’t realise that you think about your kids 24/7 when you aren’t with them.

“You totally can have it all if you want it all. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting it all. But also, there’s nothing wrong with not having it all if you want a career rather than kids, or vice versa.

We have to accept that having it all comes at a cost. You might miss certain days of work for your kids or you might miss time with your kids for work.

“I do have that guilt. I’ve had times where I’ve been away working and I’m so excited to see them, but after 10 minutes they disappear off.

I didn’t realise that you think about your kids 24/7 when you aren’t with them

"We torture ourselves needlessly. Both my parents worked when I was growing up. My children are very lucky that they have us around a lot. There are a lot of families that they can’t afford to live like that.”

While many mothers put all their focus on to their children, Frankie is keen to emphasise the importance of looking after not only ourselves, but also our relationship with our partners.

“Once, Wayne and I went away and I got a lot of crap on Instagram for leaving my kids. I started doubting myself, but my kids were absolutely fine and I was with my husband.

"Actually, our relationship is just as important as our relationship with our kids. We are all starting to learn that we need to look after ourselves,” she says.

“If you’re not happy, your kids are not going to be happy. When I was on Fearne Cotton’s podcast, Happy Place, she said she feels guilty for going for a run.

"How mad is it that we feel guilty for doing something that is beneficial to our health? We’ve got to stop judging each other, but also judging ourselves.”

'Hasn't always been easy'

Frankie might sound like she’s got motherhood sussed, but she’s the first to admit that it hasn’t always been easy.

In her new book, Grow: Motherhood, Mental Health & Me (the follow-up to her bestselling debut, Open: Why Asking For Help Can Save Your Life), she shares how much she struggled with becoming a parent – from not enjoying being pregnant to being ashamed of her 4st weight gain.

“I still feel there’s such a taboo in talking about any negatives when it comes to pregnancy, babies and kids.

You have to enjoy it all, and if you don’t you’re a failure. And you have to do it all the right way. We just don’t think that way in any other part of life.

“I do wonder, if I had kids now, would I feel differently? These days, we are allowed to talk about not feeling body-confident and having stretch marks.

In eight years we’ve come a long way – and I think I’d feel slightly better now.”

Frankie has never shied away from tackling difficult subjects. She’s spoken unashamedly about her struggles with her mental health, leading to her being admitted to a psychiatric ward 10 years ago, shortly after she met Wayne.

“Oh god, I feel like a completely different person now,” she says. “I look back and I can’t believe what a hole I had managed to get into. Even Wayne and I, as a couple we’ve come such a long way.

"It’s only over the past few years that we’ve become more comfortable with talking about how we feel mentally and how to help each other.

“Poor Wayne has had to learn that it’s not his fault, and I’m not looking for someone to fix anything. I just want someone to listen. It’s been our biggest journey as a couple and it happened when we first met.

"He could have run a mile – but he didn’t. Wayne’s not perfect, but he has been great.

“Back then, people didn’t really know much about depression and I felt it was my place to go: ‘There’s this whole other side to mental health that no one really talks about.’ But then I shied away from it because I felt my role in a band was to entertain and to lift people up and that they didn’t want that honesty.

'Enjoy it all'

“Now people actually want that more than anything else – and talking about it helps people realise that there are others who feel the same as them.

"I think the pandemic helped – people who didn’t understand before have experienced what struggling with your mental health is really like.”

There are obvious similarities between Frankie and Jesy Nelson, 30, who quit Little Mix in December 2020, saying that being part of the pop group had “taken a toll on [her] mental health”.

“As much as you don’t want to let the fans down, you really don’t want to let your band mates down either,” she says. “I think that’s why I kept my issues to myself for so long.

"For Jesy, they [Little Mix] were world-famous – it’s a bigger pressure on her shoulders than I ever had.

“Hats off to her. I think she’s been really brave in speaking honestly about it and doing what she needed to do to make her feel better. I think there will be more support now [within the music industry]. The whole world is catching up.”

As much as you don’t want to let the fans down, you really don’t want to let your band mates down either

Frankie doesn’t blame her time in S Club 8 or The Saturdays for triggering her mental-health issues. In fact, she says she “came out of the womb anxious.

“We were so well looked after, and a lot of the pressure I put myself under came from me,” she says. “There was no manager telling me to lose weight or get to the gym.

"We were allowed boyfriends, we were allowed to have babies. There was never a question that, if that happened, the band would end. There wasn’t really social media either. I didn’t know if anyone didn’t like my hair. I was just having fun.

