This paper explores the everyday security of refugee and asylum-seeking mothers before, during and after irregular migration. Based on narrative interviews with mothers residing in Melbourne, we analyse how their needs both do and do not fall into Nussbaum’s capabilities list. We argue that Nussbaum’s framework is not sufficient to capture the gendered aspects of everyday security related to carework. Based on this analysis, we suggest a new framework to understand carework and everyday security in the context of refugee and asylum-seeking women. Centring carework in the discussion of the everyday security of people seeking asylum is a significant step away from traditional security literature and allows mothers’ voices to be highlighted in a unique way.