Home & Away’s Penny McNamee on the parenting sacrifice she had to make to keep her dream job.

Thanks to our brand partner, Barbie

Home & Away’s mums are doing just that.

Always being home and then away.

Mum of two-year-old Jack, Penny McNamee, has joined the small cohort of working mums on-set as she established herself as a favourite on the TV drama.

Penny, 34, says “Pia Miller has two boys and Ada Nicodemou has a little boy who is four. We’re probably it with the young ones.”

Listen to Penny McNamee talk about what it’s really like to work on Home and Away:

“People like Georgie Parker and Lynne McGranger, they have older kids but they were working and playing big roles in TV series’ when their kids were toddlers. So I find that I do have women to go to for advice and a bit of camaraderie.”

But for Penny, it’s not just about the fellow-mums on-set. It’s goes beyond Summer Bay.

“Our producer Lucy Addario, she has two little kids. Having a boss who just gets it, that’s amazing. That’s a real blessing for me in this job. Even our Head of Drama, Julie McGauran, she’s got two kids too … And I think having those two women above me, [they] get it. I’m lucky having those two women above [me]”.


But life isn’t perfect. And Penny’s okay with that.

She says her job isn’t very flexible and if a special event fell in the working week, well … she’d just miss it.

“That’s the downside of this job but it’s my dream job and it’s so many peoples dream job that you just go ok, that’s the deal.

“That’s the deal!

“And that’s ok. I don’t work weekends and that’s a great thing and often weddings and things are on the weekends. [Am I missing] something major during the week? For me I can’t imagine what it would be because Jack’s not at school. If I had school age kids and I needed to be at a school presentation or an Athletics Carnival, that would be lot harder. But a two-and-a-half year old? They don’t have major things you’re going to miss.”

A post shared by Penny McNamee (@penny.mcnamee) on


One thing Penny is happy not to miss is her office, Sydney’s Palm Beach. AKA, Summer Bay.

“It is freezing! But this morning there was a pod of about twenty dolphins swimming right where we were filming. And a whale. It’s amazing …  It is cold but you have lots of jackets and hot water bottles and people looking after you.”

Penny McNamee
Penny McNamee at the Mamamia office with podcast Host Alissa Warren

Her week is broken into about two days at the beach and three days in the studio. Penny makes it work for her. Because as she says, it’s the deal when it comes to having your dream job.

“Most weeks I work five days … It’s not too bad, you need time in between to learn your lines.”

Oh, yes, that’s right. Homework. So, how does Penny squeeze that in between work, her husband and her son?

“I’ve got a brain for remembering words but of course you have moments where you forget them … in some other roles you can wing it if it’s conversational. But because I play a doctor, try winging “neurocardiogenicsyncopy”. You can’t. You can’t wing words like that.”

One thing she does wing is motherhood … and she does it pretty splendidly.

She still makes rules about screen time:

Penny McNamee
Penny's Life Lessons

“We’re doing no iPad or iPhone because getting it off him, there’s a tantrum every time. Whereas, television is okay … you know when they get whingey and tired by 6pm? I’ll put the TV on then … but he seems to be able to be taken away from the TV with no tantrum”.

And dinner:

“He won’t eat vegies. Nup. Path of least resistance, right? I don’t give him junk food. We’re simple eaters. Vegemite sandwich. Sausage. Plain pasta with some cheese. Great. As long as it works.”

It does work.

The dream job, her marriage and life with a toddler.

It’s certainly not perfect but Penny McNamee has grit and a unique sparkle that seems to shine on the less-than-ideal moments of life.

“I’m the mum. I know what’s best for my kid so that works for me”.

Yes, indeed it does.

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This content was created with thanks to our brand partner Barbie