Gemma Atkinson is loving life at home with her two-month-old baby boy Thiago and is making the most of the cute baby stage, despite the tiredness that comes with a newborn.
The Hits Radio host and former Hollyoaks star, who met her fiancé, professional dancer Gorka Marquez, on the 2017 series of Strictly, spoke exclusively to HELLO! about her family life as she launched her new podcast The Overshare with Gemma Atkinson.
The podcast is totally Gemma: a collection of real-life stories from her social media followers sharing the highs, lows and funny parts of their lives, much like the relatable mum-of-two does on her own Instagram and TV show with Gorka.
Below, Gemma tells us all about baby Tio and his sister Mia's sweet relationship, what home life is like when Gorka is away with Strictly and why a third baby is a firm no.
Plus, hear all about Tio's super-cute bond with former Strictly stars Janette Manrara and Aljaz Škorjanec's baby girl Lyra…
Hi Gemma, how is life at home with baby Tio?
Gemma: Oh, I'm loving it. It's just going so fast. I always think if you could bottle it up and sell it, that would be the key to everyone's happiness – that time at home with you and your baby and the family.
It's obviously chaotic and you're tired at the same time but it's so wonderful as well, you don't want it to end.
Is Tio a good sleeper?
Gemma: He's very chilled. I don't know if that's the Spanish in him because Mia was the same. She's a chilled-out little girl now and was a chilled-out baby.
The first few weeks of his sleep pattern was nonexistent, it was just feeding him on demand. You kind of expect that – well I did – with newborns. I think especially with your second, you know it's not going to be, 'Ooh, I'll still be able to sleep and look my best and fit everything in'.
I think because I went into it expecting to be tired and out of sync and no routine, it hasn't come as a shock. Sometimes people can lure themselves into a false sense of security that they'll have a floral dress on and be baking while the kids play together nicely, and it's the complete opposite. If you lower your expectations in advance, it's less of a shock.
And Gorka is away now doing Strictly…
Gemma: Yes, he's rehearsing with Nikita [Kanda] in London now, so he'll be away literally until they're eliminated.
It's like a Catch 22 really where you're rooting for them to do so well. You're like, 'You can do it!' She's such a lovely person for him to be partnered with. But at the same time, the better they do, the longer that he's away.
Mia's obsessed with Strictly. She's got her nana and grandad coming around this weekend to watch it with us. She makes a full night of it.
It's a little bit different when he's on tour because she doesn't get to see him at all, but at least with Strictly, she has the weekend where it's all about 'What number Papa is', 'When is he dancing?', and 'What's his partner going to be wearing?' She loves all of it. It's exciting to see it through her eyes in a way.
Is it tough at home with two little ones when he is away?
Gemma: I'm really fortunate that my mum and my stepdad are retired, and they live literally 15-20 minutes away. Today I've got an appointment with my physio for my pelvic floor – it's only a half-hour appointment but my mum's nipped up and is sitting with Tio now.
Worst case, I take him with me. He's such a chilled little human, it doesn't bother me, so to speak. I always feel for the person who's doing the appointment. The last thing they probably want is me rocking up with a nine-week-old, but sometimes they come where they need to and if people don't like it, it's tough.
How is Mia with her little brother? Is she helpful?
Gemma: Yes, she's like mother hen; she's obsessed with him. She mucks in helping with the nappies and helps me get him dressed, which sometimes results in it taking a little bit longer than if I'm doing it on my own, but I just love the fact that she's so into him.
I said to her, 'Are you happy? Is everything ok?' and she says, 'Yeah, I love having Thiago, I love our little family.'
It goes through your mind: 'I hope they don't feel pushed out or like they've been replaced or anything like that', and thankfully she's taking it all in her stride, bless her.
I think a lot of people think your love has to be split [between kids] but for me it's not, it's doubled. It's not like cut in half, it's doubled.
Mia's just started school – how's that going?
Gemma: Do you know what, she's loving it. She did pre-school four days a week anyway so if anything, the school hours are a lot shorter. She used to do pre-school from 8.30-5pm.
