You always look like you’re having the best time on social media – especially with Peter. What’s your secret?
There’s no secret. I think why Petey and I work is because he grounds me and I lighten him. But more importantly, our moral compass is the same, so we share what matters to us. Of course, it’s important for everyone to know that it takes work and I know I drive him – and the girls – bananas on a regular basis. There are times when he drives me up the wall too! But we put in the work and we let each other be who we are.
You’re about to release a joke book. Did you test them out on Pete?
Yes, I love jokes but I’m terrible at telling long ones. I found during various lockdowns that I had a bit of time on my hands, so I started telling silly jokes while wearing a costume on Insta. Then I’d capture my husband or daughters’ reactions in the background, and I would just crack myself up too. Then I thought to myself, “Why should dad jokes get all the credit? Mum jokes are funny too!” We all need a laugh. It’s a family-friendly book, though. I don’t swear, so it’s wholesome.
Times have been quite tough lately. Do you think we all need a good laugh?
Absolutely. Times have been – and continue to be – tough for many people. If we can lean into some laughter and lightness, that is such a good way to manage the tough times. I know it helps me, if I’m feeling down, to just have a good laugh to feel better.
You also released your cook book Everyday Not-So-Crap Family Meals earlier this year. You’ve got a mini-publishing empire going on!
Yes, I can’t quite believe it. I was sitting in bed the other day, munching on my Chokito – I love Chokitos – just having a moment, thinking, “Wow!” I really feel like I’m doing what I should be doing. I don’t feel that I have to make excuses or downplay where I’m at in my career. It’s a really empowering, wonderful time for me. So to have both the joke book and the cook book out this year – and by the way, I still can’t believe a crap cook like me has a cook book – it’s just incredible to me.
What can you tell us about the clothes you’ve chosen for this shoot?
I have had so much fun with this. I knew that I wanted to wear feathers and sparkles and print and colour and platforms, and just go with a “more is more” styling brief. Because that’s how I love to dress! To me, if I could wear these clothes every day, I would – and frequently I do.
How does your distinctive style make you feel?
Happy. Having fun with fashion isn’t for everyone, but it’s how I love to express myself. It brings me joy.
You were very focused on your TV career for a while, before famously stepping away from Studio 10 in 2018. You seem very happy with where you’re at now.
I really am. For a long time there was a feeling that if you step away from a big TV career, especially if you’re over 50, you’re just going to sit at home and knit. Actually, I am quite crafty and I am into cross stitch at the moment. I’m doing an embroidery of three cats. I’ve even bought a magnifying lamp so I can see what I’m doing. But yes, to me, I’ve had the realisation that there are skills that you accumulate through your life and your career that you can apply across a whole range of roles.
I didn’t plan to step away from TV and then end up becoming the Crap Housewife, putting out the books or doing the [Jess Rowe Big Talk Show] podcast, but they all tap into my skills. I used to think when I was younger that a career was all about climbing a ladder, but I’ve learned that there’s no ladder and a career doesn’t have to be linear.
The podcast has become very successful. What do you get out of doing that?
It’s good for my soul. I love it. I recently had a very moving conversation with former Bachelor Dr Matt Agnew, who spoke out about his battle with depression. He was so brave and vulnerable, but strong too. To hold space for him to do that was such an honour. I’m a huge believer in the power of storytelling and I always have been. That’s what drew me to my journalism career.
You’ve been very open about your own mental health battles, particularly with postnatal depression. Has it become easier for people to open up and get the support they need?
I think we have come a long way. When I think about when I first shared my experience of postnatal depression, I felt I could do it because I didn’t have a job at the time. People are sharing their experiences more freely now, but it’s still incredibly difficult to do if you’re in a certain career, and especially for men. When I spoke out, I didn’t have to worry about what my boss would think. Workplaces have got better at supporting employees with mental health issues, but there is still a lot of judgement and a lack of support – especially for people living in regional Australia – and in funding services. I’m passionate about highlighting this issue.
Mother’s Day is coming up soon. How will you celebrate?
It’s a special day, but it can be a tough one too. I like to celebrate by being left on my own for a few hours in the morning and then we take my mum out for afternoon tea.
What’s next for you?
My Petey will roll his eyes, but I’d really love to do an acting course. I think it’s important to challenge yourself to try new things and not to be scared to try new things. I haven’t got any roles lined up or anything, but I’d love to have a crack. I’m not scared to fall on my face if it doesn’t work out!
Mum Jokes is out now! Buy it here.