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Family

Celeb mums on their hardest job

Growing pains the glamorous group reveals the good, bad and ugly sides of parenthood in a new show!

By Kelly Bertrand
It's a phrase every parent has uttered at least once – "Why doesn't my child come with instructions?" While much-loved TV presenter Jude Dobson wishes such a manual existed when her three children were little, the former nurse turned Sale of the Century host has set out to help other Kiwi mums with a new show, Raising Children.
"The irony now, though, with me producing, directing and presenting the show, is that my own children currently never see me!" she laughs. "But I feel passionately that we need to resource parents with trustworthy information. The life-changing experience of parenthood deserves a decent user's guide." As well as screening on TVNZ Heartland, the series will be given away free-of-charge to all new parents through Plunket providers.
The Weekly sat down with Jude, as well as former Silver Fern Anna Stanley, Black Fern Karina Stowers, and Sunday presenter Miriama Kamo, – mums who all appear on the show – for a candid chat about what raising children in New Zealand means to them.
What were you like as a new mum?
Anna: I was pretty relaxed. I certainly wasn't one of those mums that read lots of books on what my child should or shouldn't have been doing. I was back playing netball when my first was five months old, so I think having that balance was good. I wasn't totally consumed with motherhood but from the moment I became a mum, I loved it.
Karina: I was a nervous train wreck that looked calm and collected on the outside. I always second-guessed myself, and needed reassurance from the people around me before I did anything.
Miriama: I was really grateful to have a baby, as I didn't know if I could have children or not. My daughter was a wonderful surprise. I think I was ready to roll with any challenges.
What's the most challenging part of parenting?
Jude: I have had some of my happiest and proudest, and yet also sad and stressful, moments with my parent hat on. We have three and four-year age gaps between our kids, so it's always a case of them being at quite different life stages, which is a bit of a challenge sometimes.
Anna: It's now just finding that balance of mummy time, Anna time and Anna and [husband] Jeremy time. I think I parent a lot better when I have that time to myself and am able to do something for me that I enjoy. Kids can wear you down (well, mine can!) and it's about keeping them busy and finding them new and exciting things to do.
Miriama: Tantrums, probably. Trying to figure out what my daughter wants when she loses it.
What kind of mum are you?
Karina: I'm a goofy mum who thinks she lives in a musical. When I'm doing the house-cleaning or cooking, I find myself singing a number from Grease or The Lion King.
Jude: I don't know, really – so I sent a text to my teens and asked them. "Loving and forbearing," the 16-year-old tells me. The 19-year-old says, "You know us all well and respond to our needs as best you can in relation to our different personalities." And the 11-year-old is at a sleepover, so I can't gather her opinion!
Anna: I'd like to think I'm a pretty cruisy mum – I try not to sweat the small stuff.
What's the best advice you've received about being a mum?
Anna: Enjoy them while they're young! And not to stress if you can't breastfeed. It's about doing what's best for you, your baby and your family at the time.
Karina: A happy mum, a happy bub! It was from my mum – she always reminds me to take care of myself.
Jude: From my own mum, "This too shall pass." She was right. The challenging times don't last, but the lovely ones aren't constant either.
And the worst?
Anna: Your kid will sleep through the night once they start solids!
Jude: Try letting your baby cry themselves to sleep.
Kiwi mums Miriama Kamo, Anna Stanley, Karina Stowers and Jude Dobson talk about the struggles of parenthood.

The mums on...

Breastfeeding
Miriama: For me, it was excruciating. It was really painful for the first six months. But I'm really glad I stuck with it because I ended up loving it. It's such a wonderful time to bond physically and emotionally.
Anna: I always ran out of milk, had bleeding and cracked nipples right up to nearly six months with my last child – so needless to say, I didn't last long with any of my kids!
Moving on from nappies:
Jude: Do it in summer. Wait for them to tell you they are ready – or you'll end up in unnecessary battles.
First day of school:
Anna: On day three, my daughter asked if I could walk a few steps behind her as she wanted to walk in on her own and not be seen with her mum! I couldn't believe it, I didn't know when to laugh or cry.
Jude: Get a coffee after the drop-off with some other mums so you don't feel completely lost and empty!
Raising Children, TVNZ Heartland, Sundays at 10pm.
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