The Loose Women star, 31, on life as a teenage mum, lockdown and why her new book Tap To Tidy is the ideal de-stresser.
Your new book is about tidying and sorting. Did that regime start because you were a teenage mum?
It wasn’t so much about tidying, it was about being organised with life admin. Basically, I’m really scatty and forgetful, all over the place, and when I had Zach it was a real shock to the system that suddenly I couldn’t just leave him on a bus.
I had to get myself in order and make sure I divided all my money up when I collected my giro and milk vouchers and I realised that unless I organised myself, I wouldn’t be able to study at college.
If Zach was late for the crèche, I couldn’t do the day at college. And after college I was working in a fish and chip shop and my mum would look after him. The only way I could cope was by being really organised.
Have those early days helped keep your feet on the ground now?
Some of the best years of my life were working in the fish and chip shop. I had free food at the end of each shift and I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world!
But those early days taught me that nothing is guaranteed and nothing is set in stone, and life can change for better or worse at any point.
Just look at this pandemic and how many people lost their jobs and ended up struggling. So I’ll never take anything for granted.
Has crafting helped you cope with the stresses of lockdown?
I have a home with a garden, I have my family with me and I still have a job, so I am in a privileged position, but that doesn’t take away from fact that the world is in a very vulnerable position and we’re all worried about this virus.
At those times when it feels overwhelming, I focus on a task like tidying or crafting. Just sitting and focusing on one thing has stopped intrusive thoughts entering my brain and for that hour I don’t worry about things.
When the first lockdown happened I thought, ‘I’ll learn how to cook and learn the piano,’ but all those everyday things needed doing and the kids were all at home, so I didn’t get round to the piano.
How did you feel when you received your first copy of your latest book?
I couldn’t control myself — it was so emotional. I’ve written books before and they’ve all been autobiographical-type ones where I talk about myself and my experiences.
This is the first book I’ve done where I’m writing about my hobbies and things I enjoy and little creations I’ve made. This book feels so much more personal. People can make digs about my personality but if people hate this book, I’d be devastated.
When the first copy came through the door I suddenly felt hot, my face went funny and I was so nervous.
People do make digs about your personality on social media…
Most of the time I find it funny because it’s usually things like, ‘You’re so ugly and so annoying,’ but I can’t change my face and who I am — so if you don’t like me, you will have to change your viewing habits instead and then my face won’t upset you!
It only ever gets to me if they say something that cuts a bit deeper, like something about my children or intelligence or my intentions — then I think, ‘Oh God, is that what people really think?’
But it would have to be a bad day to let those comments penetrate because the reality is that nobody has the ability to make me feel a certain way about my position, and I won’t allow them to have any effect on my life.
Has lockdown changed you?
It’s given me a different perspective. Before the pandemic and lockdown I would crave to be with my family, and I felt I was always out too much and working too much.
Now I crave being alone and having some peace and silence. I love my family so much and I hope I never feel guilty about earning an income again.
How’s fiancé Joe Swash doing?
Joe loves cooking and, bless him, it’s not his forte. He just loves a bit of pasta or any beige food, and he hasn’t an exciting palate, but his dream is to do MasterChef and I think he’d be great.
While I like to tidy and craft, Joe’s relaxation is cooking — even though he uses every utensil possible.
You’re the proud owner of a lockdown puppy…
What was I thinking? We came across a notice that a local family could no longer take on this puppy and I felt like it was a sign. I couldn’t bear the thought of this puppy not having a home.
He’s lovely and very smart but I forgot that puppies wake up in the night so you have broken sleep on top of puppy accidents. Our other dog, Theo, is an old dog now and she was eating less and less, but since we got the puppy she’s eating again and she’s playing now.
So it’s given her a new lease of life. I know she’s a girl and she has a boy’s name but when we were choosing her name the boys loved Theo Walcott, so we named her after him.
Tap To Tidy by Stacey Solomon is out now (Ebury Press).
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