VIP mum Kate Ceberano

Kate Ceberano's career straddles more than two decades.

The sultry Aussie songstress, who first sprang to prominence at age 15 as the lead singer of I'm Talking, has since sold in excess of one million albums in Australia.

Kate, the ambassador for breast cancer in Victoria, is married to filmmaker Lee Rogers, also 40, and the couple have one child, daughter Gypsy, aged 3.

The ‘80s was a real golden age for pop. Why are you so nostalgic about this era?

I think that a lot of male writers in particular were more overtly romantic during the 80s. I'm not sure why, but bands such as Madness, Simple Minds and Psychedelic Furs just had this familiar tone. Other female singers of that time also had a keener sense of nostalgia: Kate Bush, Chrissie Hynde ... they all sang songs loaded with significance. And, whether literal or obscure, it all seemed to make so much more sense to me than a lot of the current paint-by-numbers, top-of-the-charts crap you hear today.

You named an album after the house you grew up in. Can you give us a snapshot of your family life at 9 Lime Avenue.

I grew up in a rough-and-tumble orchard house that had literally once been a lime orchard. It was flanked by an Orange and a Citrus St. We had a creek down the road and I had a horse (for a New York least until I discovered boys). My grandparents lived with us and my grandmother pretty much raised us while mum and dad worked. We were pretty poor...but I didn't feel I wanted for anything. I had two elder brothers [Paul and Phil], who begrudgingly looked after their kid sister and kept me out of mischief. Phil was learning to play guitar and I was playing the piano and we had primitive jams with the neighbourhood kids. We would play ourselves into a coma and then start all over again. I was into Blondie and the B52s and Kate Bush was my all-time favourite. I also loved The Pretenders and Bow Wow Wow!

You were performing at clubs at the age of 15; your grandparents, who lived with you, were nudists and from all accounts you had quite a bohemian upbringing. Describe your own parenting style?

My grandparents were considered bohemian, but by today's standards, I guess still pretty conservative. But they didn't restrain us from our own possessions or expression. For instance if something was given to us, it belonged to us and if you chose to love or destroy it, it was entirely up to you. We were given license to communicate and contribute to the family group. Dinners always began with the question, ‘So tell us about your day?". We were expected to be self-respecting. I think I may be fairly liberal and I know I spoil Gypsy, hard not to with one kid. I would have had, or rather feel I should have had more children. I always felt it was the correct thing to do to create siblings.
I feel like I will be too old when Gypsy's life just begins to really kick in...oh well, these are the choices we make!

Given your passion to revive the songs from that decade, do your fetishes extend to the fashions of the time, such as the mullet or PVC vests?

No, mohicans and hessian skirts were my penchant.

With challenges such as releasing albums, appearing on TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars how well do you juggle your work/life balance?

It's a little tough, but  I have a lot of help juggling the lot. My husband helps in despite his heavy schedule (he is a successful commercial and feature film director). My mother helps and my stepfather is also my tour manager. We all put in and I feel happy in the knowledge that there is always one close family member looking after Gypsy.

Is it possible to have it all?

There was a time I thought that it would be impossible to have a family and a career and I would have children earlier if I hadn't been living under this misconception.

I feel I was influenced by my environment (I was living in LA at the time) and the idea that time was not of my creation, simply something that I had to obey...everything was. "Have to do this now, mustn't waste time. If I lose this opportunity now it may never come again." I'd wake up in a cold sweat trying to second-guess the future. The minute I changed my mind about that I could suddenly see a little clearer into the future. Now I believe you can have it all....though you have to have some semblance of reality when you say ALL! I create more than I can cope with and thankfully accomplish most of my dreams. It's a constant balancing act... but family is always first!

Do you think Gypsy wishes you spent more time with her?

I suppose so, but I think she also has an interesting and exciting life because of the activity surrounding her. I am constantly monitoring her and adjusting my life if I feel she wants more of me.

If you just had one wish to change something in Australia to better support being a 21st century parent, what would that be?

I'm sorry; I've never even thought about it....I wouldn't know what I could ask for. I guess more childcare support... for those who work a 9am to 5pm job, but I'm afraid my life is not like that and never has been so I have nothing to compare myself to (other than other touring mothers).

What's your top parenting tip?

I'm convinced that no joy can be had for the child or parent if too much sugar is available at me a hippy but that stuff is evil. I think the way to go is to give the kids real food, such as sausages or sandwiches, something with protein that is all fussed up to look special. Organic popcorn and other light snacks should also be on offer so that when the cake arrives, they don't scoff it and go berserk.

Children can be pretty self-regulating if the right foods are delivered in the right sequence

Can you tell us about your last big family giggle?

The other day I was playing the piano and Gypsy went to the library and picked up and book and held it up (as though singing from a hymn book) and very solemnly made up a song. Lee and I were practically exploding with laughter and she with her poker face soldiered on.

If you had your time over, is there anything you would change?

Nothing! Je ne regretted rien...

How do you and Lee keep the romance alive?

We go and have a dinner out and get a nanny to stay over and we spend a naughty night away in a beautiful boutique hotel. This is always after having put her to bed though so she doesn't notice that we're gone.

What chore do you simply despise?

I find cleaning relaxing

Is Lee hands-on around the house?

No, but he is incredible at distracting Gypsy if there are sudden work commitments, such as a breakfast radio interview that I had forgotten all about, while I'm right in the middle of making Gypsy's lunch for preschool, cooking her bacon and eggs and deciding what clothes to take to the gig later that day.

What is it that you love most about being a mum?

That I feel important to her and my every action counts. There is no longer fat to my day, it's lean, swift choices that I have to make and be willing to change to suit her.

It has removed any temptation toward complacency. I'm never bored and there have been times in my life when I was bored...which is poison to a creative person is.

How do you handle it when Gypsy behaves in a way that is challenging or inappropriate?

I do what every mother does ... make it up as I go along and try everything until till something works...

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

Idle conversations with girlfriends about absolutely nothing and going to the movies with my hubbie and holding hands. (That's what we did on our first date.)

How often do you take time out for yourself?

I'm lucky my life has intervals during the day to do little things like looking in shop windows and having brunch in a cafés or simply daydreaming long enough to write a new song idea. I think I am pretty lucky.

How has the experience of motherhood changed you?

I'm more able to roll with the punches...I also am happier than I've ever been in my life.
That "right-down-to-your-bones" kinda happy. I hadn't realised I had been living to get here and now that I'm here I'm sooooooo glad I got to have this and didn't miss out...I nearly did!