Actress Renee Lyons on raising her young twins and why she's had to learn to let go of expectations

''It’s important to never put too much pressure on yourself to do everything as a mum because you just can’t.''

By Ellen Mackenzie
When Woman's Day arrives at the Auckland home of Renee Lyons, it's not the 800 Words actress who is there to greet us at the door. Instead, it's her energetic 23-month-old son Ralph, who's eager to say hello.
"He's excited to have another person to show off to!" laughs Renee as she grabs her boy before he makes a run for it outside to play in the puddles.
While his chilled-out twin sister Darcy is happy sitting on her mother's knee, Ralph continues to put on quite the show for his guests, dancing around and giving us a tour of his toy collection. It would seem the adorable tot is set to follow in his mum's acting shoes already!
Laughing, Renee explains, "He loves an audience. I always say I won't be pushing acting, but if either of them start to show some interest, then whatever's in their hearts, I want to support."
As Brenda in 800 Words with co-star Jesse Griffin.
As Renee expertly balances both twins on her hips, it appears the 42-year-old has her life in perfect order. The busy actress has been involved in numerous projects since having the twins, as well as writing scripts. Her most recent project was the play Rants in the Dark, which was performed in Wellington and Auckland, and centred around the early days of motherhood.
"I'm very picky about what jobs I choose now because of the kids, but when I was approached about Rants, I had to say yes," tells Renee.
"It was such a cool play to do, particularly now I've got these two. It's such a specific time of life and women need to know that they're not alone."
Renee's new TV series The Educators has just debuted too. In the unscripted comedy, which streams on TVNZ OnDemand, Renee plays the sex education teacher.
While it may be a handful juggling a career with two young children, Renee says she wouldn't have it any other way.
"For me, my work is quite sporadic, but it's so fulfilling," she insists. "Ever since the twins were born, I've managed to keep a balance with just a little bit of work so I don't feel completely cut off. But the majority of my time is spent with them.
"My partner Wes and I both find that if we've had a job we really enjoyed, we'll come back quite buoyant and ready to take on parenthood again."
Renee is a Buddhist, and her morning routine often starts with yoga and chanting before the babies wake up. Despite the seemingly peaceful beginning to the morning, the actress admits she struggles to keep that balance every day.
She explains, "Some days when the kids are asleep, I'll tidy the whole house and do all my admin or do some writing. But then other days, I get into bed and watch Netflix for the whole time because I just need to recharge.
It's important to never put too much pressure on yourself to do everything as a mum because you just can't. You have to lower your standards on what's expected of you on some things, like your house being dirty. I have to choose where I put my energy. I can't do everything I used to do as I'll just come back at the end of the day exhausted."
Since her little ones have learnt to walk, it's become an impossible mission to take them out during the day on her own.
"I have to go somewhere contained or else they can run off," she laughs. "One of the most important things new mums can do is build a good tribe around you. I have my mum, my partner and some really great friends – one of which also has twins around the same age, so we can do play dates together."
With Darcy and Ralph turning two next month, Renee is starting to reflect on her journey as a mother so far and is even getting a little clucky.
"I look at old photos and it makes me want to have another one," shares Renee, smiling at the twins. "But I had a really difficult pregnancy, so I'm not sure I could put my family through that again.
And I'm just so grateful for these two. It's bloody hard work, but I can't even imagine having one now!"

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