Photography Olivia Fitzpatrick.
From the outside, Matilda Green’s life looks like a fairy tale. She met her prince, Art Green, on TV’s The Bachelor, got married and now has two children, a boy, Milo, 3, and a girl, Autumn, 5 months.
Living the good life after trading Auckland city for a semi-rural lifestyle in Warkworth, they couldn’t be happier.
Green, 31, agrees that life has been pretty good so far. She often wonders what her life would be like if she hadn’t gone on The Bachelor. Most likely she’d be climbing the corporate ladder in media. Instead, the media spotlight has swung onto her life – and mostly that has been positive, though there have been times when Green has copped some flack, which she is learning to take in her stride.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Obviously everybody has, but mine have been pretty public,” she says. “I find that if I turn off my phone and don’t look at any media, then it’s not there. I just take a break from my phone, have a breather, take a couple of days to ground myself, then deal with it. That makes all the difference in terms of negativity on social media, because it’s really stressful. If there’s an online angry mob coming after you, it can feel very overwhelming.”
Green’s way of processing is to think about what has happened and what she can learn from it to evolve as a person, “because we’re always evolving”.
“We take our mistakes, we learn from them and we grow as a person and that’s life. It’s just a shame that now in the society that we live in, people’s mistakes are online forever and there’s nothing you can do about it,” she says. “That is just something that we are going to have to deal with and say, ‘okay, well I know that I have grown and evolved since then’. And, the people around me know too. At the end of the day the opinions of your family and friends matter, not people that don’t know you. [The opinions of people on Instagram] are actually invalid because they have an opinion of a few photos on Instagram and a few videos. And that’s not a whole person. That’s the thing we should remember.”
Letting go of façades
Green is not afraid to be goofy on the gram. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is partly what makes her so likeable. But in recent years, she has recognised that being a people-pleaser has been a key theme throughout her life.
“I grew up being quite a people pleaser. I really wanted to be liked and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve tried to let go of that and figure out who I really am without other people’s validation,” she says.
“Because Instagram is such a big part of our lives, I wonder subconsciously, have I sort of moulded myself a little bit to be this version of me that I think people want me to be? So I’ve done a lot of internal work in figuring out exactly who I am without anyone else’s opinion and what that looks like.”
What she has realised is that she doesn’t have the energy to be a people-pleaser anymore, especially now that she is a mum.
“I’ve got a very small amount of spare energy because all my energy goes on Milo and Autumn. In my spare time, I just want to be myself and have fun, and to do what I want to do,” she says. “I want to nurture myself and I don’t want to have to be a certain version of myself or have to keep up any façades.”
She wishes that everybody was a bit more real sometimes and not so worried about having the perfect this or that.
“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on Instagram to balance out the highlights with the lowlights now. Because social media is shoved down our throats all the time, it’s distorting our view of other people’s lives because people only want to share happy moments, which I think is completely natural,” she says.
“Now people’s solution to that is to force other people into sharing vulnerable moments or their bad days. But I just want people to share what they feel like sharing and be authentic about it. To not think, ‘oh, I’m upset. I’m going to share that because that’s going to balance this out’. Just be, don’t think so much about what other people want from you.”
The same goes for beauty and the Instagram effect. Green has huge concerns about the effect of “beauty filters” that purport to enhance your image. “The silly ones are fun, but the ones where it’s improving your face somehow, I don’t think that’s right. Especially when there are young girls using Instagram and they are going to think, ‘that’s how I’m supposed to look to be attractive’,” she says.
“For me beauty in human terms is someone who is just totally unafraid to be themselves, unfiltered and unapologetically, because we live in a very filtered world. I’m drawn to that wonderful energy people bring when they are true to themselves and they’re confident. I find that far more interesting than a perfectly put together outfit or filtered photo on Instagram.”
Five years ago Green was the face of a Jockey campaign which meant she had to pose in her underwear. Despite being incredibly nervous about putting her body out there, she embraced the opportunity.
“I still kind of laugh about that now because I was so nervous,” she says. “But now I’ve realised that it just doesn’t matter. Bodies change all the time. Women’s bodies come in so many different shapes and sizes and as body inclusivity becomes so much more normalised I care less and less about that sort of thing.”
