BALLARAT mums will have further opportunities to connect and form friendships with an initiative encouraging investment in mental health set to be launched in the city.
Mums Who Wine, founded by Melbourne mum Lauren Oliver, was created as a way to address the isolation new mums often experience through regular social events.
A pop-up event was first hosted for 150 Ballarat mums back in May, with an overwhelming response meaning many could not secure tickets.
Just last week the event returned, sponsored by Ballarat company Mesh & Masonry, and saw 300 Ballarat mums flock to Housey Housey in the biggest event in Mums Who Wine history.
Ms Oliver said the scale of the event and speed at which it sold out was a testament to the support of Ballarat mums.
And demand is showing no signs of slowing down with tickets to the next event, to be hosted at the Pub With Two Names in October, selling out in less than eight hours.
"It's exciting and is really encouraging for me and what we are doing that Ballarat mums love, support and believe in what we are doing," Ms Oliver said.
Given the popularity, she is now set to launch Ballarat Mums Who Wine in December, meaning regular events will be hosted and membership will be activated in the region.
The membership component gives members VIP access to local businesses like day spas and gyms to encourage women to take time out for themselves and practice self-care.
Despite the name of the events, Ms Oliver said they are not a boozy mum's club, but are about connection and providing a place where mums can invest in themselves by prioritising their own self-care, rather than continuously giving, so they can be the best possible versions of themselves.
She is passionate about mitigating the risk of mums experiencing isolation, a loss of identity and perinatal anxiety and depression.
For this reason, Mums Who Wine partners with PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) by donating five per cent of all profits to the organisation. She hopes that by doing so, awareness will be increased and the stigma associated with the conditions reduced.
Ms Oliver knows that big gatherings like the Mums Who Wine events hosted in Ballarat to date are not for everybody.
"Going forward I would like to mix up the events. They are about connection so I am trying to create the best way to facilitate that," she said.
"The launch will be a big-scale event because we want to get as many people there as possible but after that we will run other events like small dinners, movie nights and wine tastings.
"I want to mix it up because I know that not every mum wants to be in a room with 300 other mums. Some might prefer smaller things so I want to make sure we are catering to everyone because we want every mum in Ballarat to be connected."
Thank A Farmer
With the Mums Who Wine events proving to be so popular in regional areas like Ballarat, Bendigo and Horsham, Ms Oliver said it had really shifted her focus.
"Motherhood can be really isolating. In the city it can be tough and difficult but for mums and dads in rural farming communities they're not only enduring that but also have to deal with physical isolation and tough working conditions," she said.
She recently organised a Thank A Farmer weekend which involved spoiling a group of farming mums, nominated by a friend or family member, by taking them on an all expenses paid weekend to Melbourne.
The weekend included a limousine ride around the city, an afternoon in a corporate box at the AFL and a meal in a private dining room.
There will be a similar event for farming dads next week.
"It was all about creating awareness about mental health, getting the mums off the farm and giving them some time out," Ms Oliver said. "It is something we are really passionate about and want to build and expand to doing regular events for farmers to enjoy."
"These events are about giving back. The conditions in rural farming communities are pretty tough at the moment with droughts and the water crisis. The rate of suicide is much higher in farming men than those in the city so we felt really passionate that instead of just giving money, we could bring them out and take them for some VIP treatment."
Ballarat's Katie Wilkie nominated her friend, a farmer who has been through a lot, for the weekend and was asked to tag along.
She said the connection between the women was almost immediate and it was nice to see the farming women who had been chosen to let their hair down.
Farming doesn't stop because it's Christmas day, because it's a birthday or because the weather is too hot; you just have to keep going all the time.Katie Wilkie
"And that's the same when you have a baby. It doesn't mean the sheep or the cows will give you maternity leave. It's really important for everybody's mental health. For the mums to get away and go and refill their cups and have time to [be made to feel] that they are important."
The group of women are still communicating after creating a group chat.
"We are all talking everyday. Being able to talk to like-minded people and bounce ideas off each other with people who are going through the same things has been really great," she said.
"They know now if they are having a very hard day then they can reach out to everybody to rant in the group where everybody is non-judgemental and totally understanding. So it was amazing, a very powerful experience. To have only been together for a day and a half and to now have connections to these ladies... it feels like we've known each other forever."
Originally from Hamilton, Ms Wilkie moved to Ballarat last year. She also attended the recent Mums Who Wine event and said it was a great way to meet other mums and refuel.
"These events are a place to fill up your cup so you can then go back and be the best mum you can be by looking after yourself. It's very important, especially in this day and age where there are so many expectations put on parents and mums.
"What Lauren is doing is amazing. Everybody was so different. When you take your little one to their music or swimming lesson, everybody has their mum hat on. So it was nice to stand in a room full of totally different women. I think it was really beneficial to everyone."
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