Part 1 of a Mumpreneur is Born was published on this blog on October 3rd – now read on…
With hindsight I’m glad that work made me see out my entire three months notice. It gave me time to contemplate the enormity of the lifestyle change I had just agreed to.
I was going to move from a busy job in London and a house in Surrey to a small flat on a small island 9 miles by 5 where I knew no-one except my husband. I was trading my high-powered full-on executive life for that of a housewife, dependent on my husband for money, because in Jersey I would not have a work permit. I was even going to have to do my own housework, because the reduction in our salaries would not permit a cleaner, and when I mentioned that I might want one, he gave me one of those looks……
And I was 4 months pregnant, with all that entailed. Which I knew absolutely nothing about…
Once I had made up my mind to do it, I set to the new project with the same ruthlessness and organisation that had marked out the rest of my career. If I was going to be a stay at home mum, I was going to be the best mum that ever was. I read all the books on pregnancy and birth, I posted on the baby forums, I watched the videos and the reality TV shows about birth and children.
I started attending toddler groups whilst still pregnant and volunteered to babysit my new friends’ children. I didn’t admit to my new best friend that I didn’t know how to change a nappy when she left me with her five month old son and went off to have her legs waxed. It was a baptism of fire.
I joined the NCT, hoping to sign up for antenatal classes – because that is what all my reading and research suggested I should do. But there weren’t any classes running on Jersey for the month I was due – they were a bit short on teachers. But I went along to the Nearly New Sale and introduced myself to the committee. Before too long I’d agreed to be Treasurer (couldn’t keep myself away from working with figures!) and the NCT committee became my own personal postnatal support group.
One thing they told me at the NCT is that most mums do not do enough preparation for their little one. They work up until 2 weeks before the birth then the reality of having a baby just hits them for six. I just smiled smugly to myself – I didn’t do that – I had the luxury of six whole months with nothing else to do but to prepare myself – I knew exactly what I was doing. My brain was still whizzing at London speed and I was prepared and organised for anything.
It didn’t help. You can read as much as you like and hold as many babies as you like and your own first baby is going to be just as bewildering to you. Like every other mother before me, I descended into the fog for the first few months, and became just a feeding bottle and lady-in-waiting to my daughter with no other thoughts or purpose in life.
And between that total immersion and the slow gentle pace of life on Jersey, a change started to come over me. The career-driven executive melted away and the stay at home mum began to emerge. It was helped by the fact that 2003 was one of the warmest, loveliest summers ever.
What a fantastic lifestyle to have nothing better to do than to take your baby for long walks along the seashore – to take her swimming – to meet your friends in a beachside cafe – to love her and to watch her grow and know and love you. What was I thinking slogging away in boring old offices? I didn’t even miss the fancy clothes or lifestyle (except perhaps the cleaner).
Over that year, I made up my mind that even when we came back to the UK, I did not want to go back to full time work. We had our little boy in 2004 to complete my transformation into total mummyness, and I started thinking of a plan…….
Part 3 of my mumpreneur story is here – the end of our time on Jersey, and my search for the right business idea