Matty J, Laura Byrne and the conversation all new parents have exactly two months into having a baby.

Matthew 'Matty J' Johnson and Laura Byrne have years of parenting experience with their two girls, four-year-old Marlie and two-year-old Lola, but there was an important conversation they had to have just after Marlie was born.

At home trying to juggle her jewellery business ToniMay with a baby, Laura tells Matt and Mia Freedman on this week's episode of No Filter how she remembers feeling overwhelmed.

"I was postpartum with Marlie, you [Matt] were still working and I was at home and I had this moment where I was sitting on the couch in tears," Laura says.

"My career is over. You [Matt] get to continue. And everything that I was is gone now. And who's going to want to employ me? How am I going to continue to do this podcast? You know, how am I even going to continue to design ranges to keep ToniMay ticking over? I was so sad."

Listen to Matty J and Laura on this week's episode of No Filter. The post continues below. 

Matt says that prior to having Marlie, he hadn't given parenting enough thought and that on reflection, he started out as a 's**t dad'.

"I always talked about how much I wanted to be a dad, but in reality, I was a bit s**t," Matt says about those first few weeks and months.

"When Marlie was born, she was so attached [to Laura]. And I felt like I was a little redundant. And in my head, I was thinking, 'When she's a toddler, that's when I'll step up.'

"But there was one day when I made the mistake of going to the gym and having lunch with a friend, then I was gone for another hour and when I finally came in the front door, while Laura had been at home all day, she said to me, 'We need to talk about this.' Because the way I was sharing the load at that point was not good enough."


READ MORE: How Laura Byrne and Matty J flip the parenting load on its head.

For Laura who was then spending all her 'free' time working on her business when she wasn't with Marlie, she knew things had to change. So after a couple of months of struggling and then seeing Matt coming home refreshed after another bit of 'me-time' she knew it was time to have 'the chat'.

"Marlie was only a couple of months old. I remember it clearly because I was still working. The problem was when you run your own business, maternity leave does not exist. So I had two weeks off [after Marlie's birth] and then I was back at work out of necessity. I was back working plus I was doing all the 'mumming'," Laura says.

"So when Matt would take Marlie, I would work. There was zero time for me to go to the gym or even just go outside and walk. I think sometimes we feel guilty for doing those things, but everybody deserves to have time some that is completely their own that they don't have to justify. 

"I remember Matt coming home that day. And I said, 'When you're not working and when you don't have Marlie, you get to do you, and I never get to do me and I haven't since we had this baby.' I just saw something click for Matt and it was so reassuring to me how he took that feedback on."

Matt remembers that lightbulb moment and realised that things needed to change. The time for him to step up wasn't down the track, it was now.

"In that moment, I was like, 'Oh my god, I'm being a s**t dad.' You know, it was a tough pill to swallow. Because that was everything that I didn't want to be."


After an honest chat about needing more support from Matt, Laura says the dynamic at home and with the girls changed immediately.

"Matt really understood, and he took that feedback on. Over the last four and a half years, that dynamic has shifted so much in our relationship," Laura says.

"At first, Marlie would be upset that she was with Matt and not with me, but that evolved so quickly until they became the A-team. And then, we both became A-teams which was rewarding for Matt because every time he was with Marlie, she wanted to be with him. 


"You need consistent time with your child to allow that bond to be as strong with both parents."

READ MORE: Matty J and Laura Byrne are not '100 per cent on the same page' about having more kids.

While Matt says he really needed that initial conversation and reality check from Laura, he knew what he had to do from that point on.

"It was just a case of sacrificing some things in my life; the sociable, fun things were no longer a priority. And what was a priority was being there with Laura and offering a lot more help," Matt says.

"Newborns are such creatures of routine and [at first] I would hold Marlie for 30 seconds, and she'd cry, and I'd say, 'Okay, back to Mum!' But then I just persevered through that and slowly moved my way up to a more not-quite-equal, but closer place to where Laura was standing."

By the time their second daughter Lola came along 18 months later, they knew what to expect, even if things weren't always perfect. Laura says that these days she feels very lucky to have Matt by her side co-parenting their daughters.

"I just think he's funnelled so much of his love and wishes to be a good dad, into our girls," Laura says.

"And they're so lucky because they get to grow up with a role model of what an amazing dad is which I hope reinforces for them, what to look for in a partner when they're older."

Laura Jackel is Mamamia's Senior Lifestyle Family Writer. For links to her articles, follow her on Instagram.

Featured Image: Instagram @ladyandacat

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