Another Monday and another inspiring story of someone who has changed their life by changing career. This week we’re hearing from Laura.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m Laura, a 40 something, self-employed childminder, mother of two, runner and virgin e-reader!
2. What made you decide to become a childminder – what were you doing before? Was it an epiphany or were you actively looking for a career change?
When we moved house about 6 years ago I had just had my second daughter and needed to re think my career. I had previously been in the media team within O2 and knew I didn’t want to go back to an office job. I wanted to work for myself but with the age old problem of how to manage childcare. I spoke with a friend who was already childminding and she explained the pros of how to run your own business, choose your hours and still be able to collect your children from school etc. So I became a childminder!
3. What process did you go through re: courses, work experience, business advice, etc
I had to complete compulsory courses; introduction to becoming a childminder with basic business info and more importantly Ofsted requirements. First aid was essential and food hygiene. Also a police check for myself and my husband. Ofsted came to view my house and inspect me which was rather daunting to say the least!
4. How long did the process take from inspiration to calling yourself a professional?
I would say about 6 months. It takes a while for the police check process and you cannot operate until Ofsted have had their initial assessment.
5. What does a typical day involve for you?
I am ready by 7.30am in time for the 4 children I look after to arrive. We then take one of the children plus my own 2 daughters to school. I return home with 3 children for play time and snacks before attending a local toddler group, where the children interact with others and join in with arts and crafts. Back home for lunch and then a couple of hours for the sleep routines. Waking up in time for a quick snack and back to the school for pick up. After school entails snack time immediately! Then craft time or reading before the start of the children being collected with the last one leaving at 5.45pm. Then I usually go out for a run then fall asleep!
6. What are the best bits about your job?
Flexibility definitely, it allows me to see my children every day. I also love being able to make my own hours, salary and rules. I love being outside and setting up my own day based around the children in my care. It feels like a great achievement to me.
7. And the worst bits?
Conversely, although I do get to see my children I do feel that they have to share me with others and that sometimes makes me feel a bit sad and I have to reassess why I am doing the job. It also means that apart from seeing other adults at groups etc I don’t get to engage my brain as much as I used to with anything other than ‘child talk’! Also the paperwork is immense! Ofsted expect me to operate in the same way as a pre-school or nursery and this is hard with limited resources and of course only being one member of staff.
8. Has the change been a good one for you?
I would say yes, although as described above there are some cons, I think working for yourself far out ways these and I could not imagine myself stuck in an office environment answering to a manager and having to clock in and clock out each day.
9. What advice would you give to anyone considering something similar?
Make sure it is right for your family life; would your children like to share you? Would your partner like to share you? Can you really look after more children (that’s quite a hard thing initially!) Would you be happy to have the responsibility of looking at their development within their specific age range and detailing this for each parent? Childminding is a big responsibility; you are ultimately looking after someone’s most precious thing!
If you’re interested in finding out more about becoming a childminder contact the family services department of your local council to find out about the process in your area. The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY http://www.pacey.org.uk) is also very helpful.