We are delighted to share this guest blog from Sam Butterwick, founder of the award winning nursery Simba’s Den in Bulwick, Northamptonshire. Sam is a familiar face at BabyNatal, as she supports our training programme with her expertise on early years development. In this blog, Sam shares her own experiences and reflections on becoming a mum.
Becoming a mother, to me, was like being at a constant crossroads; spinning around wondering if the road you are about to take is wrong or right, in the best interests of you or your child, a constant emotional battle of wanting to get it all perfect. In today’s society families are faced with tough lifestyles; balancing work and children at times seems to be a real battle. We all want the best for our children; it is our innate instinct, but what is the best? And when do we know we have chosen the right path? How do we get the balance of working to support our children and having a traditional idyllic family life too?
I fell pregnant with my first child in May 2009; I had just finished university and I was looking into what direction my career was going to take. After securing a job in social services my partner (Jake) and I decided to look for a bigger home (we were in a rented one bedroom maisonette). We stumbled across a potentially beautiful building in a lovely village close by which was up for rent as commercial use, Jake turned to me and said “wouldn’t that make a lovely nursery?” Not aware that I was pregnant at this time my brain started filling with ideas and after several visits I thought ‘yes let’s go for it’. The building needed a full refurbishment and therefore a bank loan. When my business plan got accepted I could not have been happier an amazing project and after working in child care for so long I could create my ‘ideal nursery’ environment. I signed the lease and the work began. Shortly after I signed I found out I was pregnant; my head was in a spin, had I made the right decision? Could I complete my nursery project and become a mother in such a short space of time? If I would have found out before the lease presentation would I have signed and made the risky decision to become self-employed? The honest answer; probably not but I had signed and there was no going back. At the same time my maternal instinct kicked in, feelings of joy, attachment, love and nervousness, followed by so many questions regarding how we were going to make this work. To top it off we were still in our one bedroom home with no option of moving as finances were somewhat tied up!
The nursery opened in September 2009 and was without a doubt more than a full time job from the word go. I had never employed people before, had a business or completed a project on such a large scale. But the months of planning and hard work had paid off and before we knew it we were open and children were already using our wonderful services.
Simultaneously, I was contacted by a local university who wanted me to do a post graduate course in Early Years Professional Status. They offered me finance for my course and said with a lot of hard work I could have in completed by mid February. Sure – no pressure my baby was due on the 14th of February. But when would I get this opportunity again? Not after my baby was born that was sure, so I accepted. Suddenly there I was slowly getting bigger, having a new business to run and a high level course to complete in pretty quick time.
The months went on and were filled with pure hard work. Christmas came and went with family spoiling us with new baby clothes and equipment and our home became increasingly small. I worked at the nursery everyday between 7:30 am and 6.00 pm, and studied at evenings and weekends. Needless to say February came round so quickly!
Two days before I had my baby she was breech so I had an appointment to have her turned (sore to say the least). The same day I had handed in my EYPS portfolio and completed all my assessments. The nursery was beginning to thrive and I was resting under the doctor’s advice……….until the phone rang. The girls at nursery informing me that Ofsted were at nursery for our first ever inspection. I had worked so hard for months so couldn’t miss it – of course I went in and completed the inspection.
The next day I was in hospital being induced and our beautiful baby girl Tallulah Valentine Adams was born. She was as every mother would describe ‘perfect’. My world had changed for the better but still the question hung over us how was everything going to work? Jake worked full time I had a more than full time business and we still lived in a one bedroom maisonette and running out of space. At the time it didn’t matter we felt so lucky to have a healthy new born baby.
The weeks went by and I enjoyed being a mother so much, we finally found a bigger home close by and in budget! I worked from home on paperwork tasks whilst looking after Tallulah. When she was 6 weeks old the move began, Tallulah was a frequent feeder due to being tongue tied (at least every 2 hours) so not much sleep for me but we did it and loved our new home. By 7 weeks I was back to nipping into nursery and Tallulah was spoiled with cuddles and affection from the girls – she was also famous after appearing in our press release! We were the first nursery in the county to get award the Professional Status Qualification (yes I passed), we won the heart beat award for providing healthy meal choices and we achieved ‘Goods’ across the board for our first ever Ofsted – all were rare achievements for nurseries in the first year.
By three months Tallulah was doing a couple of mornings at nursery with me still feeding her, she loved nursery and really thrived from the environment. But I found myself at the crossroad again, was I doing the right thing? Was she too young? Should I be working? Of course I balanced it as best I could, it was important to me to do swimming classes, baby massage and post-natal meet ups with the ladies I had met, but I still felt guilty. Looking back I am not sure I should have done, does Tallulah look unhappy at nursery to you?
Over 2 years since I opened nursery and we have just celebrated Tallulah’s second Birthday. To say life isn’t hard would be a lie but it is manageable. With both Jake and I working full time and having the business it is a juggling act and each week varies greatly. I am very strict on making sure Tallulah still does her weekly swimming lessons with me, enjoys family meals with us, has a proper bath and bedtime routine every night and has everything she needs.
After two years of being a mother I look back at all the cross roads I have faced on my journey into motherhood and the world of business and wonder if I made the right decisions.
Tallulah has benefited so much from being around other children, being in such a caring and nurturing nursery environment and is just thriving in every way possible.
Undoubtedly there have been hiccups along the way. But I am in a job that I love; I have achieved my dream of running a nursery from a parent’s perspective and it is such a wonderful place for all the children who attend. All in all I am proud to be a working Mum, proud to provide my daughter with a nursery environment and proud of Tallulah in every way possible.
I don’t know how to answer the questions I set in paragraph one, hopefully in time I will!
But as long as we are trying and our children are happy who can say we are wrong?
BabyNatal offer classes for parents, and training for those who wish to become antenatal educators and part of the BabyNatal family.