She recently posted an Insta-story of her doing a post-pregnancy workout. As she was about to post it she was caught by the thought ‘oh God, this is really unflattering. I really do not look good in this video’, but then she thought, ‘this is the reality. This is my body after having kids. It’s changed. It’s a very different body to how it was five years ago, but that’s okay’. So she hit ‘post’.
“It was actually really cool, the messages I got from other mums – like, ‘I’m going to start moving too’ and ‘it’s nice to see a normal post-baby body’. That really hit home and I thought, ‘you really don’t see a lot of that’.”
But she acknowledges body positivity also has a flipside. “I think one downside of the body positivity movement is the fact that it can incite a bit of guilt. And if you do feel a bit crap some days, and think ‘oh God, I feel like I want to get back in shape’ – you feel crap about feeling that. You start thinking, ‘oh, well, that’s not very accepting of me and now I’m doing the wrong thing by worrying about this’.
“Sometimes it’s okay to get down on things and think, actually I do want to change that. I do want to start working out a bit to lose a bit of the excess weight. And that’s fine. I feel like we should just stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and just get back into exercise when we feel like it. If you feel like crap, cool. And you’re going do something about it, okay. If you don’t, that’s fine too.”
A big way of practising self-love for Green is being aware of her inner critic.
“If I’m feeling a bit out of balance or just a bit blah, I become very aware of the voice in my head getting more and more negative,” she says. “So I think the best thing that I can do to take care of myself is to change that voice because it’s easy to get drawn into it and not be so aware of it. But as soon as I become aware of it, I think, ‘right, that’s not good. I’m going to stop thinking like that and talking to myself like that. I’m going to try and turn that around in my mind’, because sometimes it’s telling you that you’re unattractive or a bad parent or you sounded dumb saying that’. I think it’s really important to change that voice to a voice of compassion instead of a voice of judgement.”
Self-love also equals self-care, which she has found increasingly important since becoming a mum. An introvert at heart, Green knows she needs time completely alone to recharge, which is hard when you’ve got two small children.
“I don’t get a lot of alone time but I make sure I prioritise it. If I’m feeling a little bit stressed or overwhelmed or just scrambled in any way, I just say to Art, I have to go and read a book outside for a bit, or go for a walk or drive down to the park and sit in the park for a while.”
She also practices Vedic meditation, even if that means meditating in bed before she gets up. “When I don’t meditate or prioritise meditation I’m a lot closer to the edge of what I can handle,” she admits. “By prioritising meditation and calming down my system as much as possible I find I’m a better parent. I don’t get so stressed or drawn into tantrums and situations like that. I can just be the calm, loving parent that I want to be.”
She admits fitting meditation into her day is definitely a challenge and would be impossible if she couldn’t tag-team with Art. Ideally, Vedic is a twice-daily practice.
Mental and physical wellbeing
Green has also discovered that getting dressed up for the day impacts her mental wellbeing, especially during lockdown.
“If I just wear tights and jumpers and pyjamas all day, I end up feeling pretty average. So even just showering, washing my hair, putting on a bit of make-up and getting dressed for the day makes a huge difference to my mental health,” she says. “I’m like, ‘okay, I feel somewhat put together. I’ve made the bed. I’ve made myself. I’m ready to go’.”
Since giving birth to Autumn, Green has slowly been easing back into exercise – rolling out the yoga mat and pulling a few cards from her Yoga Deck to guide
her through some sun salutations. On days where she is feeling stronger, she might do some weighted squats or resistance training but mostly she likes to stretch or go for a walk. “I just try and make that time to move my body somehow.”
She has discovered that her body thrives on gentle exercise as opposed to high-intensity workouts.
“I think it really comes down to the type of person that you are in terms of what exercise you can do. I have some friends who go to F45 six days a week
and they love it and that’s awesome. Whereas I can’t do high-intensity all the time because it just stresses me out.”
Instead she prefers exercise like Pilates or yoga and the odd strength training, but mostly going for walks.
“I find that’s enough for me to maintain muscle mass and my mental health and happiness. It depends where you sit on the stress scale and what feels right for you. It’s not necessarily sweating as much as you can to get the most reward. You’ve just got to feel it out as you go.”
