We’re bringing our ‘Juggle Is Real’ panel back to 9 to Thrive again this year, and in anticipation, we’re kicking off our editorial series of the same name a little early. Premium member Clare Wood was lucky enough to interview Antonia Kidman about juggling life with her family of eight, and we thought she was the perfect woman to kick things off.
Antonia is a mum of six (yes, SIX CHILDREN) and she is best known for her work as a journalist and TV presenter (she is also an author and undertakes community and charity work). She’s currently based in Singapore and is finishing off a postgraduate law degree. As a business coach and mum to (only) 2 boys myself, I wanted to know how she does it!
As soon as we started talking, I was immediately drawn to Antonia’s warmth and openness. It became immediately apparent that despite her high profile, she is very down to earth and as a busy working mum, has the same struggles as the rest of us!
So, what the secret to juggling six children?
There’s no one-word answer, it changes all the time. There’s really no secret. No matter how many kids you have, it’s tricky. I like to do stuff, I like to be out of the house and it’s good for the kids to be involved in activities. I pick a few key activities that we focus on and try not spread ourselves too thin. Six kids in this day and age is a lot, and I do feel it at times, but each phase has its own charm.
How do you and your husband make time as a couple with such busy lives?
Craig travels a lot, so if he’s back we don’t like to leave the kids. We grab moments together when we can. We’ll sit and watch the kids while they are doing activities and chat between ourselves. We have a tradition of BBQs on Saturday nights with the kids so we all enjoy that time as a family. And yes, sometimes just the two of us will grab something to eat.
I’m not an expert in relationships, but I believe communication is key. I like to have things resolved and it’s important to choose your moments to discuss the tough topics. We both want, and choose to be together. We genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
If you want to have something good, you are going to have to consciously compromise and listen and try and make it better. Marriage is a team approach and a view of fairness and equality. It’s not a given, and it’s always being readjusted.
Emma Isaacs, Sophie Cachia, Justine Cullen and Jessica Rowe on the ‘Juggle is Real’ panel at last year’s 9 to Thrive
As a busy working mum, how do you make time for yourself?
I swim and I study. That’s my time. When I swim, I get time to myself and so I get to think a lot. And the law degree has been fascinating for me. I love writing, politics, and history. I like to have a purpose, that’s why I do so many things. It feeds me, it feeds my sense of self.
What advice would you give to working mums?
I don’t know. (Laughs). It’s hard. It’s really hard. Different things work for different people. A few things that work for me:
As much as I’m devoted to my kids, I like to keep my own life.
I like to have my own stuff (my study) and I’m really committed to it. My overarching philosophy when it comes to parenting is that your kids come into your life and learn your values but you do have your own life.
I prioritise my relationship with Craig, as that’s the most important thing.
If we are good, the kids are fine. It’s a trickle-down effect. If we surrender ourselves and everything to them, it doesn’t work.
I keep up my exercise, as it’s just as much for my mental health as the physical health.
Your kids see you training and exercising, and they learn from you that it’s important. It’s about creating a family who has a strong sense of health.
Doing stuff as a family.
We play tennis with the kids. I’m not great at tennis but I do it for the kids. It creates a family culture. Sometimes I look back on particularly busy periods and I think how did I do that?! It is tough, but you forget that stuff. It’s like childbirth. Don’t try [to] be perfect, just surrender to it.
What values do you want to instill in your children?
Kindness and consideration, respect, social justice, caring for other people, self-respect, and independence. I also want them to have fun. There’s so much pressure on kids these days, so I encourage them to try and pull back from the pressure. Life is fragile – I want them to enjoy life!
How do you find life with a big family?
If you can get through it, it’s so nice. At Christmas, we were on holidays at the beach. I was looking at them all and there was so many of them together and it was so nice. This is the fun time now. Although I never have any privacy, I love the buzz at home, there’s always someone there. Although there are sometimes sibling arguments and niggles, the kids do like the energy.
What’s the best part of being a mum?
The love. I was transformed as soon as I had my first baby, I was so excited. I like being responsible and it makes you step up. I just love it.
What’s next for you?
At the moment my focus is just on finishing my degree, then I’m planning to practice law. Something community based with a human element – possibly environmental law. And I’m really looking forward to being a grandparent, I can’t wait! I love babies.
I love that at the end of our interview, where we’ve been chatting about life with work, study and six children – something that seems incomprehensible to many – Antonia talks about how she can’t wait for the next generation of children. Her energy is endless. Life has its challenges, but it seems to me like she is taking the right approach – staying in the moment, prioritising her own well-being, and keeping focused on her purpose.
Every mum – no matter how many kids, no matter how big the load – has the hardest job on the planet. That means it’s so important that we take time for ourselves, stay in the moment, and stay true to our purpose – not just on Mother’s Day – but every day.