Christmas was grim in Jane’s household. While the mother-of-three’s whole-foods outlet is doing fine, the café she recently opened in Sydney’s inner west has been struggling. Staffing issues, a drop in foot traffic – setbacks the neither she nor her husband could foresee despite their meticulous planning.
“As far as presents go, we had to skimp on absolutely everything. There was one present Santa and one from us, and that was it. When I asked the kids what they’d like Santa to bring I was bracing myself for the answer, but all of them just asked for a yoyo,” the 42-year-old told Mamamia. “So thankfully, Santa was able to deliver.”
The next round of bills are never far from front of mind. But it’s the back-to-school period that’s placing even more strain on the purse strings. Because while she planned ahead and picked up what supplies she could last year, and while her children’s local Catholic primary school supplies their text books, she’ll be forced to add another item to the list this year.
An iPad. For her eight-year-old son.
When she received the note from school outlining the request, Jane could hardly believe it.
“A few words that probably aren’t printable came out of my mouth,” she said. “Look, I fully support the importance of technology in learning, but my concern is not just buying the iPad – I mean, yes, that is the first part – but it’s also that I’m giving it to an eight-year-old boy who I know, sooner or later, will probably bust it. And then I’m going to have to buy another one.”
And no, apparently any tablet won’t do. According to the school, it must be the latest iPad, said Jane. It must have certain specifications, it must have certain apps, it must be one-per-child, and must be available at all times during the school year, which means it can’t be shared with a sibling or parent.
“All these little things with the café have come along and sideswiped us and pushed us back. And now I’m sitting here January 2018 and thinking, ‘How am I going to scrounge together $500 to pay for this iPad?’ And that’s not including the cover and the screen protector.”
Research by Kantar TNS commissioned by iSelect recently found that one million Australian parents have had to sacrifice something for their kids in the past year due to the cost of bills or expenses, which are rising at approximately twice the rate of their income.