To say that Alex Jones has a lot on her plate would be an understatement. The popular host of The One Show has just gone on maternity leave but as she prepares to welcome baby number three any day now, she's also making sure her eldest son Ted is ready for his very first day of school, plus dealing with her younger son Kit's "terrible twos".
"It's lucky I don't like the quiet life," Alex jokes as she catches up with us for a quick phone call.
WATCH: Alex Jones shares adorable video of husband and sons on wild day out
The heavily pregnant star was chosen as a contributor for our Back to School digital issue by guest editor Giovanna Fletcher for a special personal reason. Giovanna came up with the idea of approaching Alex during this unique time of her life because it's a period she herself remembers all too well; the author gave birth to her youngest son Max just days before her eldest child Buzz started school.
While Alex admits the family are embarking on an exciting new chapter of school runs and night feeds, she can't help feel a little emotional seeing Ted grow up.
Alex Jones is due to give birth to her little girl in August
Alex, congratulations! You're due to give birth to your daughter any day now and Ted is also starting school. Are you hoping to take him on his first day?
"Oh my gosh, even if I've had the baby an hour before, nothing will stop me – literally hell or high water. I mean, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I think it's a rite of passage as a parent. Both Charlie (Alex's husband) and myself will probably go. I will sob, I mean, I'm filling up now thinking about it. We will then go for a coffee and gather ourselves.
"The great thing about the job I do is that I will be able to take him into school. It's the evenings that are trickier, so it's really important to me that I'm the one that's present and able to drop him off. Gosh, especially in the first few weeks. Even if I'm in labour, I'm just going to have to cross my legs and pop in the car and take him. It's going to be emotional, so emotional –I'm hormonal anyway!"
Can you and Charlie believe Ted is starting school in a matter of days?
"I think Charlie and I are coming at it from slightly different angles. Charlie is slightly relieved that at least one is at school age and going to be out of the house for five days a week. But I'm just terribly sentimental and I know that I will be one of those mothers who's a blubbering wreck when I see him in his little uniform for the first time.
"I've loved having Ted as a baby and a toddler and now as a little boy. I do feel sad that we won't be able to spend our mornings together. But I'm really trying to make the most of this precious summer, like going on picnics just the two of us, because you really don't get this time back."
The presenter admitted her son Ted is feeling a little "anxious" about starting school
How is Ted feeling about starting school?
"He is a little bit anxious and he keeps saying, 'Mama, I'll be shy. I'm not sure.' I'm trying to say, 'It's going to be really good fun,' when half of me is thinking, 'Oh God, it is so overwhelming isn't it?' Even for adults, when we start a new job or whatever change we go through, change is sometimes hard to deal with.
"We're reading a really good book, Starting School, that was suggested by another parent. I bought it for Ted for Christmas. It's a classic book and it explains what to expect on the first day. It's about a group of children and it says on the first day, David went into the class with his parents, and it goes through the weeks, and then you end at the Christmas concert and that's the end of term and it's time for the holidays. And that has been invaluable because Ted now knows what to expect.
"And he says, 'Oh Mama, it's gonna be really similar to nursery, there's a home corner, there's a dressing up corner.' And I said, 'Yeah, it's really not a million miles away.' And I think that's settled him a lot, because he's a little boy who doesn't like change. So that makes me nervous going into September with a new school, a new baby and potentially a new house. Oh my god. Classic!
"But I think he's excited about it. Beforehand, I'll take him around the school and say, this is how we'll walk or drive here every day. Let's go buy your uniform. Let's have some playdates with some boys and girls who will be in your class."
The couple have their hands full with their two sons
A new baby, a new school, and looking after your toddler Kit as well. How are you managing it all?
"Oh, my goodness, I never opt for the easy option. But I quite enjoy the chaos and I think that's the only way to embrace it, because it is chaotic and about to get even more chaotic once our little girl arrives. Obviously, starting school is a big milestone for any parent. I can't believe it's come around so quickly. And we're so grateful that we have a little girl on the way.
"With Kit, it's also that typical thing of really being aware of the middle child. I keep asking Kit, 'What's in Mummy's tummy?' and he goes 'honey'. He has no idea. I think he thinks it's lockdown weight!
