Ferne McCann doubts herself as a parent and finds it difficult making decisions for daughter Sunday as a single mum

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Ferne McCann began her fly-on-the-wall reality show First Time Mum when she was pregnant with daughter Sunday in 2017. Fast-forward three years and she’s just wrapped up filming the sixth series – so we’re excited to catch up with the star and her daughter Sunday to celebrate.

Chatting to new magazine during their exclusive photoshoot with the adorable two-year-old, Ferne tells us she loves being able to look back on how far they’ve come together.

“We’re documenting so much of Sunday’s early years,” she says. “I think that’ll be so nice to play back to her when she’s older and show her the madness and the brilliant-ness of how our life is at the moment.”

Ferne is the little one’s sole provider, after splitting from Sunday’s father Arthur Collins. He’s currently serving 20 years in prison for a horrific nightclub acid attack, which took place just months before she was born.

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But former The Only Way Is Essex star Ferne says being a single parent is all she’s ever known, so she’s used to juggling mummy duties with work.

And while she’s busy focusing on her career, Ferne admits she’s looking forward to getting back on the dating scene following her split from Albie Gibbs earlier this year – though she’s not taking it too seriously.

“Dating is exciting,” she teases. “You don’t have to end up marrying that person or getting into a relationship with them, it can just be fun.”

Here, Ferne, 30, lifts the lid on her hopes for more children, bumping into exes and the highs and lows of motherhood…

Hi Ferne! What can we expect from this series?

Everyone has seen Sunday grow up because the show started when I was pregnant, so I think it’s nice for people to see what stage she’s at now. And especially being a mum myself, I love comparing and seeing what stage other mums are at with their children. Sunday’s nearly three, which is mental. She’s such a character right now and you’ll see that in the show.

What was it like filming in the current climate?

Everyone has experienced lockdown and dealt with it in their own ways. I think whatever industry you’re in, people have had to work a little bit harder and just think outside the box. Yes, it’s been different filming a show in these crazy times, but we’ve just been sticking to the guidelines and a lot of the filming has been outside.

You put yourself and your parenting skills out there for everyone to see. Do you ever get mum-shamed?

Yes and no. I have had people say, “I’d do this differently.” The mum police sometimes are out in force! Last series, I swore in front of Sunday and then she repeated the “F” word back. But when you own it and you’re honest about something and you explain it, I think people are more forgiving and not so opinionated.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve been criticised for?

It was more when she was a newborn. I’d get things like, “You’re not supporting her head,” or things like, “That baby needs more layers.” It’s just like, “Give me a break!” You don’t know the temperature of my baby just from looking at a picture. It’s just crazy because ultimately, it’s down to you what sort of parent you want to be. How you want to raise your child is your decision.

How do you find the balance between motherhood and your career?

That’s always been a juggle. I worked throughout my whole pregnancy, so that’s been something from the get-go that I’ve just naturally had to strike a balance with. I’ve kind of got it down now. She goes to nursery four days a week and I’ve got such an amazing support network around me, like my mum.

In this series, you see me returning to work after lockdown and admitting that I do need more help. You’ll see me looking into getting a nanny and employing a PA to give my mum a break as well. I’m the sole provider for Sunday, so I’d love to be able to spend more time with her, but sometimes you can’t. That’s what childcare is for, because I physically can’t be in two places at the same time.

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Did you ever worry about the uncertainty of your career during lockdown?

Of course – I think everyone did. But for me, I’ve got my fingers in a few different pies and I work all the time. I’ve worked ever since I was 14, so I know that I’ll never, ever be out of work.

What is your favourite thing about being a mum?

The best thing about being a mum to Sunday is that she makes me laugh so much and we can have little conversations with each other. That’s what’s really fun about this stage – we can communicate. So when she’s been at nursery, we can talk about it. We just have so much fun together. We snuggle and it’s that unconditional, endless love we get from each other.

Aw! What do you find tough?

I guess the hardest thing is doubting myself as a parent and wondering whether I’m making the right decisions. These early years are really crucial and can actually shape their future. And having to do that and make those decisions on your own can be really difficult. And oh my God, the tantrums, too! But it’s all part of it.

How would you describe Sunday’s personality?

She’s cheeky, funny and she’s a natural born wind-up. She’s always been around so many colourful characters since she was born, so she’s very sociable and she loves having chats with the people she meets. She’s just gorgeous – I love her.

Do you ever worry about putting her in the public eye?

I think right now, she’s young and First Time Mum is such a positive show. And because it’s my show, there’s a level of control there. I wouldn’t do anything where I would think, “This is going to be negative.” If she grew up and was like, “I’m going to do this reality show,” I would definitely think twice and be like, “This needs to be a considered decision.”

What can you see her doing when she’s older?

I think about this all the time! We say that she’s going to be a pop star and she’s going to tour the world. She’s going to be like Dua Lipa! I think there will definitely be some sort of performing there, but who knows? She loves books and she’s such an imaginative creative. She’s also very independent and likes playing by herself. So I don’t know. But this is the exciting part. I love seeing her grow every single day and I can’t wait to see what she will achieve.

