I wasn’t eligible for the government’s Parental Leave Pay as I earned just over the threshold. Once Centrelink adjusted my taxable income and added negative gearing back on top of the figure I paid tax on, which was underneath the $150,000 threshold.
Thankfully, my workplace offered 14 weeks’ parental leave. However, this isn’t long enough when you consider how mentally and physically taxing having a baby is. You are only just recovering, you’re exhausted, your baby needs you all hours of the day and night, especially if breastfeeding. The government’s Parental Leave Pay would have topped up our income that little bit more in that essential time that I needed to be home.
Paid parental leave should be universal, or at least worked out on a family income not just a mother’s income. As the breadwinner of the family we weren’t eligible for the government paid parental leave, however, my husband is on about 40% of my salary. That meant we had to make ends meet, pay the mortgage, pay childcare, etc, on a tiny portion of our usual income so that I could take nine months off with each of my children after they were born.
I was fortunate when my first son was born that quite a few new early learning centres had just opened in my area. I found daycare on the days I required relatively easily. However, daycare is very expensive. Our joint salary means we only get a 30% subsidy, so our out of pocket cost is over $100 per day per child. The recent change for the subsidy of the second child has been a big help bringing the cost down for at least one of the children.
It’s terribly difficult to balance work and family life. I work a lot of nights to catch up on what I can’t get done during the day between appointments I need to take kids to, sickness etc. It never ends.
I tried to go back to work part time but it didn’t work too well with my corporate job as everyone I deal with is a full time worker, and my role wouldn’t work well in a job share scenario. I now work what is meant to be 4.5 days compressed into a four day week, however, I find my workload is most definitely the full five days. This means I work a lot of evenings once the kids are asleep.
It is important to have one day at home with the kids for swimming lessons and appointments, and to just be there to watch them grow up, so I happily take this level of flexibility that my work provides, without rocking the boat with my team. My boss is great at seeing that I am delivering, even if it is at 10pm at night, and so I feel less guilty if I need time off with the kids being sick etc.