By Melissa Meehan
Anna Du Rieu is not your average influencer.
The Brighton East mum of three actually tells it how it is and gives a warts and all view into the world of parenting.
“I run a blog, obviously, that is an honest parenting blog, and it shows my everyday life,” she told Kids Today.
“It’s none of these organised mess-free, clean floors kind of gig, it’s the mayhem of every day, which I think is why I have such a following, because it is so brutally honest.”
The self-proclaimed “hot mess” uses her aptly named Instagram page @thenotsoperfectmum, to share her experiences with her almost 60,000 followers.
She’s got followers from all around Australia, but the majority are from Victoria.
Anna is a typical modern-age stay at home mum, she works from home and looks after her three kids, Dominic, 5, Reuben, 3, and eight-month-old Rachel.
She runs a business creating sensory kits for kids, which she started two years ago after posting some of the activities she was doing with her own kids online.
“Everyone used to ask what I was doing, where I saw stuff from, and then a few people were asking me to make them for them and I said, ‘absolutely I can make them for you’,” she said.
“And I realised there was a business there – there was nothing similar on the market at that time here or overseas.”
She and her husband Joseph even joked that she might get 10 orders a month and she could just buy a little extra when she made stuff for her own kids.
They assumed it would be a hobby.
She set up the website and shared the post on her Instagram.
“It went nuts, like actually gangbusters from the moment we launched. Within 15 minutes of me launching the post on Instagram I had 17 subscription models already purchased,” she said.
“It was hilarious. We couldn’t believe it.”
And it hasn’t stopped since.
It’s a lot of work, especially juggling three kids.
And, thanks to Covid-19 (and Anna’s propensity to be a bit of a control freak) she no longer can rely on staff.
On the flip side, Covid-19 resulting in a huge increase in sales.
“Every time Australia got locked down, it was just madness. I can’t remember the exact figures, Joseph said it was something like four or five times what I would usually get in a month in a day,” she said.
“People were locked in their houses and needed something to stimulate the kids.”
While she worked in real estate before having kids, Anna has no real teaching background but was able to bounce her ideas off her best friend (who is a teacher) as well as pick the brains of family members.
“My step mum was a teacher, my mum, my mother-in-law, and my Auntie, are both heavily involved in child education,” she said.
“My grandmother and my Nana actually brought in the Montessori School in South Australia.
“And the Montessori school logo – that’s my brother’s hands.”
She plans to go back and do some further study as her passion grows.
But it hasn’t been an easy ride.
“I was working until like three or 4am in the morning and then the kids would wake up at six,” she said.
“Joseph would ask what time I came to bed and I wouldn’t have.”
But she has worked at finding a better balance.
“It was really overwhelming but it was also, for me, having been a mum and going from a pretty corporate position where I was organising people’s lives. I was used to always been busy so I kind of missed that, and really stimulated me and I actually found that I became a better mum because I had a distraction from cleaning nappies and doing the dishwasher,” she said.
“I had my own thing and I could work from home and it just worked. It’s definitely not for everyone because it’s, it’s a lot like you don’t sleep and your house is always full of stock.”
And that’s all part of her charm.
Anna’s followers can resonate with the fact that her house isn’t always clean, that she’s exhausted and trying to balance a billion things – just like most other mums.
It’s quite the departure from your more well-known mummy bloggers – and it’s on purpose.
“If you’re a first time mum, it’s quite isolating actually seeing all these people like absolutely killing it and having babies and sleep, and all that stuff,” she said.
“I actually started my account, because Dominic was the worst sleeper.
“He used to not sleep longer than 40 minutes for the first hour. I think it was like 10 months of his life. It was horrible.”
She took him to sleep school and found it traumatic.
“I read a post by quite a well-known media person who had pretty much said that if you went to sleep school you were a s#!@ mum,” Anna said.
“So I commented, I really like following this account but I don’t think its fair to say that someone is a crap mum because they want their kids to sleep – sleep deprivation is actually a form of torture.
“I thought I was super chill, very measured – but she and her minions came after me and I thought this isn’t fair.”
So Anna started her own Instagram page solely to balance the negative and fake things out there.
And that’s where the name @thenotsoperfect mum came from.
She started with a small following, but it soon grew into something much bigger.
At the start she shared everything, but as it grew she became more mindful of her influence and other people’s headspace.
“I try not to let that stuff impact what I’m sharing but say for example, you know, like I’m really careful about not sharing any of the kids in like a private environment so like I would never show them with no clothes on, or if it’s an intimate moment like they’re having a breakdown or something like that,” she said.
“I need to respect my children’s boundaries and their life, and I would hate for them to turn around when they’re 15 and be like, why the hell did you show that.”
It also opens her up to others providing commentary on her life.
Some accuse her of favouring her youngest, Rachel, although as the boys get older Anna is making a conscious effort not to have the camera constantly in their faces.
“Next year when Dom goes to school, he’ll go off the blog, even more because I need to respect that I don’t want people knowing where he goes to school,” she said.
“I try not to let those comments change my content because if what I’m posting isn’t authentic then people pick up on it straight away.
“It’s my life and it can be messy.”