A few weeks back, on my Instagram stories, I invited you guys to ask me anything. I dutifully wrote down all your questions and then set about answering them here, in blog form. Old school.
While my lazy butt procrastinated in getting this post published, Instagram introduced their nifty questions feature. I’m choosing to ignore that in favour of getting this damn thing online because I’ve already bloody written it!
Okay, here we go…
When’s baby number four happening?
For who? Oh, for me? Never. I can’t lie, I entertained the thought for a brief moment, and then I looked at my three little darlings and thought…. Hell no.
Is there a reason you and Joel have never married / Will you and Joel ever get married?
Marriage has never been a priority for us. We don’t believe our relationship is any less valid or committed because we’re not married; we are as devoted to each other and our family as any married couple. That said, we absolutely respect and value marriage as a decision many people we love have made. It’s not off the cards for us, we just haven’t gotten around to it!
What was your initial reaction on learning you were having twins?
Our very first reaction was shock and then we both giggled a lot. Excitement and terror were also in the mix. You can read more about they day we found out we had two-at-once on the way here
Is Joel Victor’s Dad?
Okay, so this probably sounds like a bold question but the background is a bit of an in-joke so don’t freak out that the asker was being rude. But just in case you’re curious, given that they look exactly nothing alike, yes Joel is 100% Victor’s father. I think.
What is your favourite thing about each of your kids?
This is pretty hard to answer to be honest. There are so many things I love about each of them, but I’ll just give you the highlights reel:
One of my favourite things about Victor is his analytical mind. His thought processes are sometimes quite remarkable and I’m very proud of him.
One of my favourite things about Maisie is how funny and carefree she is. She delights in the little things and makes us laugh constantly.
One of my favourite things about Jude is how loving and affectionate he is. He’s a big softie, a total sweetheart and he adores his mum.
How did you first get involved with The Spinoff / How long have you been working there / Any jobs going there?
I’ve been mates with The Spinoff’s Managing Editor, Duncan Greive, for twenty years and when the NZ version of The Bachelor was announced I basically forced Duncan into letting me host a recap podcast for The Spinoff.
I was a big fan of Juliet Litman and David Jacoby’s recap podcasts of the US Bach for Grantland and I basically just wanted to emulate that locally. He thought it would be good if I did it with Alex Casey, who was the only full-time writer at The Spinoff at the time. Because Alex and I didn’t know each other Duncan sat in for the first episode or two and he basically never left.
I don’t technically work at The Spinoff – I’m a casual contributor, sort of part of the wider Spinoff family. I’ve been involved since early 2015 when we kicked off our reality TV podcast.
As for jobs at The Spinoff, it’s an ever growing beast but as a casual freelancer I have absolutely no knowledge or power in terms of potential positions I’m afraid. If you’re keen I reckon turn up to the offices and just sit down at a desk as if you’ve always been there.
Have you studied? What qualifications do you have?
I did a Bachelor of Communications Degree at AUT, majoring in radio.
What does Joel do? Why did he get that fancy Lorde award?
Joel is a director, designer and visual artist. He directs TV commercials, music videos and animation. He paints and doodles and creates. Most recently Joel directed the title sequence for David Farrier’s Dark Tourist series that’s just launched worldwide on Netflix.
You may have also seen his directing on Lorde’s ‘Tennis Court’, Katy Perry’s ‘This Is How We Do’, LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Tonite’, and The Naked and Famous’ ‘Young Blood’. While I’m at it, he directed this bloody brilliant Steinlager Tokyo Dry TVC. Plus, it’s worth noting that Joel is an incredible Dad. He’s super involved with the kids and they absolutely adore him.
Advice for twin mums?