“I think even with someone like Jesy, you go on a big show like The X Factor and you don’t really know what the outcome will be or think about the end goal.

"If you are that way inclined, then of course being in the public eye and being under that kind of scrutiny will make it worse.

"I often wonder why people with mental-health issues end up in the industry. I think it’s looking for something – the want to be liked.”

'Found my groove'

It might be more than six years since The Saturdays went on their hiatus, but Frankie is still the best of friends with Rochelle Humes, Mollie King, Una Healy and Vanessa White.

She regularly catches up with the girls on a group WhatsApp – even probing Mollie for details about her upcoming nuptials to cricketer Stuart Broad after they got engaged in January.

“It’s really nice. We all had side projects in The Saturdays and that’s what kept us friends. No one felt stifled and we support each other’s new things.”

Her latest gig on Loose Women has been “a saviour,” she says.

“I was really lucky that I joined in lockdown – it gave me something to do and other people to talk to – and for me, it’s nice to have an opinion. I love a debate, even if we don’t agree.

“I do get nervous with the more serious subjects, but the most outraged people have got was when I said Wayne bought too many Easter eggs!

I look back and I can’t believe what a hole I had managed to get into. Even Wayne and I, as a couple we’ve come such a long way

"People were saying I was out of touch. I’d been really worried about talking about some really heavy topics and that’s what I got called out for!

"It was a bit of a turning point for me. I have a special relationship with Kaye [Adams, Loose Women anchor], but everyone says I’ve got the bum end of the deal as I only see everyone at work and haven’t been out with them all due to the pandemic.

"But I’m sure we’ll make up for that soon.”

Meanwhile, Frankie is also emerging as a bona fide style icon, with friends texting for sneak peaks at her weekly round-up of outfits because as soon as she posts them, they sell out.

“With Frankie’s Faves, it started with people tagging me asking where outfits were from. But it’s really taken off and people enjoy it. I put a lot of thought into it, to try to choose things that are not too expensive,” she says.

Having that kind of pull made Frankie the obvious choice to front Fabulous’ Style Issue, but she admits she hasn’t always got it right.

'People said I was out of touch'

“I think I’ve just grown up a bit and found my groove. I definitely wear more clothes now than when I was in a girl band. There are so many fashion faux pas and it’s unfair because mine are so well documented!” she says.
“We performed on Top Of The Pops [in 2009] in these bustier-type things with suspenders.

"It was pretty cool at the time, but I look back and I was literally in my underwear! Or when we went to the premiere of High School Musical 3 [in 2008] in these PVC dresses. I hated everything about them so I chose the black one, but it looked like a bin bag.

“But that’s what is great about fashion – you can play around with it. I might not always get it right, but that’s the fun.” And her most radical style transformation? That’s all thanks to becoming a mum, she says.

“In The Saturdays, I would wear four-inch heels to the shops – that was just normal life. I remember when I got pregnant, I said: ‘I’m never not going to wear heels’.

“But pushing a buggy and wearing heels, it just doesn’t work. I love looking at old photos and going: ‘What do I look like?!’ I’m glad, because I would hate to look the same my whole life.”

  • Grow: Motherhood, Mental Health & Me by Frankie Bridge (£18.99, Brazen) is out now

Frankie’s fashion tips

What is your favourite shop?

I buy everything online as I get overwhelmed in shops. Zara is probably my go-to.

Which is your favourite season?

I love autumn/winter fashion. I look forward to getting a new pair of boots, and I love layering up and playing around with texture.

Who is your celeb style icon?

Jessica Alba. Even when she’s out and about with her kids she always looks effortless and stays true to her own style.

What’s been your biggest splurge?

I splash out less as I’ve got older, but I do have a Bottega clutch – it was so expensive but I use it all the time and I still love it. I’m trying to be more mindful of the environment, so I’m going to try borrowing a designer bag that you can switch every month.

Who’s your favourite designer?

Victoria Beckham – her designs are always unfussy with nice, straight lines. And I love seeing what labels like Chloé do at Fashion Week – I wouldn’t necessarily wear Chloé, but the shows are fun.

What is your best budget buy?

I love Bottega’s square-toe slingbacks (left), but I found a really good copy on the high street, with a bigger heel.

Hair & make-up: Malin Coleman using Giorgio Armani | Make-up Styling: Nana Acheampong | Stockists: Dune London (

    Source: Read Full Article