Emily Blunt on parenting: ‘We are both massively hands-on, and we love it’

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Mary Poppins Returns opens December 19th. Until that time, prepare yourself for a glut of promotion because not only does Disney have to sell this movie, they have to justify it in the context of how much people love the original. The film’s star, Emily Blunt landed the cover of Harper’s Bazaar’s January issue. If you have a moment, I encourage you to click the link and look at the photo spread. I found Richard Phibbs’ photos and the outfits absolutely enchanting. The interview itself isn’t bad either. It was deeper than I expected but still playful (a little like a movie about an English governess). In it, Emily discussed overcoming a childhood stutter, preparing to play Mary Poppins and how she and husband John Krasinski are completely hands-on parents to their two girls, Hazel, four, and Violet, two.

On why she didn’t watch the Julie Andrews film in preparation: Even though I’d seen the film as a child, I decided not to watch it when prepping. She was so clear to me from reading that I decided not to be intimidated by the iconic Julie Andrews in the iconic role, and just approached it as I would any other part.

On when the weight of this role hit her I was about 50 feet in the air, hanging from a crane, having to look effortless… But then one of the camera guys came up to me and said [she slides into Estuary], “It was really emotional, seein’ ’er come back.”

On how acting helped her childhood stutter: Because I couldn’t speak fluently, I watched and listened. I’d be on the Tube, and I’d wonder about people and invent back stories for everyone. There’s always been a natural desire to walk in the shoes of others. It (acting out parts) started quite young, because it was the only tool I had to speak properly. I was that kid, upstairs in my room, trying out stuff in the mirror. But I’d never tell anyone about it. It was always very private.

On parenting: We are both massively hands-on, and we love it. I’m so lucky with John. But I was colossally unprepared for how life-changing it is. Like all mothers, I think, “What was I doing with my day before I had children?” It’s so full-on and they need you so much; I do find myself in a perpetual state of distraction.

On living in Brooklyn: There’s a multicultural, villagey feel, we don’t have a car, we walk everywhere and people are cool, they leave us alone.

On filming in London: I rediscovered how much I adore it. I love the attitude here, the general irreverence and authenticity. I love being back and seeing my friends and going to all the familiar places. When you grow up, it sometimes feels that version of yourself is slipping through your fingers. To rediscover something is really special.

[From Harpers Bazaar]

I always feel parents who boast about being “hands-on” are setting themselves up for criticism. No matter how involved you feel you are with your kids, there’s always going to be someone who thinks it’s not enough. Maybe because they aren’t photographed with their kids Emily feels she needs to reassure us. I don’t doubt it’s true, I just don’t know why people feel the need to say it. I’d never assume otherwise, until the kid writes a tell-all. As for remembering what I did with my day before being a mother, I remember exactly how I spent my days. I have different responsibilities now that I have kids but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have them before.

The quote that got to me the most was the one about the camera guy. I’ve been kind of wondering why I was so excited for this film and I think his comment about seeing Mary Poppins come back sums it up. I loved the film as a child, I was comforted by it like most were. I had a rough time when my kids were babies. When I had my first, I put “Disney films” on my Christmas list and my parents sent Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins. I admit, I’d meant the Disney cartoons and was a little bummed until I watched it. It felt like Mary had come back to me as a mom. Now that my kids are teens, I need her again. And I think a new version for this new phase of life will be practically perfect… in every way.

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Photo credit: Richard Phibbs/Harpers Bazaar

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18 Responses to “Emily Blunt on parenting: ‘We are both massively hands-on, and we love it’”

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  1. Marigold says:

    There are many, MANY famous people I don’t believe for a hot second are hands-on parents (even with all the pap photos of said kids) and hell if I wouldn’t want to differentiate myself from *some* of them, too.

    I might be wrong but I think she’s talking about what she did with her pre-kids days because of the total lack of freedom that new babies (and children, in general) afford you. What did I do with my days? simply means you could do mostly whenever your prioritized. With a kid, usually the kid is prioritized.

    • Marigold says:

      *do mostly whatever you prioritized (typing skills are atrocious today)

    • AMAyson1977 says:

      I agree. I just said this to a friend a couple of weeks back. Mine are 11 and 6 and they went for a short getaway with my parents the weekend before Thanksgiving (left on Saturday, back on Tuesday) and I was just at a LOSS for what to do. I know I was busy all the time before I had kids, but hell if I can remember what I was *doing* back then. I read a lot and got some pre-holiday errands out of the way this last time. It was the perfect length for a trip for them; I got to enjoy the quiet and relax, and by the time I started to miss them, they were back.

