Natasha Dennis and Tonya Meers run their own education business Little Creative Days having given up their previous careers

Are you finding it impossible to juggle kids and career? Dream of leaving the 9-5 and working more flexibly? This series looks at inspirational women who are working the way they want.

1. What do you do?

I’m a creative storyteller, author and co- director of Little Creative Days with my sister Tonya Meers. We write children’s stories based on curriculum topics and create puppet-making kits and teacher resources to help children develop their story writing and literacy.

2. Why did you want a more flexible career?

I started the business when my son was a baby,  At seven months he got norovirus and at 10 months he had meningitis scare that left him prone to catching every bug. He had a high temperature every other week for four months. At the time my husband had shingles, pneumonia and pleurisy. I used to be a freelance office space planner and CAD trainer so at that point getting new clients was the last thing on my mind and I couldn’t commit to running training courses. So I set up selling children’s craft kits from home to do something that would fit around my son.

3. What was the trigger point that made you switch?

On my son’s second birthday we were away on a family holiday when my husband commented that every time Sam fell asleep he woke up somewhere new. My sister Tonya said, “That would make a good children’s story.” So the idea was born. We were discussing her writing stories and had the idea to combine them with the craft kits. By then I was volunteering doing crafts and stories with children at the local school. I also had a chance meeting with someone running a children’s centre and so we began to see the educational benefits of what we were doing.

4. What’s a typical day like?

I’m up at 6.30am and do yoga to keep myself mobile as I have hip dysplasia. I never thought I would ever be able to get up early and exercise. I was never a natural morning person but I need a lot less sleep than I used to or I’ve just got used to it. Then I get myself and my son ready for school. Once he is safely at school I start work until it is time to collect him, then do all the usual chores and cooking dinner. Once my son has gone to bed it’s back to work until 11ish. If my son has after school activities than I often try and write blog posts while watching him. On other days I may be going into a school to do a workshop or running a training course. Every day feels completely different.

5. Do you work every day, or is it different each week?

I work every school day but sometimes if there are exhibitions on that I need to attend then it’s weekends as well. Invariably if we meet up as a family with my sister talk will turn to business.

6.  What advice would you give to anyone wanting to give up a 9-5 job?

Save plenty of money beforehand as it will invariably take longer than you think for things to take off. At the moment I’m a lot worse off as we have invested so much into the business but hopefully that should soon change.

7. What do you think is the biggest challenge for working parents?

Flexibility – it’s so hard finding something that allows you to be the parent you want to be. We live in a rural location so if I worked for someone else the travel time would mean that I wouldn’t be able to drop my son at school or pick him up and the childcare costs would make it uneconomical to work. The change in lifestyle to work full time would mean he’d lose out on time with me and wouldn’t have  the opportunity to do the various clubs and activities he wants to.

8. If you weren’t doing this job, what else would you be looking in to?

Good question, I love training and teaching and designing but I imagine I would still be training in a techy environment. Now I would miss seeing kids really get into our stories and being inspired if I couldn’t do it.

You can follow Little Creative Days on Twitter and Facebook.

Have you given it all up to work flexibly? What are the biggest challenges?

You may also be interested reading about other parents who have quit their jobs to set up their own businesses and top tips from female entrepreneurs about how to get to the top.




1 Comment

  1. October 17, 2016 / 6:16 pm

    Yes I have! I never returned to contracted work after maternity leave with my first child, because the minimum wage part-time job was not worth the costs of childcare and commuting. Besides, I wanted to be with my children to watch them grow up! My husband has been able to support our family with his full time wage, and while it is not ideal, I am now reaching a stage in my freelance career where I can see some improvement and I feel more like a “proper” working parent, rather than one who is indulging in a hobby. It’s all about finding the opportunities that can work for you, and being proactive. Thanks for sharing your story, Natasha! 🙂 https://spookymrsgreen.com/2014/05/08/the-writer-returns-to-work/

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