RACHAEL FINCH ON MUM SHAMING, FUSSY EATERS AND HER GO-TO BEAUTY BUYS
BY JESSICA BOSCO
She’s a model, television presenter, author, certified health coach, businesswoman and a social media influencer (phew!), but above all else, Rachael Finch is a mum. While that list makes us exhausted just writing it, she somehow manages to exude energy and positivity and has such a down-to-earth nature that we immediately can’t help but ask how she makes it look so easy.
But like any mum knows, it’s not easy. With her eldest daughter Violet heading off to school this year, and son Dom a toddler with energy to burn, the ABC Reading Eggs ambassador chatted to us about how she makes it all work, dealing with mum shaming and negativity on social media, how she finds time for self care amongst the chaos and the holy grail: how she gets her kids to eat – and love – healthy food.
Your daughter Violet starts school this week, how are you feeling about it?
I cannot wait! I’m just so excited for her, I know she’s ready and I think she’s going to have an absolute blast. She’s asking me all the right questions to indicate to me that she’s ready to go, and we’ve been learning how to tie shoelaces, and unpack her lunchbox, how to do braids – and of course stranger danger and crossing the roads and all that!
And you’ve been using the Reading Eggs program to prep Violet for school and help develop her love of reading?
Basically for us its been a brilliant platform for Violet to start developing her reading and writing skills. We’ve been using it for just over 12 weeks now and I’ve just been really trying to implement it when she really wants screen time, so I’m trying to encourage that over any other app – which is great for me as it helps with that techno guilt. So then I know she’s got that and its educational and it’s developing her skills – which means its really peace of mind for me. It’s just a really great platform to help teach kids how to read, its got fun activities for vocabulary and sentence structure as well as sounding out words, so it really helps them improve on their grammar and literacy, so its just been great.
Have you guys always been a reading family or has this been the push you needed to get into it more?
I’ve always read Violet a book at night, that’s our little end of day, bedtime routine, before we put her to bed. The other thing we did start doing before the app was I started to get tracing paper and dotting out words for her to trace over, so its been good for her now to have a more intellectual and expert-driven platform to drive this.
As a busy mum, with all the work that you do and running your own business are you looking forward to having one less child around the house day-to-day?
Well really the toddler age is the more challenging age I think! They require so much of our attention, but it will be good to just get Violet into a routine where she’s really stimulated. But yeah one less is hopefully somewhat easier!
Do you have any tips or tricks for “balancing” work and mum life?
Mischa is like a second mum – I always say if he had boobs he’s be breastfeeding too! He’s really hands on and we share the load 50/50 – which I think is becoming the modern household, it’s not just one going to work and the other staying home anymore, a lot of women are going back to work and are juggling it all. For us it’s just really important that we’re chatting about everything, going over all our plans thoroughly and we’re always very precise about what’s happening at what time.
The ultimate overarching component for us is just not putting so much pressure on ourselves. There’s always so much, “Ive got to do this and I’ve got to do that”, and feeling the need to smash out all these goals, but for me, and especially after having kids, it’s just so much more about the life enjoyment – asking ourselves are we actually enjoying the process along the way. If you can’t fit in everything you’ve scheduled for that day, it’s all good – just reschedule it. If you’re running a bit late - its not the end of the world. So we’ve really managed to lighten up a bit and enjoy it all along the way.
In the past you have been “mum-shamed” for sharing details on how you get support from your family to look after the kids, and personally I know I couldn’t survive without my support system (and will take all the help I can get!) Did the backlash make you reevaluate what you were doing or change anything at all?
We’ve always been very confident in ensuring we make the right decision within our family and we never let any external influences affect what decisions we make. For us it’s really important that our family and relatives – particularly grandparents – are included in the upbringing of our kids. They’re not going to be around forever and time goes so quick, and they love that time and it’s so beautiful. It’s not that they don’t spend any more or less time with them now, its just that we value that time with them so much and we value that as a necessary part of their childhood.
It’s such a special relationship for children to have with grandparents and relatives, and so many people can’t give that to their children.
That’s right, and I didn’t get that, I didn’t get to meet my dad’s parents and I only got to meet my grandma on my mums side so I had just the one grandparent and so now I see the value in how much love there is there.
Earlier this month you also copped some backlash over a sponsored post on Instagram (that wasn’t actually sponsored!), how do you deal with the negativity on social media?
It was just a point that I made when I saw a comment last week and I wanted to voice that particularly on my page - I wasn’t speaking for anyone else - but personally I only talk about and share products, services or things I have created because I believe in them, I’ve used them or love them. Sponsored or not, what I’m showing and sharing on my socials are products and services or things that I’ve used and loved or created that I believe in.
