From the outside, TVNZ weather presenter Renee Wright’s Auckland home is the picture of suburban bliss. But the minute you step inside the renovated villa she and husband Charlie have painstakingly renovated over the last three years, it’s a different story.
Drills and saws whir as a team of builders puts the finishing touches on the deck in the pouring rain, while inside, Renee’s youngest daughter Arabella squeals with delight as she toddles around the lounge, alternately opening cupboards and pulling out all of their contents, and knocking things off tables and benches.
In the middle of it all is the seemingly unflappable Renee (36), who’s not batting an eyelid, despite the fact her beautiful home will soon resemble a bomb site. Over the last few years, Renee tells with a smile, her approach to life has been simple – sometimes you’ve just got to let things go.
“I’ve given up on this idea of a quiet, simple life,” she says, laughing.
“It’s just not my reality right now. We’re the masters of organised chaos!”
It’s been a year since the Weekly caught up with Renee. She’d just welcomed Arabella – a sister for Leo, now five, and Giselle, or Gigi, who turns four next week, and was still firmly in that newborn “fog”.
Twelve months on, life isn’t any less crazy, but the presenter has never been happier.
“You know, I wasn’t prepared for how much I would enjoy having baby number three,” she says.
“Of course, I love all three of them and I’m so lucky to be their mum, but it’s been so enjoyable this time. I was quite overwhelmed with the first two, but I’ve really, really loved this last year. And it’s going by so fast. It needs to slow down!”
Little Arabella, or Bells as her smitten mum calls her, has proved to be the light of her and Charlie’s lives – despite the fact she was a surprise baby, following their temporary separation in 2015.
Speaking to the Weekly at the time, Renee revealed that while she and Charlie, who married in 2009, had had their ups and downs, they were through the storm following a hectic few years.
Now Renee says she can’t imagine life without their spunky, sassy little girl.
“She’s full-on,” Renee tells as she chases Arabella around the kitchen, stuffing things back into cupboards and settling her daughter down with a toy instead.
“She’s walking now and chatting. She’s into everything – I never had to put those ties on the door handles or anything with the other two. Now I have locks on everything.”
It’s taken a little time to get used to the fact that she and Charlie are now officially outnumbered by their brood. “It feels like there are 1000 kids everywhere, all the time,” she laughs.
Coming from a family of three children herself, Renee loves the dynamic between Leo, Gigi and Arabella – and she’s thankful the two eldest absolutely adore their baby sister.
“They’re very good with her. Leo is really careful with her and really looks out for her. Gigi’s just interested in putting lipstick on her and helping her be a girl. It’s almost like she’s a living doll.”
Making sure the kids have enough one-on-one time with their parents is also proving rather tricky, especially as they get older. While Arabella just “rolls with the punches – you have to when you’re the third child, you don’t have a choice!” laughs Renee – Gigi is proving to be quite the free spirit.
“Gigi does what Gigi feels like,” Renee says with a smile. “More of their personalities are coming out as they grow and I find myself stretched emotionally to cater to their needs. I’m finding, with Leo, that boys have these little testosterone surges and you have to roll with those, but then he can get quite emotional too. It’s never about what it seems at the time!
“You have to give them their own time. It’s hard, but it’s what every mum tries to do.
"Everyone has something going on in their lives that’s a challenge – but we’re all doing it. I remember all three kids had a tummy bug and I had bronchitis, and I was just trying to get them out the door. I just sat there, staring off into space, thinking, ‘Oh, my God, why? This is insane.’ But then the storm passes, we have cuddles and it’s all worth it. Those are the lovely moments.”
Thankfully, Renee’s also become very crafty at the art of distraction, even using the builders outside to keep Leo occupied in the morning while she tends to the girls.
“They’re actually quite handy,” she says with a smile. “Leo gets up, puts on his toy tool belt and follows the boys around, and they’re so great with him. I guess it’s in the genes!”
But soon, the builders will be gone and the renovation will finally be complete. Will that mean less chaos?
“Nah, something else will come along,” says Renee. “It can’t be that simple!”
Adding to the melee is the fact Renee’s work hours often change with quite little notice, but she doesn’t mind in the slightest. Work, she says, is her time away from the kids – and the only place she can drink a cup of coffee before it goes cold!
“I don’t get a lot of time for me but, and I know it sounds weird, working is my time away,” she tells.
“That’s my time where I get to go in and interact with other adults, and have hair and make-up done, which is such an amazing treat. It’s my quiet time. I feel really lucky and spoilt to be able to do that.”
As well as her shifts at TVNZ, Renee also attends a mummy boot camp twice a week and sometimes joins Seven Sharp host Toni Street for a gym session.
“It’s great – they look after the kids for you, so it’s a chance to talk to other mums who are going through the same thing,” she explains.
“The physical benefits are great, but it’s the mental side of it that’s really awesome. I see that their lives are working well and they’re surviving three kids! It puts everything in perspective.”
Yes, she nods happily, life is pretty good.
“It’s crazy, it’s full-on and it’s busy – but I love it that way!”
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