Leanne Chapman, the 29-year-old parenting vlogger, discusses family life in Essex with Rebecca Pitcairn
You’ve built a following of over 480,000 followers on TikTok posting vlogs about family life in Essex, but how and why did it all start?
I started TikTok, like many people, during lockdown 2020 out of boredom and being at home 24/7. I found it funny creating lip-syncing videos, which I would then send on to all my family and occasionally post on my Facebook page. I like to think I’m a bit of a joker and love making people laugh so I fell in love with the TikTok app the minute I started, although I was extremely nervous to even post my first video – so much so I got my five-year-old niece to get in it with me! My page started to become more than just funny videos after I became pregnant with my daughter, Ava (now two) and I announced it with a TikTok video in September 2020. I began sharing my first-hand experiences of being pregnant while also raising a toddler (my son James is now five) and I think people related to it and were keen to follow me on my journey to becoming a mother of two.
What did you do before you became a social media star?
I worked with children, which is something I have done all my life having studied childcare at college. I worked in a nursery initially, eventually becoming a room leader and that led me to work as a teaching assistant. which is when I fell pregnant with James. I didn’t feel ready to return to work after my maternity leave was up so I left my job at the school and became a stay-at-home mum. I then trained to become a lash technician and loved the freedom that gave me to work while being a mum to a small child.
Where in Essex did you grow up and what do you like about bringing up your children here?
I’ve lived in Essex all my life and grew up in Chadwell Heath, Romford. I went to Grove Primary School and then on to Chadwell Heath Foundation School. Essex is a great place to bring up children. We love simple things like going to the park, which doesn’t cost anything and can provide hours of fun. But we also love a day trip to Southend, the kids absolutely love the soft play and the arcades.
You post about the good and bad of parenthood, but you’ve also shared raw moments, such as details of dealing with the tragic loss of your mum, Lorraine, to cancer in 2017, just six months after you got married to Ryan. Why did you decide to be so honest and how has it helped with the grieving process?
Social media can paint such a perfect picture of people’s lives that sometimes you feel like you’re not normal for having bad days. I like to share the good and the bad because we all go through both no matter how perfect our lives might seem and showing others they are not alone in certain circumstances is something I absolutely treasure about TikTok. The hundreds of people that can relate to my situation of losing a parent or a loved one hurts my heart, but having someone to talk to that’s been through it is really comforting.
The month after my mum passed away I actually found out I was pregnant with James, which completely saved me. I really do not know what I would have done otherwise. I don’t ever think you deal with loss and grief, nor do I think it gets easier with time – you just learn to live with it.
One thing that has helped me and my family is we still celebrate my mum every birthday – we all get together as if we would if she was here – and we also do this on the anniversary of her death. We light lanterns and send them up to her and just be together as a family, which is what my mum was all about.
You sadly had a miscarriage while on holiday last year, which you’ve also posted about. Was it a difficult decision to share that news with your followers?
My dad actually said not to post it, but when I sat and thought about it, I wanted to. Miscarriage is something that’s not really spoken about and so I was completely unaware of how common it is. I also had no clue what was happening to my body at the time and it was such a scary experience. I think had I known a bit more about it, I could have seen the signs. So, I just knew I needed to share my loss with others in the hope they could feel comfort from the fact that it can and does happen to anyone – I’ve had two perfectly healthy pregnancies and births with two beautiful babies to show for it, but that doesn’t mean to say it won’t ever happen to you. It was so sad to read a number of messages from women who had been through a similar circumstance of having a miscarriage on holiday but I’m so glad they felt they had a safe space to share it with me.
What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about being a mum?
There are so many things I love about being a mummy, but I would have to say my favourite is just the unconditional love you have for these tiny little humans – my heart has never felt anything like it. There’s no better feeling than looking at your babies and knowing you created them. And there isn’t really anything I dislike about being a mum, but the lack of sleep is an absolute killer. I used to be the heaviest sleeper known to man and now I will wake at a pin drop!
Follow Leanne on TikTok @Leanneschapman