Carey Mulligan would rather work than be a stay at home mom, because it’s ‘too hard’


Carey Mulligan is currently promoting Wildlife, her film with Jake Gyllenhaal. The movie is a film festival darling but can’t seem to land a theater run in most countries. But that isn’t stopping Carey from peddling it, because she’s hard-working. The movie is about a boy watching his parents’ marriage fall apart when his mom falls for another man. So naturally, Carey is being asked all about motherhood, especially since she is a mother herself to three-year-old Evelyn and a son, whose name has not been released, that was born last fall. While talking to BBC Radio’s Woman’s Hour, Carey admitted that she won’t give up working because being a full time mom is, “too hard work.”

Oscar nominated actress and mother of two Carey Mulligan has said she could never be a stay-at-home mum – because it’s ‘too hard work’.

Asked by BBC radio host Jane Garvey if she would ever consider becoming a full-time mother to daughter Evelyn, three, and her youngest, whose name she has not publicly revealed, the Great Gatsby star said: ‘No. It’s too hard work, it’s unbelievably hard work to be a stay-at-home-mum.

‘But I’ve also always had, and I dread to use the word, I’ve always had a vocation to act and I love acting so much and so I would miss not working.

‘I don’t work all the time and I do get a lot of time at home, I’m so lucky to be able to do both but I can’t imagine not working, not acting anymore.’

On being able to be a working mum Carey added that she felt a ‘massive privilege’ to be able to take her children to work if she needed too, and said that she was in an ‘extraordinary’ position, but not everyone was treated the same way.

‘Every other person on set has to figure something out and you just do lose great crew members and production, directors, assistant directors – some amazing women – because they just can’t afford to stay in the industry.’

[From Daily Mail]

I’ll admit up front that I am hypersensitive when it comes to this kind of comment. When I was a stay-at-home mom and chatting with my working mom friends, any time I was asked what I did for a living, they all jumped into this chorus of how it’s “the hardest job of all!” It felt patronizing. We had a freaking heart surgeon in the group and yet, no one fell all over themselves to point out that her job was hard. Being a stay at home is hard, but so is being a working mom. Carey wants to work, good for her. I never saw any woman who chose to work as a comment on my choice not to.

I really like Carey, so I’m not bashing her in particular. I think she’s just giving the company line, if anything. I appreciate what she said about being in the exclusive position of being allowed to bring her children on set when others can’t. She’s backed that up in a few interviews and is fighting to get childcare on set so parents don’t have to drop out of the industry. I agree that film sets should have childcare for crew and cast. Many people working on a set can’t afford full time care. And since filming isn’t consistent work, it’s hard to find child care that’ll be available just when needed.




Photo credit: Avalon

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40 Responses to “Carey Mulligan would rather work than be a stay at home mom, because it’s ‘too hard’”

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  1. Esmom says:

    Yes, she is uniquely privileged to be able to work and not worry about the care her kids are getting while she does. It is hard and often tedious to stay home. For me it was also highly stressful because I had a child with special needs and then another baby 19 month later. But I was grateful to be able to be with them instead of feeling guilty at the office and/or worrying about who was taking care of them.

    That said, when I went back to work four months after having my oldest, my (male) boss’s boss asked me how it felt to be back at work and I said “Kinda like a vacation.” And he laughed and said “Why do you think us dads all escape to the office every day?” I appreciated his appreciation of the hard work of parenting, even as he was glad to leave it to his wife most days.

    • Tiffany says:

      I always think of the scene from the show Sex And The City when Miranda could not wait to get back to her office and work. She was so excited she almost forgot to put Brady’s pic on her desk.

      While I am child free, I have worked with several parents who are returning to the workforce and let me tell ya, a lot of them ain’t spending the work day talking about their children and how much they miss them. And there is nothing wrong with that.

    • Huh says:

      Yes I was in the lucky position of being a senior manager when I had my first so my hubby was the stay at home dad. I bonded with many of the office dads over being able to escape the house to relax at the office.

  2. Sayrah says:

    I just know that I wasn’t cut out to be a stay at home mom. I can get frustrated with my kids just having them over the weekend. I do think it’s a very hard job. And it’s a job I do once my day job is over. It’s good that I have another job to go to to split up the time. I admire parents who do it 24/7. I don’t have the patience and I’m a better parent than I would be because I work outside the home.

    • StartupSpouse says:


      How do you get down time? I’m really burned out between work and kids.

      • Esmom says:

        It’s not easy to get down time. For me, exercise was my stress reliever. And hanging out with fellow moms when I could.

        The thing is, they grow up so fast. Before you know it your time will be all yours again (sob). Hang in there!

      • I'm With The Band says:


      • I'm With The Band says:

        Oh, how I crave down time too. I’m a mother of one and work full-time, and I’m effing exhausted all the time. I’m tired and cranky a lot because my life has basically become work (Mon-Fri) and housework (weeknights and weekends).

