I love my job! I'm very proud of the career I've built and get a lot of personal career satisfaction from my work. I work in communications, and I returned full-time when my first child, my daughter, was 2. We couldn't secure a full-time care position at the time so my husband took a mix of carer’s and annual leave until a full-time place opened up.
Then, in 2019, while trying for a second child I was blessed with twins. While I feel exceptionally lucky in many ways, we had planned for 2 and not 3, and the costs of returning to work have been a surprise.
When my twin boys were 1, I returned to work. At the time I had 6 months left on a fixed-term contract; I went back part-time and my contract was extended for 3 years. If I hadn't returned when I did, I'm not sure my contract would have been extended.
My daughter's enrollment had gone from full-time to 3 days, and the boys needed spots on the same 3 days. We live in Regional NSW and finding two childcare spots was difficult. We ended up having to enrol the twins in a long daycare centre 35kms from our home. We had to drive an hour round trip for drop off and pick up. My partner and I split the trips, so one of us would take the boys to their centre and the other would take my daughter to another town, and we would swap in the afternoons.As we live regionally, housing is affordable here. Our childcare bills are more than our mortgage and grocery bill COMBINED and prices have just gone up for the next financial year. It's an eye-watering expense for us. We moved from Sydney in 2018, which has alleviated some pressure on our budget, but this isn't a practical solution for many families. If we were still in Sydney we could not afford for me to work. Early learning and care fees take up 80% of my take-home wage. I’d be happy to work an extra day, but financially it’s not viable.
Access to care has impacted the kinds of roles I go for. I'm trying to get a 'better’ job (as in better-paid!) and, in an ideal situation, my partner and I would both work 4 days and have one day each at home with the kids. (We can dream...)
I recently turned down a fantastic role in the not-for-profit sector as it would have only just covered the fees for the kids in care.
The system is definitely pushing me to give up work, but I have over 10 years of work experience and two degrees - and did I mention that I love what I do? Staying at home full-time would be a waste of the investment in my education and career, and detrimental to my future earning capacity. I want to work, I want my children to thrive in their early learning and care environments, I want to contribute to my community outside of my role as a mother and I don't think I should have to work for (almost) nothing to do so.
I'm also concerned that the low-wage received by our hard-working educators is forcing them to leave the sector and causing job shortages. We've used 4 different centres and good staff leaving the sector is always present and very sad. Once your child has established a secure bond with an Educator it's hard for them to adjust when that person leaves. This was a common occurrence at one centre we attended for a short while, and it creates an unpredictable environment for the child.
Anonymous from Regional NSW
If you would like to share your story please email Maddy at [email protected]