Matilda’s beauty secrets
In her first book, The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Living a Beautiful Life, she includes some of her life hacks, beauty tips and DIY recipes, which she still uses.
Her Matoodles Hair Mask helps make her hair soft and thick, while her body exfoliator recipe – olive oil and sea salt – smooths and hydrates the skin.
She believes that maintaining healthy skin is the key to looking radiant and feeling confident, though she acknowledges that when she published her book back in 2017 in her 20s, she was possibly “a little bit on her high horse” as her skin is different now, especially after having two babies.
Her top tip for beautiful skin is to drink more water. “I notice a huge difference if I’m dehydrated and I’ve had a few days of not prioritising water intake and running around after the kids. I find that my skin looks a bit grey and dull, but all it takes is one or two days of prioritising water intake to see a huge difference. It just looks a lot more alive and plump and has colour in it.”
Her best beauty hack is using almond or coconut oil as a cleanser and make-up remover. “People spend so much money on make-up removers or make-up wipes, which are full of horrific chemicals and terrible for the environment. But really you just put a tablespoon of coconut oil in your hands, let it melt in the warmth of your palms, rub it on, then just wipe off with a damp cloth and it takes off all your make-up including waterproof mascara, and it’s something you’ve probably got in your kitchen anyway,” she says.
The ultimate product in Green’s beauty kit is Trilogy Rosehip Oil which she has been a fan of for more than 10 years and uses as her daily moisturiser. She’s also a fan of Jeuneora’s Age Defying Daily Serum because “it smells heavenly” and she “can see an instant lift in her skin”, and Emma Lewisham’s “incredible” Supernatural Night Crème with Collagen and Pentavitin.
“Because you’re investing money in these things, you want to know that they’re actually doing something,” she says.
Over summer she tries not to exfoliate her skin as much. Her theory is the skin does a really good job of building up a barrier and can help protect you from the sun up to a point. “I try and use that as my main SPF, but if I am going to be out in the sun for a good few hours or for a day at the beach, then I’ll put an SPF on and wear a hat to cover my face,” says Green.
“I do try and get a little bit of sun on my face as well, without any sunscreen, but I’m very careful about that. And I just make sure to do it outside the peak hours and just build up a few minutes at a time because obviously, we’ve got to be so careful in New Zealand. At the same time I feel like now we’re sort of afraid of the sun. We’re now starting to realise how important sunlight and vitamin D is for our health so I think we need to find a little bit of balance in terms of safe sun exposure but just not being silly about it.”
The zen den
Recently, the Greens converted a storage room under their house into a “zen den” complete with a sauna and ice bath. It’s a calming space with a view looking out to the trees and very private.
It’s “Art’s heaven” and was installed when Green was three months pregnant, so she had to wait more than six months before she could use it.
Now, she mostly uses the sauna, which she finds is also great for her skin, though sometimes when she is feeling anxious she’ll go and put her face in the ice bath which “helps to calm [her] nervous system”. She has also taken to having cold showers in the morning, which she has found helps with her anxiety levels, especially during lockdown.
“My anxiety has just been creeping up slowly because obviously there are so many unknowns at the moment. It’s a very bizarre time, and I find that a cold shower brings me completely back to the centre, and then I go into the day feeling a lot more grounded and not so scrambled. It’s like an instant cleanse,” she explains. “I have found that it’s a lot easier to start with a warm shower and then slowly get it colder and colder and colder and then do 30 seconds or a minute of really cold at the end because that’s a bit easier than stepping into a cold shower.”
From town to country
Since moving to Warkworth three years ago, the couple can’t imagine living anywhere else and love the warm community and lifestyle.
Both her deliveries were also at home, which she found really special. Prior to her first home birth with Milo, she did a lot of research because she heard a lot of stories that were negative and traumatic.
“I just thought, in a perfect world, if I took fear completely out of the equation, where would I want to give birth? Where would I feel safest and most relaxed and comfortable. Is that hospital or is it at home? And for me, it was hands down home,” says Green. “Obviously it’s different for everyone. Some people would feel far more comfortable and relaxed at hospital but I’m really glad I stuck to my guns on that because I got a lot of unwanted advice and people saying, ‘oh, well, what if something goes wrong?’ And obviously that can happen.”
