Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest! #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate. I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family. If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you! For now I will leave you in the hands of Kerry from Don’t Drop the Baby!
We all know how much your life turns upside down when you have a baby. Not only do we have to come to terms with all the physical, emotional and mental changes that occur, but before we know it our tiny newborns are nearing that first birthday milestone. We then have to get our heads around the fact that we have to return to a full time job, use our actual brain, and, in most cases, hand our little ones over to a complete stranger to take our place while we go and earn some money. All completely guilt ridden and sleep deprived. No wonder so many women choose not to go back to work, or try to negotiate part-time hours.
I took a full year of maternity leave (the last three months were unpaid), and as the time grew nearer to returning, my anxiety levels were going through the roof. I just didn’t want to go back, plain and simple. The thought of leaving Molly with unknown staff at the nursery caused me so much stress I felt ill. My family and friends all live back home in Wales, so we had absolutely no childcare whatsoever. At that point we hadn’t even left Molly with anyone, so she was only used to me and her dad. I felt sick.
I had a meeting with my manager and she agreed that I could go back part-time, but I would have to downgrade my role as assistant manager to a senior support worker (I worked in a residential home for people with learning disabilities). I wasn’t bothered at all, as it meant that I only had to work two days a week. It just didn’t interest me at the time… as far as I was concerned my role was a mother. We worked it out and, as I was only working 16 hours per week, and after the nursery fees were paid, I was taking home about £50 a month!
But after a lengthy discussion with my partner John, we decided that it wasn’t about the money, it would be good for me to ‘have a little break’ from Molly, and that she would benefit from nursery. I reluctantly agreed. I should have trusted my gut instinct though.
The night before I started back I didn’t sleep a wink, not a single minute. I laid in bed with my heart thumping, thinking about every single dreadful scenario my anxious brain could conjure up. I was shaking as I handed my baby over to the nursery staff, and then cried my eyes out all the way to work.
That was probably one of the worst days of my life. I cannot describe the panic and worry that gripped me all day. I must have called the nursery about 10 times (Molly was fine), and I just counted down the minutes until I could get the hell out of there and go and pick her up.
I lasted about 8 months. 8 months of absolute hell. Molly was constantly unwell. Every single week she would contract another illness from nursery. Most days I went into work with no sleep after being up all night with her, and then had to leave my crying baby with strangers when she just wanted her mummy.
John and I never saw each other. He works a rolling 3 weeks of shifts (nights, mornings and afternoons), and I had to work shifts too. They begrudgingly agreed for me to work a permanent day shift on a Thursday (which most people moaned about), but then I had to work an afternoon shift on either a Saturday or Sunday. John would obviously look after Molly, but I lost count of the amount of times he had to call me at work to say that she had another temperature. Being as I had the car I had to rush home to take her to the walk in centre as inevitably she would always be ill on a weekend.
A few Thursdays I had to call in to say I couldn’t make it into work as Molly was ill – we had a few hospital visits during that time for croup/an allergic reaction plus 15 ear infections. If I had a day off it meant I didn’t get paid, but the nursery still took their fees even though Molly wasn’t there. We may as well have been flushing money down the toilet!
The final straw came when it was nearing to Christmas and I was expected to work on Christmas Day. The thought of not seeing Molly opening her presents while I went to a job that I had grown to hate just pushed me over the edge. The pittance I earned (it was even less when you factored in money for petrol/lunch) just wasn’t worth it. I handed my notice in and left in November 2015. I cannot tell you the relief I felt, it was like I’d been holding my breath for months and I could finally breathe again.
Luckily we were in a position where I didn’t have to work. We could just about cover everything with John’s wage, but it did mean that he had to work overtime most weekends. Although it was hard at times being on my own, I absolutely loved being a SAHM mum. I relished the fact that we didn’t have to be anywhere at a certain time, we could get up in the morning with no stress and decide where we wanted to go, and if Molly was ill and had a bad night it didn’t matter.
After a while though I started to get bored. I missed working and having adult conversations, I missed having my own money in my bank account without having to ask John, and I missed using my brain! However, with the extortionate nursery fees and not qualifying for any help from the government we were pretty much stuck. So I started to think of things I could do around Molly. I looked at what I had – a car, a laptop and now an extensive knowledge of small children. There was only one thing for it – to start my own soft play hire business!
Tipple Tails launched in May 2016 and it’s been steadily growing ever since. I’ve had to turn a few jobs down as I’ve been fully booked. I did everything myself in the evenings when Molly was in bed – wrote a business plan and secured a small loan, researched all the other similar businesses in the area, purchased all the stock, designed my own flyers/business cards, sourced a graphic designer to design my logo and then I designed my own website. I created the Facebook page and then marketed/promoted/advertised it to the hilt! I knew absolutely nothing about running a business (I failed Business Studies CGSE), and I am really just learning as I’m going along.
I absolutely love it though. Molly gets to come to work with me on the days when John is on overtime which she thoroughly enjoys. She helps me set up/pack away, and most of the time gets spoiled with sweets by my customers! I’ve had 5* reviews on my Facebook page and all of my customers have told me how much fun the kids have had.
The only downside is that it’s not bringing in a full time wage, and there have been some weeks where I haven’t worked at all. That’s the disadvantage of being self-employed I guess. So I have also just taken on another job as the online area manager for Families. Again I just do this in my spare time at home, and it basically involves researching everything that’s going on in the local area for parents/kids, uploading them onto my website and writing articles. I make money by selling advertising space to businesses ( a bit like monetising a blog I suppose). I’ve just started so am still finding my feet, but am really enjoying it so far.
Again, everything comes down to time. What with my business, my new job, my blog, and looking after Molly full time while keeping the house going, there isn’t much time for anything else! I can’t tell you the last time I actually sat and watched a tv show or had a proper conversation with John (we’re both too tired to speak anyway!), but luckily Molly will be going to nursery soon as she qualifies for her free 15 hours of childcare – I have big plans for those 2 days!
My main goal is to continue to be able to work from home as there isn’t another job that offers that kind of flexibility. I will strive to make a success of my business and with Families, and if I can eventually monetise my blog, then happy days! I know all this hard work will pay off in the end.
You can find more from Kerry here!