Gemma Atkinson sat down with HELLO! to chat exclusively about life with three-year-old daughter Mia, sweetly revealing her little girl is now bilingual thanks to Strictly Come Dancing fiancé Gorka Marquez
The 37-year-old actress and radio presenter is certainly at an exciting point in her life. She got engaged to Gorka on Valentine's Day last year before becoming a first-time mum in 2019 when the couple welcomed little Mia just before lockdown. That was the moment Gemma - who has teamed up with Fisher Price for their 'Creating Happy Memories' campaign - realised that her journey was set to be a daunting, but very happy adventure…
WATCH: Gemma Atkinson plays with daughter Mia - Creating Happy Memories
Gemma on Mia becoming bilingual
Gemma lit up when we asked how three-year-old Mia is getting on, revealing the youngster is developing her language skills so well that she can speak and understand Spanish!
Amazingly, Mia speaks to her grandparents solely in Spanish: "Gorka's family don't speak any English so whenever they FaceTime they have to speak Spanish to her which I think has been brilliant for her."
Strictly Come Dancing's Gorka is so keen that Mia grows up fluent in his mother tongue that he will converse with Mia solely in Spanish at home: "He'll constantly speak to her in Spanish and sometimes she'll try and figure out what he means and other times she just goes: "Daad I don't know – speak English!"
Gemma and Mia look like peas in a pod
Gemma sounds impressed and confided: "I can just about understand Spanish it's kind of embarrassing so he said my daughter will definitely be fluent in two languages a hundred per cent."
Revealing a little-known fact, Gemma said: "With Gorka, English is his third language, obviously his dad's Spanish, his mum's Portuguese though which a lot of people don't know about Gorka. He grew up spending six months of the year in Spain, six months of the year in Portugal so he was fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Then he came to England for work so he said, 'I had to learn English otherwise I wouldn't have a job.'"
HELLO! chatted to Gemma ahead of the family's recent trip to Spain and in the lead-up to the family holiday, marking the first time Gorka had seen his own parents since the first lockdown, Mia was extremely excited.
Mia practised her Spanish with Gorka's family in Spain
Mia sounds as though she couldn't contain herself when she heard about the holiday. "She kept saying, 'We're going to see Abuela and Abuelo!' which is Nana and Grandad in Spanish," Gemma beamed. And later the family posted a heartwarming Instagram update that read: "After 2 and a half years, we made it back to Spain. Happy tears were shed and the first stop was the beach with Abuelo & Abuela."
House hunting in Spain
HELLO! readers will want to know – does this mean you're preparing to move to Spain?
"No, I'll definitely stay put. But the plan is to have somewhere in Spain one day that's the next venture, we want a house over there just so his family are able to drive and see us."
Gemma added that since setting their goal to buy property in Spain, they have had "so many estate agents contact us and say we've got this, this and this if you just fly out. We're like, 'Oh god it's a lot of hassle to fly out, can we just do it on Zoom,' my mum's like, 'NO! You need to see it, stop being laid back.'"
Strictly fans can rest assured that nothing beats Manchester for Gemma and Gorka for the time being, however, as it is so handy for Gorka's Strictly tours and Gemma's drivetime show on Hits Radio. "It's so easy to get around. It's two hours to London and then long term have a place in Spain and in Manchester so Mia can go between the two whenever she likes."
Gemma and Mia love to play outdoors
Gemma and Gorka's first parents' evening
Gemma revealed to HELLO! that overcoming the important milestone of Mia's first parents' evening put her first-time-mum nerves at ease. "We had our first parents' evening recently and they couldn't praise her enough, they said she's a level above what she should be for her age. Her communication skills and stuff like that so you know. You give yourself a little pat on the back because as parents it's so daunting not knowing – she's only in toddler group three days a week and half of me thought, 'Is that too much, is it not enough?'
The challenges of motherhood
Gemma is loving life as a first-time mum, and recently celebrated Mia's third birthday with a fun-filled garden party. What is she enjoying most about motherhood?
"For me, it's just seeing them become their little person. I mean a lot of the time with Mia it's like having a conversation with myself which I find hilarious."
Sweetly, another recent highlight was being told by a teacher at toddler group that Mia received a sticker for being kind and helping her peers. Aww!
It's not all sunshine and rainbows, however, with Gemma confessing: "The hardest part I'd say is as a first-time mum, you worry about whether you're doing things okay and is it by the book?"
Gorka and Mia celebrated Mia's milestone birthday in their garden
Fun and unexpected homemade games
Gemma was delighted that she found herself playing some surprising games with Mia during lockdown. "We were out in the garden digging for worms just the kind of things that on paper sound very mundane but once you involve a toddler or a child it becomes this whole brand new adventure!"
The actress's groundedness comes from her upbringing, and she and Gorka are keen for Mia to share this value too. "I remember growing up, it was never anything extravagant or over the top, it was just lovely memories with the family. We try and make sure Mia has the same experience," Gemma added.
Junk modelling did wonders for Mia's development
Hilariously, three-year-old Mia is unafraid of taking the lead during their crafting and building games. "Mia will command, 'You do this, I'll do this, we'll do that!'" laughs Gemma, "So you know… I just sit back and think she's going to have great managerial skills one day!"
Gemma on Mia growing up so fast
HELLO! asks whether Gemma misses Mia's baby stage as her little girl becomes more independent and now knows how to lead games.
"When she was a tiny baby, everyone said to make the most of it because it goes really quick. And it has done, but I don't necessarily miss it because for me every stage is just brill because there's something new."
She added: "I think now she's a little three-year-old, her personality's come out and you can have a full-on conversation with her so that for me is another amazing stage, just as the baby one was."
So she doesn't get too emotional when she thinks about Mia growing up? "No it makes me proud really just to see how much she's come on and developed and learned. It's nice every day to see something new and hear something new, so I love it."
"I don't want to spend time missing the baby stage and miss out on this stage," Gemma added wisely.
Gemma and Mia's exciting new project that you can take part in
Gemma and Mia love 'Creating Happy Memories'
In the meantime, Gemma and Mia have been getting involved in Fisher-Price's new 'Creating Happy Memories' campaign. Check out the dedicated pages on the Family Action website where mums, dads and caregivers will find expert guidance and practical ideas to help them enjoy more play with the children in their lives.
Gemma explained: "Mia's three now so she wasn't a lockdown baby, but it was kind of throughout the lockdown that she missed out on a lot of playing with other babies. We got two sensory classes in and then they were all shut down. And as a first-time mum, for me, it was quite daunting in knowing what to do with her at home and if I was doing the right thing."
Gemma noticed that "a lot of parents, especially throughout the first lockdown had so much guilt that they couldn't be as hands-on with their children," which made her passionate about collaborating with support charity Family Action and Fisher-Price to focus on fun developmental ways families can play together this summer without breaking the bank.
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