Holy. Where to start. First let me say that I believe twins are not kid plus kid, but kid to the power of kid. Here’s a piece I wrote about what to expect with twins that goes into more detail on that idea. But you came here for advice, of which I have a lot, but here are the four big things I reckon you should take onboard as a twin mum:
1 – Make sure someone else is in on every damn detail
Preferably this someone else will be a co-parent, but if you don’t have one of those perhaps one of your own parents, or a sibling or good friend could step up to the plate. Basically you want to have someone available to you who knows how to do all the things (prep bottles, burp the babies, change nappies, swaddle etc) and knows where all the things are (burp cloths, expressing equipment, nappy cream etc).
They’ll also need to be across the twins’ schedule, so constantly communicate with them on this. The reason I advocate for ensuring someone else is all in with you is because it will give you the chance to genuinely share the load. You may even get a break without having to lay everything out, write a ten page list of instructions and then spend your Me-Time fielding texts and calls from the apprentice.
It’s empowering and confidence-building for the other person if you can trust them with all-things-twins and they might just pleasantly surprise you with their ability to cope!
This advice really goes for all mums, but especially for mums of multiples because finding someone who is confident enough to manage two babes at once can be harder, so you really need to make this a priority from day one.
2 – If one baby wakes for a feed, wake the other one
I know the idea of waking a sleeping baby goes against all your natural instincts, but hear me out. A lot of the well-meaning advice you get about babies goes out of the window when you’ve got twins (or more). You’re in survival mode and that means getting as much sleep as possible. If you have two little mates out of synch you’re likely to have at least one baby up most of the time and that is basically torture.
The waking isn’t as bad as it sounds. When one of my two woke overnight for a feed, I’d get the other one up right after and feed that one in his or her sleepy state and, honestly, they would usually both just go right back off to sleep with lovely full tums.
3 – Accept help when it’s offered and ask for help if you need it
Once again, this goes for any parent. Raising kids is full on whether you have one or ten. There’s nothing to be gained by being a martyr and plenty to be gained by accepting help from those who love you and want to support you.
We have had SO MUCH help over the years from amazing family and friends. I remember catching up with a friend and chatting about how we were going with our Christmas shopping. She offered to come over that night while all the kids were asleep so Joel and I could hit the mall together for a late night shopping mission. My instinct was to politely decline because she had kids of her own to worry about and I didn’t want to put her out, but instead I gratefully accepted her offer. It was a huge help and really nice for Joel and I to wander the mall together. Take the help. Always take the help.
4 – Don’t be hard on yourself
Multiples are incredibly hard work. It’s hard to comprehend just how physically and emotionally exhausting they are. No one expects you to be acing it every step of the way, so don’t put that expectation on yourself either. Keep them fed, warm, safe and loved and you’re killing it.
Advice for working mums
It’s weird, despite the fact I do bits of freelance work here and there, I never consider myself to be a working mum. Part of that is society’s constructs that have me subconsciously believing that my financial contribution to the family is so minimal it’s barely worth registering. The other completely legit part of that is not wanting to minimise the pressure placed on mums who juggle full time jobs along with the family and household.
My point is, I’m not sure I have any advice for working mums because there are others far more qualified to be offering wisdom on this area.
Will you ever grow your fringe out?
Probably. And then I’ll cut it again. That’s pretty much been the cycle since I was about three.
What are your aspirations, separate from Joel and the kids?
Look, I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I’m creeping closer to 40 and I’m feeling the pressure to really enjoy everything from here on in and not waste time doing things I don’t want to do because I am basically halfway in the grave, right? Joking (but also sort of not). I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to spend my years on earth hanging out with people I don’t really want to hang out with, or worrying about what other people think of me and my family.
I think I’d like to run my own business one day, but only if I can enjoy quality time with my little crew and all the other people I love.
Are you part-Chinese? You don’t look it, but I think Yee is Chinese
Yes! I’m half Chinese. Dad was born in China and came to NZ as a refugee when he was a kid. When you see him it makes sense.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Hi 20-year-old Jane, it’s old-AF Jane here. I just have some words of wisdom for you from someone who’s actually been there. Please quit smoking immediately. In fact, after I’ve finished with you I’m heading back a couple of years further to try to convince you to never start smoking!
