Nine o’clock at night and I’m congratulating myself on being in bed so early. Not that I can sleep — my head is spinning.
I’m wondering what MPs will do now the proroguing of Parliament is over, and thanking my lucky stars I won’t have to get my lips around the word ‘prorogue’ too many more times — it’s one of my stumbling-block words on air (others are ‘curiosity’ and ‘revision’).
I’m also wondering whether a woman playing James Bond is a refreshing change, or the end of days.
These aren’t just random late-night musings — they are the battles I am about to fight live on air when I get up in a few hours’ time to present Good Morning Britain (GMB).
Susanna Reid, 48, (pictured) who is a new Femail columnist, reveals why she’s stopped trying to be perfect and advises her family to embrace just being good enough
At the same time, I’m mentally checking my calendar: is my weekly spray tan booked in at a time when I won’t need to cook a family meal straight afterwards and get tanning goo all over my kitchen? When do I need to get my roots done next? (A former producer once gravely warned me ‘no greys on air’ — and I’ve taken it to heart.)
Have I ordered the soft, brown loaf my three teenage boys love in the weekly online shop, and if not, have I missed the deadline for adding it to my order?
Thoughts of bread inevitably lead me to consider whether I need to lose a few pounds again, since I lost almost 2st last summer. And to wonder if the cheese I can’t stop eating is to blame — for weight gain and for the recent nightmares from which I wake with a start.
Twenty minutes of this, and just as I’m finally drifting off, I hear someone trying to get in the front door. It’s just my 14-year-old, who, like his brothers, is staying at his dad’s house nearby for the night and has forgotten his school shoes.
I find the shoes, hug him goodnight, then go back to bed and return to my cheese-and-Brexit dreams.
I get up at ten to four when my alarm goes off. (It has only once failed to get me out of bed, and, thankfully, our hungry cat acted as back-up.)
Susanna (pictured) says she gives her all at work but constantly feels over-committed, she struggles to balance family life
Behind the glossy hair and smart dresses you see on TV, this is who I am: a busy working mum like any other.
A woman who’s giving it her all at work, but constantly feeling a little over-committed. Who adores her family and would do anything to give them the best in life, but sometimes struggles with the business of cooking meals and prepping school kit. Who also cares deeply about our society and our country — and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.
This week’s guilty click…
Susanna uses Kerastase Nutritive Bain Satin (pictured) for fewer split ends
I have abandoned my regular coloured hair products and indulged in something more upmarket that my hairdresser promises will make my locks look less brassy. I find it hard to spend the best part of £20 on the Kerastase Nutritive Bain Satin shampoo, let alone £14 on the conditioner. But if it means fewer split ends, that means fewer in-between trims. My hair needs serious repair-care, so I’m going to splash out and hope for miracles.
From the outside, it looks like I’ve got my life sorted, but all too often I find myself awake at night, worrying about keeping all those spinning plates in the air.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. My job at GMB gives me a glimpse behind the scenes of the top stories each day, as well as the odd nugget of celebrity gossip.
And now I’m thrilled to be sharing my take on life and what’s in the news with you through my weekly Femail Magazine column.
I won’t hold back from sharing my opinions. But I’ll also be fair, taking on the topics of the day with a positive, no-nonsense attitude — and a great sense of fun.
So much of what Femail stands for feels deeply relevant to me. I am often asked about my early mornings and how I cope with my hectic schedule. Some people are tempted to think I’m a sort of superwoman, fitting it all in.
Well, it was the original editor of Femail, Shirley Conran, who coined that phrase, in her 1975 book Superwoman.
A brilliantly witty and practical guide to modern womanhood, it included the legendary words of advice that my mother lived by: ‘Life’s too short to stuff a mushroom.’ (Shirley also wrote the bonkbuster Lace, which formed the core of my own generation’s liberal sex education.)
Susanna (pictured) advises her family to have high hopes but low expectations, sometimes good enough has to be good enough
She was my first female role model (bar, of course, my loving mum, bursting with ambition for her daughter, and my indomitable grandmother, who was soft and steely at the same time).
These days, we all know that while it’s a beautiful aspiration to be a superwoman, there’s no use castigating ourselves when we inevitably fall short.
My constant advice to my family — ‘hopes high, expectations low’ — is based on the idea that we can try our best to be perfect, but sometimes good enough has to be good enough. I think Shirley would approve. And, trust me, I fall back on those words myself all the time.
My royal telling-off from Philip
Susanna says Prince Philip’s (pictured with the Queen) disapproval of her not finishing her Duke of Edinburgh Award still stings
Boris Johnson may not be in the Queen’s good books as he was accused of misleading her for political reasons. Well, I know how it feels to face royal displeasure. Footballer Michael Owen has written about the time he got into a crowded lift at Ascot with the Queen, having thought he was observing protocol by taking his top hat off first.
