Ok, you're in for a treat here! Lucy is my sister-in-law, she's incredibly creative and very funny, which I think you get a little glimpse of here in this blog! I asked her to share her story because she absolutely LOVES her job! I love hearing her talk about her work because she's so passionate about it and so so grateful to have found a position she loves for the right employer. Initially a qualified florist, Lucy spent 7 years at home raising 2 children -"it really is the hardest job in the world….." - and now works in a local Garden Centre. Lucy's story is uplifting and the perfect reminder that work can be far more than a means to an end!
"The fact that my job also incorporates my hobby and love of plants and gardening is a massive bonus and I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I am able to have all that and still pick the kids up."
Tell us a little about yourself – who are you besides the job you do?
Hi! So first and foremost I am Mum to two fantastic kids Sophie 8 and Tom 5, Wife to Stuart, cook, cleaner, PA to everybody and the finder of things.
I like all things nature, country music, gardening and whooping the bad guys on playstation with the kids.
I doubt myself all the time, feel guilt on a daily basis even though I can't try any harder at life and have a never ending list on ways I could improve myself.
I do enjoy my job though :)
What do you do now?
I've been working part time in a local garden center for the last 18 months, which I absoloutely love. It's mostly outside in the plant area but can be on the tills or even filling up bags of birdseed, its very varied which makes it interesting.
What do you love about it?
I love that I can work around the kids, my awesome manager lets me do school hours in the week which also means there's time to power walk there and back - work and workout four days a week, it’s a double whammy. The days are hectic and I'm forever in a rush but I function best under a litle pressure!
What did you do before and how did you end up there?
My first job was a florist which never left me, I then worked in a couple of retail shops (homewares and then clothing) for the next eightish years until I met Mr. Right and became a stay at home mum when the babies were born. I stayed at home for seven and a half years in total, fitting my daily routine around cbeebies, potty training, and making sure the house was spick and span for when my overworked husband came home.
Why did you decide to change?
I loved the fact I had been lucky enough to stay at home and raise the kids and not miss out on a single sneeze of theirs, while my husband worked seven days a week to ensure we were comfortable. They were happy and secure, really bright and well mannered, the perfect little humans (in their own way!) but at the same time I felt completely frazzled and had forgotten what I even used to like. I then felt guilty for feeling that I wanted more when I know some mums would kill to be able to be a stay at home mum. But it really is the hardest job in the world and our work/life balance was at opposite ends of the spectrum for me and my husband. But it worked.
How did you decide what to do instead?
I had done work experience all those years ago at the garden center and really enjoyed it, I had very fond memories of the place and had always used it as an example of when I got back to work “I just want a nice job at the garden center that I can fit around the kids” as I didn’t want to disrupt our balance after not having to worry about those sorts of things for so long. It didn’t matter if the kids had been ill as I was always home anyway. Got a parcel being delivered? No problem I’ll be home!
Where did you start when it came to actually making the change?
I had been toying with the idea and desperately wanting to go back to work for a long time so when I couldn’t ignore it anymore I began curiously browsing on job sites to see if there was anything that I could possibly fit around the kids. Just when I had convinced myself there was nothing suitable for me and I would just have to wait another couple of years until Tom started school I saw the ad for a part time assistant at the garden center. I couldn’t believe it and rang their head office directly because me being me didn’t want to waste anybodys time by filling out a form and having an interview if I couldn’t do the hours they required.
I was told that I might actually be just the kind of person they were looking for and to definitely apply and the rest is history!
How did you actually make the change? (training, finances, learning etc)
It was really very scary, but completely exhilerating at the same time. Once I got over actually being offered the job after my interview (the first one I'd had in 13 years) I did worry about all sorts of things but I felt such a sense of achievement there was no way I wasn’t going to make it work. Being the new girl there was plenty of mistakes to make and lots of learning curves shall we say, Im lucky to have two very understanding managers and theres always some training or opportunities to be had at work. If it hadn't been down to Coronavirus scuppering everybodys plans I would have been going to the Chelsea Flower Show to help behind the scenes on the Hillier stand; I'd only ever been there as a paying member of the the public before!
What were /are the biggest challenges? (internal and external!)
I would say the biggest challenges have been the complete upheaval of what we used to have and getting used to it. I work every other weekend as well as some days in the week so it was hard at first and there were times when I would cry on the way down to work just because I felt such overwhelming guilt and selfishness that I wanted to get back out into the world of work when I could be at home with the kids doing weekend stuff. I also felt guilty that my husband had been working all week too and now he was lumbered with the task of keeping two kids happy, making it to dance class on time (and remembering to pick her up) and getting my dinner ready... Oh how the tables have turned!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would probably tell myself to drink less, trust myself more and to lower my expectations a bit, but other than that I am who I am and I don’t think it could have been any other way for me. I never regret anything I've done because everything I did got me here today and that’s where I want to be.
How has life changed?
Since going back to work life has changed quite a lot, I only get a lay in once every two weeks! I would say I have much more self worth now, the fact that I am earning my own wage and contributing again means the world to me. Stuart always said I was contributing in the most important ways but the fact I was completely reliant on him financially made me feel weak and frustrated. The fact that my job also incorporates my hobby and love of plants and gardening is a massive bonus and I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I am able to have all that and still pick the kids up. Lets not forget the social side either, being a stay at home mum is not all soft play and coffee shops with your new mum friends, it was the most isolating and lonely time in so many ways and now I have friends and colleagues and a work whatsapp group and all that funny banter that I missed for so long. I am part of something again which I never realised how much I missed. I also get to call myself a working mum now which just feels so badass!
What do you miss anything about your previous line of work?
What hopes do you have for your future?
I hope that things don’t change too much for me actually as I am really very happy and grateful for all that I have right now. I'm looking forward to expanding my general horticulture knowledge but that will come with experience and I feel I'm working for a really good company. I get paid to be outside in the fresh air, talking to people, caring for plants, it's within walking distance and fits in with the school run. SERIOUSLY!
What advice would you give to anyone looking to find and pursue a career/job they love?
I was very patient and I did hold out for this job to come up, a position had been advertised the previous year but it was definitely not the right time so I reluctantly let that one go. So that’s it, patience, if you know that’s the job for you and you will be happy in it then surely that’s worth holding out for?
I love sharing resources! Are there any resources such as books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc that you'd recommend for people figuring out what they want to do for work and/or getting started?
No but just realise that to be happy in a job it doesn’t have to be glamorous, or high flying, or high paid even, if it gives you fire in your belly then its not going to feel like work and you should embrace it.
Where can people find / follow you?
You can find me at Hilliers Garden Center, Banbury. Come and buy some plants, it'll cheer you up and you might realise what it is that you want to do!