Meet our 2017 Mum of the Year

Emma Ben­ninga used her own experiences to form a not-for-profit sup­port group for mums

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Emma, 26, formed not-for-profit sup­port group Sleepy Mumzzz after a bat­tle with post-natal de­pres­sion due to se­vere sleep de­pri­va­tion. She’s us­ing her ex­pe­ri­ence to of­fer on­line sup­port for mums all over the coun­try, as well as in her own back­yard

After the birth of her son, Mav­er­ick, in 2015, Mel­bourne mum-of-two, Emma Ben­ninga, ex­pe­ri­enced se­vere sleep de­pri­va­tion. After many trips to sleep schools, dif­fer­ent strate­gies and tech­niques, and long, ex­haust­ing nights, Emma took her­self to the doc­tor, which led to her post-natal de­pres­sion di­ag­no­sis. “These feel­ings were all very new to me, so it prob­a­bly took me a while to ac­knowl­edge them,” she ex­plains.

Long­ing to talk to other mums who were go­ing through the same experiences, Emma launched Sleepy Mumzzz on Face­book, In­sta­gram and at www. sleep­y­mumzzz.org.au to bring mums to­gether and cre­ate a place for them to lend sup­port and re­ceive it. “Sleepy Mumzzz is some­thing I am so proud of. I am fi­nally do­ing some­thing that I am so pas­sion­ate about and that is help­ing oth­ers,” she says. “I started this group be­cause I was suf­fer­ing from post-natal de­pres­sion and I needed an­other source of sup­port. I had my in­cred­i­ble hus­band and both of our fam­i­lies and my close friends, but I just needed some­thing else… I needed other mums who were go­ing through the same things as I was so I could feel nor­mal and un­der­stood, and I could re­late to some­one. And if I needed this, then I fig­ured there would be other mums out there need­ing the same thing, too.”

In ad­di­tion to the sup­port group, Emma also fundraises for The Babes Project, a char­ity that sup­ports women in cri­sis preg­nan­cies. She also runs two weekly play­groups, in­clud­ing an in­ter­gen­er­a­tional one, which is held in a nurs­ing home, giv­ing the elderly a spe­cial op­por­tu­nity to play and in­ter­act with young chil­dren. “Usu­ally about five or 10 mums go to an aged care fa­cil­ity and spend time with the res­i­dents, play­ing games and do­ing ac­tiv­i­ties,” she says, “It’s so spe­cial, and it’s some­thing I’d love to fo­cus on and fur­ther build upon.”

Upon learn­ing she was awarded the grand prize, a $5000 voucher from

Ba­bies”R”Us, Emma was thrilled, shocked and most of all ex­cited about shar­ing her prize with those around her who need it most. “This in­cred­i­ble prize from Ba­bies”R”Us is go­ing to help not only my fam­ily, but our Sleepy Mumzzz com­mu­nity. Hav­ing a tod­dler and a new­born, this voucher will help us to pro­vide our ba­bies with some amaz­ing prod­ucts to help us adapt to be­com­ing a fam­ily of four, as well as a huge help to­wards the Sleepy Mumzzz sup­port group and play­groups I run.”

As Sleepy Mumzzz is com­pletely funded by Emma, she’s look­ing for­ward to pur­chas­ing brand-new play­group kits with toys and ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties for ev­ery­one to en­joy. “This voucher is also go­ing to al­low me to do some­thing re­ally spe­cial for The Babes Project,” she says. “I am go­ing to use some of this prize money to help pro­vide items for their birth ham­pers that the new moth­ers re­ceive once their ba­bies have ar­rived. We are able to spread the love among so many and help a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent peo­ple. That’s what I, and this group is all about, which makes me su­per ex­cited.”

While Emma has big plans for the fu­ture of Sleepy Mumzzz as well as her work with the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional play­groups, she still ac­knowl­edges the spe­cial peo­ple around her who have helped her come this far. “I would like to thank Mother & Baby mag­a­zine for mak­ing this en­tire ad­ven­ture pos­si­ble. I am so hon­oured to be a part of this process, but to ac­tu­ally win this award has come as such a huge shock to me but one I am ex­tremely proud of. Te­gan, a fel­low mum from our Sleepy Mumzzz group, is the friend who nom­i­nated me for this award. I thank her for see­ing in me what I some­times strug­gle to see in my­self. My hus­band has also been amaz­ing. His sup­port has helped me to ful­fil my dreams of help­ing oth­ers, even when it was at the cost of us fi­nan­cially, and he be­lieved in me when I said what I wanted to cre­ate and the fu­ture I saw for Sleepy Mumzzz. I’ve also got my own fan­tas­tic mum, who is my big­gest sup­porter and has been my rock through­out my moth­er­hood jour­ney,” she says.

“Some days I’m an av­er­age mum – I cry, I yell, I get frus­trated, I get mum-guilt and ev­ery­thing else in-be­tween, but I guess that’s all part of it. To be along­side four other in­cred­i­ble moth­ers with such in­spir­ing sto­ries, is re­ally hard to put my­self on the same level as them. But I think as moth­ers, ev­ery sin­gle one of us is just do­ing the best we can, the best way we know how and, to our chil­dren, we are all a mum of the year.”

I cry, I yell, I get frus­trated, I get mumguilt and ev­ery­thing else in-be­tween, but I guess that’s all part of it.

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