Julie Bowen: I Don’t Want a Full-time Nanny

01/08/2014 at 08:00 PM ET

Julie Bowen Modern Family Michael Simon/Startraksphoto

Julie Bowen may be outnumbered by her brood of boys, but it’s a challenge she’s willing to accept — without any full-time hired help.

“We definitely go nanny-free far more than my husband would like and that started with us … on the weekends,” the Modern Family star, 43, tells PEOPLE.

“I’m not a saint and that’s not to say we have never had a scoch of help on the weekends, but we never had anyone regular.”

However, her steadfast commitment to raising her sons — 6½-year-old Oliver and 4½-year-old twins John and Gus — was not one initially shared by husband Scott Phillips.

“I felt that it was important — and I forced my husband into this line of belief — that we do have three kids and we need to know how to be with three kids,” she says.

“I know many families who have one child or three or four children and the thought of being alone with them for a weekend is pure hell. Now, I’m not going to say it’s not, but we at least know how to do it and I think it’s important to maintain that.”

Now the frequent family time is “actually pretty fun,” and with all three boys becoming increasingly independent, Bowen admits motherhood is much more manageable.

“I can leave all three of them playing in a room and go make dinner,” she explains. “Eighteen months ago that wasn’t possible because one of them would start crawling up something to jump off — they couldn’t use any common sense.”

Not only have they matured, but the boys have each come into their own — which, for the twins, means displaying their polar-opposite personalities.

“I would say Gus and Oliver, his older brother, are very similar and John is his own person. [John’s] either going to run the world or blow it up,” Bowen shares. “He’s a very special, special guy. He just doesn’t think like the other two, the other two are very extroverted and they get a lot of their satisfaction from external sources and John seems to generate his own.”

One thing the boys can all agree on? Having their mama at home!

“Emotional blackmailing and manipulation is in full swing. When I have to go to an event, out to dinner or to work sometimes, I get a whole lot of blow back,” Bowen says.

“Barring the door, weeping in the driveway, demanding candy — ‘I demand candy or I will never stop crying’ — and that is a lot more difficult to deal with.”

— Anya Leon with reporting by Caryn Midler

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Showing 54 comments

Tami on

Good for her, but really, its not some huge achievement that you don’t have a nanny all time. Lots of parents work full time and don’t have help when they get home.

Ariel on

I never understand why people have children when they don’t want to take care of them. I wish they would just babysit their nieces/nephews occasionally instead. But in today’s world, it’s all about whatever works for you, right? Not what’s best for kids.

That said, I’m so glad she at least wants to take care of her kids 2 out of 7 days/week.

Midwest Mom on

I love the show, but she sounds very spazzy in a lot of her interviews. I think she’s a lot like her character on the show.

Aly on

I understand that has an actress that help is needed at times, but it’s important that these celebrities actually parent their child(ren). Have a sitter or help when needed, but there for your children as much as you can. I will not commend Julie Bowen cause that what most working moms/families do, and you should be parenting your own children.

NoAdditives on

It shouldn’t be hard for two parents to be with their kids. Ever. I have four from four months to five years. I’m a SAHM and can handle my kids by myself. It’s not a big deal.

Dannie on

She’s patting herself on the back for not having help on the WEEKENDS? Is this a joke? I hate having to put my kids in day care and I treasure my time with them. I can’t imagine describing it as “pure hell.”

Anonymous on

Wow- you mean she actually spends time with the kids she bore and chose to bring into the world? Mother of the year! I understand working out of necessity, but I don’t really understand bringing kids into the world just so someone else can raise them. Yep- I know I’m being judgmental and I don’t care.

Bambi123 on

Wow- she actually spends time with the children she chose to bore and bring into the world? Mother of the year!!!!

Anonymous on

How sad that she has to convince her children’s father to spend time with them?!

Rebecca on

If her Nanny works Monday to Friday, then she has a full-time Nanny. Weekends would be overtime.

Amanda Quam on

This is insane. She is speaking like she deserves a medal for not having a full-time nanny on the weekends. Are “celebrities” really this far detached from the “real world” way of raising children?

kelly on

So sad that this person doesn’t appreciate the gift(s) she’s been given. And, neither does her husband.

LM on

I like JB. She and her husband will get no judgement from me. It was hard work for me to be a mother too. That’s not to say I don’t love my son – I do, more than anyone else on earth. But parenting just didn’t come naturally to me the minute he was born. It took about 2 years for me to get into the groove of staying home on weekends, putting someone else before me, etc. Kudos to parents who feel that way right when their babies are born, but not everyone is like that. The bottom line is, love and care for your kids, even if it’s work.

Wolfgang & Prunella's Mum on

If I had friends who used a full time nanny all week and then demanded extra help on the weekends to escape the ‘hell’ that is actually raising their own children, I’d be looking for a new set of friends. That’s just heartbreaking.

Why bother having children at all?

Like anything important in life, children can be challenging but, if you invest the time and energy, the resulting connection will be the greatest reward you can imagine.

