Like many working mums, Sarah Wood was convinced that when she had her first child she would go straight back to work, but she found instead that her whole world had changed.
Sarah had worked with websites since 1995 when she was asked to asked to set up an internet site for children and young adults at an educational publisher. “I knew nothing about it, but I was hooked straight away,” she says.
After that experience she worked for a range of big corporates, including Dell, Vodafone and T-Mobile. She was at T-Mobile when she was pregnant with her daughter Caitlin, who is now six and a half.
It was a long commute, though, on top of a high pressure sales-focused senior job managing a fairly big team. Rather than return Sarah decided to take a redundancy package and when Caitlin was a year old she joined Vodafone, running their content operation team. It was advertised as a full-time job, but she asked to do it on a part-time basis. Initially she did three days a week then moved up to four when her role changed. Again, it was a fairly senior position and she had a team spread across the UK. Her manager was very supportive and allowed her to do the role part time, but her hours gradually crept up.
She got pregnant with her son Gabriel and decided to take a year off. During that time Vodafone changed a lot. Her supportive boss left. She was offered a full-time full-on role. “It was a very exciting role,” says Sarah, “and I thought about it very carefully. It would have needed a heavy commitment from me and I did not want to return on a part-time basis doing a lesser role and seeing someone else doing the role I wanted to do.”
She started thinking about what else she could do. When she was pregnant with Caitlin her partner had started working for himself so that he would be around for the baby and he picked her up from nursery while Sarah was doing intensive days at Vodafone.
When she was pregnant with Gabriel he had quite a lot of work on, but the two parents didn't want Gabriel to have a different experience of his first years to Caitlin. That was part of Sarah's decision not to take the Vodafone offer.
She didn't want to lose touch with the internet world, though, so set up a blog [www.sarahwoodonline.com] and started using social media to keep in touch. Earlier this year she also picked up some contract work in London and really enjoyed it. “I began thinking what could I do next, but I came up against a crisis of confidence,” she says. She talked to people in her network and realised she could offer a whole range of internet skills based on her website experience and her new social media knowledge.
Her partner's business specialises in marketing and business development so she decided to team up with him to offer her skills and says her confidence is coming back as she does more jobs.
She says she would have found it difficult not to work. “I think I would have gone mad,” she says. “But it was a question of fitting it into family life. I am so pleased I have done what I have done and not missed out on the children's early years.”