'My whole world is Lyra – it’s not about me any more': Strictly's Aljaz Skorjanec on his new life as stay-at-home dad

Aljaz Skorjanec and Janette Manrara
-Credit: (Image: Lorna Roach/Reach PLC)

Former Strictly Come Dancing professional Aljaž Škorjanec and his wife, Janette Manrara, became proud parents to a beautiful baby daughter, Lyra Rose, who they welcomed in July 2023.

The dancers have been married since 2017 and Aljaž, 34, has taken on the role of stay-at-home dad, while Janette, 40, has continued to work, including hosting Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, alongside Fleur East, towards the end of last year.

Far from the glitz and the glamour of the ballroom, being at home with Lyra is clearly something that besotted Aljaž relishes, and is more than ready to shout about this Father’s Day.

Here, he opens up exclusively to OK! about how life has changed dramatically since the couple welcomed little Lyra – and how parenthood, despite its challenges, has made him love Janette even more...

Janette Manrara with Aljaž Škorjanec and daughter Lyra
Janette and Aljaž welcomed their baby daughter Lyra last year -Credit:Instagram/Aljaž Škorjanec

Hi, Aljaž. Life has changed a great deal for you since you became a father last year, hasn’t it?

It has completely changed and I absolutely love it! I went shopping the other day because I needed a new pair of trousers, and I thought to myself, “This is probably the first time in a couple of months that I’ve actually gone to the shop for me,” because my whole world is about Lyra – it’s not about me any more.

So, truthfully – is Lyra a daddy’s girl – or a mummy’s girl?

Of course she is a daddy’s girl, but I would say that! If you ask Janette, she’s going to say Lyra’s a mummy’s girl. I have a lot of childish energy, I don’t think I’ll ever grow up. So, at the moment, myself and Lyra are actually really compatible – she sees me and she goes crazy.

Are there any aspects of parenting that you’ve found particularly tough?

I think that the biggest one I think for anyone going through being a first-time parent is definitely going to be the sleep regression and changes of schedules, because the little ones are kind of finding their own schedule every single day. Some nights, it’s super smooth and straightforward – some nights it’s really not.

Aljaž Škorjanec and daughter Lyra
Since welcoming Lyra Aljaž has become a stay-at-home dad -Credit:Instagram/Aljaž Škorjanec

At the moment, it’s really not. But you kind of just go with it, and I’m lucky because I can do the nights then rest when Lyra does, during the day. As a parent, you just feed off that beautiful adrenaline.

And has parenthood changed your relationship with Janette in any way?

Just before we became parents, we made a massive move from London to living up north in the countryside, and doing that was probably the biggest change, because neither of us have family here.

But I’ve loved moving up north – I feel like we’ve found a bit of peace, because you have so much time to spend with one another, and I think our relationship probably got even better because of it. Now, with Lyra, we’re in our own little bubble here.

Have your feelings toward Janette changed since you watched her
become a mother?

I fell in love years ago with Janette’s talent, and she’s a beautiful girl inside and out. That’s why I fell in love with her. Now, seeing how much of an incredible mum she is and how good and natural she is with Lyra makes me fall in love with her even more, for completely different reasons.

You’ve chosen to put your own work commitments on hold for a year, while Janette returned to work. What brought you to that decision?

Both of us have always dreamed of being hands-on parents, but I’ve always dreamed of being there fully, so we put the cards on the table and made the decision. I couldn’t put it down to one specific thing – it was just the most natural and obvious thing for us as a family.

Aljaž Škorjanec and daughter Lyra
Aljaž tells OK! that he loves spending time at home with his daughter -Credit:Instagram/Aljaž Škorjanec

Every parent, every relationship, every dynamic is completely different. But for us, this one was the one that made the most sense, and I feel like both of us really feel that. Whatever decision you make, as long as you do it with love, it’s always going to be the right one.

Do you feel like you’re missing out on work or a more glamorous lifestyle?

I absolutely love being at home with Lyra, and I never feel like I’m missing out on anything. I get to be there for the first smile, the first fall, the first teeth – the first everything. Those little moments, no one can ever take them away from me, so I’m really pleased that I made the decision, and Janette is the same. Whenever she’s not working, we’re always home together, which is important.

Do you ever find it tough when Janette is away with work?

It’s just something you get on with and we’ve got used to it now, because we have such a beautiful little family unit here. I’m really good now with anything and everything that Lyra needs, so I think it’s definitely harder for Janette when she’s away, with missing Lyra and missing being home with us. When she gets home, we spend quality time together and go on lots of long walks in the countryside.

Sadly, there’s still a certain amount of stigma about women going out to work and men being stay-at-home dads. What would you say to this?

There are so many different ways to go around this parenting business, but if you’re doing it with love and care, there is no right or wrong way. So many people give their opinions but I don’t pay much attention to it and I don’t care for it, either. My sole focus is the wellbeing of Lyra and Janette and making sure they’re OK, that we’re OK.

Aljaž Škorjanec and Janette Manrara
Aljaz and Janette tied the knot in 2017 -Credit:OK! Magazine/Lorna Roach

Our work is very different to a typical nine-to-five job, so sometimes we have to go on tour and live in hotels, and not many family dynamics work that way. We don’t pay attention to any negativity – we are both so focused on making sure that the little one has the best possible early days of her life.

Will you be making a return to Strictly ?

I don’t know but I’m still a huge fan of the show, and always have been. It’s given me this incredible career here in the UK and I’m forever grateful – I’ve loved every second on the show. Maybe I would return to Strictly in the future, perhaps in a different role or capacity. I would love to be involved with the show again, but nothing as of right now.

Do you stay in touch with anyone?

It’s a cliché but I’ve loved each and every one of the celebrities that I’ve worked with on Strictly , and it’s impossible to be in touch with everyone every day, but I love that I’ve stayed such good friends with them all.

Father’s Day is this week, on 16 June. How will you be spending your first one?

I’m going to spoil Janette and Lyra even more that day, although technically it should be about me. I’m just going to make sure they have the best Father’s Day, and for me, just being there and being next to them, is the best present. That’s really all I need.