Bad Mother: Actress Laura Patch on starring in new Mumsnet comedy series

Actress Laura Patch

A new comedy web series commissioned by Mumsnet follows a sweary, middle class, wine-guzzling mum. We caught up with Laura Patch – the star of Bad Mother – to talk forums, competitive parenting and raising her three kids…

Laura Patch stars in Bad Mother alongside Kevin Bishop, who plays her husband. Each episode, written by author Susie Gilmore, is a busy-parent-friendly six minutes long. We spoke to Laura about playing the lead in Bad Mother and being a (real life) mum to her eight-year-old twins and a three-year-old in this internet age…

You star in the new comedy series Bad Mother – what drew you to this role?
I feel lucky that they offered me the role! I think they had some great names in the mix for Bad Mother. It’s a great role; when I read Susie Gilmour’s script, I was like, yes – this is my life. I got this.

How old are your real-life kids?
My twins are 8 and our little one has just turned 3.

What are your thoughts on motherhood, so far?
It’s the end of the summer holidays so… I’m about to run screaming from my house! In all seriousness, I have found it beautiful and maddening, exhausting and rewarding. Having twins was like a baptism of fire but I guess everything is just a moment in time. Just when I think I have a bit of it nailed, they grow and change again, and once more I have no idea what’s going on.

What is meant by the title ‘Bad Mother’?
Well, in the case of the show, it’s a label mums slap on themselves! A metaphor for that self-judging voice in a mother’s head.

How would you describe your own parenting style?
Good question! The… letting them get on with it style!? (What a bad mother!). I think the best relationships are symbiotic – in a safe framework of love and boundaries. I think teaching your kids to like themselves and accept themselves for who they are is really important. This means that if you expect your kids to live an honest authentic life, you have to do the same. You have to like yourself: the good, the bad and the ugly.

I think we all want to be better parents than our parents were. I’m learning that I need to let them get on with it more, that it’s ok for them to come home and be bored

Having kids changes you in ways you never imagined. I’m probably more strict with my boys than my mum was with me. Kids are challenging: always testing and pushing. Our twins need boundaries constantly reinforced.

Sometimes my husband and I just want to hide in a cupboard!

Are there similarities between your character in the series and the way you behave with your family/at home in real life?
Yes!  Too many moments to mention! That pressure and anxiousness, Bad Mother’s micro-moments of inner torment really resonate with me!

What are your thoughts on posting photos and details about your children online?
I have a public Instagram for work and stuff, and a private Instagram, on which I’ll share pics of kids with friends and family who are spread far and wide. I tend not to post pics of them in the public domain anymore; I feel that can be up to them to do soon enough!

Do you find there is competitiveness amongst your mum friends in the real world, as there is in the series?
I think my friends are quite chilled out, but I think everyone feels competitive at some point! It’s a balance between encouraging your children and pushing them. I’m the first one shouting their names on the side of the track, but I don’t want to live my life through my children, and I try not to compare them to others – that way madness lies.

How could mums better support each other?
For me, the aim is not to judge myself or others. Just as you can’t really judge someone else’s marriage, nor can you judge their parenting. Laughing about it all with other parents is the best tonic. Also I think being around other parents is vital; I have certainly got loads of tips and ideas from how other people parent. We just have to remember that we are all different too; all just doing our best.

With social media we can all showcase pictures of our kids and make it look divine

Is it different for dads?
Depends on the infrastructure of your partnership I guess? I know lots of families where the dad works and the mum stays at home: in that case, I’m sure it is! My experience is different as my husband and I are self-employed and parent together. I think we have both felt the same ‘default’ parent thing – when your main purpose is to cook, clean and care 24/7 for small children.

I do feel, though, that no one person is meant to parent in a vacuum; it’s exhausting. Mums and dads need support or you’d go mad! That old adage – it takes a village to raise a child – is true; no one person can teach your child all the lessons they need.

The Bad Mother series was broadcast on Mumsnet. What was your go-to website as a new mum (if you had one)? 
Outnet!  Haha.  Escapism – looking at clothes I could neither afford nor fit into! But, yeah, all roads lead to Mumsnet don’t they: the Googling of “should my baby’s poo be this colour” or “should my twins’ first word have been Nurofen?”

What role do forums play in modern parents’ lives?
Forums seem to be a great way of building a community that can connect people – helping parents feel less isolated and reassuring them that they are not alone in the trials of parenting!

Why do so many of us strive for perfection as parents; why is ‘good enough’ no longer ok?
I think people are chilling out a bit more, but yeah, basically, we know that what we put into our kids in the way of love, good food, exercise, etc. has an obvious positive effect on them, right? So our kids have become an extension of us, in a way that didn’t happen “back in the day”.

With social media we can all showcase pictures of our kids and make it look divine, but I think the media and social networks are mirroring a backlash to the “back in the day parenting” that we experienced – that old “dad and I are going to the pub, you stay in the car and I’ll bring you a Coke and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, it’s 70 degrees so I’ll leave the window open a bit, but do scream if a man tries to steal you”.

So I think we all want to be better parents than our parents were. I’m learning that I need to let them get on with it more, that it’s ok for them to come home and be bored. It’s only in those moments that you find out who you are, or could be… Prime Minister maybe? Oh shit. Look at me, I’m at it again! Can’t stop.

How has Bad Mother been received, so far?
It’s had lots of positive comments, and interest – I think people find it very relatable. It’s a nice feeling to have made something that people say, “That’s it! That’s how it is!” It’s brilliantly written, shot and directed. We got a great cast of people and I’m so excited to make another series: Susie has written more brilliant scripts that must be seen!

Watch the first series of Bad Mother on YouTube