We can’t thank the Sunrise host enough for her beautifully honest admission about motherhood.
She’s somewhat an icon in Australian journalism and the first face many of us will see in the morning as the presenter of Sunrise, but Natalie Barr’s life extends beyond her 20 years on television.
Sitting down for an exclusive chat with Now To Love, the 49-year-old holds nothing back in opening up about the news event that rocked her to her core, her most important role as a mum and the simple way we can all protect our children from harm.
On being a self-professed “terrible mother”
Three months after welcoming her eldest son Lachlan, now-15, Natalie Barr, sleep deprived and exhausted, decided she needed to “run back to work”.
“I was one of those mums who at three months just thought, ‘I wish I was better at this but I’m just not. I actually hate this. I’m a terrible mother.’ I realised I needed to just get out of the house and do something for me and get back to work because I loved it, I loved my job,” she tells Now To Love exclusively.
Though she received a wave of criticism for her decision, Natalie knew that in order to be a happier mother, she needed to be honest with herself and her needs.
“I had to stop breastfeeding which I didn’t particularly love either – sue me – and I had done that for a few months and just had to leave to come back and be a better mum.”
“All power to the mums who stay home – they were better than me at doing it, and I hold up my hands,” she adds.
On eschewing the work-life balance
Achieving a healthy work-life balance is hard enough for us nine-to-five folk, but when you’re arriving to work hours before the sun even rises, well… we can only imagine how difficult it must be to have the best of both worlds.
The work-life balance, Natalie says, is an outdated concept she believes should be rethought. “I almost think we should ban those words, ‘work-life balance’, because I think women are trying to strive for it because they think it’s achievable, and I almost think it’s just not,” she says.
“No one really has work-life balance. We’re all just kind of crawling around in the mud trying to achieve it – whatever it is.”
The WA-born beauty continues, saying we need to alleviate the enormous pressure we’re all putting upon ourselves to have it all.
“Whatever gets you through the week is ok. Be happy you survived another week. If you’re juggling kids and a job, good on you! You’re doing an amazing thing so be happy with that.”
On the story that changed her
Having been a respected journalist for over 20 years on the Seven network alone (never mind the many years before that where she worked in the US), Natalie would have seen some areas of the world during unimaginable times, both joyful and devastating.
In recent years, she covered the 2016 Nice terror attack, where a 19-tonne truck was deliberately driven through crowds of people innocently celebrating Bastille Day.
She was on the scene when Japan was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, resulting in a tsunami with heights over 40 metres, killing over 15,800 people with thousands more injured and missing.
“Those big stories – they all impact you and you can still see them, you still relive them in your mind every second.”
Most recently, Natalie was flown to Manchester in the hours following the horrific attack, where 22 victims lost their lives, the youngest of which was just eight-years-old.“You’re standing in that square and everyone is lining up to put their flowers down. Everyone is in tears and those little girls died and all their mums were standing there with them and all they were doing was having fun.
“The crew and I couldn’t stand there and keep looking, it’s just horrific. You just can’t not get affected by that,” Natalie recalls, adding: “Those things never leave you.
On the best part about being a mum
To say the nature of Natalie’s work is challenging would be an understatement. At the end of the day, though, it’s worth it for the time she gets to spend with her two boys.
When asked her favourite thing about being a mother, she is only too quick to reply: “The cuddles”.
“The fact that you go home at night and they don’t care what you’ve done or whether you’ve stuffed up that day or whether you’ve made a mistake.
“I lay down with my little 12-year-old old last night and had a cuddle before we went to bed and it is the most special thing that you can ever do. They’re always there.”
On how she, and all of us, can protect our kids from harm
Natalie’s latest venture has her teaming up with Return Unwanted Medicines – a campaign urging Australian’s to get proactive in the disposal of outdated medicines to prevent the 5,000 poisonings occuring in Aussie children every year.
As a mother, it’s a cause close to her heart. “We all have a medicine cabinet or a drawer or a cupboard with old crappy medicines that none of us have looked at for years,” the Sunrisehost says.
While binning or tipping these medicines down the drain may seem like the rational thing to do, Natalie reminds us of the detrimental effect this is having on our environment. “There are hundreds of tonnes of this getting into our waterways,” she says.
Instead, we are encouraged to take our unwanted medicines to our local chemists and pharmacies, where they can be disposed of in a responsible manner.