EXCLUSIVE: Why Jessica Rowe views parenting as a series of ‘letting goes’, and sometimes hides from her kids to this day

''It’s okay to think, ‘oh my God, I just need some space!'''
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You can hear the smile in Jessica Rowe’s voice as she tells Now To Love over the phone: “Being a parent, I’m learning, it’s a series of ‘letting goes’.”

The vibrant 51-year-old celebrated her eldest daughter, Allegra’s, 15th birthday last month and just this week sent her youngest, Giselle, 12, off to her first day of high school.

It’s an emotional time for Jess and husband Peter Overton, and knowing these “letting go” moments are inevitable as your kids grow certainly doesn’t make them any easier.

“Each stage from when they’re born; crawling, taking their first steps, going to day care, going to school, having sleepovers, going to high school, all these things, travelling, leaving home … it’s all this series of letting goes,” Jess tells us.

Jessica Rowe shared this teary photo on the morning she dropped Giselle off for her first day of high school.

(Image: Instagram)

“As parents it’s hard to do that, but we want to give them the tools so that they can do that in a and happy and healthy way. That’s very much what I try to do, but none of us are perfect.”

Having spent “probably half” of her life as a mental health advocate, Jess encourages parents to be kinder to themselves in the age of pandemics, social media and “overthinking”.

“We think so much about our kids, I reckon we almost overthink,” she says.

“When I compare myself to my parents’ generation and my grandparents’ generation, we are far more invested in our kids’ lives than they ever were, and we turned out fine!”

Jess knows all too well how easy it is to get caught up in making sure the kids are happy, healthy and cared for that parents lose sight of their own needs along the way.

During the first COVID-19 lockdowns, she found her mental health speeding downhill as her family all scrambled to adapt.

“I’m trying to get better at this, but it’s still a struggle for me; I still put myself last,” she admits.

“It’s this funny sort of paradigm of ‘if the kids are happy, then I’m happy’, but you also need to be looking after yourself, because you can lose yourself.”

WATCH: Jess Rowe opens up about her experience with postnatal depression. Story continues after video.

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For her, that means checking in with her own mental wellbeing, taking antidepressant medication and making time for things that bring her joy.

Some of it that joy up on her wildly popular Instagram; the goofy jokes, ‘crap housewife’ moments and dressing up in silly costumes just to make her daughters roll their eyes.

But other times Jess needs her own private “escape”, something that’s only for her.

“I love reading in bed at night. Everyone else is asleep and I’ve got the Kindle, so I don’t disturb Petey. He doesn’t roll over and say ‘turn the damn light off!’,” she laughs.

Peter and Jess know how to balance parenting with their own careers and personal needs.

(Image: Instagram)

The 51-year-old urges other parents to create time for their own mental wellbeing, even if it means taking a break from the kids for 10 minutes.

Mothers are especially guilty of putting themselves last on the “to-do” list, Jess included, which it why it’s so important to be gentle on yourself, even when things get difficult.

Jess reminds us it’s okay to be frustrated, annoyed, exhausted and “not okay” right now, but the first step to changing that is giving yourself the space to look after your own needs.

“It’s okay to think, ‘oh my God, I just need some space! I’m going to lock myself in the bathroom, go on my phone and not have anyone annoy me’,” she says.

WATCH: Jess Rowe shares her top tips for fellow ‘crap housewives’. Story continues after video.

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But moments later she’s laughing and confessing that hiding in the bathroom never quite works out at her place, even when Peter is home.

“Inevitably your kids find you and they’re always better finding mum than they are dad,” she chuckles.

“They might be sitting right next to dad and you’ll hear them calling out for you. It’s like, ‘you’re joking, right? Your dad is there. Why are you not asking him this?'”

Fortunately, 18 years of marriage have made Jess and Peter keenly attuned to one another and that couldn’t be clearer in the way they parent.

Peter and Jess with their two daughters, Giselle, 12, and Allegra, 15.

(Image: Instagram)

As they head into 2022 with two teens under their roof – Giselle will be 13 in April – the couple have many more “letting go” moments ahead of them, but that’s something to be celebrated too.

As for her advice to other mothers (and herself) Jess leaves us with this mantra: “You are enough. You are enough as you are. You are a good mum, back yourself.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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