Australians first met Julie Goodwin as a contestant on MasterChef in 2009. After taking out the title she went on to release her cookbook, Our Family Table; her latest recipe book, Gather, is on sale now.
As well as raising three boys - who are now 17, 16 and 14 years old - Julie sponsors seven children in different parts of the world through ChildFund Australia. She also supports McGrath Foundation, 40K Foundation and Oxfam.
Essential Baby spoke to Julie about life with her sons, motherhood, and how her career has affected her family life.
Hello to the Essential Baby community! Family and community are the two most important things in my life, thanks for asking me to share some of my story with your lovely community.
What surprised you the most about becoming a mother?
How quickly the time has gone; how little time in my life was actually spent caring for my tiny babies; how soon they will be gone to live their own lives.
Do you miss anything about your life prior to having children?
I used to miss sleeping in, but now that they are teenagers they sleep longer than I do!
What's the hardest part of being a mum?
The constant worry! Is their behavior normal, are they being bullied, are they doing all right at school, do they have nice friends, are they eating enough or too much, do they get enough exercise, do their socks match, do they have a hanky, will they marry a nice girl, reach their potential, be happy and productive human beings?
How has your relationship with your partner changed since becoming parents?
As with all families, there are times that are just joyful and times that are worrying and difficult. Mick and I have managed to navigate those times as partners. Having children has challenged us and brought us closer together than we ever could have been without them.
What advice do you have for new mothers or mothers to be?
Forgive yourself! Life is not a Johnson & Johnson commercial, with everything in pastels and soft focus. It’s noisy, it’s messy, it’s quite frequently smelly. As long as you are doing your best and love is at the centre of all your actions, your baby will be all right. Don’t worry about fingerprints on the light switches and dishes in the sink, cuddles are way more important.
What are you great at? And what needs improvement?
I'm great at talking, I could talk the hind leg off a donkey. I'm terrible at delegating. And knitting, my knitting is awful.
How has your attitude to work changed since becoming a mother? How do you manage the juggle of family and work?
I was a youth worker before I had kids, and gave it up to be a full-time mum. A few years later just before Paddy (our youngest) started school, Mick and I started our own business. Then I had another career change a few years ago when MasterChef happened.
At different ages the boys need different things; a lot of things are on hold until they are grown up and have lives and families of their own. Now that I know how quickly they grow up and fly away, I want to be as present to them as I can while still enjoying my wonderful work.
What do you think about 'me' time? Do you practice it or have you resigned yourself to the fact that you’ll have to play catch up later on?
I think the harder it is to achieve 'me' time, the more important it is. When babies are tiny it can be a huge undertaking to have some time to yourself, but it’s really important to charge the batteries and refresh. It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive – even getting a neighbour to look after the little ones for one hour and having a long uninterrupted bath can do the trick. We mums are generally bad at taking time for ourselves, but it should be part of the routine.
Who do you admire?
I admire my mum and dad. They are fair and honest people, who worked hard all their lives and are very grateful for everything they have. They taught us a strong work ethic and raised us with values that I hope Mick and I have instilled in our own children.
What kind of Australia do you hope for your children’s future?
An optimistic, community-minded, free, abundant and generous country. I believe that it is now, and I believe that it will be.
Finally, a question all parents must face (no matter who they are!): what are you feeding your children for dinner tonight?
We are heading off for a camping weekend tomorrow, so something easy and non-messy tonight, probably pasta and salad!
About ChildFund Australia: ChildFund Australia is an independent and non-religious international development organisation that works to reduce or eliminate poverty for children in the developing world. ChildFund Australia is a member of ChildFund Alliance – a global network of 12 organisations which assists more than 16 million children in over 50 countries. ChildFund Australia is a registered charity and is fully accredited by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).