Kylie Gillies on her family and why she and her husband waited 14 years before having kids

The Morning Show host talks gratitiude, embracing wrinkles and the professional and personal milestones she's celebrating.
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First up, I should say that I’ve known Kylie for eight years, four of which we actually worked together.

While the nation sees her glammed up in front of the camera every morning, I’ve seen her makeup free and in tracksuit pants, on the phone juggling babysitters and football practice scheduled for her two boys, and tackling all the other challenges that come with working mum territory.

So for this interview there’s no PR standing by and no ‘time allocation’. Instead it’s all hugs and kisses, and just the two of us shooting the breeze, gossiping about life, love, kids and everything in-between.

Catching up in a café adjacent to the Channel 7 studios in Sydney’s Martin Place, I’m surprised that the TV host isn’t having her usual coffee; instead she’s ordered a carrot and apple juice.

“So we’re chatting over a healthy juice!” she giggles. “One of my new things is to have only two coffees – I used to have four a day. Instead, I’ve moved on to tea, liquorice tea especially, which is better for me mentally I think.”

“I was good at ignoring things and not listening to my body, which is silly.”

(Credit: Exclusive to Good Health & Wellbeing)

Small concessions

This is just one mini health epiphany that’s new since we last caught up. Kylie is the first to admit that she’s far from the poster girl for health. She doesn’t visit the gym, doesn’t go to exercise classes, and doesn’t diet.

But these days it turns out that the 51-year-old The Morning Show presenter is making a few small concessions to health.

“I’m more open to these things,” she admits. “Before I was very ‘head down, bum up’ and would plough on through. I was good at ignoring things and not listening to my body, which is silly. But earlier this year I got a bit sick with a virus, and it made me think more about my health. I went to see a doctor who also works with Eastern medicine, and she has really opened my eyes. Now I’m on a range of Eastern supplements, and it’s really making a difference in terms of how I’m feeling and my energy levels. So me taking the time out to look after myself properly is a real change.

“Also, a gym opened up right next to Channel 7 recently and all the girls from hair and makeup went, so I joined them one lunchtime. For the first time in years, I actually ran on a treadmill, and I didn’t go too badly. But it’s not for me. I do stay active by walking the dogs every day, but if I had to do a beep test, I’d fail miserably – they’d probably have to wheel the oxygen out!”

“Me taking the time out to look after myself properly is a real change.”

(Credit: Exclusive to Good Health & Wellbeing)

While exercise isn’t a fixture in Kylie’s time off, family most definitely is. At the centre of her world are her husband, Tony, and two boys, Gus, 16, and Archie, 14. And motherhood isn’t something the go-getter takes lightly.

“My weekends and weeknights are full of the boys’ sports events,” she says. “Being a mum to teens is terrific, but it’s busy. It’s hard to keep up. It’s a full-time job, coupled with my full-time TV job!

There’s a lot of responsibility right now – big picture, life lesson stuff. Such as where they’re going and how they see their future. I just want to get it right. Guide them, not steer them, so they grow to be confident men who can go forward and contribute. Every parent I know feels the same way about their own children.

WATCH: 20 things parents do that embarrass their teens. Post continues…

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Power of parenting

“I find great comfort in talking to other mums, or at least other mums who are prepared to share the truth. I have a pile of parenting books by my bed and I particularly like this quote from author Sharon Witt: ‘Parenting is a team sport. And by expanding your own network of trusted friends and relatives, it makes the process of raising children much less isolating and lonely.’

“Just this week, I’ve leaned on Channel 7 colleagues Ann Sanders and Natalie Barr for advice. Both have boys older than mine and I was seeking wisdom from women who’d ‘been there, done that.’ I’d be lost without my ‘boy-mum’ friends.

My sister, Stacy, gives me invaluable advice too. She’s a high school teacher of 30 years and she ‘gets’ teenage boys. I tend to overthink things and Stace will say to me, ‘It’s not that complicated.'”

READ MORE: Teenage behaviour management strategies that really work.

For a mum as dedicated as Kylie, she’s already dreading the day when her boys spread their wings and leave the nest.

“Oh my god, yes!” she wails. “I’ve already found myself getting out old photos taken when they were toddlers. It’s really heartbreaking. Hopefully other mums reading this do it too. Sometimes I’ll catastrophise and think: ‘I’ve only got 100 or so weekends with them until they can leave.’ I’m painfully aware of the present, and each family holiday is bittersweet as I know that it might be our last. I want to spend as much time with them as I can, but all they want to do is be with their friends, which I get – and it’s wonderful. But I end up crying on my husband’s shoulder.”

Kylie’s boys Gus, 16, and Archie, 14 are the centre of her world.

(Credit: Instagram @kyliegillies)

Her hubby is fellow journalist – and editor-in-chief at Australian Associated Press – Tony. The pair married in 1989, and I’ve done my homework and deduced that, when we’re chatting, it’s mere weeks away from their 30th wedding anniversary.

“I know!” she exclaims. “In some respects it feels like yesterday, but then when I look back we’ve had a lifetime together. I was only 22 and we waited 14 years before having kids. It was a conscious decision for both of us to have our careers. We’re both driven and wanted to do well.”

