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Katie Piper: 'Lockdown is hard but I'm cherishing the extra time with my family'

TV presenter Katie Piper tells Lisa Salmon how she's coping being in isolation with her two young daughters Belle and Penelope

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Katie Piper

Katie Piper

PA

Katie Piper with her husband Richard James Sutton

Katie Piper with her husband Richard James Sutton

PA

Katie Piper

While lockdown is hard for us all, it can be especially tough for parents cooped up with energetic toddlers and young children - as Katie Piper knows only too well.

The TV presenter, who first hit the headlines after she suffered severe burns to her face in a 2008 acid attack, is at home during lockdown with her husband Richard and their two daughters, Belle (6) and Penelope (2).

But although the 36-year-old admits some things about the lockdown are indeed hard, she says her lockdown experience so far has had many positive aspects and has meant she's been able to "cherish" spending a lot more precious time with her family.

Here, she reveals how she and her family are managing in lockdown.

How are you all coping?

We're doing really well. We're healthy, safe and protected and that's what's important right now.

My family haven't had any symptoms, which I'm so thankful for. We're keeping a routine and structure to our day - it's crucial to have this purpose to reduce anxiety at a time like this. We feel so thankful to the NHS and key workers who are our true heroes and I can't thank them enough.

What have you told the children about coronavirus and lockdown?

It's slightly different conversations with my two girls as we have a big age gap. Ultimately they both know there are bad germs out there so we need to stay home to stay safe and protect other people. They're both doing really well and loving the novelty of being at home with both of us and not at school.

Are you home schooling the girls? If so, how are you and they finding it?

Yes we are - I'm finding it tough, but we're doing it and putting our own twist on it. We're also having lots of breaks and fun times too which is lovely - and it keeps the novelty of being at home there.

New research from the latest Nation's Conversations study by McCain found that as families we're spending an average of 28 hours a week around the dining table, which sounds about right when you factor in how much arts and crafts, eating and also learning we end up doing there.

How are you keeping the kids entertained? Has it been hard?

It's definitely been really hard, especially trying to juggle keeping them entertained, home-schooling, and working remotely too for my charity the Katie Piper Foundation.

If any parents have the secret to an easy life at the moment, please tell me! I think you just have to do your best and don't be too hard on yourself.

One thing that I've found the girls love are the old-school activities - so baking, crafts, painting, drawing with chalks on our garden patio. We're also so fortunate to have a garden, which I'm really grateful for with two small girls - especially when it's been sunny.

What do you and your family miss most about life before lockdown?

Probably the freedom which you take for granted. The girls don't miss too much actually, which is lovely - they are just enjoying me being at home. The main thing they miss really is seeing their friends and our families - we're such a close family so although it's lovely being the four of us, we miss our parents and siblings a lot. But saying that, I think this experience has definitely brought us closer together and we're having even more in-depth conversations.

Are you doing more cooking or baking? If so, what have you made?

Definitely - I'm really loving baking actually, I made a pretty good lemon drizzle cake last week if I say so myself! And me and the girls are baking lots of fairy cakes. I'm definitely cooking more as I'm home more.

It's actually lovely because I'm getting to have dinner with my family which is really special. It's a rare thing for me, and something I'm really cherishing - the time to eat with my family, but also the time to have conversations and discussions. It's brilliant.

Are you and the family getting much exercise? Are you doing any home workouts?

Yes, I'm loving working out at home - I use the Fiit app. For me, working out and running is my therapy so I'll work out five or six times a week. We're also getting so much more outdoor time together than we usually would, to be honest.

We really value our hour's exercise together as a family and are going on long walks, or bike rides with the girls.

Have you and/or the family had to miss any important events because of lockdown?

We've missed some birthdays and some weddings of close family have been postponed but we're focusing on what's important, which is being safe and healthy. I know how valuable health is and whatever I can do to help my health, my family's health and the key workers on the frontline - I will do that.

Can you do any work during lockdown?

We're adapting for sure. Firstly, work on the house and DIY is coming along nicely. We've done so much painting but it's really satisfying - I found a really great eco-friendly paint brand and we've painted our whole house with it.

As far as my daily work and business goes, it's been all change, but we've adapted. My charity, The Katie Piper Foundation, for example - we've postponed a lot of fundraising events which is really disappointing, but we're doing fundraising activities online. We're also offering our patients medical, physio and mental health appointments remotely, which is positive.

I, of course, can't record my podcast in the studio so I've brought sound and recording equipment to work at home, which is great. This time is giving me time to reflect on work, and research my new projects coming up too.

What are your plans for when it's all over?

I actually will probably carry on enjoying family time at home this summer. What I'm excited about doing is going back to work. I really enjoy the balance of going to work and being with the family so it will be great to have that balance again.

My first thing to do will be to see my family, especially my parents who I miss so much. The girls will be really excited to see them too - so sweet.

Katie Piper is working with the McCain Nation's Conversations series, which reveals the topics of conversations from family households

Belfast Telegraph