  2. Winnie Cooper's Mom says:

    I hate when parents to small kids say things like that, like to the effect “Don’t know what I did with my time before.” I know it’s probably not meant to be condescending toward childless people, but that kind of comment comes across as “we didn’t have a life before they came along” or “we didn’t have responsibilities until children.” Similar to “I didn’t know what love was before I had kids.” Maybe I’m just sensitive to it because I see friends writing this stuff all over social media and I’m childless, so I can’t relate, but anyway… just my opinion.

    • Hannah says:

      You know, I read it more as “I didn’t know how much stuff I could pack in a day and be exhausted all the time”. Maybe I’m projecting, I have a little one and I honestly do wonder sometimes “what did I do with my life before, what was I like?” because everything now seems to be going in wharp speed and there’s no time refkect on yourself or anything, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all, you’re playing catch up and feeling guilty for not getting it alldone. Totally personal experience, but I’m sure she didn’t mean it in a condesecnding way.
      Lovely photos, always liked her.

      • AmandaPanda says:

        You know, I can remember exactly what I did with my day before I had young kids…and I miss it like crazy! I read it as a take on just how much you give up with very young kids – for me, basically anything non essential that has to do with/for me has made way for childcare. And the magic is that you do love it.

        That said, I generally don’t ever made statements like that because I think they do come across as patronising and rude to childless people, even if that’s not the intention. It’s just hard to express that sense of how fundamentally your life shifts without making it sounds like Post kids is more “important” – it’s not, it’s just the reality is that you can’t hand them back so really there’s no choice!!

    • MaryContrary says:

      Oh my god-having babies and small children is the biggest time suck and exhausting. People generally aren’t saying it as a put down or trying to be condescending. Or saying it in a twee way like “oh I didn’t know happiness until I had children”. You are sleep deprived, fixing someone else a boob/bottle/sippy cup/snack, cleaning up diapers/vomit, changing spit up upon clothing (theirs and yours), dealing with sleep schedules, and then coping with tantrums, illnesses and a variety of other things that pop up. Heading out the door is not just grabbing your keys and phone. That said-it is also incredibly wonderful. So try not to be offended or take it personally-but try and see that it is a HUGE life change.

      • Mel M says:

        Yes this is how I feel about it, HUGE time suck! My husband and I often ask what we did for the seven years we were married before we had kids. Like others have said I remember being able to do whatever, going out to dinner, reading a book, going running, going to the store, napping, watching movies, doing whatever TF I wanted and yes I miss it a lot! I don’t get a chance to do most of that stuff now and when I do it needs to be planned, nothing spur of the moment. I’m also not saying it condescendingly because I don’t think people that don’t have kids are lazy and do nothing. I am thinking only of myself when I say it. Like why did I think I was so tired back then? Why didn’t we travel more? Why did we fight about the stupidest things and not speak for days? I guess I look back and have regrets and then I look at my life now and see how much I can do in a day but also that 99% of it is spent doing things for other people and I rarely do anything for myself like I used to be able to do.

      • MaryContrary says:

        @Mel M-not sure how old your kids are, but it definitely gets easier as they get older. I love having teens-they’re funny and interesting. And my husband and I can actually go out whenever we want. Even just running to Home Depot together without dragging everyone along seemed like a huge win :) Hang in there!

  3. Anya says:

    My first comment on this site is to say that the camera man’s comment made me cry. Not sure why it touched me so deeply, but oh boy, did it ever.

  4. escondista says:

    beautiful cover photo.! <3

  5. lucy2 says:

    Beautiful photos! I’ve seen the original a few times but it was never one of my go to movies.
    I like that she said they’re hands on but then was also honest about how much work it is and how unprepared she was for it.

  6. Jegede says:

    Gorgeous cover. Better then the Vogue pastiche.

    Great for Emily.

    She started the year with a critical & commercial smash in A Quiet Place;
    Ending the year similarly with Mary Poppins.

    I smell Oscar nom!

  7. Pandy says:

    That Victorian/Prairie dress in the bottom picture is EVERYTHING.

  8. minx says:

    She looks gorgeous but I still like her with slightly darker hair.

  9. MaryContrary says:

    I just saw the trailer a few weeks ago-and the movie looks gorgeous! The colors are super saturated, the lighting is beautiful-you can see they spent a ton of money on it and it feels magical. I can’t wait to see it.

  10. Meg says:

    LOVE this:
    ‘As for remembering what I did with my day before being a mother, I remember exactly how I spent my days. I have different responsibilities now that I have kids but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have them before.’