reality tv

An open letter to the Real Housewives of Sydney, from a working mother.

The new Real Housewives of Sydney is out on Binge and is already serving up all the draaamaaaa we could hope for.

In episode two, we found ourselves at a tipsy dinner party, sparkly bodycon deep in the argument that the patriarchy has been spruiking since the 1950s… the working vs non-working mothers debate. Ugh.

It started with a comment about kids on social media. Nicole said: "Parents don't know. You might be on top of it, but these other parents who work full-time, who don't have the time to be on top of [it]."

I’m not sure she is spending her days finding the secret non-fake Instagram accounts of teens? Caroline, a single mum who doesn't work (tell me your secret sister), said that "unless you have the time, don't have a child" and that you can not do both (work and be a parent).

Kate, who also doesn't have kids, piped in because her mum worked a lot. She said her parents were "terrible parents", and her mum couldn’t pack a lunch.

Why and how are we even here in 2023?

Watch: The Motherish Confessions: The time I felt like a terrible mother. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

I feel like I am in a pretty well-rounded position to comment on this. I was raised by a full-time working mum, my dad worked freelance from home and was the primary carer.


In my 11 years of parenting I've been it all, at all different times; a SAHM, part-time working mum, freelance mum and am now I am a single mum, working full time.

Sometimes people work after they have children because they have to, sometimes people choose to work because they want to, or both. Others choose not to work outside the home.

Once you have children your career can often ebb and flow depending on the needs of your family, or the need to put a roof over your head and food on the table.

But ultimately the choice is not only personal, it also comes down to privilege to have the choice. So the last thing you want to hear is that by working outside the home you are doing a terrible job at home.

The times I worked less in my parenting career, was I at school pick up without the need for after-school care? Absolutely. Did I attend parent reading? When I could, sure. 

Did I make the sports carnivals and school assemblies? Yes. Did I film and take photos of the kids whose parents I knew were at work and send it to them? Yes.

Image: Supplied.


Now that I am working full-time, I often forget about the cupcake days. Sometimes I will have to miss a school assembly if my child is getting an award, and a three-hour sports carnival is tricky to squeeze into your work day. 

But ultimately missing out on school admin/tasks/events does not mean you are not an active and involved parent and it certainly doesn’t mean you don't know how to pack a school lunch. And I’m not sure how you organise some crunch and sip and a sandwich reflects on your ability to parent? But I digress.

Parenting is more than school activities and admin, it's about connection. And you can be connected with your child with limited time. I share custody of my children. I can speak to that. 

The time I do get with my children I cherish it. I ask the questions, find out what is happening in the schoolyard, what the latest goss is and I make sure I communicate that no topic is off the table. That we can talk about everything. And we do. 


If I’m being completely honest, when I was a stay-at-home mum I felt quite bogged down by the daily grind and yearned for a break from it. Why it's probably for the best that I do (have to) work. 

Image: Supplied.

But if someone else loves being at home with kids full-time, then who am I to judge? I am completely grateful to the parents who volunteer at my kids' school and make all of the wonderful things happen for the kids that I really don't have the time to contribute to.


Let’s just celebrate each other and admit we are all doing the best we can, no matter what way we choose or don't have the choice to do?

I also think in this tired old trope of a debate we are losing sight of the fundamental way of how we should be operating. As a village. 

Now I am the one who gets sent the videos from sports carnivals of my kids when I’m at work. When I forget to send my kids to school with two dollars for a cupcake, one of the other parents in the village picks up the slack and buys my kids a cupcake. I then shout them a wine later in the week. 

It shouldn't be about us versus them, it should be about the collective “us” and how do we help each other through? 

We are letting the patriarchy win if we continue to fall into the trap of judging each other's experiences or parenting.

We need the village, our kids need the village. So let's stop running at each other with flames, burning each other at the stake and work together as one, united, non-judgey connected village. 

As women, we need to stop tearing each other down and focus on building each other up. When we stand together, we rise. 

Since publishing, this article has been updated with amended quotes.

Feature Image: Binge.