Ingrid Hipkiss’ career has been as changeable as the New Zealand weather she fronts on 3 News each night, and as a working mum, she’s had to adapt.
Ingrid has done the full circuit on the TV3 news team – presenting Sunrise, Nightline, covering politics, reporting for 3 News and now presenting the weather – all while juggling caring for her sons, six-year-old Hunter and Brody (3).
While she’s on TV, her cameraman fiancé Jack Tarrant is in charge of the “witching hour” – bathtime and bedtime. Ingrid admits she gets off lightly, missing the difficult time of the parenting day and enjoying a job she never imagined she’d love so much, but she also misses precious moments such as reading bedtime stories.
“Hunter is the one that really notices that I’m not home. He said to me the other day, ‘I miss you at night’ and I said ‘I miss you, too,’ and he said, ‘Why are you always smiling on TV, then?’
“I miss those candid moments when the kids are telling me about their day. I feel a bit guilty that Jack has the hard end of the day, although I know about that from when I worked mornings.”
Catch Ingrid on the way to school drop-off and she’s likely to be dressed in jeans, T-shirt and jandals, looking less glamorous than her on-screen persona. The 41-year-old, who almost never wears dresses or skirts except on TV, says mornings are the time of day she treasures the most.
It’s her chance to talk to sports-mad Hunter about his day ahead and to play with Brody, who is showing his artistic side. Her evening work also allows her to help at Hunter’s school before she heads into the newsroom at midday.
“When I signed up for mother help, I thought ‘I’ll do the right thing and help out’, but it’s become a highlight of my week. You can tell Hunter’s chuffed and likes knowing I’m there.
“I’m doing things like guillotining and reading to the kids. Six is such a lovely age, they’re all so nice and seem to love learning,” says Ingrid.
Having tried being a stay-at-home mum for two years when the family lived in Tokyo (where Jack played for Japan’s national rugby team), Ingrid says that being a working mum is the right choice for her.
“Those two years in Japan were an exercise in mental toughness. Hunter was just a baby and it was isolating being in another country.
“I really struggled. I had to give myself a talking to each day to make sure I absorbed the experience and enjoyed being overseas. I missed the buzz of working with people.
“If there was any justice, all stay-at-home parents would be on a six-figure salary and five weeks’ annual leave and a car thrown in – it’s so hard.”
This year Ingrid worked through the New Year while Jack and the kids spent time with their grandparents.
Although she was working, having a week away from family responsibilities felt like holiday. She missed the kids terribly, but read “two years’ worth” of books and watched DVDs.
She has now resolved to look after herself more. “All mums are working mums and if you look at your day, and observe many hours you spend doing something just for yourself, it’s often very few.
“As a parent, if you are not doing something for someone else, it feels like you are on borrowed time. I catch myself thinking, ‘I’ll just quickly go to the toilet, then I’ll do that task.’ What am I thinking? That’s not exactly being indulgent!
“I’m going to give myself permission to do things that serve no purpose other than giving me time for myself. It will make me a better person and an even better mum.”
Photos: MICHELLE HYSLOP • hair & make-up: LUISA PETCH • STYLING: SONIA GREENSLADE •