Putting a value on time with the kids: priceless

MICHELE A'COURT
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014

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Michele A'Court

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OPINION: Catch a business leader at just the right time and he will tell you, wet-eyed, that being there when his child was born was the most significant event in his life.

In a private moment, the head of a multinational company will confess that being a mother is the hardest, most rewarding job she's ever had.

As a society, we all sing along with Whitney - yes, we really do believe that children are our future. Pretty sure you're humming it right now. You're welcome.

We've all agreed that raising children is really valuable. Except, oddly, we don't value it with our usual currency - money. Not much of it, anyway, and not for long.

In NZ, paid parental leave (PPL) covers the first 14 weeks from birth, which puts us alongside Algeria and Malta on the "here's how we value a good start in life" register.

Other countries have got their heads around the idea that half the workforce are women, and a fair percentage of them need to pop out of the office to make a new human being at some point, and that this doesn't make them weird.

New mothers in the UK get 39 weeks paid leave to get things off to the right start, and in Sweden (it's always Sweden) it is 16 months.

Sue Moroney's bill to increase PPL here to 26 weeks is going to fail - not because it doesn't have enough support (last count it had a one-vote majority) but because the Government says it will veto it (a rare move) as it will cost money it can't spare.

So there's nothing more valuable than good parenting, raising our kids right, giving them the best start, blah blah - unless you're asked to value it in monetary terms.

My Logical Conclusion Party is, therefore, ready to announce a major plank in its economic policy for this election. We will launch the kidcoin - a bit like the bitcoin in that it doesn't really exist and no-one can properly explain it.

But think of the kidcoin as a virtual currency in which you take precious moments like your kid's first smile, their first sleep-through-the-night, a really successful burp or their first word, and trade them in at the bank to pay your mortgage or swap them at participating retailers for nappies and wet wipes.

That should buy parents another few weeks of time with their newborns which, according to the experts, is invaluable in terms of those long-term payoffs in improved health, education and social outcomes. Many of which are quantifiable in actual dollars.

The Logical Conclusion Party will also consider extending the kidcoin to later life events so that those paintings from kindy, certificates for participation, Mother's Day cards and fingermarks on the walls can be put aside as your retirement savings.

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Next time your baby spits up on your shoulder, don't despair. Think of it as a kidcoin deposit. Enough of those could buy you valuable time with your kids.

- The Press

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