From Brazil to New Zealand: Sue’s story

Meet Sue. Warehouse team member, Brazilian-Kiwi, mum, wife, animal-lover, coffee-drinker, Japanese food eater, superwoman.

The alarm clock is blaring, and there’s no time to hit snooze. Monday has arrived on time and before Sue has even opened her eyes, the day’s schedule downloads automatically in her head –

  • Get showered and changed
  • Wake up the girls
  • Get breakfast out (kiss husband goodbye)
  • Make the lunchboxes
  • Take the meat out of the freezer for dinner
  • Feed the cats and the dog
  • Phone the father-in-law to remind him that he is picking the girls up after school and taking them to gymnastics (not piano or swimming today)
  • Make sure the girls have got all their books and gym gear
  • Have something prepared for the girls to do while they wait at the store until it’s time to walk to school (must remember to make an appointment to see Ashley’s teacher on Friday morning before work)
  • I’m on customer service today

“No one can call or disturb me in the mornings, because if I stop or if I am disrupted, the routine falls apart. Everything needs to go according to plan,” says Sue – mum to Ashley (10) and Sophie (8), wife to Wade and a dedicated Warehouse team member.

Originally from Rio, Brazil, Sue has been in New Zealand since the age of 23. “When I was at university in Brazil, studying computer science, a Kiwi exchange student came to live with my family for a year. We became very close, and when she left to go back to New Zealand, she invited me to come and visit. I didn’t even know where New Zealand was!”

After a couple of months in Wellington, Sue was ready to exchange the wind and rain for some South American sunshine. Home was calling, but before she had a chance to hop on a plane back to Rio, Sue met a fellow Brazilian who lived in Auckland, and she was convinced to stay a little longer. After a few weeks in Auckland, Sue fell in love with the city (and a Kiwi bloke), and the rest is history. Sue and Wade have now been married for 11 years, and their family of two has grown to include two beautiful daughters, an exchange student from Japan (Sara), a dog called Roxy, and three cats – Crystal, Milo and Zip.

Like many Warehouse team members, Sue’s work schedule is varied, and her shifts change every couple of weeks. “I usually work in customer service on Mondays and Saturdays, on Tuesdays I’m on check-out and Fridays, I work the floor,” says Sue.

“If they’re happy, I’m happy. I want to teach them to respect others and to treat others as they would like to be treated.”

Sue is super organised when it comes to fitting everything in, but not having extended family close by is challenging, especially because both she and Wade work. Wade’s dad is around, but he works too, so Sue has come up with some creative ways to make sure the girls are dropped off, picked up and looked after in the school holidays. “You have to have a plan A, B, C and D,” she laughs. “Holidays are especially difficult because holiday programmes are about $50 per child per day, so it’s not worth going to work. I may as well take unpaid leave.” To make sure she doesn’t use up all her leave, Sue chats to the mums of her daughters’ friends, and they organise their holiday schedules together. When Sue is at work, her girls go to their friends’ houses, and vice versa. That way, the mums don’t have to take too much time off work and their kids are happy and looked after.

“Being a mum is hard work – I do a lot on my own, and it can be very stressful. I want to raise my kids well, and I want them to make good friends, but life is so crazy busy,” Sue says. “I used to work Sundays too, but I recently decided to drop them. I wanted at least one day a week when everyone could wake up and eat breakfast together. Sundays are really special days now – we get to walk the dog , get ice creams or go to our favourite Japanese restaurant – we all love Japanese food!”

Sue also tries to make the most of her time in the car with her girls – taking them to school or after-school activities (when her schedule allows). “We often catch up in the car. The girls tell me about their day, and who they spent time with. This car time is really important because we don’t get much time to chat at home.”
Even though being a working mum requires a lot of sacrifice and energy, Sue says that going to work is really important for her own sense of well-being. “I love that at work I get to be ‘me’ – not just a mum or a wife. This is why working with customers is my favourite part of my job. I love making recommendations to parents and interacting with the kids who come into the store. I get to arrange things on the shelves from a parent’s perspective.” (Sue’s girls love getting to make their own recommendations too!).

Sue has big dreams for her girls, but most of all, she wants them to be happy. “If they’re happy, I’m happy. I want to teach them to respect others and to treat others as they would like to be treated.”

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Extracted from Parenting: The Warehouse Edition, a custom-made magazine created for parents working at The Warehouse.