Fearne Cotton on family, finding joy and her new book

Photography: Ray Burmiston

Fearne Cotton talks to Kate Freud about life as a mother of two, her new book, and how we can all learn to find joy in the everyday

Fearne Cotton is famously bubbly, warm and charming on camera, so I’m delighted to find her much the same when we meet in person. Today, we’re talking about her latest book, Yoga Babies, a delightful children’s read praising the practice of yoga for all the family, complete with humorous insights into life with little ones and heart-warming illustrations by Sheena Dempsey. “This year my book, Happy, came out, which was very personal to me. Then there was a cook book, so writing Yoga Babies at the end was just a total joy. It’s all been pretty full on!” Fearne laughs.

Yoga is something Fearne has enjoyed herself for years, having discovered it before she had her son, Rex, four. She says, “I was very into running before, but then discovered a fabulous yoga teacher and it’s been part of my life ever since. It’s integral to my sanity! And it makes me feel fit. I do one class a week, then practice twice a week at home for 45 minutes, too.”

Fearne Cotton
Sheena Dempsey’s sweet illustration of Fearne and her daughter, Honey

And clearly the kids, who both feature in the book, love to join in, which is where the idea for Yoga Babies came from. “I think anything that helps children to concentrate in a calm way has to be a good thing,” Fearne explains. “Rex, and little boys in general, are so energetic and testosterone-fuelled it’s great to see them unwind when they do yoga. I love seeing my two channelling their energies into something so positive, even just for 10 minutes,” she says. “At the moment Rex is determinedly working on his handstand while my daughter Honey, two, is focusing on the tree pose, though the balancing bit is tricky!”

These kinds of simple pleasures have become part of Fearne’s ethos in general. Happy is about letting go of ‘perfect’, a concept that is near impossible for many mothers to achieve, and part of the reason she wrote the book in the first place. “Our parents’ generation just tried to keep their children alive, but these days, there’s a plethora of ideals that mothers are expected to live up to, and it’s just too much pressure,” she says. “It was an incredibly cathartic process to write, to be honest. I wrote completely freely from personal experience, and I was so glad I did.”

She read and re-read the book 20 times before it was published, and right up to the moment it came out she wasn’t sure she had done the right thing. “I felt nervous the night before, like I wanted to take it all back, but once it was out there I was relieved. The public’s response has been amazing, and I’m proud to say it’s probably the best thing I have ever done in my career,” she says. She is currently working on the sequel, which is due for release next year.

Fearne Cotton
Fearne’s new book, ‘Yoga Babies’

Fearne always knew she wanted a family, but her path to motherhood came about in an unexpected way. When she met her husband, Jesse Wood, a musician (and son of the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie) he already had two children; Arthur, now 15, and Lola, now 11, so as she says, she fell into parenting by chance. “I was so lucky,” she says. “They are such cool, smart, accepting kids, and they are amazing with the two little ones now.”

The family live in South West London, near Richmond Park, and love spending time outdoors together. “Sometimes I do the soft play thing, but we tend to just put our wellies on and head to the park. Rex can ride a bike now, and Honey pushes her little buggy, and it’s something we all enjoy,” Fearne explains. When they’re at home they love to bake cakes and do arts and crafts together, which, given Fearne’s own love of sketching and writing, proves the artistic streak runs in the family.

So now she’s been through it twice, what advice would she give to a first-time mother? “It’s going to be chaos, but it will pass!” she laughs. “Rather than fight it, just go with it and you’ll be happy.” And if she’s anything to go by, it’s a mantra that’s clearly working.

Yoga Babies (£9.99, Andersen Press) is available from 7 September