If you are worried about not having a Hatchimal for your kid on Christmas morning, you are in for a reality check.
Because you’re about to meet Nikki McWatters.
Nikki is a best-selling author and a mother of five. But once, she was a single mum so poor she lived in a tent with her kids and relied on the Salvation Army handing out parcels of free presents for kids in need.
Listen to Nikki talking on I Don’t Know How She Does It about the time she was waiting in line at the Salvos and saw another school mum dropping off her unwanted gifts:
Nikki grew up in a “good” home, but was a pretty rebellious teenager, dreaming of being an Oscar-winning actress and falling for punk rockers.
Leaving home to chase rock bands around Sydney, she soon found herself married to a roadie, and then… divorced with two little kids.
Alone, in the big city, with babies, it was time for Nikki to work out how to survive. “I had a dive in Bondi, it was absolutely horrible. I had milk-crates as furniture… I had left with nothing, and I had to start again.”
Nikki cleaned houses where she could – some pretty famous houses, like the one that belonged to Kerry Packer in Sydney’s swanky Bellevue Hill.
But work – and life – is precarious when you are a single mum to babies.
"They get sick. Once we had six weeks of chicken pox... You'd have to take them to work - like at cleaning Kerry Packer's, they were running around, the Ming vases were shaking."
Then she found herself in love again.
"It was the turning point, I was in love, everything's amazing, here we go, happy families. And then he died.
"That's when everything came out from under me..."
That's the beginning of the story that saw Nikki and her now three kids living in a tent in northern New South Wales for some time, and couch-surfing in Sydney at others.
What no-one understands about "poor" single mothers, Nikki says, is the isolation and shame.
"We talk about the glass ceiling. For single mothers, there's the wooden ceiling. Unless you've been there, you have no idea how tough it is and how hard it feels to be able to get out.
"There's a lot of stigma for single mothers, like they're just on the cask wine waiting for the next daddy to come along. It's not like that at all. It's not a lifestyle choice. No-one wants to be living like that."