When actress and radio personality Kate Ritchie became a mum to Mae in 2014, she couldn’t help but gush about her baby daughter.
“I adore being with her,” she told Australian Women’s Weekly. “She’s so happy and has the most mischievous infectious laugh.”
But the experience of being an expectant parent in the months leading up to Mae’s birth was particularly exciting for Ritchie.
“The excitement and wonderful anticipation that filled my every moment were feelings I’d forgotten. I don’t think I’d felt anything close since my childhood days of waiting for Santa Claus,” she wrote. It was these feelings that inspired Kate to write her new children’s book, I Just Couldn’t Wait to Meet You. Mamamia spoke to Kate about her book, her daughter, what it’s like raising a child in the public eye, and maintaining a busy career while being a mum.
Kate, 37, says that while she’s always been a “keen writer”, it was the anticipation of her daughter’s birth that “turned out to be the perfect inspiration to get [her] into gear.”
“The book began as scribbled notes to my unborn baby on loose pieces of paper,” she said. “I hoped one day to transfer it into a more traditional ‘baby book’, and today it’s a real life children’s book and I couldn’t be more proud.”
Kate's 'real life' children's book 'I Just Couldn't Wait to Meet You. Image courtesy of Marie Ramos photography.
And I Just Couldn't Wait to Meet You is undoubtedly a book to be proud of. Illustrated by Hannah Sommerville, the visually stunning and thoughtfully written book will strike a chord with any expectant mum. It chronicles a number of moments during the special time of waiting for a baby, including the ultrasounds, the anticipation about finding out whether you're having a boy or a girl, setting up the nursery, and choosing names.
Now that Mae is almost two, Kate says her favourite part of being a mum is "those very rare days when you don’t have to be anywhere in particular or tick things off your ‘to do’ list. Those days when you can just be with your baby. My favourite place is in bed. Under the covers, sharing big kisses, snuggling, talking and reading books."
The most challenging part, she says, is "staying focused on the ‘favourite parts’ when you’re feeling tired and isolated!"
What's mine is hers.. ???????????? #andwhatshersishers #idontmind #pepperminttea #motherdaughter #peppersconvent #sundaymornings @peppersconvent A photo posted by Kate Ritchie (@kateritchieofficial) on Mar 12, 2016 at 3:45pm PST
Like all mums who are busy trying to 'do it all', balancing work, her relationship with her husband, Stuart Webb, and raising her daughter, Kate finds solace in 'me' time.
"As much as I find it hard to tear myself away from the house sometimes I do feel that having to head into the Nova studio every afternoon provides me with a great deal of rewarding me time," she says.
"Our national drive show, Kate, Tim & Marty does incredibly well, it’s simple fun and it’s a creative outlet for me. Away from work my ‘me time’ is pilates. I have been doing private and group classes for many years now. It makes me feel strong and it’s really the only time in the day when I can quieten my inner dialogue."
But there's a great deal Kate has learnt about herself since becoming a mum. She says, "I was a very impatient person and very rigid in my day to day to schedule." Since having Mae, she's "had to learn to loosen the reins a little."
Being a working mum, however, comes with inevitable challenges. Kate acknowledges "I was blessed that when my daughter came along my career already had a strong foundation so taking some time out was not such a big deal for me." She knows her career makes her particularly lucky, and says, "as far as juggling my work/life balance radio broadcasting is about as good as it gets."
She's also able to "work from home in the mornings (which also has it’s challenges with a little person who deserves your full attention)," before spending some time in the studio every weekday afternoon." Her other projects, she says, are a bit harder to incorporate.
In terms of her career, Kate says she'll be "be working alongside Tim & Marty in the Nova studio for the foreseeable future (or as long as I can tolerate them/they can tolerate me!) as well as continuing to write quietly."
I Just Couldn't Wait to Meet You has instilled a passion for children's literature, and Kate says, "I have discovered how warm and rewarding it is so I think I’d like to stay a while longer."
All these wonderful people celebrating children's literature that I had not yet met - thank you @childrensbooksdaily for a lovely introduction ???????????????????? #IJustCouldntWaitToMeetYou #Repost @childrensbooksdaily with @repostapp. ・・・ 'I Just Couldn't Wait to Meet You' by @kateritchieofficial and @hannahmsommerville is the perfect pregnancy or newborn gift. I've just ordered another copy of it, to gift to my neighbour who is about to have her fourth baby ????. FREE shipping code with purchase, review and interview with the lovely Kate Ritchie is ON THE BLOG! #newborngifts #newbaby #pregnancygifts #childrensliterature #bookgifts
She admits she does have concerns about Mae being in public eye as she grows up. "There are some aspects of that which make me uncomfortable and on those days we consider running away to Tasmania and making cakes for a living," she jokes, before continuing, "but for now I think we are doing the best job we possibly can to protect her whilst still sharing how proud we are."
And every day, Kate is learning more and more about Mae. "She is considerate and loving and extremely mischievous when she wants to be," Kate says of her daughter's personality.
Ultimately, Kate's hopes for Mae are simply "that her heart is always full of love, that she forever feels safe and that Santa visits her every year until the end of her days."
Watch The Motherish team confess the first thing they thought upon seeing their baby.