In celebrity-ville, where relationships often don’t go the distance, a three decade-long marriage is a rarity. True to form, when we talk about her strategy behind this longevity, it’s characteristically straightforward.

“I think it’s knowing that things aren’t always perfect,” she concedes. “It’s not always going to be a Hollywood movie script all the time. Some days – okay, a lot of days! – it’s all you can do just to get to work, go to the supermarket, do school pickup, do a load of washing, cook dinner and pay a bill or two.

Kylie and husband Tony have been married for 30 years.

(Credit: Instagram @kyliegillies)

“It’s not always going to be the five-star romance, but there’s a lot of comfort and goodness that comes with the daily ordinariness of life. I think that should be celebrated more. In Alain de Botton’s book, The Course of Love, he says we celebrate the beginning of relationships and the break-ups, but it’s that long haul in the middle that is rarely written about, and never gets made into films. There are not enough accolades for surviving the long haul.

“Tony is my long-haul partner. He was there at the start of this long journey. The highway hasn’t always been smooth, but there’s no one else I’d want in the passenger seat.”

This healthy attitude towards marriage also applies to what she puts on her plate.

“I’m a real meat and three veg girl,” she says matter-of-factly.

“Last night we had a piece of steak, mashed potatoes, beans and corn for dinner. Another favourite is poached chicken and salad.

“Breakfast for me every day is a cup of rolled oats, milk or a bit of yoghurt, and maybe a banana – if there’s one in the fruit bowl that isn’t rotten! But that’s just how I was brought up to eat. I don’t overthink it and I don’t fuss in the kitchen. I think the obsession with what we eat right now and worrying about every item we’re putting into our mouths isn’t great. I think I have a pretty healthy attitude towards food, and one I’m hopefully passing on to my kids.”

The Morning Show is a real gift.”

(Credit: Instagram @kyliegillies)

Major milestone

Kylie began her career as a reporter, producer and presenter for Prime Television, then moved to Sportsworld.

Rising through the ranks, including lengthy stints in the traditionally male-dominated field of sports coverage, she went on to become a regular on Seven’s Weekend Sunrise, Sunrise and Seven News, before landing her current gig on The Morning Show, alongside co-host, Larry Emdur. They are now about to celebrate the show’s 12-year anniversary.

“It’s really lovely to say that I still genuinely enjoy what I do 12 years on,” she says. “The Morning Show is a real gift. I’m so thankful I have this job. The team is awesome and we’re a real family. We truly care about one other and help each other out.”

Perhaps no-one more so than her TV husband, Larry. The chemistry between the pair and their natural affinity is as fun-filled off-camera as it is on.

“Larry is terrific,” the presenter says. “We will literally laugh for two-and-a-half hours straight and even more during the commercial breaks. If you watch closely, the camera sometimes catches us out when they cut back. We’re a bit naughty and sometimes defy what the producers say. There’s no one I’d rather be doing this show with.”

“There’s no one I’d rather be doing this show with.”

(Credit: Instagram @morningshowon7)

Beautiful blessings

A regular fixture on red carpets, Kylie is known for her keen fashion sense and she’s regularly quizzed on the secret behind her age-defying looks. But this Tamworth-born beauty doesn’t have any special tips or tricks.

“I’m just working with what I have,” she says. “I don’t do anything to my face – I’m even going to frown for you.” Cue Kylie frowning and grimacing, proving she’s had no help from the surgeon or the needle.

“Would I love to have the skin I had when I was 40?” she asks. “Absolutely. But there’s not a lot you can do. Well, there is stuff you can do, but that costs a lot, doesn’t it? I just go with it.

“These days I don’t look in the mirror as much, and I need reading glasses now, so I find that the key is not to put the glasses on, that way things are a little fuzzier,” she chuckles.

Tamworth beauty Kylie doesn’t have any tips or tricks when it comes to anti-ageing.

(Credit: Exclusive to Good Health & Wellbeing)

While extra wrinkles may be a result of getting older, seeing the fruits of her labours – a job she adores and a strong family unit – far outweigh the facial evidence of the passing time. It’s these things, she says, that are the measure of what’s really important in life.

“When I look around and see my family and my friends, I realise how blessed I am,” she says, beaming. “If I want to feel grateful, I picture how I would feel if I didn’t have my boys, my relationship, or my job. I think often we need to focus on being thankful for what we do have as opposed to what we don’t.

“There’s a tendency for us to be very inward-looking these days, but if we look out for the ones we love around us that can be really empowering. The boys are my biggest source of joy…they’re my everything. I would rather something good happen to them, than anything wonderful come my way. Their achievements make my heart sing and I’m so proud of them.

“I’ve had some horrific things happen to really good friends and family around me,” she says, tearing up. “Huge, life-altering experiences. It does help to add perspective.

“All of us will have hardships come our way and some days, weeks, and years, are going to be tough. But hopefully you have people around to support you. To have your health and to have the love of your family and friends is really what happiness is all about. Everything else is just window dressing.”

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