And it’s just upsetting when you see nasty comments which can then lead to further things and this is the issue. All this online bullying and criticism can be very dangerous in the wrong hands. I think we need to be supporting and encouraging and showing kindness as much as possible online and on social media. If you don’t have something nice to say – or if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face – don’t say it online!
It comes down to who you choose to follow and what you want coming into your feed.
As a mum of a daughter, what are your thoughts on the recent debate over the use of the word pretty. Some say we should be banning it from our vocabulary because it’s damaging to young girls and that we shouldn’t be telling girls that they’re pretty.
I’ve definitely used pretty with Violet – numerous times. I often tell her she’s pretty, she’s beautiful, always encouraging her because I want her self confidence and self awareness to build because I think that’s so important. I’m not saying we need to over-exploit it or place emphasis on it over other things, but especially coming from a parent and the main role model, if I’m not commenting on how positive I feel about her appearance – or her attitude – I feel she will be affected by that.
You’re a mum to both a boy and a girl, do you find yourself parenting them quite differently or do you find the same approach works for both of them?
No I take a very different approach because they’re just such different characters. I wouldn’t use the same parenting methods (if you’d call it that!) or language even, it changes with each child, it’s just a natural instinct.
What are you like as a mum day-to-day, are you a routine mum or do you find you’re a little less structured because of the nature of your work?
I’m a mix – I’ve got some routine elements – like knowing that they’re eating at the right time and eating the right ingredients, that they’re going to bed at the right time, nap times and getting enough rest. But then with play time and creativity I’m pretty relaxed with the flow of schedules and what not, it also just depends on where we are and what city we wake up in.
Speaking of travel, you guys seem to do it with the kids a lot, do you have any tips for making it travelling with little ones?
A huge part of it is timing – the overarching factor we always take into consideration when we’re going away with the kids is what time we’re going, what flight times we choose, and I always make sure we get on before nap time or after nap time. If its an extended international flight – always break it up and have a night or two stop over.
And then as well I make sure I prepare for the flights with activities and snacks – I hate getting stuck with only unhealthy food options, so I’ll pack veggie sticks or rice cakes or Vegemite sandwiches. So I just try and think ahead with things like that and do my best to prepare.
And speaking of healthy snacks! Are your kids fussy eaters – do you struggle to get healthy food into them or do they willingly comply?
When I was pregnant I ate a lot of veggies – lots of spinach and broccoli! When I had morning sickness I didn’t really feel like eating veggies but when I started feeling good again at about 16 weeks and I got them back into my system. So I think the kids got a lot of that through me – and I didn’t really give them any other options! I just blended up chicken and veggies and fed it to them and that was dinner – if they’re hungry they’ll eat it. I just kept trying.
So perseverance is key?
Dom didn’t like broccoli and every second night I just kept on boiling it up and trying again and now it’s his favourite. Its really interesting how they come full circle.
What do you feed the family on a lazy night when you can’t be bothered cooking?
Lazy night will be boiling up some pasta, cutting up some cucumbers and maybe reheating some leftover meat we have in the fridge – or boiling an egg. It literally takes 7-10 minutes – that for me is a lazy night.
If I really feel exhausted and I don’t even want to cook pasta, I’ll just make some wholegrain toast, avocado and maybe a boiled egg. Just really simple but still hitting all the food groups.
Now to yourself – and a little self care! What do you do day-to-day to look after yourself amongst all the chaos?
Heaps of stuff! I love my alone time if I can… First thing every morning I put Dom in the pram and we walk for 30-40 minutes in the fresh air and the morning sunshine, for me that’s part of self love. I try and sit in the sun to eat my lunch while Dom naps. I also love taking baths and I love to get massages, I love infared saunas – just whatever I feel or feel like my body needs at the time.
I try and manage it into my schedule whenever it works for me. If i’m with the kids all day long I might try and nap while they nap, or lie on the couch wherever I can find a moment.
With all your work in modelling and the TV industry you’re constantly in the make-up chair, what are some of your favourite go-to products when you’re doing your own make-up?
When I’m working with a makeup artist I use their products but when it’s just me I try and use all plant based, natural products as much as possible and I try and support brands that are making the shift to more natural based products. And obviously I need ones that work with my skin and skin tone - but also ones that don’t take an hour to apply – time is a big part of it especially as a mum! I love Jane Eiredale mineral pressed powder, Ere Perez blush and highlighter, Becca concealer and Benefit Goof Proof for my eyebrows.