This is what progress looks like

Great policies for families in the budget today, I’m particularly pleased to see the extension to free doctor’s visits for kids. A universal policy that will help the poorest the most: good call. We are lucky in New Zealand that there is a broad political consensus among the general population, and it’s heartening when politicians pick up on this. Democracy is not a team sport.

Pseudo-healthy energy bikkies

2 cups oats – either rolled or wholegrain, or a mixture

1 ½ cups mixed dried fruit and nuts of your choice

*(or use 3 1/2 cups any brand untoasted muslie)

2 Tbsp maple syrup

3 Tbsp honey (or golden syrup)

2 Tbsp tahini

3 Tbsp peanut butter

1 Tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 190 celsius. Line a baking tray.

Melt wet ingredients together and stir to combine. Mix dry ingredients through hot sticky mixture.

Shape into balls then flatten into the lined tray with wet hands, and bake for 10 – 15 minutes depending on chewy/crunchy preference.

An idea so stupid that a blog post is necessary

Over the weekend, there were calls to means-test paid parental leave

1) Let us be very clear: if it’s means-tested, it’s not paid parental leave, it’s a different form of assistance. Paid parental leave is not a benefit. It’s not paid to people who are unable to work by reason of sickness, old age, or injury. It’s paid to people who are working, whose work contributes to society, and who would otherwise be unremunerated. 

2) We already effectively have mean-tested top-ups to paid parental leave: working for families. 

3) When it comes to mean-testing at this stage of life, it is impossible to compare like with like. Does the income-earning parent have student debt? Do the parents own their own home? How big is the mortgage? Where in the country do they live, what is the rental market like? How much assistance are they receiving from their extended families? How many kids do they have?

4) It’s not clear what exactly would be means-tested. The income of the mother before the leave starts? The assets of the couple? Means-testing based on the partner’s wage is the best targeted, but it is a giant step backwards for feminism – the financial independence of women is a significant rationale for universal paid parental leave. The people who receive paid parental leave aren’t earning other income. 

5) Where would the means-tested threshold lie? It’s easy for the very wealthy to say “I don’t need it” – but as soon as something is means-tested, there will be people who could really use it who would miss out. There would also be complex abatement calculations to deal with. It would be an administrative nightmare.

6) What does it mean to “need” paid parental leave payments? My payments ended last week, and I’m planning to take eight further months off work. We’ll be ok on my husband’s income, but we’d be noticeably better off if my paid parental leave continued. It’s difficult to say whether someone needs extra cash. One person’s necessity is another person’s extravagance. There is a clear need in this picture though – the need of babies for attentive, loving care. The future of the human race literally depends on it. No matter what the financial situation of the parents, providing that care is worthy of social support. 

7) The current payment is $488 per week. It’s not even remotely close to the lost income of a worker on the median wage. The wealthy do not benefit more from paid parental leave than the poor. Under some schemes they would, but under the New Zealand scheme all full-time workers receive the same payment. Those on lower incomes therefore receive a higher proportion of the lost income. It’s already a progressive scheme. 

8) We don’t means-test every other form of government assistance. We don’t means-test ACC, and we don’t means test NZ Super. We don’t means-test workplace provisions like sick leave, bereavement leave, and holiday leave. We consider these to be entitlements, not benefits. If there is anything that fits into this category, surely it should be the one form of leave from paid employment during which you work more than a 40 hour week doing something difficult, arduous, and essential? 

I think I ask too many rhetorical questions when I’m irritated. 

Mind the gap

The ideal me always picks up on my baby’s tired signals. The real me too often gets trapped in a cycle of overtired comfort feeding and unsettled burping.

The ideal me always smiles a morning hello even on broken sleep. The real me wakes up with a slow wrench and then a jolt, and fumbles to pick up the grizzly hungry baby before he gets even more upset.

The ideal me is ever loving and giving of attention. The real me sometimes leaves bubs under his mobile even when I know he’s gotten bored of it, because five minutes peace, please, please.

The ideal me thinks, right bubs asleep: put him in his crib, eat something, do some chores, have a nap. The real me thinks, oh, it’s nice having him sleep on me, I’ll just sit here a minute and cuddle him and browse the internet…damn, where did that hour go?

Mother’s day post

Favourite things about my baby

1) The way he giggles and chuckles in his sleep.

2) The way he greets me with a big smile and a happy coo when I stand over his crib in the morning.

3) The way he nestles into my chest like it’s the safest, most comfy place in the world.

4) The way he tries to catch my eye and smile at me when I’m changing his nappy.

5) Those beautiful blue eyes, straight from his daddy.

6) The way he changes every week.

7) The giant grin when I stroke his head just as he is falling asleep.

Favourite things about my mum

1) Seeing how much she loves my baby.

2) The way she looks at me when I’m cuddling him all up.

3) Being able to talk about motherhood with someone so thoughtful and wise.

4) Knowing I’ve always got someone in my corner when I need it, even though I’m all grown up.

5) Having such a strong, intelligent, calm and caring model for womanhood.

6) Our long chats over shared interests.

7) That she still hugs me like I’m her baby.