Thanks to the Coronavirus, we've all been affected by cancelled holidays, get-togethers and events, presenter and author Giovanna Fletcher included. Which is why she had to plan things a little differently.
"We've been doing these Happy Mum Happy Baby live events the last couple of years, and they're incredible, just a brilliant way of bringing mothers down together. And obviously, this year, we were planning projects to go bigger and better. And then Covid threw a spanner in the works," Giovanna explains. "But I didn't want there to be nothing because more than ever, mums aren't getting the support that they need. Baby groups aren't happening, they can't go to clinics and the checkups and stuff they used to have where people would check in on them aren't happening. So for me I wanted to create something that could help the community that we've built around Happy Mum Happy Baby. And rather than the big outdoorsy event that we were planning, we've decided to take it and put it online as a virtual event. So there'll be a mixture of experts talking from sleep experts to talking about postnatal relaxation to pelvic floor to food hacks and things like that. And then they'll also be different discussions and panel chats with some friends too."
Happy Mum Happy Baby The Virtual Meet Up 2020 runs from 15th-18th of October and Gi has called on some of her close friends to take part in the event. 'We have Frankie Bridge, Rosie Ramsay, Izzy Judd as well as Candice and Papa B and Siobhan Miller from The Positive Birth Company. It's a real mixture of people. And I really hope people take something away from it. It's going to be free so people don't have to pay for anything," says Giovanna. "I think that for us has been really, really important to create something completely accessible for everyone because motherhood is difficult! It's already really difficult and I think sometimes words of encouragement can go such a long way. So hopefully there'll be something for everyone in there."
Aside from getting creative with the virtual event, the Coronavirus has given Gi a lot to be thankful for. "It's been interesting. I think the overriding feeling is grateful, grateful that we have a garden and that the kids can go outside and enjoy that. Grateful that we're both able to work from home because we're already set up that way. I feel for people that haven't got a garden or are worried about employment and getting food on the table. So I think I think that although it's all relative to what the individual is going through, I think it's a case of counting your chickens and realizing people have it far worse, so we can't grumble." The mum-of-three has learned a thing or two from the pandemic personally too. "The experience has definitely taught me to do less. I don't need to be doing so much and to prioritize instead. And that time is precious. I think we are constantly going going going and we never stop to look at what we've done or where we've been. So I think it has taught me that there's no harm in stopping and actually only good can come from stopping, taking a breath and taking a moment."
Explaining the Coronavirus to her children didn't quite go how Gi anticipated. "We did explain the bug to the boys. We thought we did a really good job but then we realized that they actually thought it was like a human-sized, really big bug that was going around and killing people. And we thought, 'Ok we've got to strip this back and go again with this one!'"
"We were lucky because the boys had each other. They weren't asking us all the time to see their mates or anything like that, we could FaceTime our friends who have children so they managed to stay connected. And I think we were really lucky in that respect. We went to Cornwall in July for a week, where we go every year. It was already booked and it was safe to do so at the time. So we went to Cornwall and it was actually at the end of that trip I felt a massive dread going home, not from me, but from the kids. It was that feeling of we're going back home, and we are going to be restricted. We don't have the freedom to do all the things we normally do. And I would say that having that little bit of freedom and then having that completely taken away, that was when it started getting a little bit more challenging."
As for homeschooling, it's been hit and miss for Giovanna and her family. "I have a newfound respect for teachers. But at the same time, I found it really interesting knowing what the kids have been learning, because I'm sure most parents be able to relate to the fact that Buzz and Buddy get in the car at the end of the day and we'll ask 'What did you do today?' and the reply is 'Don't know.' That's all you get! So it was really nice to know what they're studying, what they take from it, and things like that. But I think the schools and teachers have all done amazingly. But yeah I am relieved they are back at school!"
Was she nervous about the boys going back to school though? "I do think I was nervous," Gi admits. "Though I was worried about getting emotional and not wanting to leave, you know, the anxiety of going back somewhere where you've not been for six months. But we dropped them off at the school gates and they did not look back, not even a wave, no hesitation. And it made me realize actually, they needed to go back for their mental health. They need that little bit of normality for however long this lasts. I do think it has been so far Incredible for them to go back so I am glad that they are back in now and they haven't grumbled at all! Before this all happened, I would say that we were still having days where they'd get a little bit emotional about going in and wanted to stay home with us. So I think it literally took six months of us boring them for them to realize that school is a fun place to go to!"
To sign up to Happy Mum Happy Baby: The Virtual Meetup, please visit www.happymumhappybaby.com.