The last 16 months has a mass of monumental changes. After years of shall-we? shan’t we? conversations between my husband and I on the decision to have another baby, we opted for a shall and despite being relatively settled in a career, I presumed life would just return to how it was once I’d finished maternity leave and I’d return to everything I knew and loved in my role as a Children’s Centre outreach worker.
What I didn’t bargain on was the complete change of heart I’d have about my job while I was away. In the time I’d been there I’d learnt so much professionally and personally and hoped to be able to climb the career ladder, however I’d also seen changes and experienced frustrations and it soon became apparent my passion wasn’t there anymore.
Foolishly I thought I could find childcare and return, albeit on a part-time basis, to where I left off. But when you no longer love your job as much as you once did, it’s hard to justify leaving your baby so I bit the bullet and handed in my notice, three months before I was due to return.
It’s at this point that I should probably explain that my decision to leave wasn’t done on a whim, I had to work so I needed a plan and after much deliberating and lots of conversations with many different people, I decided to set up my own after school club.
As a working mum I knew how difficult it was to find good, reliable childcare so instead of being in a position of looking for childcare, I’d be the child care! I had 15 years experience in working with children and families and it would be easier for me to find someone to look after my own children for a few hours as opposed to 3 full days.
So while I should have been resting and getting myself fully acquainted with day time TV, I was sourcing equipment, applying for business bank accounts, registering with the tax office and writing a 101 policies and endless amounts of paper work.
As the childcare industry is so tightly regulated, I never anticipated just how much hoop jumping and planning I’d need. From start to finish it took 6 months not to mention a whole chuck of money. But once the formalities were in place; Ofsted clearance, DBS clearance and business bank account I opened my doors. I employed staff and had to quickly learn payroll, online accounting as well as running the club on a day to day basis.
But the long hours and months of planning soon paid off and I’m now in a job I love again, I do my accounts and planning in the evenings so my days are free to spend with my now toddler. I’m there when he’s poorly or just needs a day of cuddles. We get to do all the normal things I would’ve been missing out on and he’s never protested when someone comes to take him out for a walk at 3 o’clock. There’s no tears (from either of us) as we walk out the door as he knows it’s just a little while until his brothers come home.
For anyone thinking of making the switch, my advice would be to follow your gut instinct, remain realistic and then do the maths. It never once felt like I’d made a mistake and I was under no illusion that it would be a roaring success straight away. I saved enough money to see us through a couple of months on a lower wage and cut back in every area possible, but most importantly, I had a plan B, if it didn’t work out.
For us it’s been the best possible decision we could have made, I’ve got such a buzz out of seeing it all come together and where I thought I’d miss some elements of my old job, not once have I looked back and had a yearning for what I left behind.
And where do I see myself in 5 years time? Well if truth be told, I don’t. I’m taking each year as it comes, who knows what’s out there or what the government will decide for wraparound childcare. All I know is that I started a business from scratch and worked, and if I had to do it again, I could. I may have a chain of successful after school clubs or I could simply be ticking along, being there for my children and supporting my local community.
This is collaborative post with M & S Bank and their #makeaswitch campaign