SAM Faiers has created a fabulous jungle-themed bedroom for her three-year-old son Paul that would be the envy of little boys and girls everywhere.
There’s animal print on the walls, a golden giraffe lamp stand, zebra fairy lights and a £3,000 bed complete with a slide… but Paul hasn’t moved in. Not yet. He still sleeps in his mum and dad’s bed, and FYI, Sam isn’t remotely bothered about prompting the disapproval of judgemental online commenters.
“We had planned to get him in his own room, but he sleeps so well in our bed and I don’t want to upset the apple cart,” she says.
“At this moment the sleep routine in the whole household works, we’re all happy and we’ve got an emperor-sized bed so we have the space. And I don’t even really want him in his own room yet – I love having him there.
“There’s going to be a time when he’ll want his own space and I’ll be really sad.”
Sam, 28, insists the sleeping arrangements haven’t affected her sex life with Paul Knightley, 30 – AKA Big Paul – in the slightest.
“We always find time for ourselves and our relationship. All the time. You just have to juggle it however it happens, so as and when there’s an opportunity, that’s when we do it.
“You have to make sure the kids are occupied or in their chairs or whatever it is. As long as they’re occupied and happy you can find the time for each other.”
You’d be hard-pushed to find a tighter-knit family than Sam and Paul’s. They also have 16-month-old Rosie (who Sam feels is more independent and has just moved into a cot in her own room), and the four of them do pretty much everything together.
Neither of the children are in nursery yet, and Sam and Paul jointly run their thriving clothing business All Bits London. They’ve also just started their personalised kids’ range My Little Darlin, and are about to launch a line of bedding and soft furnishings in Next and Very.co.uk next month.
On top of that there’s regular filming for ITVBe’s The Mummy Diaries, which is now into its fifth series.
After four and a half years and two children, it’s perhaps testament to the strength of their relationship that Sam and Big Paul are still happy to spend so much time together – although she says there are no plans to get married, despite recent pictures that appeared to show an engagement ring on her finger.
“Oh, that was just dress jewellery,” she says, with a wave of the hand. “I’m not engaged, and when I do get engaged I’ll not keep it a secret! Paul and I have been together for so long people are just anticipating it but it’s not top of my list at the minute. Children are such a big commitment, and we’ve got the businesses, and we’ve both been really busy.
“I don’t really feel like I have to get married. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to start planning my wedding because I have so many lovely ideas. But I feel like I’m focused on work and the kids so it’s not on my list of priorities.”
Besides, she says, for the last year the whole family have been consumed with the wedding of her older sister Billie, 29, and Greg Shepherd, 33, who got hitched earlier this month in the Maldives. The celebrations received so much coverage that it kind of felt like they consumed the rest of us, too.
“We’ve been celebrating Billie and Greg’s wedding since last June,” Sam laughs.
“There’s been three stags, three hen dos, trips to Vegas, Ibiza, bridal showers, dress fittings. It’s been so much fun! I remember on the way home it was like: ‘Wow, that’s what are we gonna talk about now?’ It’s all over.”
It was the reportedly rowdy behaviour of the 100 guests that attracted most of the publicity, however. Fellow holidaymakers claimed that the “carnage” turned “paradise into Southend” and that other guests were made to feel like “second-class citizens” while staff moved heaven and earth to accommodate the wedding party.
- Bodysuit, £15.99 from New Look — buy now
- Skirt, £29.99 from Mango — buy now
- Shoes, £40 from River Island — buy now
“We’ve actually changed our WhatsApp group chat name to Southend On Tour,” jokes Sam today.
“It was just the maddest thing. The island staff were so lovely and they didn’t come to us once with a bad or negative vibe. Anything we did as a group was sectioned off away from the other guests. There were 100 of us so obviously they’re not going to put us in the restaurant with the honeymooners. Everything was done as a group – the pool party day, Indian night, the boys’ fishing trip and the night of the wedding – because we didn’t want to disturb the other guests.”
She does concede, though, that there may have been some, ahem, high spirits. But she doesn’t recognise much of what was described and reckons there were ulterior motives behind the complaints.
“Well, yeah, we were all happy and when you’re passing through on the [golf] buggies, there will have been some noise and excitement. And yes, there was dancing and singing and hugging. It’s a wedding! But I read something about throwing stones at fish… I mean, that’s completely fabricated. I think there were a lot of people who just probably wanted to get a free holiday. Once one person did it, they all decided to jump on the bandwagon and try and get some money.”
