Have you ever wanted to star on a reality show but your kids stopped you?
Before having my daughter I really, really wanted to appear on The Block. My love of renovation and building inspired me to apply a few years in a row. Finally something stopped me.
It was called pregnancy.
The thought of three whole months away from my daughter… I just couldn’t imagine it. I’d miss her too much, and worry. I’m pretty sure I’d be hospitalised from worry-itus.
Project manager Michael and wife Carlene, a communications officer, made the ultimate sacrifice as parents. The Gold Coast couple left their two kids, son Paddy (5) and daughter Stella (3), to go and chase their renovating dreams on national TV on The Block.
I caught up with Michael and Carlene to chat about just how hard it is to be so far away from your little ones, and more importantly, how they manage it.
You guys have such fantastic taste. Where do you get it from? Like the garden under the stairs — that’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!
Michael: I think in past series’ everyone’s used vertical gardens and we wanted to change it up a bit. As you walk in through the front door it really hits you.
Carlene: And there isn’t much cleaning involved. It’s self watering, which is great, and it’s all contained in the garden bed nicely. There’s only one entry point into the garden so it’s not too much of an issue if a little one moves into the apartment.
What’s your biggest tip for a couple who are looking at renovating?
C: Michael and I have quite different styles, so we had to merge them.
M: And by “merge”, she means we do what she wants!
Actually, I’m building a house with my husband at the moment, and we had a big argument recently which I won, because he said “I give up, you do what you want, I’ll just live in it!”
C: I think the best thing to do before you go into it is research what styles you both like.
On the show it’s obvious that you two completely divide the responsibilities. Is that the best way to manage?
C: Yes, we have to! It was the best way to get through unscathed and still married. If we worked together all day every day, we’d have a problem.
Now I saw a photo of you guys with your beautiful children in the paper last weekend. What did you get for Father’s Day, Michael?
M: They got me a little shaving kit which they bought at school and they made a little card which said “love you to pieces”.
Do you have tips for parents who have dreams of going on a reality TV show? How do you manage with kids?
C: Firstly, choose your reality show wisely! Then you have to have a very good plan in place because it is brutal being away from them and it is a massive team effort.
We were lucky enough to have my best friend move in to our house with her family. So the kids were really well cared for and they were in their own home with their own routine. Then both of our families got on board because they live up the road; they helped with school drop off and soccer training. But I did leave a 30 page manual!
So if you win The Block, you’ll have a lot of childcare fees to pay out of the winnings?
M: Yeah, we probably won’t get much out of it!
Is it fun to be a part of the show?
M: Yes, it’s definitely fun! We really enjoyed our time there in Melbourne; we were with great people, both cast and crew. And even though it was hard being away from the kids, at the end of the day it’s all worth it.
So you’ve obviously finished filming and you’re back on the Gold Coast, how have you gone getting back into normal life? Are you glad you’re home?
M: No, I’m still moping around…
C: Michael got post-Block depression! But I’ve been able to get back into normal life. But is a strange thing deciding what to do next, because we’re like every family. We need an income.
Well, you’re both so easy to cheer for, so good luck!
The Block Glasshouse airs weeknights on Channel 9 at 7:30pm (and 6:30pm on Sundays).