21 June, 2021
Natalie Maree discusses life with ‘5 under 3’ – and reveals how and why she finds precious ‘me-time’ to look and feel her best.
If there is one woman in Australia who can genuinely claim that she doesn’t have the time to exercise, it would have to be Natalie Maree.
The effervescent 31-year-old is the mother of a two-year-old daughter, Kiana, and three-month-old quadruplets (Frankee, Maddison, Marley and Maioha) – now Insta-famous as @kikiandthequads.
Natalie (a qualified personal trainer, yoga instructor, Crossfit coach and group fitness instructor) is passionate about “health and fitness” as is her 33-year-old husband Kahn.
This passion has inevitably helped the couple, who live in Bunbury, a small city 150km south of Perth, meet the mental, physical and emotional demands of parenting, first with ‘Kiki’, and now, “the quads”, too.
Natalie says adjusting to life after the birth of Kiki was relatively easy.
“She was a textbook baby,” she recalls.
“We were extremely blessed… She was a good eater and slept through the night from very early on.
“My life didn’t change that much. I would just take her to the pool or the beach with me, and when I went back to work in the gym, she would just go to the creche for a few hours.”
However, life changed dramatically during Natalie’s second pregnancy when her seven-week scan revealed she was “growing four babies”.
After the initial shock subsided, the couple embraced their future as “a family of seven” enthusiastically and, once the critical 12-week pregnancy mark passed, shared the news with family and friends – and then the public via Natalie’s Instagram account.
Almost instantly, the account, which she had renamed @Kikiandthequads, started attracting followers and ‘likes’ from around Australia and overseas.
That interest grew further as the pregnancy progressed, and the babies (Frankee -1.92kg, Maddison – 2.1kg, Marley – 2.2kg and Maioha – 2.3kg) arrived six weeks early on July 21.
Today @Kikiandthequads has 27,000 followers and continues to grow.
“I’m just a normal human being that has ended up with five children two years and under, and just post real stuff,” says Natalie.
“I didn’t expect strangers from all around the world to reach out to me… It blows my mind that people go out of their way to send me a message or to comment on something.”
Despite @Kikiandthequads’ popularity, Natalie hasn’t monetised the account and has no immediate plans to do so. She is too busy managing the never-ending demands of Kiki and the quads in “real life”.
Natalie and Kahn both know they are lucky that all their ‘babies’ are healthy and that they have the hands-on support of their mothers and a circle of friends, but it isn’t easy.
“At this stage it is definitely not a one-person job to take care of them all,” explains Natalie.
“We have someone here every single day helping us.
“We can never thank them enough. We couldn’t do it without them.”
So, what does Natalie do with her precious, and obviously severely limited, ‘me time’?
“I exercise 20 minutes a day on the patio six times a week.
“I make sure I’ve got help at home (usually Kahn and one other person) and I just get outside and put the music on.
“I get a little sweat up and I feel good.
“I honestly don’t care what happens for the rest of the day because that is my ‘me time’.
“I know I’ve done something good for my health so if I’m sitting down on the couch with the babies for the rest of the day, it doesn’t bother me.”
Natalie hopes her workouts, which she regularly shares on @Kikiandthequads, inspire other women, particularly mothers, to do the same.
“I want them to see that everyone can find the time to exercise.”
Natalie’s impressive exercise routine has undoubtedly helped her look and feel great. Still, she is the first to admit that her body is not what it was ‘pre-birth’ and is unlikely ever to be so again (without surgical intervention).
Although Kiki was “a big baby weighing almost 10 pounds”, Natalie “bounced back” and her body “didn’t really look that much different within a year of having her”.
But the impact of the quad’s pregnancy and birth was much more significant.
“I got a lot bigger…I put on double the amount of weight,” says Natalie.
“I was prepared for my body to look different, but I probably wasn’t prepared for my stomach to look like it does…
“I think the rest of my body can look the same as it did before, but not my stomach.”
Nonetheless, Natalie believes her stomach’s “sagging skin” is a small price to pay for her quads.
“When I look at my stomach, I know what it did,” she says.
“My stomach is not an indication of how I eat or how I exercise.
“The skin is an indication that I grew four humans.
“I know I’m a healthy person and I put good things into my body and I treat my body well, so I know that it just represents my four beautiful babies.
“It’s nothing to do with who I am ‒ and my husband loves me anyway.”
She is, however trying a few non-surgical treatments to help tighten and tone the “loose stretched skin”.
“I’m very lucky that a local skin clinic, New You Aesthetics, offered me some treatments,” she says.
The body contouring treatments include Venus Legacy’s OctiPolar and Venus Versa which both use (MP)2 technology, a combination of Multi-Polar Radio Frequency (RF) and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields (PEMF), to tighten the skin and reduce wrinkles.
“I jumped on board because the treatments are not only going to improve the appearance of my belly, but it’s also ‘me time’ where I can lay down on a salon bed and just relax.”
Natalie is unsure how her stomach will look in the months ahead but is enjoying the treatments and happy to share her progress with her followers – in the same way she shares other aspects of her new life on @kikkiandquads.
“I try to keep @Kikiandthequads as ‘real’ as possible,” she says.
“I am not interested in just showing a highlights reel.
“I am not a brand. I am showing my life as realistically as I can.”
“I like to put up beautiful photos of all the quads dressed up, but that is only a small part of our day, so I try and post the other parts too.”
So far, Natalie’s ‘real’ posts have included a video of her crying during a “breakdown” and another showing her stomach skin “hanging loose” during a workout.
Natalie would love to post more photos and videos – the cute and the ‘real’ – but simply doesn’t have the time to do so.
“Running an Instagram account takes work.
“I post random things and people are like ‘post more, post this, post that’ but I can’t.”
“I feel like people are invested in me and reaching out, but I just don’t have the time to reply to all the comments and questions or put up as much content as they would like because my main priority is my family.
“I have to look after the quads and myself first.”
So for not at least she will just post what she can when she can.
And it is this attitude of putting herself, and her family first, that will inevitably ensure her and her family a great future – and win her the respect of her @Kikiandthequads followers too.
Indeed, although Natalie is now known as the ‘mother of Kiki and the quads’, she is living proof that women don’t have to lose their identity when they become a ‘mum’.
“I make a real strong effort to do things that make me happy other than being a mum … because at the end of the day, my kids are going to grow up and leave me one day and then I will still be Natalie.
She will therefore continue finding her ‘me-time’ exercising six days a week on her patio – and inspiring others to do the same wherever they are.