Celebrity Families

EXCLUSIVE: Edwina Bartholomew reflects on the challenges and triumphs of motherhood as she celebrates Molly’s first birthday

''I think it’s so rare for women to say, ‘Hey, I’m good at this.’''

By Amber Giles
As Edwina Bartholomew gets ready to help blow out the big number one candle on her daughter Molly's birthday cake this week, she's also taking the time to look back on the past 12 months and what it has brought for her beautiful family of three.
As any parent will tell you, the first year of your child's life is the most difficult – the worry if you're doing a good job, trying not to compare yourself to others who have gone before you.
But besides trying to navigate the new landscape of parenthood, Sunrise presenter Edwina Bartholomew has also had to deal with being in a baby bubble during a global pandemic, her husband being made redundant, returning to work each morning on national television – and, hardest of all, finishing renovations to a new house with a young baby in tow.
When TV WEEK sits down with Edwina and her family at their home in Sydney's inner west, we ask a simple question: is she tired?
"I don't think I've had a solid night's sleep in about a year," Edwina replies with a laugh.
"And Molly, by comparison, is a fairly good sleeper. But I'm either getting up for her, or I'm getting up for work at 3.30am."
Edwina is up early whether it's for work or for Molly. (Alana Landsberry)
Edwina had six months off work when Molly was born, and despite 2020 being a turbulent year, she feels lucky to have had the time she did with her daughter and husband of two years, Neil Varcoe.
"It's been a strange year for us, because in many ways, it's been really good timing," the 37-year-old says.
"My husband was made redundant around the same time the lockdown happened. So, we actually ended up with a couple of months where we had time as a family unit, that we never would have had otherwise."
Edwina admits she found the world of parenthood a baptism of fire.
"I found the first couple of months quite overwhelming," she says. "Just the all-consuming nature of it – and I was prepared mentally. But I found that first initial stage difficult. I think I was just surprised by the emotion of it all. And the love too, and maybe just the love mixed with the exhaustion, the expectation and the pressure to do a really good job of it.
"I went back to work around the six-month mark. That was actually really good for me. I love my work; I found it great. Molly is a joy to be around, but it was nice to find something of yourself again. I think lots of women feel that, but maybe don't feel they can express it."
Motherhood has been a baptism of fire for the Sunrise host. (Alana Landsberry)
While the presenter is happy to point out the tougher moments, she also wants mothers to take a minute and shout out the good work they're doing every single day.
It might feel like Groundhog Day with nappy-changing and feeding on the hour, but Edwina has paused to appreciate how she's doing.
"I think it's so rare for women to say, 'Hey, I'm good at this,'" she says.
"But you know what? I'm a really good mum, and Molly's a really good baby. And we have a really happy family. That's such a huge achievement. I don't think 'old me' would have recognised that it's a big deal and a great thing to be able to accomplish."
Speaking of accomplishments, the TV WEEK team is in awe when we enter Edwina's home to see that, despite being up at 3.30am and finishing three hours of live TV on Sunrise, she's still had time to make a delicious banana cake for the team and is fussing to make sure everyone has a cup of tea.
Yes, she's as nice in person as she seems on TV and social media.
But when it comes to social media, she has a love/hate relationship with it.
Edwina loves the community aspect of platforms such as Instagram, which allows her to connect with other mothers, but she doesn't sugar-coat the fact that she can, at times, go into a negative head space when she sees certain images.
"Body image is still a big issue for me," she admits, as Molly plays at her feet. "I've never really been a size eight, so to see [photos of] women who've had a kid at the same time I did and be back to their old selves, I can't pretend I don't go, 'Oh, I wish I could lose just a couple more kilos, or have more time for exercise' and all that jazz."
Edwina admits she has a love-hate relationship with social media. (Alana Landsberry)
It's this refreshing honesty that draws many women across the country to watch Edwina not only on Sunrise, but on her social media accounts, where she shows both the good and bad.
"I could tell you that I do my very best to try to block out all those images, but I'd be completely lying. Everyone is guilty of comparison."
However, Edwina adds that she chooses not to dwell, and is grateful for the perspective that becoming a parent has given her.
"The amount of energy I've wasted sweating the small stuff – for years," she says. "Now, I just think, 'Oh, I wish I'd made better use of that time.'"

Where she spends her time is important to Edwina, and although she loves how busy Sunrise keeps her, she declares she's open to putting up her hand for another role at the network when the time is right.
She used to be the face of reality show Dancing With The Stars with co-host Daniel MacPherson when it was on Channel Seven and returning to a similar role would hold appeal.
"The great thing about Seven is that I've had random opportunities I never would have imagined when I started my career," she says. "There's always something interesting and different around the corner."
As for any plans to expand her little family from three to four, Eddie says they're keen, but not in any great rush.
"Neil's been quite sick this year, so we just couldn't do it at the moment," she explains.
"He has chronic fatigue, so it's too hard. But I think sometime next year maybe.
"We'll definitely try to have more than one. It's been such a joyful experience, and Molly is such a joy – although, I feel like we got pretty lucky first time around."

read more from