Last night I lay awake desperately trying to work out how we will logistically pick up my son from primary school at 3pm every day for the next seven years.
After starting the school and child care pick up and drop off for the first time this year, the reality of this daunting daily task hit me and I panicked.
“Who can actually leave work at 2.30pm to pick up their children from school” I whined to my partner. “How on earth are we going to do this?” I moaned as I drew up a weekly family logistical run sheet that was so creative it would have rivalled a Baz Luhrmann script.
Suddenly while leeching outrage and anxiety about this new life dominated by school hours I got a grip and gained a whole lot of perspective.
The fact I am contemplating this new task as a “we” instead of an “I” means I have no idea what “hard” really is. I cannot imagine how hard it is to be a sole parent. I am not one. But here are some facts about them.
- Nearly 90 per cent of them are women.
- Almost one in four children from single-parent families live in poverty
- Since the removal of the sole parent payment last year, a survey by The Parenthood found 88% of sole parents were struggling to pay for groceries for their children each week.
Simply being solely responsible for the school pick up and drop off every single day is enough to do my head in. The 8.30 am drop off and 3pm pick up means you are left with around five and a half hours to work, study or cook, clean, and run errands.
As any parent knows, the chance of you being able to do any of the above while your children are with you is extremely limited. So as a sole parent you are left with roughly five hours a day to be your most productive sans children.
I imagine finding a job that allows you to work these short hours would be very challenging. Then if you are fortunate enough to find a job that does, it still needs to be relatively close to where your children go to school.
Personally I feel all parents deserve a medal for getting their kid to school on time, dressed and with a healthy packed lunch each day. But sole parents deserve more than a medal – they deserve support.
But no, rewarding sole parents for their work is not what the former government did – they removed the sole parent payment once their youngest child turned eight. The move affected nearly 100 000 single parents, many working part-time, leaving them between $60 and $160 a week worse off. The decision was to save taxpayers $728 million over four years.