No Shame in Hired Help: Transparency in Parenting, On and Off Screen

Misogyny has made mothers afraid to admit that they need help and support.

The first and only Kardashian reality television I ever saw was an episode of Kourtney and Kim Take Miami. One of the sisters was joking about testing her breast milk for alcohol after a night of drinking. 

Immediately, I asked, “How are they able to go out so much if there is a baby to take care of?”  My friend quickly responded, “Nannies, of course. It’s not like the hired help is going to be on camera.”

Of course.  

Long before reality television and social media, wealthy women always had hired help in the form of nannies, wet nurses, maids and cooks. Queen Victoria proudly refused to breastfeed her children. While she was on tour and giving speeches about women staying home and taking care of children, Phyllis Schlafly employed nannies.  When former First Lady Melania Trump isn’t relying on her personal chefs, she cooks spaghetti for her family—maybe.

So I was very confused when social media influencer Brittany Bright posted a video on Twitter. She showed how she gets her newborn baby ready for bed, sets out bottles of breastmilk for her night doula, and heads off to her bedroom at 8 p.m. to sleep until 6 a.m. Bright designated this period as Mom Time, which included a bubble bath.

What a great idea—until I read the feedback Bright received, particularly the comments on the Slate article.  There was “concern” over how Bright could bond with her baby at all. Another person called the video “braggy and tonedeaf” while comparing a night doula to a designer purse collection. No article about a mother’s comfort would be complete without someone insisting that hired help is identical to leaving your children with a random stranger. I find the last argument highly ironic because when children are old enough to go to school, these same parents coincidentally change their minds about teachers being total strangers.

The difference between the well-off women I originally mentioned and Bright is that the former keeps hired help out of sight and the latter proudly discusses it publicly. But why can’t more families talk openly about the benefits of having hired help, especially when there’s a newborn in the household? Aren’t the days of the harried, overworked mom over? Even stock photo images have kept up with the times.

Centuries of affluent mothers will tell you that being a good parent to a newborn doesn’t require excessive hardships and physical and emotional discomfort. Adequate sleep is essential to being a productive, attentive individual throughout the day. Self-care and exercise can help combat fatigue, depression, and mental overload. Leaving housework undone is an option but only a temporary one.

The driving reason Bright got the thinly-veiled misogynistic criticism that she did is because she dared to indulge herself temporarily by outsourcing motherhood for an evening. 

Such a gesture flies in the face of the tired, weary, overworked American mom who takes care of everyone but herself. Be kind to her—and to yourself—this Mother’s Day.

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

Up next:


Maria Reppas lives with her husband and son in Virginia. She has been published in the Washington Post, New York Daily News, Scary Mommy, Ms. Magazine, The Lily, and the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at