You’re going to come across some shitty people over the next ten years. In particular, some shitty guys. If you give them the opportunity they will make you doubt yourself, debase you and you’ll invest far too much time and energy on them.
Respect yourself, know your worth and expect the same from others. Try to keep the bigger picture in mind, and know that you are valued, you are strong and anyone who makes you feel like crap is not worth having in your life.
Are you a natural green thumb or is bob just a freaky fern?
I’m definitely not a natural green thumb but I’m learning. Many plants have died at my hands over the years. RIP all of them.
I’ve only really been growing indoor plants mindfully for a couple of years. I say “mindfully” because previously it was total guess work, whereas now I will at least read the little cards that come with them in an attempt to establish what sort of light a plant needs, along with how often I need to water it. All that said, Bob is a total freak, he’s easy care and just goes gangbusters. I have to give him reasonably regular hair cuts to stop him taking over the house. If you suck at plants, get an Asparagus Fern.
How did you get so funny?
I love that you think I’m funny! That is very flattering. Unless you mean I’m funny looking? Either way, I blame my parents.
Where would your dream holiday be with and without kids?
Gah, so many places. We’d like to do a family holiday to a tropical island, and also the snow. We’d also love to experience a white Christmas one day while the kids are still kids. Conversations are taking place around doing a massive six-month trip through Europe and parts of Asia in a few years. It will have to be with the kids, because there’s no one on this good green earth that would look after them for more than two days. I don’t know if it’s feasible in any sense, but I’d like to think it’s something we can aim for.
As for a holiday without the kids… Santorini would be lovely, or back to New York. Joel and I can’t get enough of New York. Honestly, I’d happily go to a motel in Hamilton if it meant I could have a proper sleep-in and not have to wipe anyone’s anything for a few days.
What’s your fave thing to cook for yourself?
I enjoy cooking but only when there’s no time pressure and no kids clawing at my legs. The last time I had hours to myself in the kitchen I made Bon Apétit’s time-consuming ‘Best Ever Lasagna’. I also really enjoy baking and I live to make desserts. And of course, y’know, bread rolls.
What do you love about Joel and if you could change one thing about him what would it be?
Joel is clever, kind, honest, loyal, humble, funny (to laugh at and with) and he’s exceptionally talented. He’s also a really fantastic dad, which is a massive bonus. As for what I’d change? Honestly, he
could pick up after himself a bit more can stay just as he is.
Would you recommend renovating a villa? I so want to do it but I’m scared of how much it will actually cost me in the long run!
We’ve never renovated a villa but we have renovated a bungalow. It was expensive and a bit stressful, but we were younger and were double-income-no-kids so we had more time and less responsibilities. I think it would be even more expensive and stressful for us now!
Be warned that older houses can present costly surprises through the renovation process so you’d want to build a decent buffer into both your budget and your end date.
Personally I’m not that keen to go down the renovation road again. I would build from scratch or do minor amendments, but not a total overhaul of an older property. That’s largely to do with the stage we’re at with the kids so my situation may be well different to yours. If it’s your dream to renovate a villa and you have the time and funds to do so then go for it!
Will you do TV again?
I don’t have any great urge to do TV again, but I can’t say I’d never do it. I loved my time in broadcasting and if the right opportunity arose I’d certainly consider it.
Is the Thermomix worth it?
It is for us. I think the Thermomix is something that will be as valuable to you as you make it. You do have to put some effort in to start with to get used to the machine. Once you’re comfortable using it you’ll find you can convert your own favourite recipes etc. with relative ease.
We don’t do a lot of entire meals in the Thermomix, but I use it in most meals to some degree – whether it’s steaming, mixing, chopping, making a sauce etc. I find it great for smoothies, baking, soups, bread – loads of things really.
I think how much a Thermomix is worth to each household depends a lot on your family, what you like to eat and whether you like to have a play with new recipes.
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Okay, that will do. This took me bloody ages to put together so in future I’ll probably just do the old instagram questions carry-on and be done with it because #lazy.