I decided to leave teaching after I had my two children. I really enjoyed being in the classroom but really resented the amount of time I was spending on planning, marking etc.
When my children were small I wanted to spend my spare time with them, and I didn’t want them growing up thinking that all mummy did was work.
I found myself leaving school as quickly as I could after the children had gone home so I could collect my boys from nursery. Then I’d spend my whole evening working once they had gone to bed.
It wasn’t sustainable, but I knew I couldn’t just leave. I needed something else to move to, and that’s where the decision to retrain came in.
Positive birth experiences
I’d had a really positive homebirth experience with my second son and really wanted to be able to support other people to have positive birth experiences, not just the negative ones you hear about or see on TV.
My husband gave me the push I needed when he got bored of me complaining about One Born Every Minute! If it wasn’t for him and his support and encouragement I would probably still be teaching.
The Daisy Foundation
The Daisy Foundation is a national company, and I joined and trained as a licenced teacher in 2012.
Having taught Daisy classes for eight years I made the decision to establish my own company so that I could expand my offerings. I still teach Daisy classes but having my own company will allow me to continue training in areas that interest me and to support families in even more ways.
Being a teacher
I had always wanted to be a teacher – I was one of those people who just knew what they wanted to do when they grew up.
My mum was a teacher so I think I was probably influenced by that. I took the traditional route of GCSEs, A-Levels and University, leading to my first job on the outskirts of London. I taught for 10 years before changing my career.
There are many elements of the job I miss. I loved being with the kids (I taught infant school children) and seeing their enthusiasm and pleasure in simple things. I was fortunate that I was involved in organising a huge annual schools’ music festival, so I continued to get my teaching ‘fix’ by spending the summer terms visiting schools to teach choirs and then bringing them all together on the night.
When my boys started school I also volunteered, ran the school choir and did a bit of supply teaching at their school, which fit in perfectly with the rest of my life! It really helped me transition between my two careers.
Setting up my business
I’m a qualified perinatal educator, which means I work alongside families through pregnancy, birth and beyond. I teach antenatal classes and workshops to prepare parents for labour, and run baby massage and yoga classes and workshops on things like introducing solids.
This year, I will be training as a postnatal doula, supporting families after their babies have been born as they adjust to life together.
I am also a member of the team running Informed Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond. We are a volunteer-run local group that provides free support through a Facebook community group and regular meet-ups.
What do I love about my job
I love everything about my job (well, except maybe the admin but I’ll put up with that to be able to do the rest of it!).
I love supporting families at the most important time in their lives and I love the continuity of care I provide and following peoples’ journeys. Quite often they’ll join me when they’re pregnant with their first baby but then come back when they have their second, and sometimes even third baby! So many of those people have become friends.
I love that I am my own boss and can make my own decisions. I make my work fit around my family and that has evolved as my children have grown up. When they were little I only worked one day and evening a week, but now they are older I run up to 10 classes over the course of a week.
Becoming self-employed has given me so many opportunities and I love meeting new people and making connections.
Classes during the pandemic
The past year has been a massive learning curve and has required a lot of adaptation!
When the ‘stay at home’ notice was first given I was mid-term and had to learn how to use technology to deliver classes very quickly! Before I knew it I was running antenatal classes and baby massage and yoga classes via Zoom, bringing together mums who were now unable to socialise and found themselves very isolated. It wasn’t always easy but I knew that the classes were making a difference.
My living room became a studio and I found myself talking about microphones, webcams and tripods – kit that was completely alien to me.
At a time when we being told to stay home and stay safe, I was able to provide a space where people could come together and not feel alone – something that is so important when you have a baby. Alongside classes I offered free sessions of singing, stories or relaxations in my Facebook group to try and keep people connected and little ones entertained.
Continuing to run classes throughout the pandemic has given me a real focus, and has also given me that contact with other people that I missed so much.
Advice to my younger self
Don’t get caught up in what you think you should do. Don’t stay in a job you don’t enjoy and don’t stick with something because you’re worried you’ll disappoint someone if you don’t. Life’s too short to be unhappy in your work.
My parents both had the same career their whole lives, and I thought that was what you were supposed to do, but I now know you can do what you like.
When most of us will be working for at least 40 years it makes you realise that’s a lot of time in which you could do a lot of things!
When I went to uni to become a teacher I had no idea what the future had in store for me. Changing careers can be daunting but so rewarding. Who knows what I’ll be doing in 20 years’ time.
To find out more about Sarah Lewis Pregnancy & Postnatal Services, visit: sarahlewis.uk