Would you like more children anytime soon?

Not at the moment. I’m really happy and content with where I am right now in my life, and I feel so grateful with everything that I’ve got. Of course I’d love more children, but I’ve got to meet someone to do that. I guess for me, I really want to fall in love with someone, and that person would have to fit into my family. I’d have to be smitten and they’d have to be a really good person. And then you’d work towards that. I’d love more children, 100%, but right now it’s just not at the top of my priority list. But the universe has other ideas. When I’m looking, I’m like, “Right, I’m ready!” and it’s dead out there. And then when I’m like, “No! I’m not looking for love right now. I’m concentrating on my career and being a mum,” the universe wants me to meet someone.

Your Mr Right could be just around the corner, then…

Well, this series you’ll see that I actually get a secret admirer. It’s just madness and a crazy situation. But you’ll have to tune in!

Ooh! Can’t you tell us a bit more?!

It’s just a secret admirer that just randomly knocked on my door showering me with gifts. But I can’t tell you any more.

Interesting! So what’s the latest with your love life?

I’m single, but I’d love to go on a few dates. I want to really fancy someone. I love that initial first chemistry you get with someone – that’s so rare. I actually had it recently, but it didn’t materialise into anything. I can’t wait to get back on the dating scene. It’ll be fun.

new spotted that you recently started following your ex Frank Major on Instagram. Is he back in your life?

Oh my God, that is so funny! Yeah we followed each other on Instagram the other day. I’m very fond of Frank. I always randomly bump into him on a night out. I actually bumped into him just before Christmas, which doesn’t actually feel that long ago now because of lockdown. He’s very intelligent and he articulates himself well, and he tells a really good story – and I was really attracted to that. I used to love listening to him. He was a bit of an entertainer and I really loved that. So when I bump into him, he always makes me laugh. We’ve kept in contact over the years, but not romantically. He’s more of a friend.

Fair enough! You previously admitted you were on celebrity dating app Raya. Are you still using it?

It’s still on my phone and I dip in and out. I’ve actually had some really nice dates off the back of it, I’m not going to lie. People ask, “Have you been successful on it?” I’m like, “I’m still single, but I think I’ve had some really fun, successful dates.”

Have you been on dates with anyone we might have heard of?!

Not all of them [on the app are celebrities]. Some guys are City traders and some are artists – it’s a real mixed bag and that’s the fun of it. I’ve not been on a date, especially in recent times, with any celebs. I’ve never dated a celeb.

Do you prefer to go on dates with people who are out of the spotlight?

I don’t really know, it’s just how it’s worked out. There’s only room for one celeb, honey! [Laughs]. I’m totally joking. I’m so not like that! But yeah, I don’t have a preference. Sometimes I get embarrassed about being in the public eye and I pre-empt what they would be thinking. I’m really proud of my show and I’m really proud of how far I’ve come from TOWIE. Moving forward, whoever I’m going to get with, they have to understand that I am in the public eye and I have got a reality show on my life, so they’re going to have to be accepting and understanding of that.

How do you feel about love in general?

It’s definitely something that excites me. I’ve always been a romantic at heart. But sometimes I think, “Who am I going to end up with?” It just really isn’t up there at the top of my priority list. I’m hoping it’s going to be like a film, where I step off the tube and I bump into someone. I’ve just surrendered now. I’m like, “Universe – I trust you. I’m going to leave it in your hands.” I’m looking at my vision board right now and there’s an engagement ring and a silhouette of a couple kissing on a beach. I’m putting it out there!

Can you see yourself getting married in the future, then?

I’d love to get married. I think when you’re so in love with someone and you want to make it official, it’s just beautiful. It’s not the be-all and end-all for me, if I’m honest, but I would love to have that security and that ceremony to make it official.

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You turned 30 in August. How is this new decade treating you?

I’m like, “It’s changed me, I feel like I know the person I am, I feel older and wiser in a positive way…” But then I had a little bit of a wobble. I think it’s what comes with being single at 30. I’m like, “Should I be married? Should I have more children?” But no, I’m very happy with being 30. I just feel really content right now.

You’re quite a spiritual person – you meditate and you have a gratitude journal. How does that help you mentally?

I honestly live my life by these little rituals morning and evening. When I don’t write in my gratitude journal, or if I don’t meditate, I really feel it. It’s a massive part of who I am. I think when you start looking after yourself – and that’s everything from your physical wellbeing, to your nutrition, working out, how much water you’re drinking, the people you spend your time with and what you read – it all comes as a package.

Finally, what else have you got coming up work-wise that we should look out for?

I’ve just finished a show where I’ve been doing lots of cooking, so watch this space! That’s coming out in January. Cooking for me is my number one hobby. It calms me and I’ve been doing it ever since I was young. I also want to do more presenting and I’d love to host a show one day. It’s all very exciting.

Ferne McCann: First Time Mum returns Thursday 22 October, 9pm on ITVBe

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