Thursday 18 October 2018

Jennifer Zamparelli: 'The thought of having two children is quite frightening... Bernard O'Shea says it's like going from owning a dog to a zoo'


Jennifer Zamparelli pictured at the launch of Pregnacare's 'Keeping Mum' campaign
Jennifer Zamparelli pictured at the launch of Pregnacare's 'Keeping Mum' campaign

Jennifer Zamparelli

RTÉ TV and radio personality Jennifer Zamparelli, who shares daughter, Florence (2 ½) with her husband Lau, and who is expecting her second baby in early January, on what becoming a mother has taught her

Motherhood was absolutely always on the agenda for me

I come from a very big family and I'm the youngest of six so I have ten nieces and nephews. I've always been around kids, I've always loved kids and I always knew that I would be a mum in some shape or form. We were trying for a couple of years before it happened and I found out on the first day of my honeymoon. I wasted a lot of money on five-star accommodation in the Seychelles and all I could eat was Special K and spend all my days curled in a ball in my hotel room while my husband went off and got a scuba diving certificate.

I thought I'd be more relaxed about parenting

I was probably very anxious in the beginning when she (Florence) was a new-born. I would have terrible dreams and all the 'what ifs' - what if she stops breathing and what if this happens and what if that happens? I didn't expect that at all, or nobody warns you about that fear you have about trying to keep this little person alive. It's aged me quite a bit in the last few years I would say but you just tend to deal with it. I think I'm quite a fun parent. I don't lose my rag with her.

Lau and I back each other up quite a bit

Even at two-and-a-half, Florence plays us against each other. We did the good cop/bad cop routine with her to get her to eat her dinner the other day. We are such foodies, we love our food, we eat really well and we don't know where we got this child from. She eats nothing and has an awful sweet tooth and she's desperate because she can smell out a vegetable from about a five-mile radius. She knows where they are.

Everything became a lot clearer when I became a parent

Decisions were easier to make because it all comes down to, 'Am I going to spend a nice time with her, or am I going to do this gig? Am I going to spend less time with her or go to this event?' I say no to things a lot more and I'm a lot clearer in what I want and how I want to live my life. I suppose you become more aware of issues that are going on, especially concerning women's issues and the way the world works and what we should be doing and how you want to raise this little girl to grow up into the world. Your priorities change.

I look to my sisters a lot for support and advice

I've three sisters and a sister-in-law who is like a sister. They've done a pretty good job with their kids and they tend to give me good advice. I look to my mother as well, although she'd be a bit more of a worrier. I don't know how she has six kids because she gets so stressed!

The career/parenting juggling act can be a struggle

I consider myself to be very fortunate because I'm not in a typical nine-to-five and Florence doesn't have to be in daycare five days a week. We are both in the film and TV industry so one of us is always with her and we're very lucky that way. But there is a lot of guilt there… Are you doing the right thing? Should you take more time off? In the last year, I've learnt how to compartmentalise things so when I'm at work, I really try not to think about her too much because it's very distracting, and when I'm with her, I tend to not look at my phone, pick up work calls or think about work. I try to keep it very separate and that seems to help.

It's difficult not to spoil your kids

Especially with Christmas coming up and we're demented with people trying to buy her everything. I'm really against having loads of presents. I know it's coming from a good place because they love her and they want to buy her all this stuff but it actually does nothing for her. I'd rather if she just got one present than a million presents. Last Christmas she got so much stuff but she was in terrible form because they can't really focus or concentrate. It's just too much for them and she doesn't really want or need for anything at this age.

Two children is going to be a challenge

The thought of it is quite frightening. It's just the little things like going to the shop with two. It's a nightmare going with one because she wrecks the place, so what's it going to be like with a newborn? But a lot of people have done it before me, it's very do-able and you just get used to it. Bernard O'Shea (her 2FM Breakfast Republic co-host) did say it's like going from owning a dog to a zoo, which isn't very comforting… But I'm looking forward to the challenge.

We've been trying to prepare Florence for the new arrival

She was potty trained at two-and-a-half and then one day she just decided 'I don't want to do it any more in the toilet. I'm just going to have an accident and you're going to have to deal with it'. I was getting really annoyed with her and thought she was being bold. But then I got online - and that's the great thing about forums - a lot of mothers were going through exactly the same thing, with three-year-olds regressing completely, and they were all pregnant. It seems to be a way of dealing with stuff or lashing out. There's obviously things going on in her little brain and she's trying to deal with it.

Jennifer Zamparelli is pregnancy supplement range Pregnacare's brand ambassador for the 'Keeping Mum' campaign. For more information, see

Irish Independent

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