Anonymous on

Her kids sound like little butt terds!

Mina on

I have read about her family life before and I am not sure if she is being tongue in cheek or she doesn’t care that those little boys are going to read her remarks. I feel bad for them. It must not be enjoyable to feel like your parents are just dealing with you.

SLW on

I usually really like her, but after reading this interview I am stunned… you want commendation for caring for your kids on the weekends??? Wow. You gave birth to them, now BE their parents. It makes me sad that there are people out there who don’t want to be alone with their kids and describe it as pure hell. Shameful.

Daniel on

Lighten up people.. She does not seem to be saying that at all. Yes it is hard to raise 3 young children and yes it is important to have the family time. What she is saying at least what I got out of it, is when she does, its a lot of work, not much else. She works, and instead of taking kids to daycare, she can afford a nanny.. Whats wrong with that, you hating jealous moms are pissed at that? Shes great, and hilarious, and can find humor to discuss her struggles like any other mom. Shut it!! Hate biter people.

4mom on

I know plenty of non-celebrity people who don’t raise their own kids. School, daycare, and grandma do. However she doesn’t have a 9-5 job like the average person, she has to attend events and dinners as well as do her acting. It’s hard to judge someone when you don’t walk in their shoes.

Marie on

I have twins and a very active toddler. We have a Nanny as I do not feel safe bringing out all 3 at once at these ages. She babysits if I have to go to the doctor for myself or them or to a school event, etc. I do take care of my children though. I do not see it any different than daycare, except for less illness hopefully.

trisha on

She is the real deal – terrific lady and not a phony at all.

Amy on

I gotta say, after actually watching the interview and not just reading it, the way she says everything sounds like she’s trying really hard not to offend people who have round-the-clock nannies and ended up irking moms who have the opposite line of thinking.

Anonymous on

Okay, where does she say they only go nanny-free on the weekends? She said it STARTED with them going nanny-free on weekends, not that they currently are only sans-nanny on the weekends.

Bugsmum on

As someone who used to be the WEEKEND nanny for a family (with a full time week day nanny and SAHM mum lol) I can tell you it’s not just celebs who inhabit that world.
I can see her point though her job entails long and often varied hours it would be simpler/more managable to have someone permanantly employed for weekends too, especially when you are part of a soocial group where that is the norm. So I think she deserves her wee moment of “hey I’m a bit normal”

I like her on

I admire her. I think it is a huge achievement that she doesn’t have a nanny all of the time. She probably works very hard. I don’t have kids, because I made the choice that it wasn’t economically feasible for me. If you have 3 kids and want to complain about her or your work, then don’t complain if you have a 4th.

babysitting for boys on

I noticed that babysitting for 3 boys while growing up WAS pure hell and that mother always paid me the least. No wonder the couple went out so much. I still remember that, and that was 30 years ago.

kris on

I LOVE her. She is being honest about raising children. As much as I love my kids, it can be hell sometimes. I have an 8 yr old a 2 yr old, and 17 month old twins. I can relate to her being happy that she can just make dinner and leave them alone in a room safely now. I can’t wait for that day!! I’m at home all the time with them and only have my mom babysit if there are doc appts., etc. And yes, wkends when all 4 are home can be insane!

Gg on

Nanny? My parents each worked FT and raised four of us!

Maria on

I think by Hollywood standards she is very hands on. I agree that people shouldn’t have kids to have others raise them. She is home with her kids when she’s not working on the weekends and most actresses and actors do employ full time (24/7) help. Cut her some slack. She’s probably getting ripped in Hollywood for not having a weekend nanny.

Leigh on

Maybe with a full-time nanny she’d have time to eat. This woman is wasting away before our eyes!

Kris on

Good for her! It’s about time a celebrity actually raise their own children instead of getting someone else to do it.

Me on

If you don´t have a nanny but have maids all the time, you care for your kids and make dinner but then you never have to clean up, than the worst part is taken care of. Event though you say I´m not a saint, I get the feeling that you do think that of yourself. You´re doing nothing extraordinary, bowen…

Ris on

Disgusting! Wow, I thought more of her before I read this, as a mother and a person.

KLH on

Ugh….Why can’t we as mom’s just support each other? Why does it always have to be a competition? Seems these kinds of post always bring out the Holier than though SAHM who do it all. Well I work full time and have raised two children (21 & 19) and now have a 3 year old. Being a mom is hard work no matter how you do it. It is sometimes wonderful and rewarding and there are days that suck. Anyone who says it is fantastic all the time is delusional. It is the same crap with the “I did it all completely natural in a pool in my living room” moms that put those of us down that had “medicine” to birth our children. Get over yourself and give the woman next to you hand instead of judging her. Julie Bowen is funny and real. I could care less if she uses a nanny or not. Just because she is an actress doesn’t mean her life is easy. Yes money helps but juggling everything is still difficult.

