‘We missed her first steps’: The Block stars open up about leaving their daughter behind

“It was tough”
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For Blockheads Tom and Sarah-Jane, getting the call that they had been cast in this year’s season of The Block was something of a double-edged sword. 

Competing on the hit renovation series had been a dream of the couple’s for years. 

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However, it would mean leaving their loved ones, after only just being reunited with them after the pandemic kept them separated. 

Ultimately, the Melbourne-based pair – who have made a good early impression on  the judges – decided to make the sacrifice and sign on. 

As such, they left their infant daughter Cleo in the capable and loving care of Sarah-Jane’s mum Tanya for three months as they moved to the rural Victorian town of Gisborne.

Sarah-Jane, Tom and Cleo play outside
It was a tough decision leaving Cleo behind. (Credit: Supplied)

“We missed Cleo’s first birthday and her first steps,” Sarah-Jane, 30, tells New Idea, as we join the family at their Melbourne home for an exclusive photo shoot. 

Even more heartbreaking, when Cleo, now 17 months, uttered “mum” for the first time, it was directed at her grandmother, not Sarah-Jane. 

“It was a very real fear for me that she’d forget us, which was heartbreaking,” the social worker says.

Now back home until the auction and enjoying extra-special quality time with their only child, Tom, 34, doesn’t have any regrets.

He adds they have nothing to apologise for.

“It was tough but we have the rest of our lives to spend with Cleo,” he says.

“We just had to keep reminding ourselves why we were there, and that if we win, we are giving our daughter the best possible start in life.”

Tom plays with Cleo on the swing
Tom worried Cleo would forget them. (Credit: Supplied)

If they win the prize money, the self-confessed “bogan” couple say it would be “life-changing” and will afford Tom, a hard-working plumber, more time at home. 

“I wouldn’t have to work all my weekends and we’d hopefully be able to pay our mortgage,” he says. 

Sarah-Jane and Tom play with Cleo
Cleo first said ‘mum’ to Sara-Jane’s mother (Credit: Supplied)

The pair, who wed three years ago, haven’t been afraid to call each other out. But Sarah-Jane isn’t worried about viewers seeing them air dirty laundry, calling the playful badgering their “love language”.  

“All our friends know we snip at each other, but once it’s said, we’re over it,” she explains.  

The high-pressure experience has made them more committed than ever.

“If we can get through this, then we can get through anything,” Tom says.  

Sarah-Jane agrees. “I think that having Tom see me show up every day in his world and give it my all has left him with a newfound respect for me.” 

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