A stay-at-home Kiwi mum has gone viral on TikTok for sharing the true cost of going back to work after having children.
Anna Catley, 31, from Napier, shares a 2-year-old son and 10-month-old twin daughters with her husband, 30, who works full-time.
Catley worked as a sales and marketing manager for Cherri Global, which grows and exports cherries, before going on maternity leave. After her twins were born, she considered going back to work – but was shocked when she calculated what it would cost to put her three children in daycare.
She’d need to earn $35 an hour over a 37.5-hour week, and pay for 40 hours of childcare, costing $26.70 an hour, leaving her with just $170 a week in hand. But she says that while the cost is shocking, it’s a struggle that countless mums will relate to.
“It’s a real barrier to returning to work,” she tells the Herald.
“It makes you think twice about ‘is it really worth it?’ Not only due to the cost, but also then having to juggle childcare drop-offs, pick-ups, manage meals and housework, all with the limited time you’d then have if you were working full-time as well.”
At the time of writing, her TikTok video has had more than 70,000 views, 3500 likes and 266 comments, as countless other Kiwi mums chimed in to share their experiences.
“Finally someone says it,” one commented.
“I 100 per cent feel ya on this! Not to mention the amount of time your kids spend sick at home with bugs they caught in care,” another wrote.
“I feel this! Plus add in all the sickness too. No thanks, I’ll stay at home and look after my babies and make memories with them while I can,” another mum shared.
Catley notes that, in New Zealand, paid parental leave ends after six months, and childcare was not subsidised for her until her child turns 3. The Government’s recent changes to childcare subsidies came into effect on April 1 and expanded the income band for working parents to qualify for payments.
“So there’s a big gap there of two and a half years where families are having to fork out a lot of their earnings on childcare.
“Spending $26.70 an hour on childcare is more than the living wage.”
It’s no secret that the rising cost of living and inflation increases have made life even more difficult for parents, whether they’re working or not.
“I think there will be a lot of mums out there who didn’t plan on going back to work, or who wanted to have a longer time off work, but have been forced back into work because costs are so high and it’s harder to make ends meet these days,” Catley points out.
She says it’s unlikely she’ll go back to work until her kids are old enough to go to school – unless she can find a “mum-friendly” job.
“After doing the maths and seeing the ridiculousness of how much I’d work and how little money I’d have left over at the end of the week after paying for childcare, I’ve realised that I need to think outside the box to come up with a way of getting income outside of the usual 8am-5pm working in an office situation,” she says.
Since Covid, many businesses have realised that employees can still work effectively from home. Ideally, Catley would be able to use her marketing skills to take on a few clients from home.
“As mothers, we are naturally great at time management, project management, juggling many things at once, and working to deadlines because we have to be,” she notes.
“I still have so much to offer an employer, but like everyone I need something that works for my whole family.”