Chatting with an Olympian: Libby Trickett & Weetbix Messy Kids

The hugely popular Sanitarium Weet-Bix™ Messy Kids Search is on again, this year promising to be messier than ever! Australian swimming legend and busy mum Libby Trickett will work with Weet-Bix to kick off the competition and be on the judging panel to choose the messiest Aussie kid. The contest kicks off October 27 and closes November 28.
www.weetbix.com.au/messykids
Libby Trickett is one of Australia’s all-time swimming greats. Since bursting onto the international swimming circuit in 2003 she has won seven Olympic medals – four gold, a silver and two bronze over three successive Olympic Games at Athens, Beijing and London. Recently inducted to the Sport Australian Hall of Fame after retiring from the pool in 2013, Libby and husband fellow swimmer Luke Trickett became parents to one-year-old daughter Poppy.
To state that Libby is down to earth, warm, genuine and caring, would be an understatement. Libby is all of those things plus more, despite her impressive career. Now a devoted mum to Poppy, Libby shares the same struggles we have in adapting to be a new mum and the changes in self-image that comes with it.
How did you first know that swimming was something you wanted to do professionally?
It wasn’t a conscious thought, I just really loved swimming. I loved racing yet hated training for a while and so I guess from that love of trying to push myself and challenge myself came the realisation that if I trained really hard I got to go faster when racing, which was hugely motivational. It wasn’t until I had gone to the Nationals that I realised that maybe I could have a crack and make the Australian team. Then, it wasn’t until 2004 when I broke the World Record that I realised that I could be really good at this. It was a natural progression and when I was little I thought it would be awesome to go to the Olympics, but it wasn’t a known thing that I would go there. I loved and admired the Olympics but for a long time I struggled with self belief and it took a while to have that.
Was your hard work for swimming something that your parents instilled in you or was it innate?
On some levels it was both. My parents divorced when I was 10 and my mum would wake me up to drive me to training – if that hadn’t happened I probably would haven’t easily done it. But by the same token, you have to want it and unless it’s coming from you it will never work and you’ll never be successful. You have to really want it and push for it and ultimately there are always obstacles and challenges that you have to overcome providing you have the desire to do it.
What drove and inspired you to win?
Competitiveness and the love of racing, and eventually the love of training that I had to learn. I was really competitive and loved the opportunity to test my body to the limit. Particularly to do that with racing other amazing athletes – you want to win and beat everyone but for me it really came down to how good I can be, and how good I was against my last performance.
Massive congratulations on being inducted to the Sports Hall of Fame – what does this impressive accolade mean to you?
It’s huge! Because when you swim it’s not about something like that – it’s about personal best times and making a team and winning medals. You never fathom you’ll be bestowed that recognition and acknowledgement of your career. It was a lovely surprise and a massive honour. I have never thought of myself on the same level as Dawn Frazer or Suzie O’Neill – all the icons of sport that I dreamt about being with. It’s a real privilege and a real honour.
Weetbix is a much-loved Australian brand. Why did you align with Weetbix Messy Kids?
I think for me I just love the idea of the campaign. I have worked with Sanitarium previously with the Little Big Dash and the Weetbix Kids Triathlon and love the brand as it is classically Australian. Messy kids is the best – it’s the moment I am in now and everything is messy and you wonder how they create the mess they do! How does it happen?? I think it’s particularly important in our society to be ok to embrace messiness and even celebrate it. Life is messy and chaotic and ultimately it is a part of life. Also someone could win $10,000 just by entering which is fantastic.
We are often presented with the idea that parenthood is having pristine white outfits. It’s not real life and we are trying to celebrate the realness of families and being a human in all its glory.
Enter the Weetbix Messy Kids competition here.
Congrats on your gorgeous little one Poppy. How are you finding motherhood, was it what you expected?
No, not at all! You expect to have a baby and fall in love and wonder what they are going to be like and she has trodden all over my ideas! I thought she’d be a boy for starters, blonde, super placid and easy going, and she is none of these things! I now wonder why I ever expected that to happen?
Poppy is fierce and stubborn, full of energy, cheeky and on a lot of levels it has really challenged me and motherhood has been the most challenging part of my life! As an athlete you are incredibly selfish and everyone is working with you to achieve your goals and all of a sudden everything goes to this tiny little person.
Also with the transition, you have ideas about how you are going to be as a mother. When you feel you are not meeting those expectations of yourself – enter mum guilt! Sleep was a big issue initially and I have grown so much in the past 14 months. Poppy throws tantrums and I see her learning – she is fun and right now it is more what I imagined – I’m more of a kids person than a baby person I think.
With Poppy being a girl, it has inspired me to be better and to be a better role model for her. As a mum want to give the world to them and as a mother of a daughter I feel that very strongly.
Some women after becoming a mum find their self-image has changed and they need to connect with the new direction of their lives. How have you handed this change?
Your self-image is lost on all levels – the person I thought I was has changed for me and I have started to say no. Previously I was a people pleaser and wanted to be everything to everyone. You can’t when you have a baby and need to look after them first. I have released how important it is to nourish myself otherwise I treat people badly and then don’t enjoy Poppy and my relationships. It’s so important to mange your mental health as mums will start to sacrifice the things that make them feel like them. It has to be about the baby at different times. I started to lose myself as I felt I had to sacrifice myself for her all of the time. I now realise that I can teach her to value herself by valuing myself.
I have noticed already when we talk about work life balance and having it all – it is a reflection on what is right for you at that time. That is constantly changing and what I found is that I check in with my husband Luke and ask “is he getting what he needs i.e. exercise, work, time with poppy and our relationships?” At different times you get more or and less time to yourself and it’s a constant juggle. You need to do enough to feel good in yourself, your relationship, and family life.
What does it mean to you, to nourish yourself?
A combination of things such as making sure I exercise regularly i.e. swimming or weight training. I’ve become interested in running and doing triathlons. I’m not exercising as much as I’d like to but for this period of time it’s not possible and that’s ok. I meditate daily, even if it’s just breathing for 3 minutes and concentrating on the breath. Just doing that is valuable for me as well as taking moments before I eat. I see a psychologist regularly and the most important is to have my own goals – goals for me that are separate to family goals or goals around Poppy and separate from my husband’s goals. It’s completely individual and coming from my background which is all goal-oriented – I have had to really nut out what my goals are and how I can work towards those.
There is so much mum guilt around whether you choose disposable or cloth nappies, breast or bottle feeding, co-sleeping or not, and the list goes on. You just have to work out what works best for your family and so as long as the child is loved and respected – it doesn’t matter what those little decisions are. So often women are forgotten along the way or forget themselves and have to remind themselves that they are still that person before bubs came along. It’s that reminder that we are not our thoughts – we have to create a life for ourselves in that moment and reflect on it at every point along the way.
What is the best thing about being a mum?
Now that Poppy is at an age where I can see her learning cognitively – I love watching her grow and evolve and become an individual. I look at her as an actual person now, not just a baby, and that’s what I love the most. I can’t wait to get to know her more and further develop our relationship.

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