VIP mum Amanda Keller
Picture of Amanda Keller

Along with her co-host Jonesy, Amanda  Keller is at the helm of the popular Breakfast Show on 101.7 WS-FM each weekday.

"Before I had kids I imagined the experience of motherhood turned you into a combination of Mother Theresa and Sir Edmund Hilary.

I’ve been surprised to discover that I’m still ‘me’."

Amanda Keller lives in the Sydney suburb of Coogee with her producer husband Harley Oliver and their two children Liam, 7 and Jack, 5.

Amanda, your television career began as a producer’s assistant. You are now a household name as co-host on 101.7 WS FM breakfast show, Jonesy and Amanda Keller. What has been your career highlight?

It’s hard to pick. I’m lucky in that I’ve loved every job I’ve had. Beyond 2000 was a blast and a great way to see the world. Working with my old uni friend, Andrew Denton, on TV and radio was scary, but it was also a wonderful plunge into the world of comedy. And now I get to hang out every day with my best friend, Jonesy, and talk about stuff that makes us laugh. I’m very lucky to have so many highlights.

Has it been a smooth transition from TV to radio?

It took a while to be completely comfortable with radio. Radio – or at least the style of radio we do – requires a lot of personal honesty. You are unmasked in a way that doesn’t happen when you’re on the telly. That’s the part I love most about it now, but it was also the hardest bit to conquer.

The nickname you have given yourself is Fun Bags. While you clearly delight in finding the funny side to life, is there anything you don’t find amusing?

There are a thousand things I don’t find amusing. This week, it’s Japanese whaling and the fact that my husband keeps taking my measuring jugs from the kitchen and using them in the fish tank.

As well as your busy workload at WS-FM, you are the patron of the Sydney Kids Committee. What was it that inspired you to lend your support to this particular charity?

It’s all about the timing. When my youngest son was born we flew up to Brisbane to introduce him to my mum and dad. While we were there our eldest, Liam, had a kind of seizure in the car. His eyes rolled back in his head, and his neck went stiff. It was terrifying. We rushed to hospital fearing it was meningococcal and they gave him an emergency lumbar puncture. It turned out the seizure was the result of a temperature spike, and all was well, but it was the worst day of our lives. My heart went out to the other families at the hospital who weren’t getting such a happy result. The day we got back I was contacted by the committee. It was as if I was given a chance to say thanks to the universe and I jumped at it.

As a working mother of two, if you had just one wish (no matter how fanciful) to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

Paid maternity leave for mums or dads would make life easier for families and encourage more of us to have babies. I also think it’s important to provide classes on how to look after children once they’re born! Birth classes are one thing, but getting a child to learn to eat and sleep improves the lives [of everyone in the family] for the better.

Is it possible to have it all? How well do you juggle your work/life balance?

I think it’s possible to have it all, but I think you have to be realistic on what “it all” is. I doubt you can feel fulfilled as a mother if your job has you travelling away from home six months of the year. But within the normal bounds of job and home, I think we can find a space where most needs are met. As a working mum, no matter how much time you give your kids, it’s easy to feel it’s not enough. But don’t beat yourself up about it or you’ll get no pleasure from work or home.

Do you think your children would prefer you spent more time with them?

I’m sure they would but in no way are they deprived of my company. They feel loved and secure enough to be happy without me in their faces all day.

What's your top parenting tip?

I love the power of spin. When we were trying to teach Jack to use a spoon, he wasn’t interested. I found an old camping spoon and said it was a very special spoon called the Steve Irwin spoon. From then on he was desperate to find and use the “special” spoon.

Can you tell us about the last really good giggle you shared with your children?

I was shopping with Liam last weekend. He’s trying to read signs and words out loud at the moment. He said: “Here’s a sticker Mum”. Without realising it was a Family Guy sticker, I said “What does it say?” Liam read out at the top of his voice: “I’d love to stay and chat but you’re a complete bitch!”  When he saw the look of horror on my face, he burst into tears. I explained it was a rude word and then we all collapsed laughing.

If there was something you would change if you had your time over – what    would it be?

I’d never have bought a particular jacket in the ‘80s that had shoulder pads the size of saddles. I looked like I was carrying a sofa.

How do you and your partner/husband keep the romance alive?

When you’re tired, busy and cranky I must say your relationship gets shoved aside. We can go for weeks where the only conversation we have is the important stuff about the kids we need to pass on to each other.  So every couple of weeks, we try and head out for a quiet dinner down the road where we share a bottle of wine, sit opposite each other at a table and talk!

What chore do you simply despise?

Changing the doona cover. I can’t stand it. I’m also bad at throwing stuff out.

What is that you love most about being a mum?

I get such a feeling of awe and pride when I see my kids’ clean and healthy bodies in their flannelette PJs after their bath. And I get blown away when they delight or surprise me with a comment. I love their brains.

Is your partner ‘hands-on’ around the house?

Absolutely. Despite the fact Harley can’t seem to close a cupboard door to save himself, he is fantastic in most areas of domesticity. And he’s amazing with the boys.

How do you handle it when your children behave in a way that is challenging or inappropriate?

It’s tough.  I know consistency is the key, and if you make a threat you have to follow through. This is the bit I’m bad at. My kids are pretty well-behaved, and certainly know if they’ve stepped over the line. However, having said that, I do tend to bribe them a lot.

Do you find it easy to ask for practical support from family and friends?

Harley and I have no family in Sydney, which is tough. We pretty much have to pay for help every time we leave the house without the children. I’m not good at asking friends for help.

What has been your greatest personal sacrifice since becoming a mum?

The hardest thing for me has been giving up the chance to lie down and read a book.  That’s what I miss.

How often do you take time out for yourself?

I try and force myself to go to the gym twice a week. Jack will sometimes say “don’t go”, but I think I’m allowed to do something for myself. If you give in to everyone else’s demands all the time, you’re not living your life.

How has the experience of motherhood changed you?

Before I had kids I imagined the experience of motherhood turned you into a combination of Mother Theresa and Sir Edmund Hilary.  I’ve been surprised to discover that I’m still ‘me’. I’m still impatient, still lazy, domestically – all the things I was before. But I feel a little vulnerable now. There are two little things in my life that I love above all else, and now the world can hurt me.