When you think about it, breakfast radio and motherhood have a few similarities. No two days are the same. Occasionally dealing with a tough crowd. The early starts. Adelaide radio personality and mum, Ali Clarke agrees.
“Sure there are the early mornings, but also you start out with a plan every day knowing full well it can, and probably will, be derailed and you just have to go with it. It’s that old adage of being the duck – everything looks serene and under control on top, but underneath you’re pedaling like crazy. I’d have to say the radio audience is probably more appreciative than my son though, after he only gave me a C+ for my joke telling in my mother’s day card,” she laughs.
And sometimes, the worlds collide. With her firstborn Eloise (9), Ali was lucky enough to broadcast from home, just six weeks after she was born.
“There were plenty of times I was breastfeeding on air or ducking off to change a nappy during the newsbreak. I’d then lie down in the afternoon and feed Eloise and crash out too. Of course there was no such luxury when the second arrived,” she says.
Together with her high profile husband Matt Clarke (Crows AFLW Coach and Crows AFL ruck coach), the pair also have Samuel (7) and Madeline (4). The jump from two to three was a bit like interviewing a celebrity on the radio – a little bit nerve wracking, but very exciting.
“There’s no doubt two to three was a shock to the system. We were unlucky enough to need IVF for our children, but so very lucky we were eventually successful, so there was certainly no SURPRISE! You’re pregnant! We were probably halfway through the pregnancy with Maddy that Sam finally got out of nappies and I had my first thought of, whoa – hang on this was just getting easier. I asked my friends who had three, ‘why didn’t you tell me?!’ but I wouldn’t change the chaos and laughs for anything.”
It’s a welcomed chaos, and one that’s become the new normal for the Clarkes.
“When Madeline was born I had just been fired from Triple M and really struggled for a period trying to work out where I fit in life. Now our family has found the balance in that Matt gets them off to school and I’m there to pick them up. Sure it’s busy, but I would imagine there are plenty of people who are much busier than us.”
While Ali balances her work hat and mum hat with a bit of help from her ‘village’ – aka husband, family, friends and babysitters, she admits it took awhile for her to feel comfortable asking for help.
“Actually, if I’m honest I still have to push myself sometimes, but once you find those people who you know want to help, and you want to help them, they’re worth their weight in gold.”
“This whole idea you can do it all and be some type of supermum … well that’s not for me and I’ll never pretend otherwise. Having said that, I know I’m a better mum with another focus as well as the kids.”
One of her other focuses is, of course, radio. Ali has been a regular fixture on Adelaide radio stations for the last decade. Her impressive resume has seen her broadcast on various radio stations, including breakfast announcer on Mix and Triple M. She’s currently on breakfast for 891 ABC Adelaide – making her the only solo woman hosting a breakfast program in a capital city. And while this may sound like a coup in her career, Ali remains modest and praises her listeners.
“I still can’t believe this is what I do for a living, and that people would want to talk to me – so that’s pretty cool. Like when someone takes the time to text or call in. I get to talk to some really interesting people. It’s an incredible privilege being invited into people’s home and cars and I don’t take it likely. I love that with radio you can make a connection with someone. I love both the immediacy and the intimacy.”
Apart from broadcasting on the radio or running around after her three beautiful kids, Ali supports a number of charities. She’s an ambassador for Minda and Carer Support, and is passionate about helping people with disabilities. With all of the aforementioned, downtime is, understandably, a bit of a foreign concept.
“I’m sorry? What’s that?” she laughs.
But with the fun and fast paced mix of radio and motherhood, she still (sometimes) manages ‘independent Ali’.
“I love hanging out with friends or going for a walk – anywhere outside. I also don’t mind crashing on the couch watching horrendous reality TV – shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” she concludes.
ALL GOOD IN THE [MOTHER]HOOD
What’s the one thing you didn’t know about motherhood that you wish you knew beforehand?
That I would never again just grab my purse, phone and keys and walk out the door… now it’s water bottles, wipes, games, books etcetera.
Best piece of advice you received when you were new to motherhood?
Learn how to say no (not just to the kids, but to others who want your time). Oh, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Who cares if you have a messy house, give yourself a break before running around dusting.
Describe your parenting style?
I’m pretty strict – I’m a big one on respect and living up to your promises, so I’m always pulling the kids up on manners and making sure they appreciate other people’s situations. Matt is a lot more relaxed … he’s definitely ‘Fun Dad’.
A parenting philosophy you stick by?
Hear them out first. Especially now that the kids are a little bit older, I’ve found a lot of angst and energy can be saved if you just give them the time and space to get their point of view out BEFORE making a decision about what’s next (especially handy when negotiating peace pacts between the three of them).
What do you love doing with the family?
We love getting the kids to the beach – especially Carrickalinga or Normanville. Sure they whinge and carry on, but at the end of the day, they all say they’ve had a brilliant time.
You can listen to Ali weekdays on ABC breakfast radio Online, on the ABC listen app, via DAB+ Digital Radio or 891 AM and follow her on Twitter @ali_clarke