        I don’t know when I last watched a tv show in full. I have a partner who I often have to encorage to pull his weight but damn; as much as I love and adore my child, I have no spark anymore and would give anything for some “me time”. In saying that, in a perfect world I would love to work 3 days a week and have an extra 2 to spend quality time with my son. It’s feeling frazzled and like I’m neglecting him that upsets me most, and has me craving some room to breathe and collect myself.

  3. Gigi La Moore says:

    I support her choice. Nothing like a resentful and unhappy mother parenting children. I only had 1 child but being a SAHM wasn’t for me either. In a perfect world, I would have worked a bit less though.

    • DesertReal says:

      I totally agree.
      I know I don’t have the temperament, patience, or anything else to be a SAHM. What she’s saying isn’t wrong. I’d rather work 50 hours a week for the next 32 years than be in solitary confinement with a child for the same amount of time.

      It’s so isolating, draining, and exhausting… chica isn’t wrong. People aren’t patting you on the head when they say that’s the hardest job. They’re saying it because it’s emotionally and physically taxing in a way that work never ever is.

  4. Eliza says:

    Agreed. I love my daughter, but she doesn’t nap and is high spirited. All day and all night wears me thin. I work from home mostly but have a sitter during the day, so I have best of both worlds (don’t have to dress, commute, worry about pumping in the office very often either). Even with that I’m beat.

  5. LT says:

    She went out of her way to be respectful in her response – she said absolutely nothing wrong.

    And I agree with her. My job is “hard,” but it’s easier than staying home because I feel a sense of control over my career, whereas staying home (the few times I have done it) makes me feel like a disorganized, emotional mess. After adopting my second child as a toddler, his transition was so difficult (he screamed for at least an hour a day, every day for 6 months) that I went back to work part time in order to feel some control over my life. I couldn’t control how this unhappy child was grieving his old life, but I could control whether I got a deliverable completed on time.

    • stormsmama says:

      thank you for this comment
      Until now I have not been able to see that my son screaming for 30 minutes straight most days is one of the reasons that EVEN though I am a SAHM I send him to care twice a week. He gets great play and crafts time as well as nap time; I get to excerixe and write and restore my sanity childfree…My daughter was “easy” but my son is a “handful.” As I said Im SAHM but lucky enough to be able to pay to put him in care. It is a straining job sometimes but I love it. I am in awe of women who work and parent, and Im in awe of women who are at home. What is most important I think though is that each woman is honest with herself about her limits and needs and hopefully has the support system to live her best life without sacrificing her sanity in the name of parenting.

  6. Lonnie tinks says:

    I’m the opposite, I am cut out for being a SAHM, I look at mothers that juggle a career and kids and wonder how they do it, that seems really really hard.

    • Vanessa says:


    • K-Peace says:

      Same here. I feel very fortunate that I get to stay at home. I have a newborn & a 9-year-old. I can’t imagine having to balance a career with motherhood, and I tip my hat to those mothers who do it. I wouldn’t be able to keep our household running if I had to go to work every day.

  7. Sunshine says:

    I live in Canada so I had a year long maternity leave and let me tell you it was like Christmas morning returning to work. I never in a million years thought I’d feel that way but it’s true. Like someone else mentioned above, I am a better parent having a job to go to. I do not have the patience to be with my kids 24/7.

  8. thaisajs says:

    I am 100 percent with her on this. I don’t think it’s patronizing at all to say that being a stay-at-home mom is one of the hardest jobs out there. It really is. I was not temperamentally able to deal with little kids enough to do it. I’m genuinely in awe of my friends who have taken the stay-at-home route.

  9. Kittycat says:

    I would love to be a stay at home mom under the following conditions:
    1. Well behaved children
    2. Financial security from my spouse
    3. Large network of friends and family
    4. Assistance when needed on a dime

    Not too much to ask right

  10. SequinedHeart says:

    I thought I was getting depressed around month 6 of maternity leave but it turns out it was just completely isolating and I needed an outlet. First day back at work, I thought I’d end up in the toilet stall by 10am crying. I did not. I haven’t looked back.
    I couldn’t do the SAHM thing but by golly, I respect those that do it. But I liked in this piece where Hecate mentioned the heart surgeon mom. Bloody spot on – neither type of mom life is harder or easier. they are different. What I take issue with is when people preach one is better. thats a load of bollocks. As long as your kids are happy, secure and loved, isn’t that the universal goal…?

  11. Summer says:

    Not stirring the pot — firm believer in families doing what works best for them and also a mom of four who can attest to how deeply grueling and joyful and relentless and satisfying parenting can be. But when I see these responses about how frustrating it is to stay home, I’m a little perplexed. Like, that’s parenthood. It’s a freaking marathon, and it requires a tremendous amount of intentional focus and planning and physical labor. Do these parents assume their child care provider is less frustrated or annoyed by the same things? Because they’re probably just as overwhelmed by it. I dunno, maybe we need to lower our expectations of ourselves and of our kids?

