In 2014, I had an adorable baby boy. I also had two herniated disks, meaning I was bent over like a 90 year old and could barely leave the house. That year of maternity leave was more like eternity leave and towards the end I couldn’t wait to get back to work; to adult company, and to using my brain.
Two years on, my late 30s have kicked in and so has the apathy for working in an office, doing the same thing I’ve been doing for over 14 years and trudging into London every day. I need something else from life, but with a restriction: when my son goes to school next year I want to be that parent who signs up for everything, and gets involved in every little detail of her kids school life (he’ll thank me one day!).
When I first went back to work and shipped J off to nursery, I suffered the usual ‘mummy guilt’ – how could I desert my child to a stranger? Does the fact I want to work make me a terrible mum? Will my son hate me for not giving up work to spend every minute with him? Would I be doing my son or my career any favours if I wasn’t fully committed to either? I was in a lucky position where my employer had introduced flexible working, so on top of being permitted to reduce my working days from five to four, I could work from home when necessary and flex my start/finish times (so long as the job got done of course).
But if I am in the office (which I invariably am these days), I have two hours of commuting to contend with, and husband has even longer. J is always one of the first children to be dropped off in the morning, and often the last to be picked up, and the guilt scales are tipping in favour of needing more time with him before I lose him to the education system.
So I quit my job.
I’m working out my notice period, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt so at ease with a decision I’ve made about my career, or more excited about what the next chapter of life holds for us as a family.
I have learnt something important from being back at work, and seeing J develop and thrive at nursery. Being a working mum is ok, and doesn’t mess up the relationship I have with my child. I know it’s not for everyone, and I really take my hat off to stay-at-home mum’s – I honestly don’t know how you do it, just as I don’t know how the mum’s who work full time and manage the childcare do it either. I cherish the time I have with J (except when he’s having a three-nager sulk, usually saved for my non-working days), and I hope in the future he’ll feel he had a strong female role model in his life, and won’t feel he’s missed out on anything because I worked four days a week.
So what next?
For those who don’t know, I quite like making cakes. My amazing friends Kate and Sam recently trusted me to make their wedding cake. I didn’t want to let them down (especially when they told me the cake would be served straight after the ceremony, meaning people would be sober and remember it!) so I created this. They were married on Hove Bandstand so it seemed fitting.
At the wedding, people were asking me for business cards. I’ve been asked previously why I don’t make cakes for a living, and I’ve always said I like having it as a hobby. But this time it was different. Coupled with the apathy I’m feeling for my job, I suddenly realised – why can’t I do this? I actually make quite tasty cakes, and often get compliments – and working for myself means I can plan jobs around childcare. I read somewhere that 9 out of 10 new businesses fail, which is a pretty daunting stat, but what’s to stop me being the 1 in 10 that succeeds?
This is the time to highlight just how brilliant my husband Mark is. We all joke about him being an accountant and needing to have a spreadsheet of numbers for everything, but this time I’m eternally grateful for it. He’s worked out that we can survive on me taking a lower paid part-time job, using the rest of my week to start setting up the business (and keep the house clean apparently).
I’ve never set up a business. I have a Business degree and I know how to write a strategy, manage large budgets and run a team. But I don’t know what comes next, and I feel compelled to record the steps I’m taking on this journey. So whether it’s how I go about getting my Food Safety Certificate, testing the latest brand of sugarpaste, or sourcing the best quality cupcake wrappers at the lowest price, I’ll be sharing it all here, warts and all.
Wish me luck!