For that reason she had a backup plan and made sure that she had a hospital bag packed. “I trusted my body. I trusted my preparation and my midwife and made sure that she was on board with my plan. I said to her, ‘if you have any whiff of anything going wrong, err on the side of caution and we’ll go to hospital’ and she was totally on board with that.”
It was also a nice feeling to have everyone on her turf. At home she felt like she was the boss and found that really empowering. “I felt like ‘I’m the one doing the job. Everyone here is supporting me’ and I think that made a huge difference. I felt so strong and empowered,” she says.
Her delivery with Autumn was more difficult than with Milo, which she puts down to not working hard enough on her mindset. Before Milo’s birth she did all sorts of training – calm birth workshops, reading hypnobirthing books, practicing breathing for months and visualisation every day. She felt very prepared and believes that made a huge difference to her labour.
“With Autumn, I thought, ‘I’ve done all that. It’ll be sweet’ – but it wasn’t really, and I had to work a lot harder to find the strength to get through. I couldn’t really find the mindset the second time,” she says. “I remember thinking when I was really far along ‘I don’t want to do it. This is too hard’. But there was another part of my brain that was like, ‘there literally is no other option. It’s too late to go to hospital. It’s too late to do anything else. No one else can do it for you. The only way is to just go through it’. And that’s when I was like, ‘okay, I’m just going to get this done’. And I did obviously, but it was a challenge.”
And while Autumn’s birth was by no means traumatic Green acknowledges that traumatic births are a real thing that she believes we should be talking about more. “People will say, ‘oh, people always share their really terrible birth stories’. And I think that’s because we don’t get a lot of options to kind of debrief such an intense experience, especially if you had a traumatic birth,” she says. “You just kind of wash over it. People are like, ‘Okay. Well, you’ve been through that. That’s done. Time to be a parent’. So, you almost don’t get that time to talk about it and work through it in your mind. I think that’s why people are so quick to share negative birth stories because they need to process it.”
Green also found pregnancy harder than she expected. “The main takeaway that I got from pregnancy is that you can be exponentially grateful for something and still not necessarily love it,” she says. “I felt guilty for not enjoying every single stage of pregnancy because it was hard and I was sick for a really long time for both pregnancies, but I was still so grateful that I was able to be pregnant. I felt pretty shitty a lot of the time and I was very excited to get to the labour point. So I think we should just accept that sometimes you don’t have to enjoy the whole thing and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your babies or that you’re not grateful.”
Since becoming a mum, Green has been surprised by how much she can give, and having two little people that rely on her has changed her on many levels. She doesn’t care about anyone else’s opinions and would do anything for her children.
“All I want is for them to be healthy and happy and that’s my priority. And this is where my happiness is. My happiness is here with my kids and with my husband and I’ve just been amazed at how much love I can give and how much love I can take from these guys as well.”
At this time in her life Green is embracing being a homemaker and believes we should put more value on that as a society. “In the quest to do everything, have careers, be a mum, do all of the stuff that women can do, I feel like we have lost the value of being a mum and a homemaker which is a full-time job in itself,” she says. “I hear so many mums say, ‘oh, ‘I’m just a mum’. No, you’re not just an anything, you’re raising the next generation and that generation are going to have a huge impact. It’s a big job and it’s something to be proud of.
“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on women now to do everything all the time, whereas I think it’s okay if you don’t want everything at the same time. It’s okay if you focus on your career, it’s okay if you focus on being a mum. You shouldn’t feel the pressure of other people to be doing all of these different things all at once because it’s pretty tough. Just one is a lot of work, let alone all of them.”
Green is happy with the direction that her life has taken, but says there’s no big secret to the happiness she and Art share.
“It’s just that we are so well-suited to each other and we are such a good team. We have really good communication. If ever there’s an issue or we’re unhappy with something, we bring it up straight away and we know each other so well, we know when there’s an issue before it’s a big thing,” she says. “And I think we just totally got lucky that we found each other, essentially a soulmate, on TV. I mean, that’s so rare. It’s a game of odds really. Just because there are 24 women in a room, it doesn’t mean that one of them is going to be the person that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.”
As a couple they bounce a lot of things off each other. When Green is feeling overwhelmed or doesn’t know what to do about something, she’ll talk to Art about it.