One report suggested that Greg had called someone a “c**t” for taking a picture of Billie in her wedding dress, although Sam claims there was more to the story.
“There was an English couple standing on the pier as Billie and Greg were getting married, and after the vows the guy was shouting across saying: ‘Who are you?’
“That was so disrespectful and nasty. He was trying to provoke a reaction, and I can’t believe someone would do that on someone’s wedding day.”
Did the bad feeling put a dampener on proceedings? “It got to the point where every story that came out made us hysterical. It couldn’t get any worse so we carried on as we were. We were having the best times of our lives, and as long as Billie and Greg were happy it didn’t matter. We were just having fun, loving life. We’d all paid ridiculous amounts of money to be there. Every drop of wine was paid for. There was nothing complimentary.”
Since quitting TOWIE five years ago, Sam has taken the opportunities the reality show gave her and run with them. As well as her businesses and TV work, she boasts an impressive 2.2 million followers on Instagram and cannily uses the platform for sponsored collaborations and promoting her own labels.
She and the children are very much the faces of the family’s brands. Big Paul, who didn’t have any social media accounts when they first got together, is more reluctant, although Sam says he’s becoming more comfortable with life in the public eye.
“I suppose after a few years he’s warmed up to it more and he comes to some events with me. Not that he likes the red carpet. He likes the socialising afterwards, but hates the actual red carpet bit.
“But he’s cut back on his filming days for this series. He wants to do whatever he can to support me and what we do as a family, but it’s just not for him. He finds it really uncomfortable if we’re filming intense family stuff at home. Reality TV isn’t for everyone.”
Paul’s reticence to fully embrace celebrity life has led to him being misunderstood, says Sam.
“The problem was that Paul was so shy that people would see that as arrogance or him having no personality, but he was so nervous. He has got better but he’s never going to play up to the cameras. He says: ‘I can only be me.’ And so when we have conversations about sending Little Paul to nursery, he’s not going to say stuff just to keep the nation happy. He’ll say what he feels and I think people can see him now as just a normal bloke.”
The nursery debate she alludes to is one particular area of parenting where Sam and Paul clash. Sam would like Little Paul to have the benefit of interaction with other children, whereas Big Paul feels both children belong at home with Mum and Dad.
“He wants to spend every second as a family,” she says. “And in a way it’s right, because they’re only babies for such a short time, he doesn’t want to look back and think we missed anything.”
They’ve put it off again for now, but Sam says she’ll definitely make sure Paul has some time in a nursery before he starts school in September next year. As a couple they’ve learned how to work through any differences, and since getting Rosie into her own room and Sam stopping breastfeeding a month ago, they’re experiencing a rejuvenation in their relationship.
“There was a time I felt we literally didn’t spend any time together as a couple. But now our life is changing because they both go to bed at a good time so we have our evenings back. It used to be quite full-on, breastfeeding all the time, me and him not spending any time together… But we’re through that now.”
Did she ever worry about the impact parenthood was having on their relationship?
“I think kids are always going to affect you, and we’ve gone through weeks where we’ve not communicated about something and it’s come to a head. We’ve learnt that if one of us is tired or we’ve got a busy week and we’re juggling stuff and one of the kids isn’t well, we can’t let that work against us. We have to pull together.”
Having come from reality TV herself, Sam has been deeply affected by the death of Love Island star Mike Thalassitis, 26, and she worries about the pressure instant fame can place on young people coming out of shows like that. It was different, she says, when TOWIE started in 2010.
“Back in the TOWIE days we had a psychiatrist before we went on the show and during the show, and if ever you needed that psychiatrist you had their number in your phone. I never needed it. Some cast members spoke to the psychiatrist all the time, though.
“I don’t know how it is for Love Island, but obviously it’s been 10 years since TOWIE started and things are completely different now in terms of Instagram and Twitter. With a show like Love Island it’s insane – humongous. You’re recognisable everywhere to millions of people even if you’re off the first week. People get shot into stardom.”
She adds: “I can’t get my head around it. I never knew Mike personally, although I’d seen him at occasions like the NTAs or premieres, and we have mutual friends. It’s just so, so sad. I’ve cried for his parents and all his family and friends.”
She says having the right support system and advisors around you when you’re back in the real world and suddenly earning huge sums of money is vital.
