I’m not unlike many mums in New Zealand. My two boys were born in NZ, but I wasn’t. My parents and my extended family live in England. My husband’s family live more than four hours away, and like a lot of other grand-parents, Nanna is still working. When I moved to Wellington I didn’t know anyone. My husband’s job required him to be away from home for days at a time. I was a stay-at-home parent, so often during the week it was just me and the kids all day and all night. I was sleep deprived, and exhausted.
I would often go for walks with the buggy and visit the park hoping to meet other parents like me. I didn’t know my neighbours as no one was ever at home during the day. At playgroup I only met Au pairs, Nannies and Chinese grand-parents with very little English. As I was juggling two very active little boys, I rarely had time to speak to anyone, let alone drink a cup of tea. I loved being with my kids, but the desperation to make friends made me cry every-day.
It wasn’t long before my prolonged state of anxiety started to turn into depression. I couldn’t go anywhere without my two babies in tow. I missed my husband, I hated the house, and I hated the suburb. I was so unhappy and lonely. Despite the stress of moving-house again, we decided to move to an established suburb closer to the city. This is when we moved to Karori.
A Community Creche is there for the Community not just the Kids
Moving to Karori was the best thing our family could have done. I found Karori Plunket Creche on the high-street. After some research, I discovered it was the only place in Karori that would take children under two for just one morning a week. It was a lovely safe environment. It was affordable, convenient and I felt very happy that the teachers were very well qualified and experienced.
The teachers at Karori Plunket Creche were so kind and helpful. They would always greet me with a smile and ask me how I was getting on. Not just to be polite, but because they cared. They learned that creche was a lifeline for me; as I did most of the parenting by myself. I asked them for advice, they listened, and they understood. I would take my questions and toddler struggles to them and they would give me strategies and ideas. They made me feel like I wasn’t parenting alone.
One-day, I rang up in tears, desperate for a break and they took the boys for me just for a couple of hours. Sometimes, I had lunch at creche or stayed for morning-tea. This probably all sounds very needy, but at the time, I was terribly lonely and just needed a friendly chat without criticism or judgement. I didn’t know anyone in Karori I could have a cuppa with. I never saw my neighbours as they were at work all-day, and when my husband was travelling I needed an adult conversation. The teachers understood. When I was trying to get back to work part-time and my car wouldn’t start one-day, one of the teachers even lent me her car.
I decided to join the Plunket Creche committee. It was an opportunity to meet other parents like myself, it made me feel a part of the community and it gave me a chance to give back. I started to make some friends in Karori. I helped with the working bee and I made cakes for the cake stall. The committee organised shared afternoon teas, fish n chip dinners, picnics and Christmas parties. Contributing to the community and socialising with other parents helped me make friends.
Plunket Closing its Creche is a threat to the Mental Health of the Community
I am not the only parent who has relied on a community creche to survive the pre-school years. Karori Plunket Creche gave me hope, support and friendship when I needed it the most. Without it I don’t know how I would have coped as a stay-at-home parent. Anxiety and loneliness would have crippled me. Thanks to Karori Plunket Creche, my kids had a fantastic start to their education and have become socialised, confident little boys. They both went to the local kindergarten and are now at school.
I now have friends I care about and who care about me. I have friends to have a cuppa with, friends to go to the pub with, and friends to swap play-dates with. I finally have ‘Emergency Contacts’ for the kids, and friends that could help in an emergency if my husband is away. I’m getting to know my neighbours and I’ve even set up a local babysitting group. Mums need community support and Karori needs a Community Creche.
Note: Plunket announced the closure of Karori Plunket Creche without consulting the teachers, the committee or the parents in March 2018. Karori Creche parents have fought hard for a consultation process. Make sure your voice is heard by completing this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/H6ZRZ9P Thank you.