Childcare costs in New Zealand are among the highest in the world. Roimata is a mother of two small children and works in a mailing house from midnight to 7 o’clock in the morning. As soon as she gets home, the girls’ Dad goes straight to work.
“Most days, I am extremely tired. Straight after work I just want to fall asleep on the couch. But I can’t. I’ve got an hour and a half to get the girls ready and off to school” says Roimata.
Roimata and Jakoda
“If I didn’t have to work night-shifts I would have more energy. Sometimes I don’t want to leave the house because I’m so tired.”
Like many Kiwi parents, Roimata wishes she didn’t have to work so much so she could stay home more with her kids. She sleeps for around five hours during the day and then tries to sneak in a powernap when she puts her girls to bed.
“Every night, my girls don’t want to go to sleep. They know I won’t be there when they wake up in the morning. I feel really bad because when I walk through the door they always tell me “We’ve missed you. Where have you been?”
Aitamai reads with Jakoda
The family always look forward to the weekends. On Sunday mornings Roimata can make her girls breakfast and take them out to the park.
“It’s the little things that make being a parent so special. When I see they’re happy, I’m happy too. All the happiness wipes away the tiredness and stress and everything else that comes with it.”
Roimata wishes she could have breastfed for longer but juggling breastfeeding and working was difficult.
Roimata at home
“Even though you’re meant to put your kids first, I had to think about work and bills. There is so much pressure to go back to work soon after you’ve had a baby. All workplaces need to give breastfeeding Mums support so they can keep breastfeeding while they’re working.”
Roimata believes it’s becoming increasingly hard to save money in New Zealand and many lower-middle income families are struggling. They’re working hard to pay off the bills and save for emergencies.
Roimata loves spending time with her daughters
“When minimum wage went up, the price of milk and bread and butter all went up as well. We plan our meals carefully so that we don’t spend more than $150 a week for a grocery shop. The kids don’t ask for flash dinners out or Disneyland trips, they just want more time with us.”
Despite the challenges of working night shifts, Roimata feels lucky to have whanau support.
Sisters Aaliyah and Jakoda
“It takes a village to raise a child. I’m from Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Toa descent and my Mum and Dad have always been there for me and they help out where they can. Sometimes we clash about parenting as I don’t like it when they spoil the kids! But I’m grateful for everyone that’s helped our little family.”
What family-friendly policies would make a difference to your family life? Add your voice here
UNICEF NZ partners with NZ Breastfeeding Alliance to champion family-friendly policies.