A West Auckland mum's advertisement for a nanny and housekeeper might seem like a big ask, but she says that she's just reflecting the reality of life for working mums.
She has placed the ad for someone to work four days a week caring for her son and managing much of her household.
Writing that the successful applicant would "take over all duties" that she would otherwise be carrying out, she laid out what she wanted from the person who would be caring for her "busy little fella".
The advertisement contains a long list of expected duties including, but not limited to:
Caring for our 11-month-old son'
• Taking him to activities throughout the week – jumping beans, zoo, baby sensory, etc.
• Preparing all his meals.
• Teaching him new skills as he grows; drawing, puzzles, etc.
• Organising outings and play dates for our son with friends and family as requested.
• Caring for him if he is sick/unwell.
• Reviewing options for day care/schooling that would suit our son, etc (when he is old enough).
• Keeping us informed of his care, what he has eaten, his activities, sleep times, etc.
• Cleaning; bathrooms, kitchen, vacuuming, bedrooms, windows, washing, ironing, tidying and organising cupboards, microwave, oven etc.
• Planning and preparing dinner daily for when we get home.
• Planning and preparing breakfast and work lunches for the whole family.
• Baking as and when required.
• Grocery and food shopping.
• Arrange and oversee tradespeople as required.
• Personal errands e.g., shopping for gifts, booking after school activities, going to the post shop etc.
The advertisement also states that the couple are planning to have another baby and the successful applicant would be required to help look after the new baby "so experience looking after an infant would be good".
Their new nanny would also have to make it to their West Auckland home by 7am three mornings a week and occasionally work evenings "if we need to go attend a work event / go out to dinner etc".
The busy mum's list of requirements for the role might seem long but she said all she had done was spell out what thousands of Kiwi mums do every day.
She and her husband both worked more than 40 hours a week, with her husband staying at home on Friday to look after their son, while she does the same on Mondays.
She stressed that much of the cleaning could be done on Monday and that portion of the role was about general upkeep of the home.
The successful applicant would be paid $25-30 an hour, depending on experience.
Parenting through Covid
Like many New Zealanders, 2020 didn't go according to plan for the family, who were blessed with their son just as Covid was spreading around the world.
"I had my son in February (2020) and planned to take six weeks off but then I fell in love with him. I wanted to take a bit longer but then Covid hit so I was back to work on the 22nd March, getting everything sorted for lockdown on the 23rd March. So I've been working since then."
She explained that she works with her husband in running a business that provides an essential service and juggling work and family had been a struggle, but had sharpened her focus on what was important.
"I want to focus on work and my son," she told the Herald.
"The issue we were noticing is when I was working and getting home, it's not really time to sit with your child and play with your child because you probably have dinner to put together. If it's not dinner, it's feeding kids. If it's not feeding kids, you're bathing them, you're putting them to bed.
"Then you're tidying up. Then you're doing whatever else you need to do around the house and then you're doing work probably and then you might get half an hour to yourself at the end of the night."
The busy mum acknowledged that she was in a privileged position, but only because she and her husband had sacrificed to build up their business.
She said that the couple had been using a nanny for a portion of this year and said that when she was working, it allowed her to have quality time with her son when she returned home.
"Every moment that I have with him, I'm actually with him."
She said that they have been put off daycare by the inevitable disruption caused when children are unable to attend, noting that daycare centres were rigorously enforcing these policies post-Covid and that due to their work, it was hard for her and her husband to take time off work at short notice.
"Work doesn't stop," she said.
Covid also meant that in the event of any lockdown they would be left with no childcare.
The nanny who has been with the family, who is leaving the role due to illness, was part of their family bubble during lockdown and the mum said she wanted the successful applicant in the new role to do the same.
Looking for 'a mum'
Asked to describe the role, which sits outside the traditional job description for a nanny, she said: "It's probably a mum, isn't it?"
"Which is exactly what we're looking for because if I was home and not working all of that is exactly what I'd be doing instead of spending time with him so instead of actually playing with him or enjoying him I'd be washing the dishes, taking him out grocery shopping, cooking dinner, vacuuming ... and that doesn't work for me. I want to spend time with my son."
She said that she didn't accept that working parents had to follow the status quo.
"As a woman, when you have a child, a lot of it is on sacrifice and giving when men, or husbands, or whoever it is in the relationship, get to continue on with their careers.
"There's this stigma and I do have it too because a lot of the mums in my pre-natal class who I still catch up, all of them are still off work. None plan to go back to work and the fact that I'm gone back to work is shocking and 'how can I miss all these moments with him' and no, I've worked really hard at my career and to step out of that makes it really difficult to step back into that.
"So we've tried to have the best of both worlds and we're willing to find someone to do that, to pay someone to do that.
"I don't think we should have to settle for less, that's old-fashioned. My mother gave up her career to have us. My husband's mother gave up her career to have her kids. Why should we have to give up our careers?"
She agreed that the job ad goes against the prevailing culture in New Zealand and admitted that her husband had raised concerns that some might think she was a "rich crazy lady".
She noted that many families already had similar arrangements, unpaid, through the labour of extended family members but that many thought paying for it was "bizarre".
She said they had been disappointed in the quality of applicants so far, but were hopeful to find a good match.
Industry under pressure
Sarah Worn, placement manager at Dream Au Pairs, told the Herald that border closures have had a "catastrophic" effect on that segment of the childcare industry.
"Border closures have had an impact on our business as a large portion of our childcare providers come from overseas to au pair roles for families throughout New Zealand.
"We have been in a fortunate position that we also place nannies and educators which has meant we have been able to continue in the role as one of the leading childcare providers. For other businesses who have solely relied on the overseas market, this has been catastrophic to their businesses.
"Border closures and the lack of au pair arrivals has had a huge impact on supply, severely limiting childcare options which many Kiwi families rely on due to the affordability and flexibility."