After having a baby, the question on a lot of people's lips is "Should I or shouldn't I go back to work?" I know it was certainly on mine after I had Little One and it definitely occupied my thoughts for a good few months as the end of my maternity leave began to creep up on me. I also spent a long time looking at what other colleagues and friends who'd had babies were doing. I'd say that the majority were returning to their jobs on a part time basis and I suppose this could have been an option for me, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised how different everyone's situations were and that I had to make the right decision for me and for my family.
I have mentioned on here recently that I used to be a teacher, working in a large primary school on the outskirts of a large city. After having Little One in July 2013, I knew that I'd have to eventually return to work for a minimum of 13 weeks after maternity leave otherwise a large chunk of my maternity pay would be clawed back. Luckily, my husband is a real dab hand with spreadsheets and loves working out budgets and anything to do with money. We sat down and looked through all our costs for the month so we knew exactly what would be going in and out each month. We just needed to work out what I needed to earn to boost the family income each month and as long as I could find a way to make that, then I would be able to leave my full time job.
I had enjoyed being away from the stress of teaching so much whilst on maternity leave and wasn't looking forward to going back. I hadn't been in teaching that long and after a year off, I didn't feel I would cope that well with the workload whilst looking after Little One. I trained as a teacher on the job and always found it hard so consequently had to work my backside off to compensate for this.
Previously, I had been working long hours, getting home, grabbing something to eat and then sitting on the sofa planning and marking until late evening. I felt I wasn't myself and couldn't see my life ticking over in this way until I retired. I wasn't enjoying my weekends and tended to sit inside working while I should have been out enjoying spending time with my husband. I knew that once Little One arrived, something had to change. Hats off to all you teachers out there who are teaching and inspiring the next generation and also raising your own. I completely admire you and only wish I had the stamina and determination to do it myself.
So come summer, I returned for 13 weeks full time. It was hard going and I cried every time I left the house in the morning. It sounds very over the top but going from seeing him every day for a year to half an hour a day was tough. During that time, my husband used his holidays to take a day off a week to look after him. He then went to nursery two days and family looked after him the other two days. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel though, and I never once took for granted how fortunate I was to be able to be in that position. Once I had resigned from my position, I started to feel like I was able to focus on other options. I knew I wanted to dedicate more time to my blog and perhaps one day work towards earning a small income from it (that day is still to come!).
I spent much of September doing lots of research into ways I could earn an income, just working a few days a week on top of the private music lessons I was teaching. I spent hours going round in circles looking at various websites but I am terrible for procrastinating over small details and couldn't see the wood for the trees. I worried that I didn't have the right type of experience or skills set on my CV.
One day in early October, my friend and former colleague told me about a company called Phoenix Trading. I had never heard of them before so I looked into it further. They are a direct selling, independent card publishing house. You sign up to become a Phoenix Trader and become your own boss. You can work as flexibly as you like from home, and still get out and about to meet and greet other people. After hours of pondering and wondering if I could work for myself, from home and in sales (all things I had never done before) I decided to give it a shot. The idea of being my own boss sounded really exciting! The start up costs were low and I was able to start working straight away, selling beautiful cards and gift stationery. I have a brilliant upline who lives just 10 minutes away and who I can call on if I am ever stuck.
I obviously haven't been working as a Phoenix Trader for very long so I'm still finding my feet in the world of business. I need to push myself to find customers and get the business going, but on the flip side of that, I can work the flexible hours that fit around my husband's job and Little One can continue to go to nursery two days a week. He is able to play with other babies and children there and do activities I could only dream of organising for him to do with me (I'm hopeless at messy play ideas, as much as I'd love to be able to do it).
This Christmas I have 5 craft and school fairs booked in, so I'm really looking forward to those. It does mean a bit of weekend or evening work, but I am more than happy to do that as it is a lot of fun and I now really enjoy my work. I also really look forward to the days when Little One is at home with me. It'll be a bonus if I make some profit this year as I've only just started, but from small acorns grow mighty oaks...
If you would like to know more about Phoenix Trading or you would like to have a look at some of my cards and other products, have a look at my website.