Art and Matilda Green open up about becoming parents and why they’re keeping it real on social media

"All this pressure we put on ourselves and all these unrealistic expectations, it's ridiculous. As women, we are too hard on ourselves sometimes," Matilda says of how parenthood has changed her perspective on life.
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Life can change, quite literally, in a heartbeat.

After years of snap-happy milestones, red carpet events and romantic adventures, those cute moments are now getting ruined by explosive baby poos, Matilda is cracking jokes about her leaking boobs, and Art is waving around the breast pads she forgot to put on.

There’s nothing quite like a new baby to throw a spanner in the works.

Although Matilda looks as fresh as a daisy when we meet and seems far more relaxed than you might expect from the mother of a four-and-a-half-month-old bub, the journey leading up to this point hasn’t been an easy ride, and she’s determined to break down the illusion of perfection that social media tends to create.

Terrible morning sickness had her on constant high alert for a bathroom (or sometimes a bush) for six months of her pregnancy, she struggled with intense fatigue and her changing body, and her homebirth in Warkworth didn’t quite go to plan either thanks to an unexpected power cut.

One would think that a lack of electricity would surely qualify for the “something going wrong” that they had an emergency hospital bag packed for, but even that wasn’t enough to deter Matilda.

“I just knew I wanted to give birth where I personally felt the safest – and for me, that’s at home, not in a hospital. I didn’t want to make a decision based out of fear. I wanted it to feel like it was on my terms and I thought that if I was at home, that would be the best way to feel confident in my decisions.”

Matilda had done an extensive amount of prep work in the lead-up to the due date, with courses in calm birthing, hypnobirthing and weeks spent mastering breathing techniques to get through the pain.

Of all the things she was prepared for, being unable to keep the birthing pool at an optimal temperature was not one of them.

“The whole thing was very Victorian, with our midwife boiling water on the stove and pouring it in,” she chuckles.

“When he was ready to come out, I just had to jump out and birth him straight on the tarp we had down.”

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Art was lucky enough to deliver wee Milo – or as he puts it, the “slippery little octopus” – before being put on dinner duty – not a feast of their usual paleo fare, but a takeaway pizza devoured together in bed, mesmerised by the new addition to their family.

That bubble of dreaminess and calm was soon popped, when breastfeeding posed a whole new set of challenges.

Milo struggled to latch on, could barely stay awake to feed, and any sense of confidence Matilda had, quickly began to waver. It was a blur of frustration, tiredness and plenty of tears.

“I can see why people give up in those first few weeks; it’s really, really hard,” she admits.

With Milo now settled into a better routine and the Greens feeling more adjusted to their new world, Matilda’s spark and sense of humour have returned.

Looking back on the experience, she says that being pushed to her limits has given her a newfound sense of resilience, knowing how much pain she really can endure.

“I think to myself, if I have gone through childbirth, surely nothing could be as bad?”

When two became three, putting Milo’s needs before her own immediately also changed the way she thought about her body and all the pangs of insecurity simply fell by the wayside.

“You know it’s coming; that your body will change, you’ll get more cellulite and you’ll put on weight. I didn’t think I’d care because your body is doing such an amazing thing. But that’s definitely easier said than done. I did struggle with it, and then I’d feel guilty about it, thinking I should be grateful that I was even able to get pregnant instead of being upset about such stupid, trivial stuff.

“Once you have the baby, it’s amazing how much you don’t care about things like that. It just doesn’t matter any more. All this pressure we put on ourselves and all these unrealistic expectations, it’s ridiculous. As women, we are too hard on ourselves sometimes.”

She breastfeeds while we talk, Milo trying to add his two cents to the conversation with the occasional hiccup, while Art is busy prepping a bottle of milk for later.

Is it okay to leave it on the bench? Is that safe? Should we put it in the fridge? The questions bounce back and forth between the pair, before she glances back at me and bursts into laughter.

“Can you tell we are really experienced at this?”

In November last year, Matilda released her second book, The Feel Good Guide. Following her first bestseller, The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Living a Beautiful Life, the new title takes on some more serious topics that are close to Matilda’s heart, such as self-esteem and mental health.

A few years ago, she realised some of her unhealthy thought patterns were not actually an ingrained part of who she was – they were stemming from low self-esteem.

