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Joe Swash and Stacey Solomon: The Obamas are always welcome to stay at ours

They’re among some of our best-loved television presenters, but nothing could quite prepare Joe Swash and Stacey Solomon for learning just how popular they really are.

In what is possibly one of the weirdest stories to have come out of the coronavirus news cycle, the pair were left stunned when Loose Women panellist Solomon somehow ended up being name-checked on Michelle Obama’s Instagram.

The former First Lady posted a series of handwritten thank you letters to frontline workers around the world, with one in particular featuring a shout out to the always effervescent Solomon, 30, for cheering up a worker following a long shift.

Even now, Solomon is still in shock.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I couldn’t believe it!” she giggles down the phone. “I was like, Joe…Joe! I’m on Michelle Obama’s Instagram! My mum and dad and Joe were all wetting themselves laughing.

“She doesn’t even know who I am. But just the fact it landed on her page – what are the chances?

“And then just the letter itself made me feel really emotional. I don’t know…the thought that you might cheer someone up after a long day. That makes me really happy!”

Swash also saw the funny side of Solomon’s unexpected brush with an American great.

“Here was us thinking we were going to go to the White House!” the 38-year-old jokes. “We haven’t heard from them, but if they’re ever down in London they’re more than welcome to stay with us.”

Chuckling, Solomon adds: “Yeah, they can stay in the shed.”

Chance would be a fine thing the Obamas will manage to find any space of their own even if they do fly over to the couple’s for a coffee one day.

It’s a very full house for the pair at the moment, with Swash’s eldest son Harry, 13, Solomon’s two boys: Zachary, 12, and Leighton, eight, plus their baby Rex, one (as wella as their dog and their cat) all under one roof.

13 weeks of lockdown has been hard for pretty much everyone, even a couple as strong as Solomon and Swash, who have been together for five years, and the pair do admit to bickering.

“There’s so much to do throughout the day that we’re going to get on each other’s nerves,” Swash says. “We’re not a perfect couple. We’re not the Von Trapp family, we are just a normal family that love each other immensely, but we do get on each other’s nerves.

Stacey and Joe have been grateful for lockdown (PA)

“We’ve got the kids as well. The boys help so much with little Rex. They’re so good with him. Which makes it easier!”

But despite being hunkered down all together for the foreseeable, the pairhave found themselves looking towards the positives in lockdown.

“We’ve actually both been home for things we might not have been home for, and we’re so grateful to have both been there for Rex’s first steps, his first words, just everything,” Solomon says. “It’s actually been a real privilege to be at home. The likelihood is one of us would have been at work for most of those things. We’re trying to look at the good and the positive.”

It’s Swash’s desire to be as hands-on as possible with Rex (even pausing mid-interview to change the baby’s nappy) that have seen both himself and Swash promote Pampers’ #HappyFathersWay campaign, which celebrates dads.

Stacey and Joe are working with Pampers for their Happy Father’s Way campaign (Pampers)

“When my eldest was growing up, I didn’t get to do this as much as I wanted to do,” Swash says. “Because it is in me, I do love all this. Now we’ve got baby Rex, I love doing nappies and doing feeds. This is what it means to be a dad. You’ve got to help. And you’ve got to be hands on.

“I think what it means to be a dad has changed. Men would go to work, women would stay at home and do the dinner, and there was that distinct line in the sand, whereas now, Stacey goes to work, she earns her own money.

“So, I think our job roles have changed over the years which I am more than happy about. It’s your child. I love my kids and I’d do anything for them.”

His success on Dancing on Ice earlier in year stopped him from focusing on parenting as much as he would have liked.

“It was a good experience, but it was very intense for four months and I missed out of a lot of Rex,” he says. “With lockdown, it’s terrible what’s happening and we’re trying to make the best of it, but I’ve spent so much time with the baby, it’s been amazing. I’ve made up that time.”

The couple seem their usual happy and easy-going selves on the phone, but they admit they both have good days and bad days – with their pair sometimes being on the receiving end of trolling.

It’s something most people in the public eye have to contend with, Swash says.

“You have to learn early on is that you’re not going to be liked by everybody all the time.

Stacey admits having been hurt by internet trolls (Ken McKay/ITV/Rex)

“There are going to be certain negative things written about you, and it’s not nice, but it does happen. But for every terrible comment you get, you get 10-15 lovely comments, so you do have to balance it out.

“I find it quite easy to turn a blind eye. I don’t know this person, it doesn’t affect me. I’m quite black and white about the whole thing.”

Solomon, however, admits to struggling more.

“Some days I’m really good with it, it’s water off a duck’s back,” she says. “Sometimes someone might say something that I have a deep-rooted insecurity about it anyway.

“It might be a day when I’m just not feeling 100 per cent able to brush it off. It just depends what day it is sometimes.

“Mostly I just think people who are being horrible are probably not enjoying their life that much to be able to sit there and say something to somebody you don’t even know. And that makes me feel quite sad.”

But as her children grow up, Solomon adds she’s now more restrictive to what she shares online.

“I definitely think there’s a time and a place for certain things,” she says. “Sometimes it isn’t your experience to share. Some people say to me, why is Rex always happy? Why isn’t he crying? Honestly, he rarely ever cries unless I’m putting him to bed. But even if he did, I wouldn’t want to put him under distress or upset. There are certain things I think, if he grows up and sees that, would he be upset?”

With lockdown stretching out for longer and longer, and with the constant threat of ‘a second wave’ of coronavirus, the couple are now considering moving to a slightly bigger place – especially as the pair are both open to having more children.

“Joe keeps talking about it!” Solomon playfully groans.

But as much as they love being parents to their boys, they can’t wait to ferry them back to school full-time.

“We can’t wait,” Swash laughs. “We’ve got a bottle of champagne here, and when they go, we’re going to have an Ocean Beach party!”

Pampers are encouraging UK parents to show their support for all the Fathers in their life, this Father’s Day, using #HappyFathersWay and tagging @PampersUK_IRE.


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