I share my story a lot, but a part of the story I don’t share much is the journey my kids have been on since I left the corporate world.
My kids were just 8, 6 & 3 when I left JLR. They were in 10 hours childcare a day, either at nursery or school and wrap around club.
They knew no different; it was just life. I didn’t realise the impact it was having on them.
My eldest had been in 10 hours a day childcare for 7 years and he’d had enough. He was often in tears before school as he couldn’t face another long day. Once I left work that stopped.
These days he's 14 and quite often hangs out with his mates after school instead of coming home. That's fine with me. Some days he'll come home and disappear into his room to work on the teenager shaped mattress he now has. That's fine with me. And some days he needs me. Not often, but when he does it's important. Even though I'm only a few minutes behind him arriving home as I'm picking up his sister, he'll call me as he needs to talk straight away. And I always answer, because I can. I have the flexibility to hang around in the park with my daughter when he's OK and bolt straight home when he needs me.
My middle child was incredibly quiet and withdrawn and not engaging at school. I now know that it was linked to the surgery he had at 12 weeks old. He’s now happier, more outgoing, has friends and settled into secondary school really well last year. I worked hard with him to help overcome his challenges.
It's taken a while to get to the bottom of his issues, it's hard to believe that something that happened when he was just 12 weeks old could continue to have an impact throughout his childhood. But learning about the brain as part of my own development, I realised that it was bound to have a big impact and I've been able to work out what is going on with him and seek help.
I spent hours standing in the park after school encouraging him to make friends. Giving him the space and freedom to create those relationships outside the school environment where he was struggling. It was a long, and sometimes very cold process but so worth it to see him now. He still has a way to go but as his rugby coach said this season, it's great to hear his voice.
My youngest was happy enough at nursery but loved the move to preschool. The shorter days and trips through the park on the bike were much more fun and she is a happy and confident little girl (sometimes too confident!)
She never got to the point where she was worn out with continuous 10 hour days. Where her only break was the allocated annual leave I had to take. And I'm grateful for that. By switching to pre-school, she got to ditch the early morning commute and instead gained an extra hour in bed and a trip through the park on the back of my bike. And the shorter days and term time worked well to give her the rest she needed. She started primary school without any worries at all and continues to go from strength to strength.
I wonder where they’d be now if I hadn’t been ill, if I hadn’t been forced to spend the time with them they needed. It's hard to imagine how the last few years would have worked out if they'd have gone through it with the level of childcare they previously had. Without me around to help them when they needed it.
I look at their benefit as the silver lining of my illness.