It has been nearly a year since Dannii Minogue announced that she had had enough. Last February, the 45-year-old pop singer announced she was walking away from seven consecutive years of judging The X Factor to focus, full time, on preparing Ethan, 6, her son with ex Kris Smith, for what she calls “his first year at big school.”
But if she thought her time as a stay-at-home mum would be easy, well… “Oh, my God! I had no idea how involved it would be,” Minogue tells WHO. “There’s a real learning curve being the parent rather than the student. It was a good eye-opener. I was just spent.”
Minogue spent much of 2016 taking on everyday mum duties: volunteering at swimming classes, meeting with Ethan’s teachers, and mastering—or at least trying to master—the art of the lunchbox.”I was googling every mummy blog going, ‘What am I meant to put in?! I want to do the right thing!’” she recalls. “Dinner, too. You have to have dinner ready at, like, five o’clock, ready on the table. They need to be fed.”
A keen cook—and in case you were wondering, big sister Kylie requests her risotto every time they get together—Minogue admits that took some adjustment: “I really like to get out all the ingredients, take my time, be leisurely … mum cooking is not like that. It takes the joy out of it a bit.”
Minogue is now set to return to the rigours of live TV in Let It Shine, a new UKTV talent contest looking for five male all-rounders who will go on to star in The Band, a stage musical about Take That which will eventually debut in London’s West End. (The series starts on Sun., Jan. 22 at 7.30PM.) Ethan will join her for the live shows—a change from The X Factor.
“I found some family time had to be put aside” during her run on that show, Minogue reveals. “The hours we worked meant we became very emotional … everybody is just tired and strung out.”
Now she has more time to spend with Ethan, the two are tackling a big ask: helping him learn to read. “He’s now reading a whole book on his own.” Watching his progress from baby to schoolboy “is mind-blowing. You think of having a baby and you think it’s something you can nurture, cuddle, feed. You don’t really think beyond that. Helping him learn has been incredible.”
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