Angela on

Well she very obviously lives in a different world than the rest of us. I’m not one that ever insults someone for having a nanny, I wish I could have one sometimes! But to say something like, “I know many families who have one child or three or four children and the thought of being alone with them for a weekend is pure hell. Now, I’m not going to say it’s not, but we at least know how to do it and I think it’s important to maintain that.”? That’s all you know? Is how to maintain it? It’s like she doesn’t realize that being at home with the kids on the weekends is what most parents do, without help, pretty much every single weekend of their children’s lives until they move out and go to college! That’s the real world, Julie. Don’t try to act as a martyr because you “know how to maintain” your kids on the weekend and most of the people that you know, don’t. Geesh!

Hea on

I have 16(!) 1-3 year olds at work all day long and I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that’s hell. I know it’s different with kids at home than at pre-school but…still. If it’s hell to spend your weekends with your kids without outside help then I think you need help of a different kind. I think it’s sad and scary really that people actually seem to fear alone time with their kids. :O

Rjflh on

She probably should have kept that to herself.

Anonymous on

These people live in fantasy worlds…most of the world takes care of their children themselves, whether it is one or 20 for crying out loud..Why have a child and pass them off? I am so flabbergasted that she actually admitted that she had to talk her husband into this…take care of your own kids, you are not that important.

misty on

wow…I’m speechless…what a great achievement that you don’t have a full-time nanny on the weekend…I don’t understand why stars have children when they don’t want to raise them or are terrified to be alone with them for an entire weekend. I’m speechless and sad for the children.

Comquat on

Wow, finally a celeb that makes it a priority to care for her own children. Impressive.

rf on

she should have kept that to herself.

Shawna on

What an incredibly ridiculous article! She is actually expecting people to be impressed that she can handle taking care of her own children for a weekend?? And it literally didn’t occur to her what an idiot she would sound like giving this interview? I have 3 kids too and shockingly I have raised them with my husband and *gasp* was a stay at home parent until this year. That means I was actually alone with 3 kids for 10 hours a day!!!! Oh my gosh, where’s my medal???

stacey on

Good grief, she is always whining about being a mother of 3. Give it a rest. You have three kids, not 10.

Ann on

While Julie is cooking dinner for her family, I hope she starts to actually eat with them. She is so bony!

Laura on

I don’t know anything about Julie’s situation, but as a child psychologist I want to point out that the *quality* of time is often as important or more important than the *quantity* of time. I have child patients who have a lot of time with their mom but their mom is always on her phone. And child patients whose mom works but completely focuses on the child during their time together. Who do you think tends to be happier and have better self-esteem?

That said, I do think that there is a minimum quantity of time necessary, and I’m often suggesting to parents that they need to find a way to spend more quality time with their children.

(BTW- to me Julie sounds like she is trying to sound very real and down to earth, but she consider how her children would feel if they read this, and how it can be offensive to moms who have zero help, no breaks for manicures, etc.)

megan on

““I know many families who have one child or three or four children and the thought of being alone with them for a weekend is pure hell.”

She sounds like a ray of sunshine : P

Lyanna on

I have 4 kids, 2 of which are twins and never had much help or a nanny. I give her props for not having the full-time nanny.

Toro on

Why are moms so bitter? The woman can’t even talk about her home life without you all turning it into a “well…I’m a better mom” pissing contest. Every time a celebrity parent says anything about their parenting style you all pull out your pedestals, hop up and go on the attack.

Cate on

If I had three little kids and a big full time job (I have two kids and a full time job)and I could afford it, I would have a nanny. Not a nanny to take the kids away from me when I am with them, but a nanny to help with the logistics of running a household. Ok, maybe I really want a housekeeper?! I’m a happier Mom when the Grandma’s help out, my husband is happier, and my kids are happier. It’s the marvels of modern motherhood – it’s OK to have some help! It doesn’t make you a bad mom.

chooseyethisdaywhomyewillserve on

Sorry,I have ZERO sympathy or admiration for celebrities with millions in the bank. Who PUT their work/career befor their kids.If you have MILLIONS in the bank and forgo spending time with your small kids in order to pursue your career.Then you’ve clearly stated your priority and it’s not your KIDS.I’m not saying she doesn’t love her kids.I’m saying they are not her priority.Whatever she’s trying to sell I’m not buying it.

Holiday on

Wow 3 boys….. no wonder she seems overwhelmed and that she doesnt enjoy motherhood. Im sure if there was a girl in the mix she would be a lot happier.

Anonymous on

Marie, you don’t think its safe to bring your three children out at the same time?!? Are you really serious? I also have twins and three other children. I have and still do take all FiVE of my children with me places. I use the stroller withe the toddler and a nap sack for the baby. It is a safe world to run an errand, go to the doctor, etc. I do have a nanny, but only because we run our own businesses and need to occasionally get some work done. Maybe I am not understanding you fully.

Em13 on

That’s what my parents always said: We wanted to have children because we wanted to be with them, not let them in someone else’s care.

Courtney on

Must be nice to be a weekend parent. I almost wanted to believe she was joking :/