Being Mama: Alice Naylor Leyland
The mama of Billy, 4, and Nancy, 1, and the woman behind the magical Instagram account @mrsalice shares her story with us.
Model and fashion blogger Alice Naylor Leyland loves a party. Her own 30th birthday party, held on her country estate in England, was a lavish affair six months in the planning. Guests – among them models Jacquetta Wheeler and Poppy Delevingne and designers Charlotte Olympia and Alice Temperley – were treated to party favors like custom-blended Fortnum & Mason tea and a piano composition created just for the day. “Most of the time,” she says, “a great party is not about the expense, it’s about the personality. I will personalize anything I can get my hands on.” When it comes to her children’s parties, though, Alice admits she has to restrain herself. “I have a tendency to go all-out. And my son is at that age where he’s starting to say, ‘Mom, enough!’ You don’t want to make it too tickety-boo, you know?”
If you’ve ever scrolled through Alice’s addictive Instagram account, @mrsalice, you’ll know that she lives something of a charmed existence. Her two adorable kids, Billy, 4, and Nancy, 1, often pop up on her feed, looking equal parts charming and cheeky. “Billy and Nancy are both at great ages now,” she says. “Nancy’s not quite at the terrible two stage yet and Billy is definitely out of it, which is great. They get along very well and they really do love each other; it’s lovely to see the way they play together.”
Alice, who was brought up by her Australian-born mother in London, says she’s learned so much about parenting from the woman she calls her role model. “It really was the most blissful childhood; we remain incredibly close to this day. We talk on the phone twice a day.” The greatest gift her mother gave her, says Alice, is the knowledge that she was always loved. “I never felt anything but adoration from her, and I really do think that’s the most important thing you can give to your children.” The best piece of parenting advice she received from her mother was to ask herself, ‘Do the children profit?’ “If I ever worry about whether I should do something with the children, she tells me to ask myself, ‘Will they profit?’ It’s a good way of knowing whether I’m doing something for them, or for me,” says Alice. Now that she has a daughter of her own, Alice feels like the relationship she had with her mother is being mirrored in the one she now has with Nancy. “There’s no difference in the amount of love I have for my children, of course, but I do feel like I have met my daughter before. It’s a special relationship between mothers and daughters.”
A young mom – she’s only 30 now – Alice was just 25 when she fell pregnant with Billy. “It happened really quickly, in many ways I wasn’t prepared,” she says. Both pregnancies were relatively easy, despite both children being in the breach position and having to be delivered by caesarean section. “I carried on my lifestyle as normal while I was pregnant,” says Alice. “I was very active and didn’t really feel tired. In fact, I went to the gym a lot more when I was pregnant than I do now! I would just walk on the treadmill, but still – it made me feel great.”
These days, Alice and her family live in rural England – a conscious decision by Alice and her husband to “let the children grow up somewhere where they don’t have to worry about being run over every six seconds!” – and relish their days together. ““If I’m in London,” says Alice, “it’s purely for work and I’m running from one place to the next. I pack as much as I can into those days so that I can get back to the children as soon as possible. If a meeting gets cancelled I get so mad, because I just think, ‘Gosh, I could be home with the kids right now!’” When she’s at home with the children, Alice revels in everyday activities like getting Billy ready for school. “It’s funny, I love those little things like filling his bookbag and putting Rice Krispie treats in his lunchbox,” she says. “And at the other end of the day, there’s bath and bedtime, which I just love, too. Billy is really getting into reading at the moment, which I love. I could read to him for hours on end.”
Motherhood changes us all, but for Alice, it’s been a change for the better. “I’ve become a lot more organized,” she says, “but I’m also more flexible. I don’t micromanage as much because you just can’t. And I feel more relaxed now that I have two kids – I used to worry so much when Billy would push the boundaries. I would think, ‘Oh gosh, what have I done?’ But very quickly I realized that this is what children do! Now I don’t worry so much because I know that everything is just a phase that will quickly pass.”