Today though, Sara like Pilates more than partying. She now hosts Radio 2’s Sounds of the 80s, recently presented BBC Two’s The Great Pottery Throw Down, and will helm the channel’s new series, Love In The Countryside, helping rural singletons find love.
At 42, it’s fair to say she’s settling down. Here, she shares her feelings on dating and romance, parenting, and talks about trying to be a grown-up…
:: How are you going to find love in the countryside?
“I’m thrilled about going back to my farming roots to present Love In The Countryside. My role is to help and support single people living and working in the countryside to find love. We’re urgently looking for people from towns and cities to apply to join the programme and who are seeking their perfect partner and want to escape to the country.
“I loved growing up on my dad’s 40-acre farm, just outside Bolton, helping him with his herd of Hereford cattle. The days are long, demanding and tiring and the fact that communities are often small can make it very hard for people to find the time, energy or opportunity to pursue romance.
“I’m a bit of a romantic and really hope I can help. I know how lovely it is to go home, kick your shoes off and relax with a partner who’s there for you. Even the thought of being single makes me feel exhausted. Living in a city surrounded by millions of people can make you feel even more lonely without someone. I’ve actually already brought one couple together who met through following me on Twitter and went on to marry.”
:: How do you feel about being in your 40s?
“I’m enjoying it – I’m happy, married with three kids, so what’s the big deal? There’s such a fuss made about turning 40, but it was fine two years ago and remarkably, I’m still fine! Age is always made to be such an issue for women, which is sexist, as it isn’t like that for men.
“Mind you, I wouldn’t say I’m grown-up – I don’t think anyone ever feels completely grown-up. When I go to my kids’ school, I have to give myself a talking to and remind myself that I’m not a child who can be overawed by teachers and authority figures. My mum says she still feels 19 inside, so I know I’m not alone. On the plus side, I’m pretty organised, more confident and not bothered about what people think.”
:: How do you feel about motherhood?
“I can’t sum it up without sounding like a schmaltzy greetings card! There can be times of immense joy and immense tiredness! When they’re babies, [Sara has three children – a daughter, Lola, 13, from her first marriage to DJ Jon Carter, and Isaac, 9, and Renee, 7, with her advertising executive husband Ben Cyzer] although they’re incredibly sweet, it can feel repetitive and non-rewarding. At one time, Ben and I felt like staff in our house – we’d meet each other in the corridor virtually walking in the opposite directions with a baby or toddler or both in tow.
“I’m really enjoying parenting now they’re more independent. Lola and I have great teenage chat sessions, but I never want to be one of those so-called cool mums who calls herself her daughter’s ‘best friend’, fist pumps her mates and name drops knowing their favourite boy bands. Isaac is super active and so affectionate, while Renee’s adorable with missing front teeth and always writing little loving messages for us.
“I’m the stricter parent in charge of veg intake, teeth brushing and homework, and Ben’s the ‘fun’ one and has more patience and energy than me. We’re a good balance.”
:: How do you look after your health and wellbeing?
“If you’d told my 20-odd-year-old self that I’d love exercise, she’d have scoffed, but I absolutely love it. It’s important for me mentally and the feeling of being strong and fit is addictive. I have a Fitbit, do 10,000 steps a day, walk our dogs, run, go to the gym and ride an ex-racehorse stabled near our home. That’s my passion – if I haven’t ridden for a while, I feel like there’s a bit of the jigsaw missing. I can be a bit driven and struggle to relax, so every so often, I try to lock myself away from the kids – usually in the loo – and practise mindfulness with the Headspace app. Let’s say it’s still a work in progress!”
:: How do you view being labelled a ‘ladette’ in your 20s?
“I was well-known, presenting a Radio 1 breakfast show, and followed by the paparazzi – I was fair game. No-one made me go to all those snazzy places where they gave us free champagne and we had a ball. I could have gone to a pub around the corner, but of course I didn’t because I was 21 and having fun.
“I didn’t do anyone any harm, but I was labelled because there’s always this tendency to box you and make comparisons – like you partied then, but now you don’t, so surely you must be quiet and boring.
“Neither description is true because I wasn’t all about parties then and I’m not particularly quiet and boring now. I’m just who I am.”
:: What’s your secret indulgence?
“Catching up with TV that I’ve missed. While I was presenting The Great Pottery Throw Down, contestants got around seven hours to make a piece, so I had downtime and worked my way through Peaky Blinders and, six years behind the rest of the nation, Downton Abbey.
“Ben and I are also watching Love Island – we actually thought we were watching the current series, but it turns out we’re only on Series 1, but I’m loving it anyway! I find it a bit compulsive, but I don’t know how people take part in reality shows – I can’t think of anything worse.”
:: Sara Cox is presenting BBC Two’s Love In The Countryside. To learn more about the show, visit the website: www.bbc.co.uk/love