A sponsored post by Andrea Zanetich
I was asked recently, “What has been the single biggest financial cost you’ve faced in building your business – this blog?” I answered that, by a country mile, it’s been childcare.
Because unlike the 47% of Australian working mums fortunate enough to be able to have their little ones looked after with the warm, loving cuddles of their grandparents or other family members*, I don’t have that luxury. Like 43% of families using care, we’ve always had to pay for it.
So when I had the crazy dream two and a half years ago to start a website that’d share style tips, ideas and inspiration with women – particularly mothers – there was a problem right at the starting block:
How could I possibly find enough time to follow my dream while looking after my two little boys full-time?”
Clutching a much-needed coffee in a playground while watching their little legs send bark flying as they raced around, I lamented this to my friend Lisa who was whiling away yet another blue-skied Sydney day with us and her own three kids. Her response was blunt: “How much do you want it?”
It was one of those ‘penny-dropping-moments’ when I realised that I desperately wanted to pursue my dream, and that I owed it to myself to find a way to make it happen. But the only way it was going to be possible was if I got more time back in my day. And that meant biting the bullet and getting some paid help with caring for my boys.
I started doing the rounds of the local childcare centres. But like most areas in Sydney, getting a spot was like trying to fit a size 8 foot into a 7½ shoe – no matter how hard you try, most times you simply can’t squeeze yourself in.
I put their names on the waiting lists at seven centres, crossed my fingers, and started calling them very regularly to check in and see if any vacancies had come up. Some might say I ‘Mummy Stalked’ those centres, but I gotta tell ya, it’s a process I’d really recommend – just be friendly and don’t go all ‘Single White Female’ about it.
And while we waited for a couple of spots to come up, I slowly chipped away, trying to work out how to build a website from scratch, a site that would eventually become Fox in Flats.”
Being 5 and 2 at the time, my boys rarely had naps – but if they did, I grabbed the opportunity to work while they slept.
I worked late into each night after they’d been put to bed.
And I worked each weekend while my husband looked after them, and the house.
It wasn’t easy.
Thankfully, I eventually got a call offering me two spots at a local childcare centre – and happily, it was the one I really liked the vibe of. Yay!
The boys started going two days a week and loved making new friends and playing with new toys. And I loved having some time freed up to pursue the project I had become so passionate about.
To be honest, I also loved not having to do some of the more messy kid-caring activities like painting and other crafty things involving glue and glitter anymore. Thankyou childcare centre for also giving me cleaner floors…
But then there was the financial cost.
Long Day Care in Australia costs over $100 per day on average. Two kids, in care two days per week for a year, cost us about the same as a new family car, an epic family holiday to Disney Land, or a couple of Hermes Birkin Bags.
But at least the Child Care Rebate – which covers up to 50% of your out-of-pocket costs, up to $7,500 per child per year – knocked a very welcome chunk off this, making it much more affordable for a girl with a big dream and a family with a not-so-big savings account.
The last two and a half years have been some of my most exciting. I’ve seen an idea grow into something tangible, and I’ve gotten to know the divine women who pop by Fox in Flats on a regular basis.”
But financially, they’ve also been some of the most challenging of my life (not counting my uni days when I lived out of home, worked part-time and ate 2-minute noodles most nights).
I’ve certainly come close to chucking in the towel a number of times, as our bank account balance dwindled.”
Yet I’ve kept persisting.
And now it seems to be paying off. It’s still early days for a new business, and I’m far from raking it in, but at least now we’re not going backwards, and I can afford to treat myself to a new item of clothing now and then. The irony of writing about fashion most days yet not being able to afford anything has not been lost on me!
One of my boys, who is yet to start school, is still spending two days a week with his buddies at the local childcare centre, while my big school boy spends two afternoons at after-school care. That means I still get two full working days to tap, tap, tap away, and I still get back a very welcome amount from the government to cover a portion of the childcare costs.
Without the rebate we were eligible to receive – and still receive – there’s no way I’d have been able to afford to keep creating Fox in Flats.”
Are you eligible to claim the rebate?
So the other day when I heard that many families who are using eligible child care are not claiming the rebate, I was genuinely shocked. They could be entitled to receive it – and having that extra money would make such a difference. But apparently, the most common reason they aren’t claiming is because they simply don’t realise they can.
So Foxes, if this is you, please do yourself a favour and take a look at the video below to get more info, and check out this calculator to see what you might be eligible for.
This rebate really can make a huge impact on you and your family. You’ll save money, you’ll have cleaner floors, and you might just be able to pursue that crazy dream of yours too.
What dream would you love to follow?
More Fox in Flats:
*Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends, Jun 2010, Childcare, Children 0-12 years