A growing population and more financial pressures have seen steadily increasing demand for a Mahurangi service for parents of preschoolers who are struggling to cope.
Parentport North coordinator Di Julian says parents sometimes feel embarrassed to call the service and admit they need help, but such a feeling is misplaced.
“Parenting is one of the hardest jobs that you can have,” she says.
She cites the example of a mother with a toddler who recently delivered a premature baby. Her husband left her the week she got back from hospital.
“She has no family support and the baby screams from two in the morning until 11am. She is basically up all night and then has to be awake all day for the toddler. She is just exhausted.”
Di says a Parentport field worker can come in for a few hours and take care of such things as shopping, child minding, meal preparation, laundry, light housework or similar tasks that an overwhelmed mum might need to ensure she stays sane.
The service is free and 12 hours of help is available to any parent, grandparent or caregiver responsible for looking after preschoolers.
Di says assistance for grandparents is becoming more common, in some cases after children have been removed from parents because of their parents’ involvement with drugs.
Di says sometimes people worry the Parentport field worker will be a matronly person who is going to look around their house and say things like ‘how come you have not done your dishes and why is your bed not made?’ but the service is not like that at all.
“We’re non-judgmental and just help with the practical things. We recognise everyone is trying their best,” she says.
Di says many clients suffer from post-natal depression and they might need help looking after a child while they go to a counsellor or simply need some time out by themselves.
Isolation is also a big factor for many clients living in Rodney, especially where there is no public transport. Parentport can help by delivering the shopping and saving client’s petrol money. Field workers can also deliver food parcels from other organisations.
Di says some families with young children are often barely covering their rent and when a field worker arrives their pantry is often bare.
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