Giovanna Fletcher on facing the realities of bringing up kids
Giovanna Fletcher, who has three young children with her husband, McFly musician Tom Fletcher, tells Lisa Salmon it's normal to think you're failing as a mother
As a busy mother of three young children, Giovanna Fletcher knows all about the highs and lows of parenting - and she is determined to be frank about the realities of bringing up kids.
While research suggests around a third of parents who post about their children and family life on social media don't post honestly and exaggerate or enhance their updates, the author, presenter, actress and blogger wants to tell it as it really is.
Fletcher (34), who has three boys - Buzz (5), Buddy (3) and Max (1) - with her husband Tom Fletcher, the vocalist and guitarist in McFly, has written several books about her experiences as a mum, including Happy Mum Happy Baby, and hosts a regular podcast of the same name.
She has also done a Happy Mum Happy Baby Live tour, with the aim of: "Highlighting that it doesn't matter who you are, what you have or what you do - we all face the same feelings of judgment and guilt."
She says: "There's so much expectation and judgment - largely from ourselves - that we can often feel like we're the only ones getting it wrong. But the truth is none of us really know what we're doing, and the important thing is giving yourself the space and confidence to find a way that works for you."
In another bid to show the real side of parenting, Fletcher has teamed up with the family toiletries brand Childs Farm to produce tips and advice to help ease the journey of parenthood.
Here, she reveals how she has felt since becoming a mum:
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Have you ever felt you were failing as a mother?
"Has any mum not had that feeling? We all feel like we're failing in some way, but I think the more we talk about it the more we realise it's okay. There's a lot of juggling in motherhood, and occasionally a ball or two drops. I find that talking about things like this really helps everyone see we're all in the same boat. You've just got to pick those balls up and keep going - and try to laugh along the way."
Do you think some parents paint an unrealistic and untruthful picture of parenthood on social media?
"It's up to the individual to share experiences in a way they see fit. If they want to post a highlight reel of their best bits because it makes them feel good, then that's wonderful. The important thing is who everyone else chooses to follow. Find someone who talks about parenthood in a way that speaks volumes to you and makes you feel empowered.
"I follow a large scope of mums online and never wish for 'more honesty'. I don't see a posted photograph of a family all dressed in white, standing and smiling at the camera, and wonder why my family aren't that polished. I just think 'good on you'. There's no need to compare."
What do you wish you'd been told before you became a mother?
"To listen to all the advice that everyone wants to give about parenthood, and then forget it. It can get really confusing, especially when all the advice is conflicting. Listening to your own instincts builds your confidence - it's all about finding your own way."
Do you use the internet/social media for parenting advice?
"I follow some brilliant accounts online who reassure me that I'm doing a good job by injecting a little humour into parenting, and I've also got some sleep tips online from a great woman known as The Night Ninja who used to send the boys videos to encourage them to stay in bed. It worked."
Do you have any help with the children?
"Tom and I do a lot of tag teaming and his parents also help us out. We wouldn't be able to do all we do without them."
Have you ever felt lonely since becoming a mum?
"The early days of motherhood can be really lonely. Going out can seem overwhelming, but I've always found I'm fine when I actually get out, even if it's just for a trip to the park. I used to, and still do, talk to almost everyone I see, especially new mums because I know that when it was me strolling with a newborn I craved a little adult interaction."
What's the most difficult thing about becoming a mother?
"When you first become a mum, everything is new. Your whole life changes and suddenly you're in untrodden territory. But it doesn't stop there, new challenges are always being thrown your way, no matter your child's age."