Giovanna Fletcher: "Ignore all advice!"
The Work-Loving Author and Presenter Giovanna Fletcher finds happiness and calm at home with Husband Tom Fletcher and their two boys, Buzz, three and Buddy, one.
Did you always want to be a mum?
Totally. I’ve always been really maternal and loved interacting with children, and I’ve often been the mother figure with friends too. The reality of motherhood is very different from what you think it will be, though. It’s hardcore. You can’t really be prepared for it.
Who’s been your main parenting influence?
I have a really close family, so definitely my own mum, my nonna – who’s my dad’s mum – and Tom’s mum. I think you take bits from everyone. You’re so influenced by how you’ve been brought up yourself and you look to friends who are parents too. Babies and children are so individual, and what works for one doesn’t work for another, but you try things that others have done to see if that works for you. My mum and dad really help and so do Tom’s – in fact, we wouldn’t be able to work how we do without our family support. You appreciate everything your own parents have done for you as soon as you have your own babies. My mum had three children under five, and back then there wasn’t online shopping and she didn’t drive, so we’d get the bus everywhere. I have a newfound respect for my mum.
Describe birth in one word…
How different were Buzz and Buddy’s births?
I did hypnobirthing with both, but the big difference was with my second baby, Buddy. I had no say or control in the matter. My body just said, ‘This baby is coming out’ and I expelled him. That’s the only way I can describe it. It was the most amazing, intense thing ever. My body completely took over and I just had to let it do what it was doing. Buzz’s birth was amazing, but Buddy’s was quick and intense. With Buzz, my waters broke and I was having contractions, so I saw the doctor, who told me I was 6cm dilated and that I should go to the hospital. I wanted to go and get brunch first! Because I was doing hypnobirthing, I felt on top of everything and was really calm. How crazy is that at 6cm? Everything about birth does stay with you though, every little detail.
Any more little Fletchers?
I’d definitely do it again. I always thought I’d have a big family, but saying that, I also feel content with two. You never really know how long it might take to get pregnant or if everything will be straightforward, so I’ll just go with the flow. I’m not putting all my hopes and dreams on it, but if it does happen, then of course it will be amazing.
What’s your favourite thing about being a mum?
Oh, the cuddles, the kisses and the silly conversations. I love that Buzz can now tell me every little thing that he’s done in the day – down to eating an apple. The unconditional love is just lovely. Obviously, you get the flipside too, and there are toddler tantrums and irrational behaviour, but the love outweighs everything. It’s so nice to see the boys together too – the other day we heard Buzz say, ‘Buddy, you’re my best friend’, which melted my heart. Buzz is a bit rough with him sometimes, but I’m sure Buddy will be giving it back soon enough.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
To ignore all advice! I think mums are so confused now about the right or wrong way to parent that we do forget to trust our instincts. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about how you do things ether, because you know your child best.
What’s been your biggest panic?
The first time Buzz properly vomited – like, grown-up sick. It’s really traumatic for them and seeing him look so scared was horrible, knowing another wave was going to come. In those situations, mother instinct really kicks in: you become the person in charge who’s totally composed. Even if you’re panicking on the inside, on the outside you’ve got it covered.
Describe your perfect family day
A lie-in would be nice, but probably wouldn’t happen, then going for brunch and a walk, then home for naptime and maybe a bit of baking. Just being together and not looking at our phones is important. It can be hard for Tom and me to switch off, so we really have to remember to not let emails suck us in.
Who’s your fantasy babysitter?
Ooh, there are lots of people I’d love to pick, but I’m not sure how good they’d be with children, so the ultimate would be Mary Poppins. She’d do a good job and I’d probably learn something.
What’s the one attribute you’d like to pass on to your boys?
Playfulness. There are times when you do have to be serious and focus, but I’d like them to always be playful too.
What’s your parenting style?
We do have a nice structure and routine, and I’d say I’m a fair parent. We have fun, but there are boundaries that Buzz knows not to overstep. Both Tom and I are a united front with discipline – I couldn’t handle it if I was the only one making the rules.
What does Tom do better than you?
Well, apart from playing the guitar… He’s really imaginative with the boys. He’s also not scared of just jumping up and heading out with them. I get hot mum sweats and think I have to plan it all to leave the house. Tom took both boys out together long before I did. It doesn’t faze him one bit.
What have you had to give up?
Sleep, without a doubt. I’d sleep for hours and hours pre-babies. It’s weird, though. I’m busier now workwise and I have no more than six hours of broken sleep a night, but I’m far more awake and productive than I ever was when I’d sleep for ten hours.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
It sounds so sad, but Tom and I love working, so soon as the children are down to sleep it’s our chance to get a few hours done. I also like it when we say, ‘Let’s not tonight’, and we sit on the sofa and drink wine instead. Finding happiness and being content with what you’ve got at home is lovely. I still get my ‘me’ time – I just don’t feel like I need to go out or be searching for either happiness or calm elsewhere – I have it at home.
If you could invent some crazy gadget for new mums, what would it be?
A magic bag, that you open and out pops whatever you happen to need at that time. No rummaging, it’s just there.
What has having children taught you?
That all mums experience the same things. I know it has its downside, but social media is an amazing place for a new mum. It’s a daunting time and you’re so unprepared – to go online and see other mums going through exactly the same thing can be a huge support.
What’s your top parenting tip to pass on to new mums?
Breathe. Those first few weeks when you’re in a fog can feel like forever – it’s so overwhelming. Just hang in there, breathe through it and life turns around again at about six weeks.