Top Mum's gift of love

MEET Sallee Zanardi, mother to 11 children, aged from four months to 23 years — and the Barnardos Tasmanian Mother of the Year.

The Dromedary mum is raising four of her own children — and since 2013 has become a foster mother to seven others. Mrs Zanardi says she has always had a strong sense she “needed to care for children” and does it for the gift of love.

Imagine your family going through 210 pieces of fruit, 24 litres of milk, 21 loaves of bread and 36 eggs in a week. It might sound crazy, but it’s the norm for a very inspiring Hobart mum and her family.

Accolades and awards mean little compared with the gift of love that 2019 Tasmanian Mother of the Year Sallee Zanardi gets daily from her soccer team-sized family.

Mrs Zanardi, who today will be named Barnardos Mother of the Year Tasmania 2019, personifies care.

Her Dromedary home could have been mistaken for an orphanage yesterday as her 11 children, aged four months to 23 years, played in the afternoon sun. The family’s three dogs and two goats are central to playtime activities at the property where technology is kept to a minimum.

The former teacher’s assistant is the biological mum of four children and, since 2013, has become a foster
mother to seven others — three of whom she’s raised from birth.

Motherhood is a full-time lifestyle for Mrs Zanardi and she said her doting nature was ingrained from a young age.

“I remember babysitting for about seven kids when I was 15 and thought this is great. It’s just always been with me.”

Mrs Zanardi said the idea to take on more children at the home she shares with husband Col brought light to her life after some dark times.

“I did experience really deep depression after my first marriage and I think when that was happening, it made me want to protect kids even more from toxic situations like the one I was in,” she said.

Her daughter Jamie, who nominated Mrs Zanardi for the award, said “she is the most selfless person I know and never expects anything, so she deserves to be mother of the year.”


(This story first appeared in the Hobart Mercury).

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