TV’s Joe Swash: Parenting is hard – but it’s worth it
Joe Swash is perpetually exhausted – but it’s absolutely worth it, he insists.
When the cheeky-chappie TV personality isn’t appearing on screen, he’s looking after the six kids he and his wife Stacey Solomon have between them in their blended family. And although it doesn’t leave much time for relaxation, he wouldn’t change his hectic family life for the world.
“It is exhausting,” admits Swash 41. “But I think your body just adapts to your situation. So after you’ve had three kids – four, five or six makes no difference. Me and Stacey have been tired for so long now that it’s become the norm.”
The couple, who first met in 2010 when Solomon won I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Swash was presenting the spin-off show, have three children together: four-year-old Rex, one-year-old Rose, and Belle, seven months. Plus Swash is dad to Harry, 16, from a previous relationship, and Solomon has two sons – Zachary, 15, and Leighton, 11 – from previous relationships.
Swash – sitting with a very happy baby Belle on his lap as he chats over Zoom – stresses that although family life is super busy, the older children are an invaluable help at their Essex home, Pickle Cottage.
“Our older kids are a godsend, they really help out,” he says. “They’re always helping with dinner, they help feed the kids, they’re amazing. We’re really proud of our kids, how they all muck in and help – and we don’t ask them either, it’s all done out of love. It’s lovely to see.”
He admits both he and Solomon, 33, have very busy working lives too, but stresses that both of them do their utmost to make sure they maintain a good family life.
“Me and Stacey work quite a lot, but whenever we’re not working, we want to be together with the kids. So the idea is, whenever I’m working, Stacey’s at home. And whenever Stacey’s working, I’m at home,” he explains. “We try and do that as much as possible, so whenever we get the opportunity to spend time as a family together, we generally do that.
“We always try and make sure that we all sit down for dinner of an evening with the kids, and find out how each other’s days have been. And we try not to work at the weekend and spend it with the kids. So hopefully the kids don’t really notice, because there’s always one of us there at any given point.
“So yeah, it’s difficult, but we’ve both got to work. It is what it is, but we wouldn’t change it. There’s so much love in this house for all these kids. We think we’re really lucky.”
The former EastEnders star says he’s always wanted children – although he never imagined he’d end up with such a big family. “I’ve always been quite a paternal person. I lost my dad when I was a young kid, so I always wanted to be a dad myself. But I didn’t think I’d have this many kids!”
After having his eldest, Harry, with his former partner Emma Sophocleous, Swash reveals: “I thought that was really it, and I’d given up hope of having any more kids and a family. And then I met Stacey, and we’ve gone on to have three kids together, we’ve got six kids combined – and I would never have imagined myself in this position.
“But I feel blessed that I’m here, I feel so lucky to have these kids, they’re a blessing,” he continues. “People try so hard to have kids, that you’ve got a feel very lucky when you’ve got so many beautiful ones.”
Swash says he’s got work projects in the pipeline that he can’t talk about yet, and he’s currently fronting a megabus campaign to help mark the coach operator’s 20th birthday by highlighting the little regional rivalries found around the UK – such as whether the best scones are from Devon or Cornwall, which city is the ‘home of music’, and where the best curries can be found.
Proud East Londoner Swash declares: “I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, but for me, I do think the best balti is definitely from Brick Lane in London.”
But he is definitely not a fan of the traditional East London delicacy jellied eels. “I love pie and mash, but I’m not an eel person,” he declares. “My mum used to have a fish stall, down Chapel Market where we lived, and she sold jellied eels – but I wouldn’t go near them if you paid me!”
Swash is quick to point out that his favourite getaway from the stress of work and family life is fishing, however – not necessarily for eels though. “My little thing is, I love fishing,” he reveals. “Fishing is so good for me and my mental health. I love doing it, I love the whole process of being with my friends, just getting away.
“I think sometimes when you get yourself away from the family, just for a day or two to recharge your batteries, it’s really good for you,” he adds. “Stacey’s really got into the gym and stuff like that, so we’ve got our little escapes. But generally, we just really enjoy being together as a family.”
And as he waves little Belle’s hand to say goodbye at the end of our interview, and she gurgles happily, he adds as a parting thought: “Just a shout out to all the parents out there working hard and bringing up their kids – it’s a hard job, but it’s worth it.”
Joe Swash is an ambassador for megabus, which is celebrating 20 years of connecting people across the UK with its Little Differences campaign.
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