Mum vs Life: Missing my family on the Election trail

Welcome to the latest installment of our series Mum vs LifeEach week we’ll feature a prominent Aussie mum and take you through her day.

This week we talk to Labor member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland. Ahead of the September 7 Federal Election, Michelle is busy campaigning and caring for her 18-month-old daughter Octavia. She takes us through a typical day in real time!

WAKE UP: "I wake up a few minutes before my alarm..."

Alarm - I actually wake up a few minutes before it goes off.  I sleep with my BlackBerry charging on the bedside table.  My body is back in the rhythm of the early wake up so it doesn't hurt as much as it did a few months ago.  My 18-month old daughter, Octavia, now goes down in her cot without fuss at around 7pm each night and usually sleeps through until anywhere between 5am and 7am.  I remember getting up for the multiple breast feeds during the night, I think it was the short bursts of sleep that hurt more.

I walk quietly onto the landing and feel my way down the stairs in the dark.  I hear Octavia talking, it's coming from the spare front room.  She must have woken while I was in the shower and my husband has taken her into bed with him.  On week nights when I have an early start, I sleep by myself in our room.  It means I can wake up, shower and dress without disturbing anyone.  Octavia hears the safety gate click on the lower set of stairs and I hear the cutest, "Byyee!" come from upstairs.  I'm smiling.

BREAKFAST: "It's my shout for breakfast at the Lebanese cafe in Blacktown..."

A good morning at Seven Hills station doing meet and greet with commuters.  I've lost count of the number of times I've done this over the past 3 and a half years.  I enjoy doing it outside of election periods, it's a nice way of reminding constituents - and yourself - that it's important to stay in touch.  Usually I do this on my own but now the election campaign is in full swing, a big team has turned out to lend a hand.


I announce it's my shout for breakfast at the Lebanese cafe in Blacktown which makes fresh zaatar (Lebanese oregano and oil pizza, a traditional breakfast) and great coffee.  A few calls to the office.  A call from my husband Michael, he's nearly at work but will be finishing late.  Octavia is with his parents.  We used to co-ordinate her movements with Olympic precision, now we tend to go with the flow since everything is so unpredictable during the campaign.  The main variable we need to control is ensuring a car with a baby seat is always available.

MORNING: "I need to buy a birthday card for my husband..."

Meet up with my mother-and-sister-in-law in the shopping centre in Blacktown.  Octavia is wearing the cutest dress and red stockings, she looks like a doll.  She greets me with a single command of, "Up!" (meaning she wants me to pick her up out of her stroller).  I comply.  She runs amok laughing at all the colour and movement of the shops and shoppers.  We have a fun hour buying everything from finger paints to a new dog bed for Sash (my mother-in-law's geriatric but much-loved Maltese terrier) to a new clothes dryer.  I need to buy a birthday card for my husband.

WORK: "I like the talking time I usually have with staff or volunteers over lunch..."

Today's campaign schedule is mostly at my desk, on the phone, meetings, briefings, catching up with constituents and some good staff time. There’s a good air of productivity, important to have at this stage of the campaign.  I've got a good rhythm going, on track to meet my various KPIs for the day.  I realise I'm hungry at around 2pm.  Grab some air and sushi at the shopping centre just behind my office, sad though that everyone else has eaten already.  I like the talking time I usually have with staff or volunteers over lunch, whether we're in the office or on the road or in Parliament House.


EVENINGS: "Octavia will be snoring by the time we get home..."

A visit from my local representatives from one of the unions concerned about off-shoring of Australian jobs in the finance sector.  It's an illuminating discussion.  Photos and a video message of my personal support for their policies.  I take a call during the meeting, it's my sister-in-law plotting Octavia's bath, dinner and bed.  I left my car with her this morning and my husband is on his way home, he'll pick me up from my office.  Octavia will be snoring by the time we get home.

My sister-in-law is watching TV and on her laptop counting final RSVPs for my husband's party.  She shows us a video of Octavia trying to sing Happy Birthday today.  It's hilarious, we make her replay it at least 3 times.  Into pyjamas and up to bed, check in on my little one.  I stroke her long hair, she doesn't stir.  She's beautiful.

BEDTIME: "Air Crash Investigations is on. Jackpot..."

Set alarm, turn on tv in bed.  Air Crash Investigations is on. Jackpot.  It's the most compelling show, so amazing how these people can piece together the documentary footage and analysis, with excellent narration.  I'm going to look up this incident on my iPad as soon as I've done this blog, I don't remember hearing about this case in the media at the time (tonight's episode is a terrifying - aren't they all - upside-down nosedive into the ocean).  I can't watch news, current affairs or social media before bed, I need to switch off. FlavourStone Cookware is now on the TV4ME channel, I'm in heaven.  One day I'm going to order it.

I go to bed at around 11pm I calculate I will get nearly 6 hours sleep, that's good.  Set alarm. Repeat.

Michelle Rowland is the Federal Labor member for Greenway and is based in Sydney with husband and 18-month-old daughter Octavia. You can find out more about Michelle at