Crap Housewife Is A Badge I Wear With Pride

Jessica Rowe knows the meaning of life won’t be found at the bottom of an empty laundry basket.

Rather, the TV presenter and author’s happiness is wrapped up in her daughters, who she’s had with fellow journalist and husband of 14 years, Peter Overton, or “Petey” as she affectionately calls him.

“Our children run our household,” the former Studio 10 co-host laughs. “My dear husband despairs with me because he is a lot more organised than I am. He’s one of those lovely people who cleans before the cleaner comes, whereas I am someone who happily lives in chaos and mess. I just move the laundry baskets around the house, they don’t actually get unpacked, just moved,” she readily admits.

While the podcaster glows and gushes about her husband and their “beautiful daughters”, Allegra, 11, and Giselle, 9, adding that she feels “so lucky that I have a family because I always wanted to be a mum and that’s not a given for everyone.” The cat-loving, pink-hair rocking, lamb-cutlet-burning, all-day-in-PJs mum admits that while parenting has its beautiful moments worthy of a photo album, most of the time, it’s actually far more ordinary.

That’s part of why she created the #craphousewife movement, giving parents confidence to share the raw, honest and sticky-fingered truth, because let’s face it, kids happens.

“I was literally crying thinking to myself I used to be capable,” Jessica recalls of one particularly testing time when Allegra threw the kind of tantrum only two-year-olds can. “I thought to myself, I used to be able to interview people and have an organised life, and now I can’t even wrangle my two-year-old into the car,” recounts Jessica.

It’s these honest stories about motherhood and life that have earned the 48-year-old an Order of Australia for mental health advocacy. Jessica herself experienced post-natal depression after the birth of both of her daughters, a period which she calls “the worst time of my life.”

“We have to be really careful with mythologising motherhood too much, because we need to be honest about the good but also the struggles.

“Every day is a surprise when you’re a mum. Yes, there is a cliché about the challenges – it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the best thing. Nothing prepares you for the enormity of the love that you feel, the tug on your heart strings, and the vulnerability around being responsible for these little beings,” she says.

Now that her girls have grown out of those temper tantrum years, instead of negotiations with a toddler, they’re with Peter – around their morning routine.

“I drive my husband bananas. Petey will say ‘Pussycat, we have a routine here in the mornings and you’re ruining the routine, it’s out of sync,’” she laughs, adding
that since her decision to leave Studio 10 earlier this year for personal reasons, the pair are finding their way. “He had it running pretty much like a military operation and now I’m around and that’s not my style,” she explains.

You get the sense that Jessica is as playful as her daughters, and not afraid to push boundaries, cheekily saying she’d love to get into Gwyneth Paltrow’s cupboards and “put some sugar in there and processed foods and mess things up a bit.”

But what makes her snort with laughter, is that the very average weeknight dinners she ‘cooks’ for the family and posts photos on Instagram – everything from burnt toast to spag bol – have become a massive hit with her followers.

“It was one of those things I never expected would resonate,” she explains. “I was chatting with this great journo about people who post these incredible kids lunches and I thought, who has time? So, I decided I’m going to post what I really do – and it did strike a chord – which to me shows we’re all just doing our best.

We need to give each other permission to say it’s not perfect, but that’s alright.”

Jessica’s Top 10 Parenting Mantras That Work:

  1. Don’t sweat the small stuff
  2. Your children will go to sleep one day
  3. Be gentle on yourself
  4. Life is far too short to waste time folding laundry
  5. Do something every day just for you
  6. Sometimes we don’t have a choice over what happens to us, but we can choose, how we decide to deal with it (my mum told me that one)
  7. There is power in being vulnerable
  8. Cats are better than dogs
  9. It’s okay to do the school pickup in your pyjamas
  10. The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well