Parents who go on reality shows often follow the same script.
“I want to change our lives for the better.”
“I want to show my kids you can strive for your dreams.”
But, as surely now we all know, reality TV isn’t all it’s made out to be. It can leave repercussions not considered; financial, psychological, and emotional.
For Jules Allen, it was a decision she says, three years later, her family still hasn’t fully recovered from.
Listen to Jules tell the story on the This Glorious Mess podcast, here:
Jules was a single mum of three children aged 14, 15 and 16 when she applied for Masterchef in 2013. She was a foster mum, and adoptive mum, an advocate for young people in need. Across her life she’s fostered 32 kids. At her kids’ encouragement, she applied for Masterchef “as a bit of a joke.”
She was accepted, and she left her children behind with her brother. For five months.
When she returned, one was withdrawn, one had been expelled from school, and she says, their connection was permanently ruptured.
“In my experience being a single mother, it was a really poor decision,” she told Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo on the This Glorious Mess podcast. “I didn’t think about the collateral damage.”
She says for five months, she was limited to two 10-minute phone calls a week and one monthly visit. Why so little contact? Jules says that the official line is to stop you from being distracted, but that there’s no doubt that the separation adds to the drama.
“When you are missing your family and missing your kids…that’s a massive driver for people to fall apart,” she says.
Watch Jules on Australian Story. (Post continues after video):
Jules says that the emotional toll took months to recover from, with the effects still lingering.
“What I underestimated was that I assumed that kids needed you most when they were little. What I got wrong was that they have the greatest need of you in exactly those years.”