Should you work with someone who was a childminder before becoming a VA

This is another one of those blogs I didn’t think I’d be writing. But for a different reason. I have spent the last few months, as I start to launch and run my business, wanting to almost hide the fact that I was a childminder prior to becoming a VA. Why? I was worried it would put off potential clients! Why would someone hire me when I’d spent the last 8 years being a childminder?! Totally different right?

After some great advice from my mentor, my mindset changed.

I fell into childminding almost naturally having made a decision that I needed to change my career to fit around my family. You see family is everything to me, my kids are EVERYTHING to me and I will always do whatever it takes to do the right thing by my kids and family.

I have spent the majority of my working life in admin and PA roles. From 2000 I worked as a team assistant for 2 fantastic Social Services teams within Norfolk County Council. From 2002 I moved upwards into a PA role within Trust Management for the Medical Director and Director of Finance at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. My boss was a woman not to be reckoned with and this role taught me SO much. 2004 saw me change to Lead Administrator for the revolutionary new pay and grading system for all NHS staff. With around 9000 members of staff, that was no mean feat I can tell you. 2006 brought the birth of our amazing daughter so I moved to a job share post as Directorate PA for Head and Neck Services. Around 300 members of staff looked to me for their baseline HR and I was a PA for 3 senior colleagues. 

2011 brought the arrival of my beautiful son and my family was then complete. But now with 2 children, limited childcare options and husband whose job sometimes took him away from home, a change needed to be made. So, almost tumbling straight into it when my childminder said “you’d be good at this” my childcare business was born. I have absolutely no regrets. It was the BEST decision. I was determined to be there for my kids no matter what, I wanted to be THAT mum and I know how lucky I was that childminding enabled me to do just that, all while providing an income for my family and a loving, home from home childcare setting.

But what people rarely see, is all the admin and constant work that goes on behind the scenes. Going back 8 years ago, setting up my business, I had to produce a mountain of policies ranging from applying sun cream and dealing with lice, to the scarier stuff of safeguarding, managing behaviour, health and safety to name but a few. I had to produce risk assessments for every inch of my home, garden, driveway, walk to school and park that we went to. That’s not to mention the production and completion of so many forms like medical records, injuries, complaints. Like every small business owner I had to learn how to deal with my own accounts and get to grips with how to run a business (ICO, HMRC etc ). There was also the small matter of on-going CPD, the ENDLESS changes that were always being made around children that I needed to be fully aware of and up-to-date on. 

But it’s not just the admin, being childminder has given me so many transferable skills to bring into my new VA business. Firstly, I have patience. More patience that I ever knew existed in the world! Secondly, time management and being organised. I’ve always had these skills, I can’t be late for anything but the skill it takes to make sure you have everything needed for dealing with 4 under 5s a day, ensuring I get kids into school on time or we were where we needed to be for something I’d booked us to do. Sometimes I had up to 10 children in the school holidays. Can you even imagine what that entails!! I’m not bigging myself up…that’s definitely a skill in itself! But it means I know how to manage my time effectively, in a calm efficient manner. 

Negotiation skills, the juggling act of time, multi-tasking, social skills, being open minded, not just being ‘the childminder’ but being a sounding board for problems and advice, being calm and efficient, prioritising, being adaptable and flexible, liaising with parents, being ready for a challenge, being caring and compassionate, speaking and dealing with larger organisations like my local authority and Ofsted (will always send shivers!!) researching resources and problems. These are all skills that will help make my new business a success even if it’s not in the same field of expertise.

And actually, writing all this down and seeing it in black and white…I am not embarrassed for my childminding days at all. I am VERY proud. A career choice doesn’t define who you are, especially for woman. I ran a successful small business myself for 8 years. That’s nothing to be scoffed at. I rarely had to advertise because much of my work came from word of mouth. Word of mouth means you are bloody good at your job…and I was bloody good at my job! That in turn made my business a success because I am me, and the families who I worked in partnership with, liked me and believed in the same ethics and values as me. That’s no different to the VA world and I still hold that very dear.

So here we are, 8 years down the line and once again, the needs of myself, my children and my family have changed. I’m not getting any younger and my children are definitely growing up. I’ve seen them through from Reception to starting high school. I’ve achieved exactly what I wanted to…to be there for every reading cafe, every family week activity, every welcome Wednesday. Now? Now I feel I have a little more time for me. Having made the decision to stop childminding, being a VA seemed, again, to be the most natural side-step to achieving something I again felt passionate about whilst staying self-employed and still being there for my kids. 

So, should you work with someone who’s caring and passionate? Someone who loves to be organised and gets a buzz from helping people? Someone who’s patient, calm and efficient? A woman who although spent the last 8 years in a different field, still knows her stuff, is willing to learn more, evolve and is ready and waiting to make your business the best it can possibly be? Hell yeh you should!!

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  1. I absolutely love this. I love how the transferable skills from your time as a childminder can be fully used as a VA.

    • Thank you Amanda…glad you like it. Its thanks to you I wrote this…you helped me re-evaluate how I saw myself and my skills. Totally appreciate that x

  2. If you can be a childminder, you can do anything!!! This shows your passion, flexibility and reliability!!

    • Thats so true…being a childminder is not for the faint hearted! ???? Thank you Jac ????

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