When I was pregnant with Oskar, Sarah and I made the decision that I wouldn't return to my career in midwifery. After ten years of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, I needed to move away from the NHS and give more to myself and my family and less to a job that was making me increasingly unhappy.
When Oskar arrived we ummed and ahhed over the right thing to do. We agreed that in an ideal world we would keep him out of childcare, both for the financial aspect and because we believed the best place for a baby and young child was at home, with his Mum's. We worked out a way of living on one wage, and whilst Sarah worked incredibly hard as a full time bread winner and Mum, I took on the role of stay at home Mum. For the first year or so it worked well, and I am proud of the fact we have always put our son first, and made all of our decisions based on the right thing for him. But as time has gone on we have had to reassess, and the decision for us both to work was born out of providing balance to our family, and also a financial need, and a realisation that we wanted to provide a lifestyle for ourselves and our son that one wage does not provide. We adore travelling, and we want to show him the world. We love eating out, exploring new cuisines, getting ideas and inspiration for cooking at home. We enjoy having new experiences, both at home and around the country, we have a hunger to learn, to see and do, and we want to instill that in Oskar too, and we knew that that is a lot easier to be able to afford with two wages.
As well as financial realities, there was also the reason that Sarah needed more of a balance to her life than just work, and I needed more than being a full time stay at home mum.
It remained important to us that he wasn't placed in to childcare, we wanted to retain being his main carers, with maybe the very occasional day with his Grandparents. So we needed to work out how to both work in a kind of part time role, but meaning we both got time with our son, both got time at home, and somehow managed to see each other, too.
First of all, I was offered a job at Starbucks by a friend of a friend, who was managing a new place. After very little deliberation I said yes please! As huge Starbucks fans it seemed like a great opportunity. So I work an evening and part of a weekend day being surrounded by one of my favourite things, coffee, in a place I already love. Sarah and Oskar have some time at home together and it has definitely been a positive for us all. As much as I adore my son, it is lovely to go to work without him sometimes, have some adult company and do something I genuinely do enjoy and have a passion for, whilst knowing he is with his favourite person in the whole world, his Mummy. Sometimes they even come and visit!
On top of that I needed to find a way of earning a bit of money whilst having Oskar with me. After a bit of thought I decided that I really love learning about child development and supporting that. I spend a long time researching new activities, ways to help him learn, things to do in and out of the house, and so from this, the idea of setting up a childminding business was born.
It has taken a lot of hard work to complete the necessary course whilst also caring for Oskar. I have used every available nap time and a lot of evenings to complete the work and apply for my OFSTED registration but I am so pleased to say that I started work caring for children on Monday. And a result, my incredible wife has been able to go back to part time, meaning we always both have the same day off during the week in addition to our weekends.
More time as a family can only ever be a positive thing, as it truly is our most favourite thing in the world. It means that Sarah feels like she doesn't just spend her whole life at work, and can enjoy being at home more. Her first week as a part time worker was a breath of fresh air - taking Oskar to the park, going for a coffee (her first pumpkin spice latte of the year!) just feeling like a normal mum, and even having time for a doctors appointment were revelations. Although she has cared for him alone when I've been at work in the evenings or part of a weekend day, something about having a full week day has made her feel like her life has changed, immeasurablely for the better.
So here we go, a new venture for us all. No doubt it won't always be plain sailing, there will be times when we are exhausted from both being out all day, but the dinner still needs cooking and the washing still needs to be hung, but we are a team, and an incredible team at that. I am proud of us for navigating this new world together and for making decisions that benefit us all. Now please excuse me, I need to go and see where we might go on holiday next year!