As one of the country’s biggest entertainers, Ira Losco doesn’t always enjoy sociable working hours, and with her husband a renowned chef and restaurant owner, adding a couple of kids to the mix must make for a hectic recipe. So is it sorcery or careful planning? We wanted to know just how Ira manages to juggle parenthood and a demanding career, as well as delving into her own childhood highlights and favourite family spots around Malta.
Both you and your husband’s careers are far from 9-5. On a practical parenting level, how do you structure your days?
Sean and I are both very big planners, we like to know what’s around the corner. It’s good to be spontaneous too, but with kids that can sometimes be a challenge! So, we literally plan everything a month in advance and use our iCal apps to sync our calendars together.
In the mornings, Sean is up early and goes to his restaurant while I leave the house to drop my son off at school. My daughter is close to starting nursery but until then I drop her off at my parents and my day of work starts.
I have a lot of music work in the afternoon and I have rehearsals at night, sometimes even until 11.30pm. Creating content is another big job. When content creation first started I thought “Oh my god, this is another thing to add to my never ending list of things to do”. Audio is one thing and visual is another, but to create audio-visual content together is hugely time consuming.
My gigs are generally on the weekend and Sean works all week, so we used to rely on my mother and in-laws a lot to help us out, but now I found a very good babysitter so that has made my life a lot easier. We also pre-plan all of our meals and the grocery shopping I get delivered to my door which really helps.
So, in order to structure our days in a way that we can cope, it really involves a lot of serious planning.
Does being your own boss affect your maternity leave choices? Did you feel pressure to get back to work sooner, for example?
After I had my first baby, Harry, yes I wanted to get back to work immediately, I only had 3 months maternity leave. I was completely afraid that people would see me in a different light. It must have been the hormones or my way of thinking, since I had been fulfilling my role solely as a performer for so many years, but now I had to add the role of being a mother as well.
I also worked right up until the last week before the birth. I was recording my double album which I had started before Eurovision and before I knew I was pregnant with Harry, so I had to finish that.
This time, with Gigi, it was very different, mostly because we were at the height of the second wave of the pandemic just after she was born. When I was pregnant with Gigi, I didn’t work at all because pregnant women were asked to stay home. I had no performances, they weren’t any performances happening anyway, so I had a bit of a calmer time. It also gave me more time to think about the pregnancy. The first time round I had no time to think because Eurovision was in full swing and I was working long hours. This time I had more time to reflect, and more time to nest. Which I enjoyed…ish.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, who is in your village and how do they help you on your parenting journey?
Our village is my parents and Sean’s parents, they’re very hands on with helping us with the children. My in-laws help a lot with Harry, my mother helps a lot with Gigi. She helped a lot with Harry too when he was born. That said, I’m very much with the children most of the time. During the pandemic especially, it gave me a lot more quality time to spend with them which I am very thankful for.
I’m lucky in that I like the parenting styles of our kids’ grandparents. I do believe in good discipline and just being down to earth with them and I try to emulate what my parents did with me. I liked their approach – obviously I didn’t like it at the time, when they were being firm – but I like the values that they instilled in me.
Does being in the public eye mean that people feel they have a free pass to comment on your parenting style?
Honestly, I’ve never really been given unsolicited advice, even from family members. But I’m not one to be offended by it anyway, I’m very much used to speaking to strangers and getting comments that maybe I wasn’t expecting, so I’ve learned not to be bothered by things I don’t agree with. If I’m given advice and it’s good advice, then I’ll take it. If not, I just think “whatever!” and I move on.
How would you feel if your children wanted to get into the entertainment industry, and what advice would you give them?
I think I’d be quite excited about it. Harry, for one, is very musical, so I really think that he’d love to be in a band (but who knows? In a few years he might be into something totally different!). In terms of advice, I would say that first you have enjoy it and the audience will enjoy it with you, if there’s no fun then why do it? I’d also tell them to make sure they are being treated right – if you respect yourself then others will respect you.
What surprised you the most about having a baby?
The first time round, I actually felt quite a bit of anger because everyone had told me “Oh it’s going to be amazing, it’s going to the be the best day of your life, you’re going to love it.” And I had a horrible experience! I’m sure many other parents had worse experiences, but I ended up getting an emergency caesarean, which I had a bad time recovering from. I also experienced postnatal depression, it wasn’t full on, but I suffered. In fact, it was something I was very vocal about during my second pregnancy, and I went to perinatal sessions to help me in advance.
It just feels like everyone is always telling you how great it is but no one is telling you how shitty it can be. When you’re not sleeping and you can’t put your baby to sleep and you feel like you’re the shittest mother on earth. Or maybe your husband is telling you to do things one way and you feel like you should be doing them another way. You know, it’s tough. Meanwhile everyone’s making out like it’s all roses, which I felt was really unfair.
So it was surprising in a bad way at first, however then it became great. Watching him grow up and seeing all the different milestones is where the magic really happens.
The second time round with Gigi, I just said to myself “You know what? I know what’s coming, I know what’s around the corner and I’m going to enjoy it.” And I really, really did – and I still am.
What is your favourite childhood memory?
I used to love when we would go to mass on a Saturday or Sunday night and my parents would suggest going for pizza after. At the time, there were very few good restaurants around so it was a real treat. We’d go and have a pizza at the Holiday Inn, which is no longer there. We used to love their pizza!
Also Christmas Day is always a fantastic memory. My mother would have all our family round for lunch, and we have a big family so we always used to enjoy spending the day together.
Where are your favourite places to go for some family time in Malta?
In summer I do really enjoy Mellieha Bay, it’s beautiful and convenient for the kids. We also love exploring Gozo together as a family, we enjoy eating out when we’re there, we really love the island. I like the little things too, like taking the kids to the swings, and discovering new places to have lunch, to go for walks in the countryside, visit the petting farm, things like that.
What is your favourite parenting meme? (If you follow Ira on Instagram, you’ll know that she loves a good meme)
Want more Ira? Of course you do! Catch our favourite judge on X Factor Malta, with season three starting on Sunday, October 3rd at 20:50.
For more interviews and stories from real parents across the island, check out our Island Parents section.