Are working parents falling “a bit short”?

Last week, Jamila Rizvi took issue with the way a working mum was depicted in the absolutely brilliant Brisbane-made children’s’ cartoon, Bluey.

The description of the mum character, Chilli, was described as falling “a bit short” as a parent because she works, and isn’t “able to pull off” quite as much with her kids, when compared to other non-working mums.

Jamila wrote on Twitter: “This is so incredibly disappointing from writers I’ve come to worship… What a horrible write-up of a mum doing a damn fine job. PS. I know I am getting very worked up about a cartoon but honestly, before the age of 5 is where most of the neural pathways are formed for a child. This stuff matters enormously.”


The scandal, though you can barely call it that, was over practically before it started, as show creator Daley Pearson immediately jumped in with a fix.

“Thank you so much for the catching this, Jamila. We caught this last night and greatly appreciate you letting us know,” he wrote.

“We love Chilli so much and we’re revising now. We wanted to address quickly and we updated last night for you and the Bluey family. Thank you, Thank you.”

The whole situation, however, prompts me to reflect on what it means to be a working mother in this day and age.

The expectations are exceptionally high – to the point where we really do anticipate that working parents can do and achieve every bit as much as non-working parents.

And that’s just not realistic.

If you’re working, that means you genuinely have less hours in the week to spend with your kids.

I know this, because I’m a working parent. With my first child when I worked less, we spent most of our days at the park, at playgroup, at rhyme time, at swimming lessons, at baby music classes.

These days, my three-year-old is winning if I manage to take him to the park once a fortnight. Being a working mum of three is busy and I just simply can’t achieve what would be possible if I didn’t work.

Maybe the problem is not that we suggest parents “fall a bit short” when they don’t achieve everything in a day that non-working parents can.

Maybe the problem is that we expect that they can.