“Some things do hurt me." Phoebe Burgess has faced the impossible challenge of parenting in the spotlight.

When you scroll through Phoebe Burgess’ Instagram, you’ll be met with a beautifully curated page of glamorous photos of the writer and TV presenter living what very much looks like a charmed life.

But amongst the photos of her fabulous outfits in fabulous locales (she loves fashion, she always has) are the pictures of the people she loves most in the world, her two children with rugby league star Sam Burgess – Poppy, two and a half, and Billy, whom she welcomed in December last year.

And if you take the time to read her captions, you’ll see that despite the outward appearance that the mum-of-two has this parenting thing all figured out, she won’t shy away from sharing the truth of what life is really like as a mum of children under three.

Behind the photos of her two “cleanish kids”, she’ll let her 80K followers know that it took “hours of preparation” just to get out the door with her children in tow. Or that in reality, she and the kids are looking a “lot less glam at home”. Or that just after a lovely family photo was taken, Poppy “painted the back of the car, her new clothes and everything within a one metre radius with her lunch”.

It’s a reminder to all mums, especially on Instagram, that the perfect life presented by so many on social media simply isn’t real.

“No matter how you’re dressed, no matter what you’re doing, we’re all dealing with the shit. Physically, we’re dealing with shit as a mum,” Phoebe tells Mamamia, with a laugh.


“If you present yourself as the perfect image, you’re not going to crack that with mums,” she adds.

When Phoebe sees anyone on Instagram presenting an illusion of perfect motherhood, she immediately thinks: “Cut the shit, I know both kids have been overtired, I know that one’s got carsick, I know that one refused to eat their dinner and the other one shat themselves all up their back.”

“We know there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes so I just don’t believe in pretending. I think it’s so much more entertaining to [share what’s really happening],” she adds.

Phoebe, who had just escaped the Sydney winter to tropical North Queensland to spend a week at Daydream Island with her two kids – with Sam to join them after his game that weekend – didn’t mince words about how life has changed since her family of three recently expanded to four.

“It’s chaos,” she says, without skipping a beat. “Total chaos.”

“But strangely I’ve enjoyed this jump more than the non-mum to motherhood. That was huge. I feel like I’m still in the trenches with Poppy, we’re still changing nappies, we’re still learning words, we’re still potty training, sleep training, we’re just getting rid of the bottle. So I feel like I’m just straight back into it with Billy.”

Travelling to Daydream Island Resort, where Phoebe is an ambassador, was “hectic” though.

“It’s just all about planning logistics and just survival, really,” she says.

“You know the routine goes out the door, you’ve got prams over one shoulder and two kids, but look we were really lucky. Billy had a sleep on the plane and Poppy is actually finally easily amused. She was pretty well behaved.”

“Look she might not have been but we got lucky this time,” she acknowledges.

Now that she has two young kids, Phoebe says her and Sam’s “wants and needs have definitely changed in terms of a holiday”.

“We love an outdoorsy, summer type holiday – that’s just how our family holidays – for now. So I try to find that balance of activities for mums and dads and babies,” she explains.

Her best tip to finding out whether a holiday destination is actually kid-friendly all comes down to the children’s menu.

“You just want to know that they’ve got the spag bol, the pizzas, and the mini burgers. You want a place that says yes we’ve considered your children. It doesn’t have to be an absolute child’s resort but you want to know that it has considered that kids eat differently to us, they sleep differently to us, they bathe differently to us.”


During her week-long getaway to Daydream Island, Phoebe shared plenty of Poppy and Billy’s adventures on Instagram – but the process of what to share about her family (and perhaps, more importantly what not to) is a decision she’s always trying to “balance”.

“Look I don’t share every single moment of my day,” she says. “It’s not that I’m purposefully trying to withdraw any part of my life, it’s just that I’m living my life,” she tells Mamamia. 

“There’s bits I love to share but there’s some part of my kid’s childhood that I’d love to keep for myself,” she adds.

Living a life in the spotlight, where all aspects from your marriage to your parenting, is lapped up or scrutinised by everyone on the internet is difficult terrain to navigate.

This year, the 30-year-old and her NRL player husband Sam Burgess were subject to a media storm after it was reported the couple had split after three years of marriage. After a sexting scandal engulfed the Rabbitohs, which Sam was cleared of any misconduct, he was photographed leaving their Sydney Eastern Suburbs home with luggage and sans wedding ring.


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3 0 ???? and maturing nicely …

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In an interview with Stellar magazine in April, Phoebe set the record straight, firmly stating that the pair are “together, we are married”.

“Sam and I will have good days and we’ll have trying days,” she told the magazine.

“Every single person on this planet who is married knows it isn’t perfect. It’s never going to be perfect.”

Although Phoebe says she’s developed a tough shell living in the public glare, she admits that “things get in”.

“What people say does affect you. So I can’t pretend I’m not human and I don’t read every comments, but I just choose not to tolerate negative comments. I just choose it,” she tells Mamamia.

But all the outside noise doesn’t matter when Phoebe remembers what’s truly important to her – her family and kids.

“I can’t pretend some things don’t hurt me and I can’t pretend that some things don’t make me feel great. But I think when you have children – and other mums will probably identify with this – you’re so much more grounded, you’re so much more aware of what’s important,” she says.

“All I have to do is put my phone down and look to my right and left and realise this is what life is all about. I know I’m doing a great job, no matter what my choices are, no matter who agrees with my choices. My children are happy, they’re well-adjusted, they’re fed. They’re growing, and that just makes me so proud and I think I’ve got to that point, I look to my children for my assessment of how I am as a mother, not to other people’s opinion.”