Finally achieved my work/life balance
Having qualified as a registered mental health nurse in 2001 nursing had been my career, it was all I ever wanted to do from a young age. Following the birth of my son in 2011 I went part time and then on my second pregnancy in 2013 I made the difficult decision to leave the career that I had worked so hard for and loved. The decision was heartbreaking as I felt I had no choice at the time, my husband had his own business worked long hours often away several times a week we had little childcare and my mother became progressively unwell. In the months and years that followed, l tried several jobs including care work, retail assistant, support teaching and franchise work.
With 2 young children I was unable to find an employment role that suited my family commitments. My husband suggested that the best way forward was for me to become self employed, to be ‘my own boss’ and create a role that would do just this. So with the help of my husband I set up Teddy Land a baby & toddler class for children age 0-24 months.
In 2017 we registered Teddy Land, developed our own web page to include a booking system and at 39 years of age I finally joined the world of social media and opened a Facebook business page. And Teddy Land, well every child has a teddy bear so it was perfect.
Music and play is at the centre of all our classes, with a mixture of Teddy themed songs, nursery rhymes, and sensory play. Each class is one hour long and every week there is a different theme. At the end of each monthly term we do a craft for everyone to take home. We also incorporate seasonal themes and crafts. This has proved to be great selling point in my business. My focus was to create something that would bring parents, grandparents, carers and their children together in a relaxed fun environment. While offering them value for money and flexibility with classes.
Having had two children of my own I was no stranger to attending baby and toddler classes. When I had my son in 2011 even though I had plenty of friends and a close knit family I remember feeling periods of overwhelming loneliness and isolation, there were days that I would long for the company of other new parents to share my fears and moments of joy with. To have the support of others who were experiencing the same feelings as me, to reassure me that what I was feeling was ‘normal’.
Having signed up to as many classes that I could physically get to and afford on maternity leave some of them I left feeling that I hadn’t really had the opportunity either during or after the class to socialise with other parents. With Teddy Land I wanted to create just that, a structured class that also offered people the opportunity to engage with others and their babies during class, venues that would allow all the things I looked for when attending classes such as good parking – always a plus especially with the unpredictable welsh weather and a heavy car seat to carry. Places that people could grab a coffee or bite to eat either before or after classes.
Teddy Land is not just about the children, each class I leave smiling seeing the customers meet up afterwards for a coffee and a chat. For some parents this has made a huge positive impact on their self esteem and social inclusion following the birth of their child. I have had great feedback and reviews from first time mums who have felt too anxious to join social groups or classes with the babies for fear of not fitting in, being judged on their parenting skills or there being a ‘click’. I also have lots of dads and grandparents that come along to classes without the mum which is always nice. I have also had a student who is studying child psychology sit in and observe my classes as part of their placement.
After initially setting up as one class a week in a local seaside town, through word of mouth, distributing fliers and daily Facebook advertising I am now running 6 classes per week with a view to opening further classes in surrounding areas.
I have finally achieved my work/life balance doing a job that I absolutely love.