“He gives great advice because he thinks very differently to me and helps me see things from a different perspective. I tend to overthink things and get really drawn into them whereas he helps me step back and see the bigger picture.”
They also complement each other in the kitchen and both love to cook. And while they are big fans of the paleo diet, they have loosened up on that a bit over the years and now take a more wholefood approach. They have cut down on their meat consumption too. At home, they grow their own food, compost, buy only free-range meat and are passionate about being as self-sufficient at possible.
Their favourite go-to dish is chicken Marbella, though what you’ll find on the table most nights is some sort of protein with broccoli and kumara fries.
Since becoming parents, the couple have chosen a conscious parenting philosophy.
“We put love first in our house so we want to make sure that our kids are always comfortable coming to us and that they’ll feel supported and loved and never judged, no matter what,” says Green.
“We are very conscious of how we speak to our kids and we want to make sure that they feel heard and understood and respected because to us, kids deserve just as much respect as adults do. And I think we have a tendency to want to control them, and we want them to behave a certain way or act a certain way. Our ethos is that we are the adults who have learned how to regulate our emotions, toddlers haven’t. And so we’re the ones that have to be adults and figure out how to deal with that. Our hope by parenting that way is that our kids will learn from that and they’ll see us regulating our emotions. They’ll be able to start to regulate theirs and they’ll know that we’ll always be a safe space for them to just be who they are.”
New podcast series
Becoming a mum has also opened up an opportunity to do new podcast series, Untidy, with My Big Moments, producers of personalised books that help little people through big moments. Green came across them when she was pregnant with Autumn and it helped her prepare Milo for the fact that he was about to have a baby sister.
“I read this book to him about a thousand times and later contacted them because I just wanted to be part of their company somehow and spread the message of what they were doing,” she says. “We got along so well and had the idea of starting a podcast together.”
Launching in the new year, Untidy will get into the weeds of motherhood and sharing the things that we don’t often talk about and things that people don’t really like sharing on their social media highlight reels, she says.
“I think motherhood can be a little bit isolating sometimes and we aim to have a laugh through relatable experiences, but also help mums feel a bit less alone with some of the things that they go through. We’ll get experts on as well and talk about lots of different things, like post-natal depletion, nutrition, sex and body image after kids – and just get really honest about it because I think that is important.”
Making the most of opportunities
In the world of Art and Matilda it could be fair to say that opportunities are plentiful, but the couple also work hard to create them. Green’s top tip for making sure you are in a position to receive opportunities and grab them is “connections” – meeting people and forging relationships.
“Connections are so important, so just try and meet as many different people from as many fields as you can and get to know them. That’s been huge for us, even in our careers pre-The Bachelor. It’s just putting your face in front of lots of different people and building relationships, because you never know when down the line you might need someone in that field. Get in touch with them and see if they’d like to go for coffee. Nine times out of 10, people want to help others. And most people are going to be flattered that you came to them,” she says.
“And being enjoyable to be around in a work setting is so important because obviously that’s what people want at the end of the day. Making as many connections as possible and being easy to work with, I think, is number one for creating your own luck.”
Matoodles’ Hair Mask
“Don’t forget to use cold water to wash this out otherwise you’ve got scrambled eggs all through your hair. I know that’s really hard to get out because I’ve done it before!”
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Mix everything together, then apply to dry hair. Try to leave the mask on for as long as you can, but at least an hour.
You can wrap your hair in cling film or tinfoil if that helps to keep everything tidy, as it can be quite cold and drippy. Rinse out in the shower with cold water and follow with your usual shampoo and conditioner.
“If I have a bath I rub it all over myself and keep it on for a while, then wash it off. It’s just beautiful, though it does kind of get on your towels a little bit so that’s something to be wary of. Don’t use your good towels.”
- 1/2 cup sea salt (not too coarse)
- 3/4 olive oil (or any oil, if you would rather keep your olive oil for eating)
Combine both ingredients until well mixed. Hop in the shower and gently massage the exfoliant into your body, focusing on the areas that are really dry or have a build-up of dead skin.
Wash the exfoliant off and feel the softness!
If you have made your exfoliant with olive oil and have any left over, you can put it on bread and eat it. I’m not kidding – it’s delicious.