TODAY |

Dancing with Neve to 'bad children's music' is Jacinda Ardern's new fitness regime

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has opened up about the challenges of raising a toddler while also leading a country through a pandemic.

Ardern was speaking with former All Black and mental health advocate Sir John Kirwan as part of the Open Minded series for his organisation Mentemia.

The Prime Minister said while she used to get out for walks or runs often, she'd found it increasingly difficult to find the time - but found daughter Neve's love of dancing more than a substitute.

"I used to love walking and I'd do it a lot - now I'm almost embarrassed at how little I walk or run," she said.

"I have police who follow me all the time, so I feel like I don't give them enough outside exercise anymore.

"When you've got a little one, that time out for those exercises gets that much harder - so instead, now, Neve loves to dance.

"So in the morning, and often before she goes to bed she'll say 'I want to dance', and so we'll put on some really bad children's music - we'll ruin Clark's Spotify algorithms - and we'll play something to dance to."

Kirwan asked whether Ardern felt guilty about going back to work after having Neve, with the Prime Minister saying she "absolutely" felt guilt.

"Almost, the return wasn't the worst bit, because I knew I had to go back, and that it was going to come at six weeks.

"Clarke, bless him, was there bringing Neve in to see me regularly - it was almost as if during that period I had that excuse for regular contact because I had to feed her.

"What's gotten harder is, over time, when she hasn't needed that anymore, I don't have that excuse anymore, and I don't see her as much.

"So for me, it's a daily struggle - when I leave in the morning and she cries, which not every morning, some days it's just 'seeya Mum' - but it reminds me that I'm not the only one that goes through that.

"Every parent at some stage has experienced it and it just means I can understand how they feel, too.

"I also tell myself that Neve's OK - she's got wonderful people around her, she does see her mum, but she also sees her dad, and her nana and her poppa.

"As long as children are surrounded by, just a village of love, then they're OK - I just tell myself that every time."

Ardern said with her father being a police officer when she was growing up, he was often working odd hours - but their relationship had not suffered from it.