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5:30am starts and big questions at bath time: A day in the life of Penny McNamee.

No two days in Penny McNamee‘s house are the same. With an ever-changing filming schedule and two young children, the popular actress and her marketing executive husband, Matt Tooker, use a “divide and conquer” approach to keeping their lives running smoothly.

Well, as smoothly as it can run with a four-year-old (Jack) and six-month-old (Neve).

 

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There are days when the television star has to be on set in Sydney’s Palm Beach by 5:30am; “I sneak out of the house before anyone stirs,” she told Mamamia. “It’s actually easier, because I don’t have to get the kids ready! (sorry Matt).”

On others, it’s a 9am start, after a few hours of beautiful, domestic chaos.

“We are woken at 6:30am by Jack jumping on us. Then it’s all systems go!” she said. “We stagger our showers… One of us feeds and changes Neve, the other makes Jack’s lunch and chases him around the house trying to get him to put his shoes on.

“Whoever has the later start walks Jack to preschool, which is around the corner from [our house], making it very handy. If we are both working, we have a gorgeous Au Pair who minds Neve. Or if I have the day off, I stay in my PJs and have a lazy morning with lots of baby cuddles.”

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With her unpredictable work day, Penny’s self-care is less of a routine, and more “do things when I can”.

“When I’m filming at Palm Beach, I try and walk to the top of the Barrenjoey lighthouse. When I’m filming in studio, I keep dumbbells in my dressing room and do a little workout during my lunch break,” she said.

“I love listening to podcasts, so I save them up for when I’m driving to and from work. My other little trick is arriving 15 minutes early to work, that way I can sit and enjoy my coffee in peace.”

By the afternoon, it’s back to mum time. Penny is usually home in time to collect her son from preschool, with little Neve snuggled in the baby carrier for the short walk.

“Most afternoons we walk/scoot to our local playground with a group of lovely mums, dads and kiddos from Jack’s preschool,” she said. “We stand around chatting while the kids play and usually stay until the sun starts going down.

“I absolutely love being part of a tight-knit community, and I try to foster local friendships as much as I can.”

Things start to wind down around bath time — Penny’s favourite part of the day. Neve is now big enough to join her brother for a splash in the bubbles.

“Both my kids love being in water, and I find bath-time is when Jack really opens up and tells me about his day,” she said. “It’s often when the big questions are asked, like this recent doozy: ‘Mum, what is life?’ Ummmm…”

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Matt usually gets home around 6:30, and then it’s dinner time. Ideally at the table, as a family. But sometimes Jack will end up scoffing his down in front of an episode of Bluey.

Then it’s Dad-time for the kids.

“Matt gives Neve a massage with Johnson’s CottonTouch Newborn Face and Body Lotion,” the Johnson’s ambassador said. “Skin to skin contact is so important for a newborn’s development, so this is a great way to make sure we incorporate it into her routine, also. Then once Neve is in bed, Jack and Matt play ‘superheroes’, and I get 20 minutes to myself to have a shower.”

After that, Penny and her husband take turns reading to Jack. Then it’s prayers, lullabies and lights out.

“By 7:30pm we are free agents,” she said. “Bring on the chocolate and Netflix!”

By the end of the day, Penny says it can feel like she’s been “tossed around in a washing machine”. And like many of us, she often wishes for more downtime; a few hours to get stuck into a good book, or even just go on a date with her husband.

But somewhere in the cycle, she always tries to find time to pause.

“Our kids will grow up so fast, so I try and enjoy the little moments,” she said. “At least once a day our four-year-old says something that makes Matt and I cry with laughter, and that makes it all worthwhile.”

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