For many of us, Holly Willoughby is a ray of sunshine on our TV screens in the mornings.
But, behind her bubbly personality, Holly is ‘riddled with guilt’ that the career she’s built is interfering with raising the three children she shares with TV producer husband Dan Baldwin – Harry, 11, Belle, nine and Chester, five.
When she’s not fronting This Morning with co-host and best pal Phillip Schofield, the duo are overseeing Dancing on Ice, and, as well as presenting, Holly’s lucrative deals with the likes of M&S and Garnier mean she’s worth an estimated £10 million. But it’s all come at a cost.
Now it seems Holly’s decision to quit Celebrity Juice after 12 years was the first sign that the TV star needs to take time to ‘find herself’ and slow down as she prepares to turn 40…
Holly, 39, says all she ever wanted was to be a mother. So it’s bittersweet that she is juggling motherhood with her career.
‘Becoming a mother was the only thing I knew I definitely wanted when I was growing up, but the image I had never involved me being a working mum,’ she says. ‘That’s the biggest challenge.’
With her schedule on This Morning clashing with the school run, Holly missed her two eldest children’s first days of school, and it’s something that has stayed with her. ‘I’ve been riddled with guilt about getting that part wrong. You love them so much and you don’t want to mess them up,’ she tells Red magazine. ‘I didn’t do the drop off because I was working. I hate that I wasn’t there because those memories you can’t get back.’
Thankfully Holly’s schedule allows her to pick them up from school. ‘I’ve realised the only way I can combat those feelings is to accept that sometimes I don’t get it right,’ she says. ‘I’m lucky I can be there to pick them up and at weekends.’
After missing Harry’s and Belle’s first days at school, ITV ‘moved heaven and earth’ so Holly could take Chester for his last September. It’s a sign that the channel will do everything they can to accommodate ‘golden girl’ Holly.
Pillar of strength
One person Holly can rely on to share the parental burden is her husband of 12 years Dan Baldwin. The pair met after working together on children’s show Ministry of Mayhem, and his ongoing support means she’s been able to continue working on This Morning throughout lockdown.
Although Dan’s been holding the fort while Holly continues to work, Holly’s other commitments being on the back-burner due to COVID-19 has given the mum more free time than ever to spend with her kids. And, by the looks of her social media channels, Holly has been soaking up the opportunity to enjoy quality time with her children. From making cakes with Belle to playing football with Harry, it’s given her a taste of the things she misses out on at other times.
Given how much Holly has enjoyed the slower pace of life in lockdown, it’s perhaps the reason she decided to step down from Celebrity Juice at the start of the year. After 12 years as a team captain, Holly announced she’d be quitting the raunchy show.
And Woman’s Own understands her mum guilt played a big part in that decision. ‘Holly has loved her time on the show — it’s been a huge part of her life, and has really helped expand her fan base,’ an insider reveals. ‘But she feels now is the right time to bow out, and wants to free up more of her busy schedule to spend time with her family.’
Holly has made no secret of the fact she doesn’t want her children to leave home, so it’s no surprise she’s keen to spend as much time with them as she can.
She previously confessed, ‘I will never want my children to leave – that’s a fact! If they could stay with me forever, that’s fine by me.’
Now she’s approaching 40, Holly’s priorities appear to be shifting, and the star is ready to start putting herself and the needs of her family before anything else.
She muses, ‘I see my 40s as a chance to find myself again and figure out who I am.’