lifestyle

Meet Jill. She devotes her life to helping mums be amazing.

Jill has devoted her life to giving that extra support to women who need it

Being a mum is incredibly rewarding – but let’s be honest.

It can also be really, really hard.

Early hours, late nights, new challenges, and changes to your life that you definitely didn’t read about in What To Expect When You’re Expecting. For many mothers, having a strong support network is the thing that helps them keep it together.

But not all mums are lucky enough to have a pre-existing circle of family, friends and other mothers that can help them out when, you know, it feels like the baby has been crying for five hours and you haven’t had a chance to wash your hair in approximately five years.

We can all reach out to mums when we see them struggling – even strangers on the street. For someone like Jill, however, helping other mums is actually her job.

Jill, from The Benevolent Society, has devoted her life to giving that extra support to women who need it. She is now in her 50s, has two grown-up daughters of her own, and spends every day helping create more secure futures for mums and their kids.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by The Benevolent Society. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

She works with mothers who feel like they’re struggling and unable to cope, and helps them find stable housing, financial security and – most importantly – community support. When Jill talks about the women she has worked with, you can tell how much she cares.

One of Jill’s clients is a 20-year-old woman, with a two-year-old.

“To me she is still so young, and a mum as well,” Jill says, “She was removed herself from her mother when she was eight and put in foster care. I really like her drive and ability to ask for help.  Just this week I organised career counselling for her. Her goal is to become a youth worker, and she wants to go to TAFE.”

The success stories – where Jill has managed to help women help themselves – make the job worthwhile.

“I’m really proud of another girl… She came to me looking for a way to connect with other mums because she was lonely, living in a flat with her baby and no work,” Jill says. “When she first contacted us, she had left a bad relationship after being seriously assaulted. She’d had lots of experience caring for kids because she was the eldest in a large family and helped her mother who couldn’t cope because she had schizophrenia.”

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And now?

Benevolent Society Child & Family support worker Jill Gardiner giving mum Ashlee some quality creative time, while her daughter is in child care at an integrated Child & Family centre in Sydney

“She’s studying online for a childcare certificate and has already found a job in childcare,” Jill explains.

Helping other mothers is Jill’s job, but the reason she’s so good at it, is because she gets it. She’s been there. She’s a mother herself and, like all mothers, she’s faced her own struggles.

“As a mum myself, I am able to relate to some of the issues a mum may face,” Jill says. She explains that her own mother died when Jill’s kids were quite young, and so she moved back to Sydney and had to make new friends in an area where she had absolutely no connections.

“I met other mothers through attending playgroup,” Jill says, “So this gives me experience at knowing what a great benefit some of these social connections can be to a mum who is isolated or wanting to meet other mums.”

There are so many mothers in our society who are doing the absolute best they can – but who sometimes need a little extra help. Women from all walks of life, all career-paths, and all communities.

The beauty is that a helping hand can make all the difference – whether it’s from a professional Child and Family worker like Jill – or even from a benevolent neighbor or friend, pointing out where more help is available.

Getting help for mums under stress is so important because when they aren’t coping, they are more likely to misread the needs of their children and their relationship can deteriorate – snowballing into more stress.

By reaching out, not only will they get the help they need, but they’ll feel more confident and in control they’ll get a pay off by having a stronger foundation for a healthy relationship with their kids.

Who do you reach out to when you need help as a parent?

No mum would ever say they didn’t love being a mum, but it isn’t always a walk in the park…

Having loving parents who play with you, read to you and provide stimulating early learning opportunities builds vital neural pathways that set you up well to be able to make friends, concentrate at school and cope well with everyday life.

But many children in Australia have parents who can’t provide this kind of supportive environment – usually because they themselves grew up without it. It’s hard to know how to be a good parent if you’ve never experienced it. 

Helping every parent to be the best mum and dad they can be will help the current generation of children get the best out of life. It will help them to do well at school, make friends, get and keep a job and stay out of serious trouble.

Join The Benevolent Society’s Acting Early campaign to help all Australian children develop their potential and contribute positively to our shared community.