More support for Aussie mothers who want - and need - to work, is crucially important.
Being a working mother-on-one from a middle-class family (with the desire to maintain aforementioned financial status and familial head count) I’m in a good position to offer some insight into why we, as a collective demographic, aren’t pulling out reproductive weight.
First and foremost, it’s our own choice how many children we deem fit to raise, if any.
I know many happy childless couples who consciously chose to remain so in order to have freedom to travel and dedicate themselves to their careers.
Secondly, so many of us are already stressed out of our minds juggling mountains of laundry and emails, topped off with a hefty load of financial pressure and working mum guilt.
A 2019 study put a figure on our stress levels, finding that irrespective of income, age, ethnicity and occupation, mums working full time with one child are 18 per cent more stressed than their childless or stay-at-home counterparts.
Add a second child to the mix, and this figure soars to 40 per cent.
It’s not hard to see why post-natal depression affects one in seven Aussie mums.
Raising children can be also so financially prohibitive that some of us would likely find ourselves in the working and lower class if we were to add another couple of kids to the mix.
It’s a dilemma that the majority of our parents and theirs never had to consider.
They never had to choose between a house deposit or a sibling for their first born, but it’s a serious trade-off us older millennials and Gen Xers have had to consider.
For myself, a chronic illness is an added complication in our family’s decision to not grow out brood.
While I’ve been told there’s a chance I may be able to conceive again, despite being diagnosed with a chronic blood cancer while pregnant with my first child, my husband and I have all but decided we’ll be a one-child (and a cat) family.
And we’re already wondering if we could afford to put one son through the private school system, if that’s what we wanted.
The Pill may be heralded as one of the most effective forms of contraception, but private school fees and day care rates would be a close second.
With house prices sitting at $1.2 million, and the daily cost of child care sitting at about $108 per day before subsidies, an average annual household income of $110,000 with more than two kids and a mortgage doesn’t leave much spare change at the end of each week.
For single-parent and single-income families, it’s virtually untenable.
I’m fortunate to be well enough to work right now, but if I couldn’t, I can’t imagine the strain it would place on us having just one child, let alone having “one for mum, one for dad, and one for the country” as Peter Costello famously encouraged us back in 2002 when he introduced the baby bonus scheme.
So many of us are also waking up to the environmental impact global overpopulation is having.
Procreation topped the list in a 2017 study on the various lifestyle actions which contributed the greatest carbon emissions.
If a couple bore one less child, they would save the equivalent of 58.6 tonnes of CO2 per year.
So Tony, if you and the Morrison government comes up with a better solution for working mums, and sets in place a solid environmental policy for future generations, let me know.
But until then, I’ll be having one child for love, one less for a mortgage and my mental health, and one less for the environment.