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News Presenter and mother Georgie Gardner

Georgie Gardner has one packed schedule. She combines weekend presenting on Nine News Sydney as well as the weekday position of newsreader and fill-in host on the TODAY Show.

Her other full time role is motherhood and she chats with Melina Cruickshank about days in park with her children, wiping bottoms and the beautiful simplicity of chicken schnitzels.

Oh, craft! I'm terrible at it. Play-doh, beading, painting, all of that! I do love reading the children books, but craft sends me cross-eyed.  

Georgie, how many children do you have and what ages/sex are they?
I have a daughter Bronte who is 4, and a son Angus who is 2 1/2

What has surprised you the most about becoming a mother?
The intense, aching love I have for my children. I always knew I'd have the capacity to love but I never realised the strength of the love. It's just so powerful - all the clichés about throwing yourself in front of a freight train to save your children mean something now.

You’re one of Australia's most high profile newsreaders. Did you take much time away from work when you had children? Why/why not?
After Bronte arrived I had 12 weeks off and went back part time just doing one or two shifts a week reading the news.

After Angus was born I had 6 months leave because it really is harder with two. As my return to work date became closer I began a controlled crying program as he was waking so many times in the night so that was a bit tough.

Logistically, how do you manage your work and childcare?
The TODAY show is actually a great job for motherhood. The hours are quite conducive to spending time with my children.

I'm out the door by 3:45 every morning and it's nice closing the door knowing my children are still asleep. I do miss seeing them in the morning as they are just so beautiful, but I have that on weekends.

My husband Tim holds the fort until our gorgeous nanny arrives at 7:30am. She stays until 10:30am until I return home from work and take over.

Bronte is in pre-school two days a week and Angus has just started one day a week. On Tuesdays I ask our nanny to stay until midday so Bronte and I can have our 'mummy morning' which is special to both of us.

What is the hardest element of being a working mother?
From a practical point of view, it's definitely the witching hour. As I start the day at 3:30 in the morning by the time bathing and feeding arrives at 5-6pm I am usually cross-eyed and tiredness begins to set in.

My husband arrives home around 6:30pm and takes over while I start dinner. We then read books and settle them down for the night. I make sure Tim and I have dinner together every night as it's our time to talk and it's important.

I head to bed around 8:30pm, so I average around 6 hours sleep every night. Thankfully the lovely hair and make-up women at Channel 9 help me look decent each morning!

What do you think about 'me time'? With such demanding hours as well as small children, do you manage to get it and what do you like to do?
The area that has taken a back seat for me is exercise. I do go for a walk every Saturday morning at 6am, but that's about the extent of 'formal' exercise.

I know I could go to a gym and put the kids in a crèche but I would much prefer to head to a park and be with them out in the fresh air. For me that's my primary exercise at the moment and one that I enjoy as I'm interacting with my children. These years are just so important and I want to be with them as much as possible.

On Fridays I do have a bit of me time when they are both in kindy, and in that window I occasionally get a facial, see friends or just deal with the washing.

As a mother I've become brilliant at prioritisation. My family and work take up such a big chunk of my life so I'm good about turning down anything that will have too much of an impact.

Have there been times when you've thought 'this is just too hard!' and considered giving up your work to become a full time mum?
Quite often! Particularly at 3:30 in the morning when the alarm goes off! Like many working mothers I get tired, and it's hard when the children are sick.

However I always look at the positives. I have worked hard throughout my career but I'm still surprised to have such a great job. I'm very lucky - I have never considered myself to be overly ambitious.

I genuinely love my job and working so I remind myself of that when it gets hard at times. I want my children to see what hard work brings and my daughter Bronte really enjoys seeing me in my work environment.

I know many mothers who have incredibly difficult work environments, where being a mother is considered a hindrance. I think we have a long way to go in that area as a society.

I have an enormous respect for full time mums; it is one of the hardest jobs around. I would find it very difficult not to have my work as a stimulating outlet and I don't take it for granted.

What is the one thing you miss from your 'pre-children' life?
I would say the spontaneity. Being able to go and see a movie on the spur of the moment would be nice.

The other thing I miss is reading. I'm in a book club, and I can't remember the last time I finished a book.

As a mother, what do you think you're pretty good at?
I asked my daughter Bronte that question the other day and she answered, "Mummy, you are so good at wiping bottoms". So this I know!

Apart from wiping bottoms, I know that I'm good at being tactile with my children. They get a lot of kisses and hugs. I make sure I am helping build their self esteem with a lot of affection.

...and what are you terrible at?
Oh, craft! I'm terrible at it. Play-doh, beading, painting, all of that! I do love reading the children books, but craft sends me cross-eyed.

Ideally, how do you want your children to describe their childhood days in years to come?
This is a hard one - we put so much pressure on ourselves don't we?

Essentially I'd like them to say their childhood days were simple, happy, uncomplicated. I hope they are growing up in a carefree manner and we are all forging great memories together as a family.

I know that it's not about the material stuff - my kids just want time with their parents so I try my best to give them that.

What are the qualities most important to you that you'd like to pass onto your children?
Respect and compassion for other people, particularly others less fortunate.

 I always try and instil in my children the awareness they have a privileged life and they should always try to actively help others.

I have been involved with the Mums and Bubs Club at the Salvation Army Oasis Centre for some time and it's been a powerful experience for me.

These are young mums who are in incredibly difficult situations with backgrounds of poverty, alcoholism, drugs, homelessness and so forth. These are strong women and I always feel inspired being with them. They are determined to break the cycle and give their children a better chance. Their priorities are on such a different scale to mine and it's a great leveller.

I take Bronte along to our catch ups as I want her to experience all walks of life.

What is the nicest thing about motherhood?
Definitely being called 'mummy'.

Georgie, finally a question all mums must face - what are you feeding your children for dinner tonight?
I got it out of the deep freezer at 3:30 this morning - chicken schnitzels. I’ll add peas and potatoes mash and I just know my son and daughter will look up at me and tell me it's the best meal in the world.