When Milton woman Olivia Mathieson became a mother for the first time last summer, she assumed she would have it "down pat". However, the reality of looking after an infant 24/7, and maintaining other expectations of a modern domestic life, led her to reflect on the shared challenges of all new mothers and, ultimately, to her and friends’ formation of new charity Blessed Box, late last year.
The charity will distribute "curated" food boxes to new mothers in Clutha from the end of this month — something Mrs Matheson says she would have welcomed about 12 months ago. "I’m a first-time mum, and I went into it with a lot of confidence, how hard can it be, ‘she’ll be right’ sort of attitude, prior to actually giving birth. "Then Penelope came along, which was amazing. But it was also a case of ‘Woah!’ Sleep deprivation, 24/7 demands, on top of all the regular things you need to do to keep things going. "My husband was wonderful, but there were times when we could barely get off the couch to make a meal."
About six months after her daughter’s birth, Mrs Mathieson experienced an "epiphany". "When a friend or relative brought round an oven dish of food, it made such a huge difference — not just practically but emotionally. "So I thought, ‘Why shouldn’t everyone experience this?"’
With the help of Milton friends, now fellow trustees, Kelly Holden and Nadia Gauchet, Blessed Box was born. "The idea is simple. Anyone can sign themselves or someone they know up on the website, and on the last Saturday of each month we’ll deliver a beautifully curated food box containing a prepared family meal, cupcakes and a breast-feeding/sleep deprivation pack for a mother with a new baby, free of charge."
Mrs Mathieson said about 200 babies were born in Clutha each year, and she hoped most mothers would sign up to receive a box. "We’ve had heaps of community support already, but we’d love more. Things like Silver Fern Farms donating all our meat, and [Milton butchery] Tiny’s mincing it for our lasagnes. Local people and businesses have been amazing."
The weeks and months following birth could be a particularly demanding time for new mothers, and she hoped her initiative would help lift people’s spirits. "To give the gift of food can brighten what can be a very tough time, despite the joys of welcoming a newborn. "And if we look after mum, we look after the whole family."
Mothers to newborns can register at www.blessedbox.co.nz, before January 24.