Lots of women feel the need for a change of career once they’ve had children, and many of them start working from their own homes. Lucy is probably a good example of what thousands of mums all over the country are experiencing. She’s spent the last 7 years dipping in and out of an unwanted career and now her second and last child goes to school in September she’s wondering what her next move should be. We’ve asked life and business coach Deborah Porton to give Lucy some pointers. If you feel like you’re at a bit of a crossroads, we hope they might be useful for you too.
“When I asked my friends if they’d come with me to the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham two years ago they all seemed to be unusually busy… Eventually, the offer of lunch, free transport and a child-free day persuaded one of them to join me. This trip turned out to be a turning point for me, reigniting a past love of textiles.
At school I could have spent all my time in the art department but when I excitedly declared I was going to art school I was harshly knocked back with an ‘over my dead body’ from my well-intentioned mother. Instead I chose the sensible option of midwifery over art. It was doubtlessly a safer career choice and throughout my ten year career – and especially since having my own children – I knew I was lucky to have been part of the incredible, life-changing birth process so many times. I was good at my job and I hope I touched many couples’ lives by being a conscientious midwife but that was all it was: a job. I could have listened to myself more: my favourite part of midwifery was always the bit that involved a needle and thread at the end… At the festival of quilts I felt more inspired and enthused by the possibilities of fabric and stitch than I had been for years.
During the first six months in my first job as a midwife I met a lovely doctor who later became my husband. We knew we wanted to have children and I have always wanted to be a stay at home mum. My husband was always supportive of this and I realise I’m lucky to be given that choice. So when my first son was born it didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice to give up my job.
Being a stay at home has been no walk in the park though and I definitely do not live in a Stepford-style home of domestic bliss. There have been many desperate moments; falling asleep on the kitchen floor in a pile of washing, dragging a 2 year old from his lying position in the middle of the road whist carrying his newborn brother 2 weeks after a caesarian section, dealing with my youngest during his year-long habit of holding his breath so long he turned blue and passed out – to name a few.
But now the younger of my two sons starts school in September. Having been at home with the boys for nearly 7 years I expected to feel some kind of joy at the prospect of 6 child-free hours a day. Instead I feel sad and lost. I am heartbroken at the prospect of this time being over. Mothering small children was what I looked forward to, what I thought life was all about. I failed to think about the fact that this time flies by so quickly.
In the last 2 weeks I have not only cried because my baby is starting school, but because one day they will leave home, will probably get married and quite rightly will love another woman more than their mummy! I have even worked out that assuming our lovely family dog runs his natural life course, he is quite likely to die around the time my oldest son will leave home for university. I recognize this is unhealthy behaviour!!
Before I slip into a depression and eat my own body-weight in chocolate I know I need to embrace this new phase of my life and reinvent myself. I love to make beautiful and unique things. I have always dreamt of making a living selling the things I make and when September comes I will have the time to put my creative energies to good use.
Recently I’ve found time to learn new creative skills and experiment with ideas. Amongst other things I’ve made patchwork quilts, pieces of art from my children’s baby clothes, personalised art for friends and family and decoupaged enough household objects that my husband has started to object!
After years of seemingly pointless tidying and cleaning it feels amazing to create something from start to finish and have people enjoy and appreciate it. Hours can feel like minutes when I have a good sewing project on the go. I haven’t yet forgotten to collect a child because I’m so engrossed in a piece of machine quilting but feel it’s only a matter of time!
My plan has always been to sew and make as a hobby but I do need to make some money to pay for the beautiful fabrics I love. There is also a saturation point for the number of quilts one family can bear. So far they’ve been delighted with their gifts but are fast running out of space – and there really is no place for a quilt in your downstairs loo!
So I’ve come to the conclusion that if I am to continue in my quest for fulfillment through creativity I may need to start making some money from it. It’s time to get my creative mojo back! But what should my next step be?”
Read life and business coach Deborah Porton’s response to Lucy’s question here.