“I think the kindest thing we can do to another parent is to be honest. We’re all trying to be supermums who look like they have got it all down and I think it makes other parents feel like they’re not coping.”
This might not be words you expect Giovanna Fetcher to say, on the surface she seems to be a mum of all trades. She juggles her career as an author, presenter, actress and vlogger (video blogger), while looking after the two young children she has with her husband Tom Fletcher, lead singer of British pop rock band McFly, from their home in Northwood.
However in her new book Happy Mum, Happy Baby: My Adventures in Motherhood, she holds her hands up and says “I get so much of it wrong”.
“It is my account of motherhood” she tells me. “I didn’t want to write an advice book because there’s so many out there already which are amazing, but it can also make you feel like there’s a right way to parent or that you’re doing it wrong all the time.”
(Photo by) Colin Bell
It may not be your typical parenting advice book, but she does have a suggestion for new mums: “Listen to everything everyone tells you, all the advice, and then chuck it away. That’s the only way you’re going to learn to listen to your instincts. I didn’t do that at first and I was so confused by this idea of their being a right way to parent and I was so gutted I wasn’t doing it right, but if you and your child are happy then you’re doing it right.”
Giovanna, who met Tom when they were teenagers at the Sylvia Young Theatre School in West London, first began blogging around the time they got engaged, more than 15 years ago.
“I was at a funny point in my career” she explains. “I was acting and things were going quite slowly, as they do. I started the blog to create a bit of positivity, mainly for myself.
“I made this space I could go to with photos I love and quotes – I’m a real big lover of quotes that inspire me and keep me positive. Then I started doing book reviews on there because I’m a big book worm.
“Then I was invited to a book launch and met the lady who would become my book agent. She asked if I’d ever thought about doing it and I said ‘that’s what intelligent people do or people who have been to uni’ - I studied acting.”
She published her first book, Billy and Me, in 2013, publishing three more novels by June last year.
It was while pregnant with her first child Buzz, now 2, that Giovanna began blogging and not long after he was born turned to vlogging. She has been relentlessly honest and admirably continues with this vein in Happy Mum, Happy Baby.
She opens herself up as a mother more than ever by revealing for the first time that she had a miscarriage the first time she became pregnant.
“I’ve never shared it before. I had a blog at the time but haven’t said it there or in interviews because I wanted to share it in my own way - I didn’t want it to turn into a sob story or anything.
“I’ve shared it in this because I think people might take comfort from it. I’d hate for people to think I was moaning or I am ungrateful. Its part of who I am and part of my motherhood experience.”
Giovanna hopes that her book and her online writing a vlogging can help other parents to be more open and honest, not only about miscarriage but any of their struggles.
“I think that makes parents not say anything but if you say you’re struggling, it’s not you wishing you didn’t have your children, it’s just acknowledging that in that moment you’re finding it difficult.
“I think if you repress that and don’t share it then I don’t think it’s very good for you. If you’re crying while the kids are asleep and not telling anyone, it’s unhealthy. A lot of parents feel alone or feel like they’re not getting it right, you have to do what works for your family.”
So, with so many notches on her career belt and two children under the age of three, how does Giovanna decide what works for her family?
“It’s a great big juggling act. They both have about an hour a half nap in the day, two hours if we’re really lucky and they go to bed at seven. Buzz has started nursery a couple of days a week now. I think everyone is juggling, people might look at me and think I do a lot but if everyone kept a diary, mums and dads, they’d realise they have been busy.
“Tom and I childcare 50/50. Last month Tom was away with McFly so I had the boys, this month is book stuff for me so he’s got the boys. His mum is a massive help and it’s nice that we’re able to have a grandparent on board helping out.
“There is a lot of guilt. If you’re working on a book then you’re worrying you’re not paying your family enough attention, then if you’re with your family you can feel guilty because you might have a deadline coming up. So I try to juggle it and make everything a good balance. If it feels out of sync then the first thing to be dropped will be the book stuff, but I’m so lucky to be able to do that.”
An Evening with Giovanna Fletcher, arranged by Chorleywood Bookshop, Dr Challoner's (Girls) School, Little Chalfont, HP7 9QB, Thursday, February 23, 7pm. Details: chilternbookshops.co.uk