In the last two years, there have been a couple of phrases that Bonnie Sveen has heard countless times. "'It gets easier'," she recounts with a laugh. "I've heard that – and 'How do you do it?' a lot."
Not that Bonnie is complaining.
"It comes with the territory for most parents, but even more so if you've got twins," she explains.
Bonnie is mum to 20-month-old identical twin girls Myrtle May and Emerald Lois with her partner Nathan Gooley.
Life at her home in the far south of Tasmania is very different since she left Home And Away in 2016.
While Bonnie says she "adores" being a mum to her girls, it hasn't been easy.
"Having a baby is a huge transition for most women," she admits.
"I'm going to be really frank. The first year was so hard; it was just something you can't prepare for. Energy-wise and physically, having two was a huge, huge thing for me."
Bonnie found out she was expecting twins only at her 20-week scan and, while she describes that moment as "the best high ever", the shock was profound.
"There were days, especially early on, when I would just think, 'Is this going to break me?'" she says.
Thankfully, with the help of her "incredible and very hands-on" partner Nathan, who's an assistant director, and her family, she's now seeing the light at the end of the feeding, sleeping and nappy-changing tunnel!
"When the girls turned one, I started to actually feel like myself again," Bonnie admits.
"I got little moments of freedom and trusted myself more as a parent."
It's this down-to- earth honesty that made Bonnie – and her Home And Away character Ricky Sharpe – such a fan favourite when she joined the show in 2013.
While Ricky fell hard for bad-boy Brax (Stephen Peacocke), she was always his equal too. The feisty, assertive and independent Ricky called out Brax when needed – and Bonnie says that's what she loved most about playing the character who won her the 2014 TV WEEK Logie Award for Most Popular New Talent.
"I'm really proud of Ricky," she says.
"I never wanted to be a sex symbol, or play the lost, vulnerable maiden. Ricky wasn't that at all. Her confidence was contagious."
Bonnie told TV WEEK recently that she wouldn't rule out a return to Summer Bay as Ricky.
"She was such a special character," she enthuses. "I can't say a definite no to playing her again. I've humoured the idea of bringing her back for a guest storyline if I was invited."
While she feels that Brax and Ricky's story arc concluded perfectly, she says she and Stephen are still friends and touch base now and then.
"Stephen and his wife Bridgette [Sneddon] are such special people," she smiles.
"They're both doing such incredible things. I can't wait for us to be able to catch up properly when we can all travel again."
Bonnie says she often gets recognised as Ricky, or is asked about her frequently.
"I'm happy to chat about Home And Away," she says.
"I adored that time of my life. I was very much in love with that role – and the pay cheques. [Laughs] "It's crazy to think I left the Bay four years ago now."
After appearing alongside Jessica Mauboy in The Secret Daughter in 2016 and 2017, Bonnie took an extended break from work when she was pregnant.
"The focus and importance has definitely been us on a family unit recently," Bonnie says.
"But it's not like the part of me that's ambitious, that has huge dreams, adores storytelling and loves being on a set, has gone away. That girl still exists, she's just been in parenting hibernation!"
Now that her daughters are toddlers, Bonnie's dipping her toe into work again.
"I'm auditioning again," she says.
"I scored a little guest appearance in the last season of Rosehaven [the ABC comedy set in Tasmania]. It was incredible to be on a set in my home state, because I always pictured that I'd have to go to the mainland for work. It was really fun too."
That more productions are using Tasmania as a location – pre-pandemic – had another positive outcome for Ricky.
"Nath worked on [Stan drama] The Gloaming – and Rosehaven – which was so great, because it meant he wasn't away from home for a long stint," she says.
As for adding to her family with Nathan, it's not something Bonnie's ruling out – even though her twins were born prematurely at 35 weeks and had to stay in hospital to gain weight.
"It was a pretty intense time," Bonnie says of the girls' arrival in September 2018.
"But I'm starting to sense I would want another child. I feel like I don't want this to be the only time I get to experience pregnancy and babyhood, or for the girls to be our only children."
But it's not something she's rushing into either.
"We're still in the trenches with the twins," Bonnie says.
"Maybe ask me that again when they're closer to 10!"
WATCH: Bonnie Sveen opens up on her Home and Away character's departure: