Media personality and new mum Chrissie Swan was Australia's first female Big Brother runner-up, impressing the nation with her intelligence, wit, integrity. This year Chrissie has bought her intriguing sense of humour to two new projects, co-hosting The Circle on Channel 10 and acting as an ambassador for Red Nose Day.
How many children do you have? What age / sex are they?
One little boy. One year old. Called Leo.
What has surprised you the most about becoming a mother?
The feeling of pride and completeness.
Do you miss anything about your life prior to having children?
Every-time I think I miss things (like time, ability to sleep in, seeing movies, going out for dinner with my partner, ability to be quiet for just a second!) I also think I'd give them all up again for Leo. I wouldn't swap him for anything. Even sleep!
What is the hardest part about being a mum?
Dealing with the guilt of returning to work and wondering if my decisions will impact Leo negatively. I struggled with this a lot at the beginning but now that he is settled at creche 3 days a week and lets out a squeal of excitement every time we pull up, my guilt is being eroded. He loves to spend time with me, but he also loves doing other things - just like any other human being. He's busy and I think he enjoys the fun and stimulation of other people and activities.
How has your relationship with your partner changed since becoming parents?
We became a team the minute Leo drew breath. I had a caesarean so Chris did the first baths, first nappies, all of it for the first week or so. He was freaking out but it was great for him to be thrown into the deep end. He also stayed at home for the first 6 months while I worked half days. I was home by 11am and we swapped shifts so he could go to work in the afternoon. We were so tired, so cranky, but we never fought. My respect for him as a partner and father deepened immeasurably. He's so kind to me, and to Leo. He is a wonderful father.
What advice do you have for new mothers or mothers to be?
Just go with it. Don't read too much! I bought a book and within the first few minutes was so petrified of things going wrong I closed it and kept it under my bed. Listen to your instincts. Establish a loose routine asap (for us it was bath-time at around 6pm, bottle, bed from day 1), let them be babies, Cuddle them as much as you like. Never do anything that you feel uncomfortable with just 'because someone told you'.
What are you great at?
Teaching him to get himself to sleep. It was tough for the first week but now he loves sleep and can settle himself without hours of patting and sssshing from me.
What are you terrible at?
Staying positive through a 'non eating' phase. It gets SO frustrating after cooking something delicious to have it rejected, night after night. I just want to give up but I know he has to eat *something* but to be honest, it's so boring and disheartening to keep coming up with super food ideas!
How has your attitude to work / career changed since becoming a mother and how do you manage the juggle of family and work?
Planning has never been my strong suit so being a full time working mother is a massive challenge for me. It's doesn't' come naturally to me like it does for some other women. And to those other women I say "I salute you! you're awesome!"
I fly by the seat of my pants mostly, but recently I've had to spend some time to schedule things (like eating breakfast!) and I'm noticing a difference.
What do you think about "me" time? Do you practice it, preach it or have you resigned yourself to the fact that you will have to play catch up later on – and how do (or would) you spend your leisure time?
Leo is only one year old and my first child so I've really spent the last year trying to work out what the hell is going on. 'Me time' just wasn't on the radar... I love baths and have recently taken to giving Leo a bath with me at night, then handing him over to his dad, topping up the bath with hot water and taking 10 minutes for a leisurely soak. I also saw my first movie in nearly 2 years last week. So "me time" is important - but you've really got to plan it too.
Who do you admire? Why?
I admire every mother. You're all doing an incredible job. It's always full time and we do it with such high hopes and energy and optimism and kindheartedness. go us! And to those women who lose babies to SIDS - I can't imagine the heartbreak. You're resilience inspires me and spurs me and many others on to find a cause and cure.
What kind of 'Australia' do you hope for your children's future?
A place where everyone is accepted and celebrated. Fat, thin, black, white, gay, straight. Also a world with no SIDS. We've reduced the risks (don't smoke - dads - you too) but we can still aim for a 0% statistic. Click here for more info about Red Nose Day.
How do you know of the Essential Baby community? Is there anything you would like to say to them?
I found essential baby forums to be WONDERFUL for answers to my questions like "why is my baby's bum red?" "Why does he spew all the time" or "why am I crying all the time". It's like a mother's group without the politics!
Finally, a question all mums must face (no matter who they are!) – What are you feeding your child for dinner tonight?
Steamed carrot sticks and good old Bolognese sauce (with wine and bacon!) with macaroni. And if he throws that across the room, then vegemite toast and yoghurt. Again.
Steamed carrot sticks and good old Bolognese sauce with macaroni. And if he throws that across the room, then vegemite toast and yoghurt. Again.