She's practically begging me to put her in the after-school club so she can stay with her friends for longer.
I said, 'That's for parents who are working late, we don't need that yet. Next year we'll definitely need that but for now, mummy can pick you up.' She said, 'I know, but I'd like to stay with my friends.' So I'm taking it all as a good sign.
The teacher said she's doing really well, she's made lots of new friends, and she's got some of her old friends from pre-school she's really close to, so I couldn't ask for a better start. I didn't even get a look back on day one – she just went straight in.
You're good friends with Aljaz and Janette from Strictly, and your babies have met!
Gemma: Yes, oh it was fab. It made me realise how big Thiago is in comparison to Lyra. She's so beautiful. She's such a good mix of both of them, and again, she was really chilled as well.
It was like we didn't have babies with us. But I think Aljaz and Janette are very relaxed parents, which I think is great. Me and Gorka are the same.
I think they knew in advance what it would be all about. Aljaz has got his two nieces, so they've had lots of practice.
It's going to be lovely that Lyra, Thiago and Mia can all grow up together. We joke that Lyra and Thiago will be planning their 18th birthdays and going a bit wild because there are only 11 days between them.
Do you ever miss being on Strictly yourself?
Gemma: No. I miss the rehearsals – for me, that was the best bit, when you're learning the new routine and you get to hang out stress-free and have a laugh.
The Saturday shows for me were always nerve-wracking. I used to get so nervous and worked up. I spent a full day fretting about a two-minute dance. Looking back, it's ridiculous.
But the rehearsal period that me and Aljaz had… we were in Manchester, it was in a gym. That for me was the best part, learning a new dance each week.
Congratulations on your new podcast The Overshare! We love that you chat to non-celeb parents on there…
Gemma: I'm a guest on a lot of podcasts and it's always lovely to be asked and it's fun, but I think in a way people get bored of talking about people in the public eye – I do anyway – it's like, 'Oh gosh, another one'. So it was nice to have stories from people on Insta.
We put out topics and they approached us, so they were more than happy to share their stories. A lot of them have said it's been like a little therapy session for them to finally get things off their chest.
How do you find time for your work projects with a baby and a toddler?
Gemma: Yeah, I mean it's never easy, it's always juggling. I know it seems like I'm doing loads, but I've had to turn down a lot more since having Thiago, primarily because I want to be at home with him on my maternity leave. It goes so quickly. I learnt the first time around with Mia how fast that time goes, and I just don't want to miss any of it.
I'm really fortunate that with the podcast we do it from the radio studio in Manchester, which is 20 minutes from my house, so it's not like I'm having to traipse down to London – I can get in the car, do it in a couple of hours then be home.
It's picking and choosing what's worthwhile for me to do and what can be put on the back burner until I officially go back to work in April.
You reveal on your podcast that it's a 'no' to having more babies…
Gemma: We always say 'two is the magic number' for our house.
My sister has three, but I said to [Gorka], 'I don’t want to be outnumbered'. I love them to death but the thought of being outnumbered is terrifying. I think especially having a boy and a girl, we couldn't wish for anything more really. Two kids, two dogs. It's perfect how it is.
How will you both feel if Mia and Tio want to go into acting or dancing when they're older?
Gemma: Whatever they want to do, really. We'll be supportive of anything – whether they want to go into the industry we're in or start their own business.
Mia is always saying she wants to be a vet or a makeup artist. She's obsessed with doing her doll's makeup. But it changes week to week with Mia. She went through a phase of wanting to work in a baker's.
All we can do is support them and be there for them if it goes great or if it doesn't go to plan.
What's coming up on your podcast?
Gemma: We've got a topic on 'When your first date was your last date' - we've had some horror stories with that one. It made my girls' WhatsApp group look tame. We've done a funny one on when your other half is useless in labour. Gorka appears in that one, a little cameo because he was useless the first time round!
We've tried to mix it up each week; some will have you laughing, some will have you crying but hopefully, they're all relatable in some way.
The Overshare with Gemma Atkinson is available to listen to on all podcast platforms.