Sunday, 01 May 2005
Four mums on career change Clair's story
Heidi Scrimgeour speaks to four mums who changed career to get their work and home life balance right
'Work was never this relaxing or enjoyable before I had children!'
Clair, mum to Layyah, 9, Yasmin, 6 and Zane, 5
'Before I had children I worked for Thomson Holidays and travelled the world with my job. I loved it, and was back at work within three months of having my first baby.
'When I returned to work after the birth of my second child I was already expecting baby number three so arranged to work from home three days a week and spend two days in the office, with no travelling.
'Two years later I was made redundant and soon after that my middle child, Yasmin, was diagnosed with leukaemia. I spent the best part of a year in and out of hospital with her and caring for her became my full-time focus.
'When a child is sick your whole world revolves around their illness, but gradually I started thinking about working again. I needed an income, and with Yasmin starting school and having a normal life for three weeks out of every month, in between chemotherapy sessions, I needed a diversion.
'I don't have any extended family living nearby so I needed a job that would allow me to drop everything so I could be there for the kids whenever they needed me. A friend and I started talking about opening a childrenswear shop, and Little Gems Boutique was born.
'Working for myself means I can go to hospital appointments with Yasmin, take the kids to and from school every day and be at all their assemblies, sports days and plays.
'On the rare times when our sales assistant can't cover the shop and we need to be with the children, we just bring them to work with us and they play downstairs in our "den". Sometimes we close up with a note on the door saying we're at a school event. Customers are mostly parents so they understand.
'The location was key for us, as we wanted the business to make our lives easier and allow us to spend as much time as possible with our families. We both live less than a minute from the shop, and the children's school is about the same distance away.
'If we need to do extra work outside opening hours, we meet at each other's houses for a glass of wine while the kids are in bed. Work was never this relaxing or enjoyable before I had children!'
Clair's secrets for success
✦ 'Talk to your partner and make sure they're on board. Having their full support helps enormously, and stops resentment setting in.'
✦ 'Do your research – have a realistic picture of how you're going to juggle your new venture alongside being a mum.'
✦ 'Relish the moments of quality time that you spend with your kids because it's precious – they grow up too fast!
Read our other three mums stories now
>> Read Lydia's story here
>> Read Sarah's story here
>> Read Lisa's story here