Meet Rachel Thaiday - she's a personal trainer, blogger, entrepreneur, podcaster and wife to a retried footballer, but when it comes down to it, Rachel Thaiday is her own person on a quest to be the best mum she can be.
As she confesses in the podcast she produces for NOVA alongside fellow mum Katie Mattin called Am I a Bad Mum, it isn't always easy. In the podcast, the Samford resident shares her true stories about raising two daughters, Grace, 6, and Ellsie, 4.
There are ups and downs and moments, such as the sausage smoothie incident, which always make her laugh.
“I nailed it one morning,” Rachel explains laughing. “I’m not a strong cook or participant in the kitchen, I thought I was being a great mum and I was whipping up Gracie a smoothie before school. I didn’t look and I grabbed frozen sausages thinking they were frozen bananas, chucked them in the blender and made it up with all the other ingredients in a hurry.
“I’m like ‘come on we’ve only got half an hour, just drink your smoothie’, and she just kept looking at me saying ‘it just doesn’t smell right’.”
The podcast has allowed Rachel to laugh but also to share profoundly personal moments, including her fight with post-natal depression.
“It was really good to chat about it because it opened a conversation for a lot of people to reach out asking for help,” she says.
“After speaking up about it in the podcast, it really broke me and I sort of had that moment of thinking I really don’t think I’ve dealt with this, and Ellsie was four.”
Rachel found it particularly hit hard when Ellsie headed to her first day of Kindergarten last year and casually said goodbye to her.
“We strive to raise strong, independent young girls that you know will hold their own but at the same time who are kind, gentle amazing little humans that care for each other … and she turned around to me at the gate, looked at me and gave me the peace sign and said ‘I’ve got this mum, don’t even worry, bye’.
“It all set in for me and I had that realisation that maybe I’m not OK.”
For Grace she felt postnatal depression and with Ellsie it was deeper.
Her mother's love and her brother's nagging through exercise helped her through.
So why do women ask themselves the question, am I a bad mum?
“I think we ask ourselves that question because as parents we naturally question ourselves and our ability – the way we do things or the way that we speak to our children,” Rachel says. “We have those reflective moments usually after we’ve done it. You’re forever evolving as a parent. These kids are a blank canvas, but you’re as much of a blank canvas as a parent.
“I feel that if you cannot laugh at some things, you’ll cry and if you’re not going to cry you’ll throw a tantrum like the two year old.”
Rachel says friendship is key, you need to stay connected to a handful of really close friends to know you’re doing OK, and those friends are equally important when you feel like you’re not. “As females, we tend to put on the backburner our relationships, whether that be our marriage, friendships, family members — because we first and foremost focus on our children,” she says.
“We underestimate, as females, how much force we could have as a collaborative. If women come together, we are a force to be reckoned with.”
A challenge Rachel has faced is being underestimated as the wife of former Brisbane Broncos rugby league player Sam Thaiday.
“From my perspective, the hardest challenge for me was overcoming people’s perceptions of you when you’re a footballer’s wife. In our relationship, we’ve always stood next to each other equally, not in front or behind each other,” she explains.
Rachel has learned to not care about being judged by what her husband "had done for a career" and stayed true to who she is.
It's a lesson she'll share with her daughters as well as taking control of their choices and behaviours and not letting anyone tell them how big to dream about.
“I have some pretty amazing women in my life. I have a really close relationship and admire my now friend and grade 7 teacher Sue Maxworthy and of course my mum,” she says.
Sue was Rachel’s teacher at Willows State School in Townsville, where Rachel was attended and was school captain.
The teacher had a big impact on Rachel as part of the triangle of trusted people Rachel believes teenage girls need to navigate the challenges of life.
“That’s my mum and a person I felt safe speaking to and knew would direct me on the right path,” Rachel explains.
“Now because I’m a mother, I want my girls to have that someone else because she (Sue) had such a big impact on me,” she says.
“I could speak to her about anything. I had that trust. Whether it’s an aunty in a girl’s life someone you have the trust to speak to about anything and everything.”
Rachel 's mother has been huge part of her life, growing up she was a single mother from when Rachel was 13.
“I don’t know that I’d call her my mentor as such, but she’s had a huge impact on my life. Dad was around until I was 13, and then she did the rest. When you have children, it’s amplified, your own relationship with them and your level of respect.”
“She’s a very strong woman that holds her own. She’s my mum as well as my best friend.”
1. Don’t forget tomorrow is a brand new day
2. Coffee is always the answer, or at the very least it is important
3. Embrace the 70/30 philosophy. This means be healthy, eat well, exercise and be productive for 70 per cent of the week and allow yourself 30 per cent of the week to enjoy the finer things in life – eat cake or enjoy a glass of wine with a friend
4. Exercise for 30 minutes a day. It will make you feel better inside and out
5. Don’t forget to reach out and say hello to at least one or two friends.
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