Her feelings of jealousy, sensitivity to criticism, habit of comparing herself to others, and closing herself off from new experiences all came back to a deep-seated belief that she wasn’t good enough.

Matilda is well-aware people might roll their eyes at the idea of a social media influencer having problems of this nature, but believes there is always more to a person, in the public eye or not, than what you see on the surface.

“Hordes of us struggle with our self-esteem – even if, from the outside, you’d never guess it,” she explains, and recently opened up about perfection, comparison and social media on The Project.

“Social media is a job for me, so I’m on it all the time, and I do think it can have a really negative impact, especially on young girls. Instead of trying to change social media, I’m passionate about changing the way you feel about yourself so it doesn’t affect you as much.

“I think I’m going to be that mean parent that doesn’t let their child have a phone for quite a while,” she laughs. Until then, making Milo’s childhood as fun as possible, and being as present as possible, is their top priority.

Matilda’s new book encapsulates her personality perfectly – an honest, kind and goofy expression of her own health journey and the practices that have been fundamental in getting her to a more positive headspace.

“Both of us see health in a similar way. It’s about being happy and keeping stress as low as possible,” she says.

“Sometimes I wonder if stress is even more important than nutrition, because I know some people who eat really well, but it actually causes them anxiety. That’s not healthy either.”

Despite following a whole foods diet and co-owning paleo food delivery service Plate Up, they are both firm in their belief that focusing on nutrition alone is not the path to optimum health and wellness.

“I think it’s really important to do what you feel like doing and enjoy yummy treats sometimes, because if you enjoy it and it makes you feel really good, that has such a positive effect on your mental wellbeing and your physiology,” Art adds.

His weak spot? Almond croissants.

“Sleep underpins health, too. It obviously has been hard with little Milo, but that always comes first for us, rather than forcing ourselves to wake up early to exercise. We also started meditating a few years ago, and that’s been huge for us in terms of our mental wellbeing and our understanding of how our brains and emotions work.”

Although Art has dialled down his workout routine significantly in the past few years and Matilda is taking it slow on the movement front, he would still opt for tyre flipping and battle ropes over yoga any day.

“Every time I go to a yoga class, I realise it’s actually so much more difficult than it looks, and then I’m annoyed because everyone else is so much better than me,” he laughs.

Since childhood, he has been naturally drawn towards sports and the great outdoors, and was always the kid in the back of class causing a ruckus.

When he began studying Sports Science and Exercise Prescription at university, suddenly seeing A+ grades on his papers came as a shock.

He later made it his mission as a gym manager to discover the best diet by trying them all himself – vegan, vegetarian, keto, raw food, you name it.

“I originally didn’t think that highly of paleo. Honestly, I thought it was just a meat-eating caveman diet and CrossFit,” he laughs.

“Then I realised the whole philosophy is just about eating as naturally as possible and staying away from refined processed foods, which makes a lot of sense to me. So I started eating paleo and never stopped.”

Art gets his attitude from his dad, who often listens to their Well & Good podcast before ringing his son up a week later to update him on what new lifestyle change he is trying out. This is – on a small scale – exactly the impact Art is hoping to have.

“When you’re motivated to uplift other people and have a positive influence on other people in the community, then the flow-on effect is that they will be motivated to do the same to others.”

His mother, on the other hand, keeps him grounded.

“My mum thinks that paleo is hilarious though,” he jokes.

“She’s like, ‘That works for you and good on you, but I’m going to have a gin and tonic and eat my cheese and crackers.'”

In between being a dad, a media personality, running a business and his new involvement as a Lululemon ambassador, he recently had to leave his wife and new-born baby behind to complete the filming for his newest role – the host of The Bachelorette.

“I love this role. The guys are great and I’m able to be part of the excitement of the show and hopefully a relationship like we have, but without any of the stress and pressure that comes with being on it. It’s been really interesting watching it from this view – being both on the outside and the inside – and seeing all the twists and dramas unfold. The show is going to be awesome.”

As the Greens reflect fondly on their own memories of meeting on the show and one day showing the footage to Milo, it sounds like this is just the beginning of their family.

“God, if we end up with all boys, that’s going to be a lot of boys tearing around, pushing each other over, getting muddy and terrorising the chickens,” Matilda laughs.

The Bachelorette New Zealand airs Monday – Tuesday at 7:30pm and Sunday 7pm on TVNZ 2

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