As soon as I had my first child in 2008 I knew I needed to find a job I could manage around him. I was never going to be one of these parents who could work full time and couldn’t imagine anything worse than someone else having him during school holidays when he grew up!
Having been a swimmer at Club level all through my childhood, swimming teaching seemed an obvious choice for me. I started teaching older children two evenings a week and then came across Puddle Ducks. Initially I couldn’t afford the training fees, so joined Bristol and Bath as a Poolside Assistant. My mum had Robbie, and I was only gone for a matter of hours at a time and I loved the job! It didn’t take long of watching the lessons each week (by now my son was also swimming with Puddle Ducks) before I realised the training fee was worth the money and took the plunge to be a Teacher.
Then I became pregnant with my daughter. As soon as she arrived my husband starting making some big and not very subtle hints that he wanted me to find 'full time work' (or the equivalent of) once Livvy started pre-school…. It may have been a while away but the thought terrified me. I couldn’t think of any profession where I could successfully work around my family, never missing out on the key moments and still bring in enough money to maintain a good lifestyle – until I looked at the Franchisee for Bristol and Bath, Sarah – then it clicked! I could run my own business, doing the job that I loved and bring our wonderful classes to more children in a new area. I briefly considered setting up on my own, but when I considered everything you get as part of being a Franchisee (adverts, website, lesson plans to name but a few things) I realised I would never be able to compete with the big boys that way.
The decision was almost made straight away, there and then. I discussed it with my husband and parents and we agreed this was the right way forward. As a Franchisee, not only would I be my own boss, but I would still get the best part of being a teacher (teaching!) and I could effectively work around the children. And I hoped I’d earn enough money to get my husband off my back in the process (not to mention the money saved from childcare).
The decision was made, and Head Office agreed to me taking on the Gloucestershire Franchise. I will not lie to you, it has been VERY hard work. The first few years are non-stop work. I worked every evening to ensure that I still got quality time with the children during the days they were with me, and for a long time didn’t get any ‘me’ time as it was sleep, children, work, bed. Financially it has taken time to be worthwhile also, and in those early years, I could be paying a teacher more than I took home myself… BUT it is so worth it. I am 4 ½ years in, drop my children at school and pick them up EVERY day and rarely have to work evenings. I will work around them during the holidays now, or on the odd occasion I have to, let them have a ‘Grandma Day’. I teach less, and although I miss it, find my time is better placed elsewhere. I still cover classes and the love comes back as soon as I get to the pool! I have stresses that I wouldn’t have if I’d remained a teacher (pool hire, cancellations, customer complaints) but I have a great team around me and support from my family and the business is now making me financially satisfied too! And even my husband is happy with it all!
If you are willing to commit to the long term, and don’t give up in those early days, being a Franchisee could be the best thing (well second best after having your children!) you ever do :-)
Charlie Goodenough, Puddle Ducks Gloucestershire Franchisee, now teaches over 500 babies and children to swim every week in 7 pools; employs 8 teachers and 5 admin/poolside staff.
To find out more about running your own Puddle Ducks business, come along to one of our Discovery Days. You'll learn what it takes to run your own baby-swimming business, meet the support team and find out the next steps.