'I missed my daughter's first steps -- but I won't miss any more milestones'
Mum-of-two Susan Grant (34), from Rathfarnham in Dublin, took daughters Emma (4) and Isabelle (2) out of daycare to set up her own consultancy agency at home. Now the working mum says she's got the best of both worlds.
"Being a working mum is a big balancing act. When our first daughter was born, I don't think I was ready to be a stay-at-home mum -- and with the recession, I wasn't in a position to walk away from my job either.
"As I struggled to strike a work-life balance however, I knew I had to put my family first.
"So with Emma due to start school, I decided to hand in my notice at work and go out on my own. I wanted to be there in the morning to get her dressed, do her pigtails and make sure her lunch was made.
"Although giving up my salary was a huge sacrifice, my husband Darren knew that I had been having these thoughts for months and was totally supportive.
"When the girls were in daycare, I'd pick them up at half six -- at which stage they were tired and cranky -- and put them to bed at seven. Weekends were spent washing clothes and cleaning the house.
"Meanwhile at work, I'd feel guilty that I wasn't at home with them.
"Now, I work around my family and am much happier -- I get to take Emma to ballet after school and spend time playing with Isabelle during the day.
"When the girls were in daycare, I missed a lot of milestones -- like Isabelle's first steps -- and I'm determined not to miss any more.
"Don't get me wrong -- they loved crÃªche and the level of care they got there was excellent.
"But I'm their mum, and it should be me who's there to instill the qualities I want in them -- not a crÃªche."