In April this year I didn’t return to my full-time job in sport after my maternity leave finished. I had been working in high performance for over 7 years and although as an organisation they offered amazing support and flexible working hours I just didn’t want to return. I still felt that Austin needed me more on a daily basis and with childcare costs being so expensive the math just didn’t add up.
I think what this did, was allow me to think about what really inspires me and when I am ready to return to the workforce one day what would I love to do? A great opportunity to possibly switch career paths maybe?
So, some background for you all on this stay at home mum.
I left school and went to college locally in Surrey where I grew up and I studied English (Literature & Language) A’level alongside GNVQ Advanced in Leisure & Tourism. I was also taking twilight GCSE Math classes as I failed first time round (I failed that class too). English was my favourite subject at school and I was never happier than when reading a book or writing something creative. There was absolutely no pressure from my parents to attend college but I was very happy in a learning environment (still am) and with an older brother off to university I knew that would be my goal too.
I wouldn’t say I applied myself to my utmost ability (too many cute college boys) but I left with the equivalent of 3 A’levels and I got myself into Westminster University to study Cognitive Science. In a lot of ways it was the wrong decision, I didn’t live on campus and I commuted everyday and ultimately it didn’t provide enough Psychology which was my favoured subject. I was studying Anthropology, Linguistics, Computer Science, Psychology and Neuroscience. I really struggled in Computer Science and always felt left out as I headed home after a day of lectures as my fellow students all went back to campus life. After I completed my first year I decided to transfer to the University of East London and study a main stream Psychology degree and live on campus in Stratford (my block of flats later became the olympic village). The best decision I made.
I have some life long friends that I met and I immersed myself into university life which was great fun. I left East London with a 2:1 in BSc Psychology after focusing my dissertation on a humanistic approach and the life of a teenage mum. I interviewed a girl I went to school with who had a baby when she was 16 and it was joy to hear the experiences of a young mum and a life that was so far from my own. I really loved the stories of people’s lives, statistics albeit an important part of psychology just wasn’t for me (and still isn’t) it’s all about the experiences and what people offer from them that makes me so fascinated.
After university I moved back home and I think I was a very lost with where my life was going career wise. I wanted to earn money so started working in finance to get my overdraft back on track and enjoy spending some too! I worked for a few local finance companies in Surrey in various Bank Reconciliation roles and really enjoyed a stint at a private bank looking after BAC transfers for lots of wealthy golfers.
My 20’s kind of flew past and then at 27 I decided that I wanted to go back to university as a mature student and focus on my love of Psychology. I enrolled at Roehampton University studying a Masters in Sport Psychology. Phil and I lived with each other at this point and I managed to keep my job in the city for an Investment Company on a part-time basis whilst I studied 1 day a week at Roehampton. I Loved studying for my Masters and again met some amazing people who I hold as close friends now. Again with my thesis I focused on an Existential case study of an athlete living with cancer and how using exercise helped with his rehabilitation mentally and physically. This also allowed me an amazing opportunity to spend time with a charity cycling team supporting them complete the Tour De France a few days after the pros back in 2007. A group of cancer survivors riding with Geoff Thomas (ex footballer) and his charity was really an inspiring couple of weeks. What the body is capable of when you have a mentally strong mind is unbelievable and I really witnessed some amazing feats of endurance from such a great group of riders. Some great, great memories from that trip.
Back to my Masters and Thesis which was 20,000 words, I also completed over 10 hours of interviews that I relished transcribing and then categorising. Again, the story telling of lives really is something fascinating to me. Maybe that’s why I am such an over sharer? It also makes me think about how much I really hate the snobbery surrounding social media if you dare fill your feed with your interests and life? If you don’t like what you see, don’t follow that person but my gosh don’t criticise people for sharing their lives, it really is a privilege to have a window into people’s experiences. Well I think it is anyway.
So then after my Masters I spent quite some time trying to find a job in Sport. A super competitive environment was what I found and even with a Degree and Masters my starting salary was 18,000pa. It took a good few years gaining back even slightly close to my city salary but I don’t regret the decision (my bank balance does) to change career paths at the point and I had a wonderful 7 years working in high performance. Highlights included meeting David Beckham amongst some other great sports people and attending some fabulous tournaments and events working most years at Wimbledon and based at The All England Club. It really is a privilege to work in such an environment but ultimately I just didn’t have the drive and ambition I once had and it became clear a few years in I was ready to get married and have children. I often think had I found that role earlier in my life would things be different now?
So roll on to the present day, I guess now I am a stay at home mama. But with blogging on the side and a rather bold decision to try to write a book with my very talented mother I am really enjoying the new challenges. The focus now is to try and find a publisher and continue to blog on various aspects of my life whilst also enjoying staying at home with Austin. There is definitely ambition bubbling away. Not too shabby for a girl from Croydon.