"Balancing the three of them with a full-time job, as any mother will tell you is, on some days, insurmountable. It's so huge. But I think what you get back from it, and they can be rare moments, when you think, 'They all make me laugh, and they're all getting on really well,' it's worth it. And they won't be this young forever. In the blink of an eyelid, they will be at that stage where they're not so reliable on us anymore.
"It is a lot and I just take every day, one day at a time, take a big deep breath. I rely on a lot of chats with girlfriends who are in similar positions. I rely on chatting to Mum at the end of each day, and she's my sounding board, because you never think you're doing it right. More than that, I just try and do it with a smile on my face and we count ourselves lucky that we are in a position where we have got two lovely children and another on the way and full-time jobs. It is a complete blessing."
Ted and Kit have grown so close during the pandemic
You've said before that Ted and Kit have grown so close during the pandemic. How is Kit feeling about Ted starting school?
"Honestly, the two of them, they are as thick as thieves. Kit was very young when we went into lockdown, he was about ten months. And the two of them are so tight as brothers. It's lovely. Ted is a brilliant big brother. He's always looking out for Kit and is very protective of him. I think when Ted goes to school, Kit is going to feel like he's missing an arm, because his little friend has disappeared.
"I'm so glad that we're having a girl because it won't change their dynamic necessarily. When I first told Ted we're having a baby, he said, 'Oh, but what if Kit wants to play with the baby and not with me?' And I said, 'Well that won't happen.' And then as soon as we could say it's a little girl, he said, 'Oh well that's better. That's better. Because then I will be his only brother.' They are lovely together but it will be a wrench for them both."
Is Kit showing any signs of the terrible twos?
"Oh my goodness, he's going through the terrible twos as we speak. With Ted, I did think, 'This is made up.' Ted is very sensible, he's sort of an old head on young shoulders. Kit is the opposite. He is a maniac. Because his speech is a little bit more delayed than Teddy's was, he gets frustrated because he can't tell you what he wants.
"He will literally just launch himself off the middle of the stairs hoping that somebody will catch him. He's just about at that stage where he gets really angry because he can't put his own pyjama bottoms on. The other day, it took two and a half hours to get him in pyjamas for bed.
"He's also decided that he doesn't want to wear a nappy so I'm constantly running after him with a cloth and disinfectant spray. When we leave the house, that's when the battle comes of trying to get a nappy on him. Honestly, it's quite full on. So yeah, we are right there in the thick of it. "On days like that, it doesn't feel like very much fun. But then at the same time, he is super cute. He just looks at you in a certain way. And you just forgive him instantly. It is a real phase at the minute and quite… testing!"
Kit is currently going through the "terrible twos"
Ted and Kit sound like polar opposites!
"Polar opposites! Ted would never put his finger in plug sockets. He would just, in a very grown-up way, assess the situation. 'No, that looks like a silly thing to do so I won't do it.' Kit – all over plug sockets. He will reach through the bars of his cot and will purposely put his little fingers in the nearest one.
"He is a handful but he's so loving. He's got us all wrapped around his little finger. It's not naughty because I don't think any of it is premeditated especially before the age of five. But I do think, 'Ooh there's a little wicked streak there!' And he loves an audience. You can see it, you can see his little face change. And you can see he's going to do something and you think, what the heck is he going to do now?"
When I say the phrase, 'back to school', what kind of memories does that bring up for you?
"I remember being really excited. I used to love the school holidays, but I remember feeling always quite positive about going back to school. I guess, to see your friends. But for me, the stationery was the big draw! We'd always go and do a haul at WHSmith. New pencil case, new highlighters, new pens, whatever. So that was right up my street. Choosing a rubber was as fun as it got back in the 90s. Organising your bag for the new term and going into Clarks for your shoes.
"Six weeks of summer holidays feel like a lifetime when you're little. Going back to school never filled me with any dread, so I guess looking back I must have quite liked it. I don't think every day was a joy, like anything, but on the whole, school was quite a positive experience, especially primary school. It was very warm, very welcoming, we had a great headmaster who was like a surrogate second dad to us all.
"It was just fun and that's what I'm desperately looking for in London for Ted. It's really hard to replicate that feeling, especially in a city in a period of time where we've not been able to go into any of the schools and get a feel for them. Everything has been done online with virtual open days. It's quite anxious-making for parents embarking on the school journey for the first time, but definitely an exciting chapter."
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