“I’ve been hit by tax bills – you do every year. And if you don’t have the guidance on it… I’ve always been told that whatever I earn, put half of it away and that will pretty much cover your tax and your VAT.
“Mostly it’s just so important to check in on friends and family, though, because it’s about communication and talking things through and not being afraid or feeling ashamed or feeling you’re not good enough.”
Today Sam will be celebrating Mother’s Day with Paul and the children before heading over to Essex to see her own mum Suzie, as well as Billie and her children Nellie, four, and two-year-old Arthur.
“We’re going to our favourite London hotel The Dorchester, staying there on the Saturday night, and on the Sunday morning taking the kids for a nice walk in the park before having a roast. Then I’ll go and see my mum and Billie and the kids and Paul will go out with his mum and his brother.”
Suzie has always been Sam and Billie’s rock – they call themselves the three musketeers. She brought the two of them up largely by herself after the girls’ violent father walked out when they were toddlers, and their stepdad Dave Chatwood (from whom Suzie is now divorced) spent years in and out of jail.
“It’s always been the three of us, really. She’s so strong and she’s been through such a rough time, like when my dad went to prison and she was left to raise Billie and me our whole teenage years by herself.
“I look back and I think: ‘You were incredible.’ She’s always been really supportive, and since having our own kids she’s been the most amazing nan. We call her Supergran or Glammie because she looks so amazing.”
If there was one thing Sam could wish for it would be that Suzie, who has been single for several years now, finds love.
“I really want her to meet someone. I think she really deserves a nice man to go dating with. She deserves her own life because she’s so wrapped up in us and the kids. I want someone to come along and whisk her off her feet so she can see how fantastic life can be when you have someone. She was 50 in February, so I do feel like this is her time.”
She’s got plenty on her plate already, but Sam clearly adores being a mum, so it’s no surprise to learn she’s keen to have more children. In a recent episode of The Mummy Diaries, though, Paul didn’t seem quite as keen.
“Oh, we both definitely want more,” she insists.
Mum begs women to stop wearing ‘tight leggings’ as it makes them look ‘naked’
Reusable sanitary towels that are machine-washable are on sale for £4
mum knows best?
This is the kind of mum you REALLY are – based on your star sign
Furious wife gives her lazy husband a fake shopping list to get revenge
Mum dismissed signs of ovarian cancer blaming bloating on middle-aged spread
Mum gets filthy sink sparkling in just minutes & the results are amazing
“But we can’t have them now. I’d have to wait until Little Paul and Rosie are both in school.”
After the last few years of baby madness it feels like they’re just coming up for air. “Rosie’s only just off the boob, I’ve just got
my body back and I feel like it’s been a bit of a turning point recently with her finally sleeping through the night. We need to just sit back and enjoy this time.”
- Book you read? I never have time to read, but I’ve been listening to an audio book, Destiny By TD Jakes, in the car, which is really good.
- Thing you saw on Netflix? The one with 50 Cent, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’. And I actually didn’t watch it to the end because it was too much guns and violence!
- Movie you watched? A Star Is Born on the aeroplane home.
- DM you got? From Luisa Zissman – we were just talking about playgroups. I’m such a mum!
- Time you cried? Over Mike [Thalassitis]. I got really upset.
- Time you were drunk? The night of Billie and Greg’s wedding. I haven’t drunk since then!
Hair: Dino Pereira using Diva Pro Styling
Make-up: Aimee Adams using Nars
Styling: Tracey Lea Sayer
- A boxing world champion’s 7-year-old son punched his dad’s opponent in the crotch
- Delta passengers claim they were kicked off a flight for refusing to remove their 2-year-old son from a seat they paid for
- Cursing Ukraine war, a father buries his 4-year-old son
- The 17-year-old son of a soccer legend showed off the future of American soccer with a golazo in U-17 World Cup
- White Sox player set to make $13 million retires after team told him to stop bringing his 14-year-old son to the clubhouse
- 40-Year-Old Mother is Pregnant With 23-Year-Old Son's Child
- Fallen Mountain Province Marine leaves grieving family, 2-year-old son
- Man Slits 7-Year-Old Son’s Throat And Drinks His Blood. Why?
- Here’s what Deloitte’s CEO told her 15-year-old son when he asked if robots would take his job someday
- 14-Year-Old Son Shot Dead By Father Who Says He Mistook Him For Intruder