Four mums on career change Sarah's story

Four mums on career change: Sarah's story

Heidi Scrimgeour speaks to four mums who changed career to get their work and home life balance right

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'I'm more involved in the children's school life, and in the local community too' 

Sarah, mum to Lily, 7 and Thea, 4

 'I spent ten years working in marketing for blue-chip companies before I had a baby. I worked very long hours and spent a lot of time entertaining clients, but once I became a mum I started craving a much more creative work life. I also wanted to spend more time with my daughters than my career allowed.

'While on maternity leave after Lily was born I spent a lot more time in the garden and slowly started redesigning it. That's when I realised garden design was what I really enjoyed. I returned to work part-time and took a garden design course online.

'Before I had children I didn't think of doing this for a living but after my second baby I negotiated redundancy. That gave me breathing space to spend a year developing my business idea. I finally launched Sarah Kay Garden Design when the girls were five and two.

'I've created a rooftop vegetable garden at their school and as part of the Chelsea Fringe, which happens at the same time as the Chelsea Flower Show, I ran a local gardening festival, during which we built a wildlife garden in the playground. It was a real community event; the children made bird feeders, and local people brought in plants from their own gardens.

'I've taken a significant pay cut but it's worth it because I'm not paying for childcare and we don't have that stressful existence where you have to cram everything into the weekends. I can drop off and collect the children from school almost every day, and am much more involved in their school life.

'I'm more involved in the local community too. I know my neighbours and other local business-owners, which would never have happened if I'd stayed in my previous career.'

Sarah's secrets for success

✦ 'To allow for uninterrupted thinking, make sure your workspace is well away from the kitchen, washing machine or children's rooms.'

✦ 'Tell people in the local community – hairdressers, café owners, parents in the playground – what you do for a living. You just never know where new business will come from.'

✦ 'Organise your days into blocks of time for family, housework, work and me-time, so you're not trying to do it all at once.'

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