‘We’d all squeeze in if you put that back on,’ scolded Her Majesty. When I met her wonderful husband, who was handing out Duke of Edinburgh Award gold medals, he asked me. ‘Did you ever get yours?’
‘I started, Sir, but never finished,’ I said. Prince Philip frowned and muttered: ‘Well, goodness — what on Earth was wrong with you?’
The sting of royal disapproval still lingers.
When I emerge from my front door at 4am, no one who saw me would believe I had a job on TV. But I accept that you can’t always look your best — and, lucky for me, I’m about to enter the care of ITV’s expert hair, make-up and styling machine.
Not only do they track every line on my skin and every grey hair that dares to emerge, but also whether I’m rested, sad, happy, cross — and how it all relates to my life at home.
Don’t think my co-star Piers Morgan escapes their techniques, either. A slick of foundation, a brush of hair gel and a dusting of powder is essential for everyone under those studio lights.
But there’s still far more pressure on women than men to look polished and perfect, and that applies to every workplace.
Is this a reality? Yes. What should I do about it? I embrace it.
My wonderful stylist Debbie picks a TV-worthy outfit for me daily and she’s like a mum to me at work, offering wise counsel and warm hugs.
Every woman needs a support network — the colleagues, relatives and friends we turn to for trusted advice. They can really save you from a fall. Which is what my co-presenter and friend Kate Garraway did the other day.
It was just before 6am and I was sitting under the bright lights of the GMB studio about to present a two-and-a-half hour show.
I knew what to grill the political guests on and where I stood on other discussion topics: innuendo in the workplace and plastic pollution at music festivals.
Susanna says Strictly contestants with a background of live broadcasting such as Mike Bushell (pictured with Katya Jones) have an advantage
Why the second week of Strictly is the scariest
This Saturday the contestants on Strictly face their first elimination round. This is when it gets terrifyingly competitive.
It is an extraordinary challenge — going into the training studio on Monday knowing absolutely nothing, and six days later performing a ballroom routine live in front of ten million people. I can’t believe I ever did it!
Mondays were always the time I used to wail at my professional dance partner, Kevin Clifton, ‘I can’t do it!’ He would calmly reply: ‘Yet. You can’t do it yet.’
As the contestants listen to Strictly’s opening theme, they stand on tall stepladders in the unglamorous backstage area. Everyone is fizzing with nerves. Anyone who works in live broadcasting is definitely at an advantage, as shown last Saturday when BBC sports presenter Mike Bushell enthusiastically took to the floor as happily as when he is trying a weird new sport for his day job.
Good luck to the class of 2019.
Two minutes before going live, the editor was doing a rehearsal of the headlines when my co-presenter dropped a bombshell. ‘I can see your bra,’ Kate said.
Under the beaming studio lights, my chic red dress had gone transparent. Eeek! My bra should not be making headlines!
I nipped into my dressing room, slipped on a blue shirt-dress meant for the next day’s programme and was back at the desk before you could ask: ‘Is the UK ever going to leave the EU?’
What we wear is fertile ground for problems to arise. Squeezing into an outfit that’s too tight or too flimsy means the back of my dress has split on more than one occasion. Thank goodness for the advertising breaks on ITV, which mean changes are easier than they were when I was at the BBC.
Susanna (pictured) who is a single mum, says she takes her hat off to the women that are full time parents
Of course, getting criticised on my personal Twitter and Instagram stings. I’m often told I either talk too much, or not enough. I get called out for being both a ‘Remoaner’ and a ‘Brexiteer’.
Being scrutinised and criticised is tough, but it’s the price you pay for being in the public eye.
I’m also a single mum and I often think of the old saying, that every working woman needs a wife.
Tyson Fury once came into the studio to explain how he lost 7st. When the boxer suggested I cut milk from my coffee, I joked that he’d ‘fat-shamed’ me. The next day a coffee and milk arrived with an apology. Fat-shaming is mean, but he was doing the opposite: offering helpful advice, which I follow to this day.
This, of course, is 100 per cent sexist. But let’s be honest, it also reflects the sheer cliff-face of hard work it takes for one person to care for children, do the household admin and go out to work.
Doing the work of a mum is in itself a demanding job, and I take my hat off to those women who do it full time. But even when women aren’t with their children, we are still thinking about them: do they know what time they need to get to the dentist? Are they doing enough homework, as well as enough exercise? When will they ever get off their phones?
Femail launched just over 50 years ago. Next year I turn 50, too. (I have a 49th birthday to come in the meantime). Back then, its aim was to celebrate women wearing the trousers,