Ask Jaclyn McDowell what she wanted to be when she grew up at age four and she would always say ‘a mother’.
Thirty-seven years later and Jaclyn has three children, Carson 8, Samuel 6 and Matilda 4 and thrives on being a stay-at-home mum.
“It’s what I do. I wanted to embrace being a Mum, going out and about with the children, watching them play to strive and survive, building development and making sure all their play aspects are there that kids need,” she said.
And as an early childhood teacher, Jaclyn knows what she is talking about. For the past seven years, she has been an active member of the Karalee Playgroup.
“This is my tribe,. This is where I have met all my best friends. This is an amazing place,” she said.
Hailing from Northern Ireland, ‘her tribe’ is vital, given that her brother and sister and parents are still at home. “I have no family here so my Karelee friends are everything to me,” she said.
Jaclyn said she and her husband came to Australia on a backpacking visa in 2006.
“Australia caught my heart. When Matilda was born we spent two years in America and I spent the whole time trying to get back. That speaks a lot about Australia,” she said.
“This is also a place where I have been in a position where I could make that choice and stay home with my kids. Not everyone is so lucky and they have to work, even part time. But for me, it is invaluable for me to help them meet challenges through play,” she said.
It is no wonder that playgroup has become her happy place.
“We provide the kids with a safe environment and because the kids are safe, the Mums can relax.”
The centre is rented through the Ipswich City Council and payment is flexible at $3 per session or $5 per family. Jaclyn said in her family, Mother’s Day was all about making that person feel special.