    • .... says:

      Agree. People these days want kids, but not to be parents. It’s sad.

    • SequinedHeart says:

      First of all, “not stirring the pot -” is the disclaimer for knowing full-well you are about to. So you can stop right there.
      No one is going to work because they don’t like being with their children. I love my daughter more than anything in the entire g-ddamn world but some parents (me incl) are happier and more engaged when they have an outlet. Both ways are fine.
      Go stir a pot somewhere else. Or just don’t. how ’bout dat?

  12. Genessee says:

    I just have an issue with referring to motherhood (either SAHM or Working Mom) as a job. It is a choice. A lifestyle choice some women opt out of or cannot participate in. It is not the 1500’s. No one is forced into the role.

    Yes it’s hard, but it’s much harder to be responsible for the fate of mankind – also known as the person in charge of determining if the nuclear codes they received are valid and pressing that button. Now THAT job is hard.

    Perspective seens to be lacking for some very privileged moms these days; JMHO

    • Gigi La Moore says:

      Um, I think it’s both, a choice and a job. Also, the person in charge of the codes has also chosen to go into the field that prepared him/her to be in charge of the codes, so like motherhood, a CHOICE and a JOB.

      I am speaking as a middle class woman who parented one child. It has been very rewarding yet very hard at times and yes, a job. Almost worse than a job in that there is no quitting, sick time, or passing the buck to someone else.

      • Genessee says:

        Exactly. Moms arent paid for being a parent. In this world you can survive not being a mom. But try being jobless. That nuclear engineer cant survive in civilized society without a job.

        Having a baby isnt going to pay the credit card bills. It wont pay rent. Or pay the phone bill. When you decide to leave your “motherhood” job, you dont get unemployment or get to drop off the kid at an orphanage as CPS will have you arrested for child abandonment. Moms are stuck with their optional lifestyle choice — unless they are nuts like Casey Peterson who killed her kid to stop being a mom.

      • .... says:

        Why do you have credit card bills that need paying? If you are doing it correctly you don’t have credit card debt. Smart people make adjustments and live within their means. then they can raise their children. If you can’t raise them or afford them, don’t have them. Kids don’t want a lot of money…they want a home and a parent, and to be happy. We heap all the extras onto it.

    • .... says:

      Raising decent human beings determines the fate of humanity a lot more….usually not too many people deal w nuclear codes…..and if society is healthy in its morals and mindset, then nukes aren’t necessary. But good human beings always will be.

      Last thing you want is an immoral person with deep seated childhood issues….working a job near nukes and codes. And before you say well that person couldn’t get that job….look at our pres. and many politicians.

      Every kid deserves a childhood, and that includes a parent present, and plenty of calm leisurely time. I should add I have kids and worked like crazy for years, before becoming a sahm. I’ve seen it from both sides…and the sahm route has been great as they have gotten older. It’s all about them….not my crazy schedule and them fitting into it.

      I’d personally bet on mankind having a better fate if every human was well adjusted and kind………had a good childhood and could provide a good childhood for future generations……

      • Genessee says:

        The sad thing is, being the best parent in the world won’t guarantee raising a moral stable adult. At some point, nature and personal agency step in.

      • .... says:

        It isn’t about guarantees….it’s about knowing you gave that kid the best possible start. Sacrificing some material goods to give them a childhood is a deal my husband and I were willing to make. I can go get a job whenever I want. You can’t go back and re raise the kids though. You get one shot.

    • Vee says:

      I’m so perplexed by this comment I don’t know where to begin. But I’ll start with this: if you are an introvert, parenting extroverted high-needs children, being a mother is “harder” than quantum physics. If you have a career that is well suited for your brain and temperament, it’s “easier” than parenting children with diametrically opposed temperaments, especially those who might be high needs additionally, even if it’s an intellectually challenging field

  13. Kristen says:

    It feels really nice to read so many validating comments.

    I had two kids super close together (accidentally but happily) and both maternity leaves were brutal. I was desperate for them to be over and was happy to drop my babies off at daycare. I didn’t cry, I wasn’t sad or scared for them.

    I love the hell out of them and am more patient and a better mom than I ever thought I’d be, but boy is it nice to have time to myself at my desk, sipping a hot cup of coffee… at work…

  14. Tara Ann Thieke says:

    As a SAHM (who loathes that title) and a former child caregiver, I love how she handled this. That was a level of grace and respect I’m pretty unused to hearing. Thanks, Carey.

  15. EM says:

    Going back to work felt like paid vacation! I was walking on air! But hey, I like my job and I’m not cut out for kids 24/7. Plenty of dads feel the same way. I’m not ashamed.

    I admire women who can successfully stay home. I think they have a different parenting skill set than I do. And that’s okay. We don’t all have the same strengths and weaknesses.

  16. Lindy says:

    I thought she was respectful and thoughtful in everything she said and I love that she’s advocating for on set childcare for all the workers!

  17. Ally says:

    This is such an intelligent fair-minded discussion of this topic ❤️