9 Jul 2018

Time flies - PM three weeks in as new mum

1:04 pm on 9 July 2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is half way through her intended maternity leave but where has the time gone?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, partner Clarke Gayford and baby Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, partner Clarke Gayford and baby Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Time travels mysteriously with a newborn in the house. One day can feel like an eternity, then you look back and time has slipped through your fingers.

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern returns to Parliament after six weeks' maternity leave, her partner Clarke Gayford will be stay-at-home dad and first man of fishing.

While Ms Ardern was on the couch cuddling Neve, giving a live Facebook update on the government's newly launched families package, Mr Gayford was in the background setting up a baby monitor and wrestling with the buggy.

Like gearing up for an expedition, the fishing TV show host is getting to grips with the tools required for his new role.

Mr Gayford posted an image of a whale and calf on his Instagram account, saying "what you can't see in this pic of mother and child is Dad in the background reading the instructions for the baby monitor for the sixteenth time."

Among the replies to this post was some helpful advice about checking with the security team about privacy issues. Who knew baby monitors posed a security threat?

Not being overly techy, we never had a baby monitor but our neighbours used a baby-spy app which came in handy one night when we jumped the fence for a drink. That was the closest we've come to experiencing happy hour in eight years.

Lack of sleep contributes to an overwhelming confusion on all things - except if you're the prime minister fronting up about the latest families package from your couch between feeds. That was cohesive.

"Wait till you have to put the pram up then down again to get back into the car," said one Instagramer to Mr Gayford.

This triggered a repressed memory. When our first baby was a few weeks old, I ventured out, driving to a park. It was a beautiful spring day and I managed to unfold the buggy and go for a walk. So far, so good.

By the time I got back to the car, my little one was crying and I could not fold that monstrous buggy down. I mayday called my husband who coached me through the process but it was no use. In desperation, I shoved the buggy in the boot fully upright and drove home with the boot ajar, wiping away tears.

That night my husband and I went through a drill, putting the buggy up and down until we had it. Up, down, up, down.

With just three weeks left of Ms Ardern's intended maternity leave, I can only imagine the pressure Mr Gayford is feeling.

Meanwhile, the couple have shared just enough information on social media each week to assure the nation all is well with the prime minister.

Before the baby was born, Ms Ardern reminded us she was pregnant, not incapacitated. Then days before the birth, Clarke shared a photo of Ms Ardern reading the usual pile of papers.

On her Facebook page last week, after speaking about the families' package, Ms Ardern assured viewers that she "wasn't too tired" and was "doing great".

Social media is a useful tool for a prime minister on leave who still wants to be seen and heard in her dual roles.

With three weeks under her belt as a new mum the message is: I've had a baby but I'm still prime minister.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs