Making peace with feeling guilty ‘cos I’m a single mum on the DPB

God forbid I enjoy baking with my son

God forbid I enjoy baking with my son, I should be working!

I’m now living in my new home, and it’s every bit as super-duper wonderful as I suspected it might be.

The house is beautiful, my flatmates are wonderful, and it feels fantastic to be living in a real home with other people on the spiritual path.

Yet in the midst of this heartfelt warmth and delight at moving into a wonderful home with fantastic people… I’ve noticed a lingering anxiety at the heart level.

This anxiety is manifesting as a desire to rush through things.

Must get the washing hung out so I can write my article for the Lunchbox so I can check my email so I can clear my inbox and get on to the next thing and the next thing and the next…

It’s moments like this I’m really grateful for my yoga and meditation practice. It means that:

A) I am conscious that something unconscious is driving my moments

B) I have the tools to inquire into what this Something might be

C) I understand that merely the process of bringing Awareness to the Something is often enough to dissolve it

So what’s stopping me from relaxing into each moment and enjoying it for the magic that it is?

Sitting with my anxiety, I notice that these actions are an attempt to justify my circumstances.

These actions are also tinged with guilt, and that’s stopping me from fully relaxing into the enjoying each moment in my wonderful new home with my son and flatmates.

See, I’m receiving a subsidy from the government for Samuel’s childcare, based on the fact I’m working.

So when I come home after dropping him off, and feel like I want to wash the breakfast dishes and hang out the washing before sitting down to write ‘(work’). I feel guilty.

I feel like I should be ‘working’ from the instant I step in the door until I leave to pick him up again because it’s the generousity of the taxpayer that makes it affordable for me to put Samuel into home-based childcare three mornings a week.

The guilt doesn’t stop there though.

When I went and applied for my childcare subsidy, the caseworker assessing me looked at my income, and then looked up at me before saying;

You know you’re eligible for the Domestic Purposes Benefit.

I knew.

But I wanted to make it on my own.

I was ‘working hard’ and doing everything I could to spin my skills and talents into an income I could earn from home while caring for Samuel.

That income was pitiful though. The case worker went on:

It’s ok to get a top up from the Government. You’re going to need to be able to pay rent at some stage.

I was still living in Paekakariki, contributing what I could when I could to the home I’d been welcomed into by dear friends. I wanted to start paying regular rent, and I kept thinking that I could find a way to do enough paying hours to make it work.

Truth was, after four months, I was still working plenty of hours a week, but only two of those hours were regular paying gigs.

Sitting in that WINZ office in Paraparaumu, I felt supported and cared for by the caseworker, and I could also sense it was pride that was stopping me from accepting help.

So I went on the benefit.

Later, when I called to change my address to move into this new home, the service representative told me I was likely eligible for the accommodation supplement.

Again I demurred.

He insisted, explaining the paperwork I needed to apply, and told me how much I would receive weekly.

More support and encouragement.

The day I went into to have my WINZ appointment to secure my accommodation supplement, I had no cash to pay for parking and it was an old style meter that wouldn’t take cards.

I nipped into Speedy Signs on Willis Street and asked Dean, the Account Manager working the store if I could get out some coins on Eftpos. He just handed me over a handful of silver and told me to do something nice for Speedy Signs one day.

Again total support. But there’s more…

At my WINZ appointment, the case worker told me I should change my Family Tax Credit from an annual payment to weekly, as it would make the world of difference to my ability to survive.

Support, support, support.

So through support from the Government, I’m living in this beautiful house with my three flatmates and I feel… guilty.

I feel guilty for taking money from the Government and enjoying my life at the same time.

I mean, how dare I?

Life isn’t supposed to be easy and enjoyable and magic and fun. It’s supposed to be hard, you’re supposed to work hard, and you’re certainly not supposed to enjoy it while you’re working. And if you can’t work and you’re a single mother on the DPB… well we all know that that’s what women do when they want to live a free ride – get pregnant.

Plus I know I have the skills and talents to earn a living, so that’s what I should be doing while also mothering my toddler.

The fact that I have yet to turn my fiftenn or so unpaid working hours a week as I get my business up and running into paid hours and a steady income only shows what a failure I am.

Yi! Yi! Yi!

Where does this stuff come from? Doesn’t really matter actually. What’s important is sitting with it, seeing it for what it is, and then asking is it true and does it serve me?

Hell no!

All this guilt and shoulds and supposed-to-bes do nothing at all to help me be a great mother and a great business woman.

Anxiety and rushing through every moment means I’m not taking time to connect inward to the Source of All that Is, and allowing it to guide me.

And it’s that connection that ultimately determines our quality of life.

That’s where peace lies.

So that’s my yoga practice at the moment.

It’s about noticing when I’m feeling anxious or guilty about where I am in life right now – I mean, from writing speeches for the Minister of Social Development to a single mum on the DPB, talk about a backwards slide!

Yep, I’m noticing those thoughts and feelings as they arise and seeing what the underlying beliefs are that drive those thoughts and feelings.

I’m asking myself, is that true? Does it serve me?

And I’m reminding myself that it’s ok to be where I am.

That one of the most creative acts I can ever do, and one of the most powerful ways to contribute to society, is to raise a wonderful child. That means being present. It means cooking, baking, cleaning, gardening and playing. It’s ok to enjoy doing those things.

Hell, it’s ok to just be a single mum on the DPB enjoying her life as it is.

Even writing this right now… there’s all kinds of feelings coming up. I can see this particular practice is going to take some dedication. Wonder what lies on the other side of it though…

Will keep you posted :)

In the meantime… as I’ve moved back into Wellington, I am now available for one-on-one yoga tuition. Hours are between 10am and 1pm, Wednesday to Friday, and it’s $70/hr. You can find out more about my yoga teaching here.


  1. Lisa Woodley says

    Great article Kara-Leah! I’m not a single mother myself but I know many who can relate to what you’re saying. I think when the world gets a bit crazy, the best thing to do is go inwards and Yoga is a great way to do that.

  2. Peter says

    Beautiful, KL. Raising a wonderful child is such a great gift to the world. I can only imagine the presence and patience it involves!

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Peter,

      Patience and presence in spades! And more so as he’s getting older…

      Many blessings,

  3. says

    Thanks for the reminder, my friend. Must be time to catch up soon. Maybe a walk? And know that I’m a keen babysitter when you need one. x

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Ah… a walk would be lovely Marianne. I so missed you those last few months in Paeakakariki! Shall always be a most special time in mine & Samuel’s heart.

      Many blessings,

  4. says

    you’ve worked before, and you’ll work again, and what you’re receiving is only your own tax money back to you

    keep on your path, develop your business, learn your heart, raise your child, and keep posting 😉

    not only do you want to contribute, you are….


    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Adan,

      Such a nice reminder… I’ve paid taxes, and now they’re just going around!

      Thank you!!!

  5. Caroline says

    I’m with Adan… you’re site offers so much and for free… alot of work and commitment from you. Your son will benefit from your time with him, you’re entitled to the assistance and one day you’ll put it all back ten times over :-)

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Caroline,

      That’s what I’m beginning to realise though… I don’t have time to both be a mother to my son and do this website! It’s a huge amount of work and energy, and now hes bigger, I can’t work with him just chilling out.

      It’s raising some interesting questions for sure.


  6. Sybil says

    I hope you’re back in the work force soon. I don’t believe it’s good for the soul to accept government subsidies long term – as your guilt potentially indicates.

    I’m also of the belief that able-bodied adults should be working rather than my tax dollars being spent to support them. Not to be rude or anything – but wouldn’t we all like to take our kids to daycare and then come home and practice yoga rather than going into a J-O-B?

    Again – my intention is not to be rude or confrontation – just to present another perspective.

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Sybil,

      You’ll be relived to know my soul and singing and there ain’t no guilt dancing inside anymore.

      As many supportive friends have reminded me, raising a healthy, loved, grounded, joyful child is a great gift to the community and something that we value by extending support such as the DPB.

      I’m glad that one of the talents I’ve chosen to develop and share with my community is teaching yoga, as this makes it a job requirement for me to practice yoga, read about yoga, and contemplate yoga. I’m always grateful for my yoga students too, who give me so much during our lessons together. ’tis a wonderful exchange of energy, understanding and insight.

      Many blessings,

  7. Julie says

    Hi Sybil,
    I hear what you are saying. However, I don’t think it’s as clear cut as choosing to do yoga instead of getting a job. The amount of factors are hugely varied that can effect someones position of working and I don’t think it’s fair to judge in such a black and white view. The other thing that saddens me is the resentment many people have that their tax dollars are going to those on benefits. I personally have experienced both extremes, one being on a benefit while my husband was studying and many many years down the line earning over 150k…..which I am truly grateful for as we can live comfortably and support our children. I am grateful everyday of having a roof over my head, good food on the table and if the government takes money out of my wages to help those in need …… I can accept that wholeheartedly.


    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Julie,

      Thank you for sharing your experience… it’s something I too have come to realise. We all benefit in some way by caring for each other when the chips are down. Sometimes we’re the ones being cared for. Sometimes we’re the ones doing the caring.

      As a very wise person once said…

      “There but for the grace of God go I…”

      Many blessings,

  8. says

    Being a good mother is the most important job that I can think of. Accept all of the help that there is. Accept this with love, and when the time is right you will give it back with even more love. Children thrive in an environment where there is lots of love and less stress and anxiety. Keep up the good work.

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Linda,

      I’m accepting away! And have also realised that in a roundabout way… my DPB is paying for the production of The Yoga Lunchbox so the NZ community is definitely getting some great value!

  9. josie connor says

    Hi Kara-leah,

    The yoga lunchbox is an invaluble amazing resource,
    Im glad you and your son are being supported,
    The yoga lunchbox sure supports me,
    Rock on….

  10. Bruce says

    Should really come to this website more often, and support this incredible Yoga resource you have created with so much heart and passion Kara-Leah.

    This was a great article and my 2-cents is that you should not feel even a little bit guilty. The middle class who bitch and complain about their tax going to those who actually need it would be energy far better spent at the small % of New Zealand fatcats who have most of the countries wealth in their pockets.

    We do not live in an equitable society, those at the bottom of the food chain are feed chicken-feed. The fact is you are an honourable person in the difficult situation of being a solo-mum (something my mum was for many years) and you deserve the support and respect of society

    • Kara-Leah Grant says

      Hey Bruce,

      I worked out that because I had time to care for my son, and time to nurture and publish a website I absolutely love… it just felt too good to be true! So was afraid of the support being taken away from me. It’s definitely an interesting place to be, observing what comes up…

      Now though, a year later, I’ve accepted that The Yoga Lunchbox isn’t going to pay my wages, so I’m going to head back to work, and keep the website going on the side.



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