Daphne Iking is trying to get her daughter, Iman, to smile for the camera but the three-year-old isn’t in the mood to play along. After some coaxing, the little girl flashed her pearly whites for several seconds, before turning away to sulk.

“She’s upset because I forced her to put on a hair clip for the photoshoot when she didn’t feel like it,” explains Iking. “But it occurred to me that I was being selfish. I’m so used to playing TV actress that sometimes I forget I’m a mum.”

Take the time when she complained about her weight to her other half. “I want them to know that looking good and feeling good goes hand-in-hand but at the same time I want them to know that looks aren’t everything. So I stopped.”

Like most mothers, life immediately after birth wasn’t as rosy as Iking had envisioned it to be.

The 33-year-old actress and TV host who struggled to nurse her first child Isobel, says that it put a strain on her marriage. “Breastfeeding was painful, but it was supposedly the right thing to do. But it got so unpleasant that I didn’t want my husband to come near me.”

For a while, Iking felt incensed. “It’s like your body doesn’t belong to you anymore.”

Daphne Iking

Iking decided to work from home to keep an eye on her daughters Iman (left) and Isobel, but she admits that this doesn’t guarantee they spend quality time together as a family.

There’s a massive pressure for her to live up to other people’s expectations and that was part of the reason she soldiered on.

“I always thought I have to do this and that, or I’m a bad mother,” says Iking, who managed to breastfeed her second daughter, Iman.

“Other people’s opinions used to matter but now I know better than to let it get to me. You’re not a bad mum; you’re doing what’s best for you and your kids.”

That’s not the only change in Iking. “I used to be vocal and speak my mind without thinking of the consequences,” she says. “But I’ve learnt to put my pride aside, especially if it could jeopardise the safety of my family.”

The biggest public misconception, in Iking’s opinion, is that celebrities don’t have to lift a finger when it comes to parenting.

“People assume I have a SWAT team of driver and nannies, but I only have one and she helps out with the everyday chores while I look after my kids,” says Iking, who has set up a home office so she could be closer to her kids.

“I prepare my daughters’ meals and I bathe them, just like a regular mum.”

One of her proudest moments was when her daughter came home from school and announced that her mother’s salmon pasta was a hit. “Bel said, ‘Mum, your pasta was da bomb. All my friends loved it!’ That just made my day.”

While working from home allows her to keep a close eye on her kids, Iking confesses this doesn’t guarantee that they spend quality time together as a family.

“That’s why I’ve taken up gardening and piano classes for the past month,” says Iking. “It’s something I can do with the girls every day.”

But Iking, sweating it out in a huge sun hat and baggy clothes? It’s an image neither this glamorous star nor her manager husband Joe Lebosi would like to flaunt in public.

And since they live in an apartment, they’ve come up with a brilliant idea to maintain their privacy – by building a vertical garden on their balcony.

“We just had breakfast there the other day. It was fun,” quips Iking. She adds: “I think it’s important to make time for your kids, just like how you make time for work. If you say you’ll take them out today, do it. A promise is a promise.”