New mum was 'paying to work'

Last updated 08:00 01/07/2014
Tumara Hall
QUICK CUDDLE: Tumara Hall with her daughter Summer.

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When my daughter Summer hit her first birthday (she's now 15 months old), I had always planned to start back at work, at least part time.

So I went about searching for a job I would enjoy, and found one at a cafe about 50 kilometres from our house.

With nothing available in our local area and the nearby city being a loud and irritating place, this was the most suitable option.

My employers were wonderful and worked the hours around my partner's work. This meant there were only a few hours in which we needed a babysitter.

However, it also meant my partner had to knock back a few of his overtime hours to get home for Summer. His overtime hours usually helped to tide us over between his fortnightly pays.

Luckily, we had a relatively fuel efficient car so at least petrol costs weren't going to be too substantial.

For the first year we were so appreciative to have the Working for Families tax credits come in weekly. We understood it was a privilege and not a right, so I rung the IRD up before my first day to change my income settings. I knew our entitlement would go down but my measly annual $26,000 put us just a little over the income threshold.

We were now entitled to nothing.

I didn't let this stop me, in fact I think I was so desperate for some me time that I would have worked for free.

A month into it Summer started having some sleepless nights, and was bored out of her mind during the day while I attempted to catch up on a bit of rest from working the night before.

When I was at work and I saw another toddler her age, I would have to hold back the tears because I missed her something terrible.

My partner had lost so many overtime hours from the nights and weekends, that his fortnightly pay had decreased substantially. Whenever I saw him, which was barely at all, he was grumpy and tired from working and playing the mum over the weekends and nights.

The petrol costs had turned into a nightmare and my pay was poured straight into the pump every week.

We ended up about $130-$200 worse off a week, so basically I was paying to work. One morning I threw it all in and cut my losses. The owners were really understanding but I had come to really enjoy my job (not enough to pay someone to be there though) so I was actually sad to be leaving.

For the moment I am satisfied to be making sure Summer has a great few first years. Once she is at kindy or school I might start looking again but until then I'm not going to have any regrets.

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