On the double: Jennifer Zamparelli and balancing a hectic life and baby number two

Helen O’Callaghan talks to Jennifer Zamparelli about how baby number two will fit in to the 2fm presenter’s hectic life

KEEPING MUM: Jennifer Zamparelli is pictured with 12-week-old Bobbie Ecock-Byrne at the launch of Pregnacare's campaign. Picture: Andres Poveda

JENNIFER Zamparelli expects her life to turn upside down when baby number two arrives in January. And it didn’t help when a colleague told her it was like going from owning a dog to running a zoo.

“I’m thinking: how am I going to go to the shops? How am I going to get two kids into the car at the same time? Then I look at my mam who had six and I think ‘well if she could do it’….but of course back then things were different — so many women were doing the same thing, there were a lot of people around, a bit more community,” says the 37-year-old 2fm presenter.

Many of her friends are further along the parenting journey. “Their children are well out of nappies. I don’t have a lot of friends in my situation but one friend got pregnant recently and I’m delighted!”

Married to Lau Zamparelli, an actor who works in the stunt industry, Jennifer says their two and a half year old Florence is very outgoing, very social, great fun — “we’re getting great mileage out of her”.

They chose the name Florence because they like the older, more classic names. “We didn’t want anything too Italian. [Lau is English but from an Italian family]. And Florence isn’t where she was conceived, though it is where we got engaged.”

The Breakfast Republic star found out she was pregnant with Florence at the start of her honeymoon in the Seychelles. “We were so ready for a kid — we’d been trying for a year. It was when we were relaxed and focused on our wedding that it happened. I bought a pregnancy test in the airport and did it in the hotel. I found out there. I got really sick and stayed in the hotel room — I couldn’t even go to the restaurant — while Lau enjoyed the Seychelles.”

With both pregnancies, Jennifer was sick until about week 20. “It’s like being extremely hungover and the nauseous feeling’s even worse at night.”

The Bridget & Eamon star is brand ambassador for Pregnacare’s Keeping Mum campaign — as part of the campaign, they commissioned a survey, looking at how mums deal with early-stage pregnancy from how they found out they were expecting to how they kept their news under wraps until they felt it was safe to tell people.

“For the first 12 weeks you don’t want to tell anyone because you want to get [the pregnancy] over the line but I was so ill and you have to explain why — you come up with excuses for why you’re so miserable, you become a very good liar,” says Jennifer, who confided her secret to her mum at seven weeks.

“She’s very good at keeping secrets and I needed to talk to somebody about the sickness — she’s great for advice.”

Is her mum the inspiration for Bridget in the RTE Two show? “Bridget’s not specifically one person — she’s a mix of women I lived with, women on my road, women in my family. I love playing her. The only downside is the fag-smoking. I smoked 850 fags in series one, they’re stage fags, herbal, but you still have to smoke them and they stink.”

One of her favourite things about the show is the way she and co-star Bernard O’Shea “get to just bicker and fight”, much of which she says is spontaneous. “We tend to do it naturally. We can bicker quite easily. I get to do a lot of punching and kicking — O’Shea refuses, so I have to be the gobshite who says I’ll give it a go.”

When it comes to differing spousal perspectives, Jennifer and her real-life husband take contrasting aproaches to the arrival of Christmas. “I’m not a Grinch but Lau would put you off Christmas because he starts so early. I have to hold him off. I manage to distract him with Halloween but now that’s over, there’s no holding him back, game over. We’ll be getting the decorations down now and his sister’s coming over so he wants the house Christmassy.”

But, confesses the radio and TV personality, “I don’t mind this year because I want to be organising for the baby.”

Otherwise, Lau’s a bit more disciplined than she is. “He doesn’t drink, he’s fitter. But he can’t clean like I can. I get great pleasure out of cleaning.”

Juggling work and family comes down to a few factors — becoming very good at time management and the couple’s good fortune not to be in nine to five jobs.

“He has Florence, and then I get home from the show and I take her. But we have no set routine — we don’t know at the beginning of the month where Lau’s going to be, so we just roll with the punches.

“Florence is in the RTE creche three mornings, we have a girl who helps us out, nephews and nieces and Mam’s great in the mornings.”

The hardest thing about having children, she says, is losing the spontaneity in life.

“I can’t just pop down to the pub or go off for the weekend with my husband — that said, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”


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