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Setting up The Parent and Baby Coach: My Story

Heidi Skudder Coaching

Having worked with non-sleeping babies and misbehaving toddlers for over 8 years now, I am very much used to functioning on very little sleep. Being in my early 30’s, meant that much of my 20’s life was spent staying overnight at family’s homes, helping parents with getting their little ones to sleep better at night time. This has meant that I have had to miss out on many a social occasion in the past, and a normal relationship with my now husband, given most nights were spent sleeping in client’s homes as opposed to my own! So why choose this job? And how did I get into randomly sleeping in different people’s spare rooms each night? All questions I get asked regularly by clients that I am visiting, so some thoughts I thought I might share on my blog…

When I first decided to set up The Parent and Baby Coach (formerly Tiny Tiptoes in the very early stages), I did not anticipate how successful it would become, so never really thought in advance about the type of lifestyle the job would lead to. Eight years ago, I moved to London, to continue my education in Psychology, enrolling on a Master’s Degree in Business Psychology which took me 18 months to complete. During this time, I worked in the day time as a nanny, and then after my evening masters course, overnight as a night nanny. I literally worked 90+ hours a week often, and gained a massive amount of experience in caring for numerous teeny tiny babies, as well as toddlers too.

Upon completing my master’s degree, I had the hard decision to either go into a graduate scheme in the city, or set something up myself which would enable me to use the past 7 years of childcare experience, alongside my psychology and work for myself. I chose the latter, for the following reasons; working for myself had always been something I wanted to do, I am just not very good at being told what I can and cannot do! I also am a very motivated person, and have always had the ambition and drive to be a bit of an entrepreneur. Underpinning all of this though, was my love for working with babies, toddlers and parents, and the knowledge I had built from so many years working in various family’s homes – I just didn’t feel the jump to city worker in an office would suit me, and as it turns out I made the right decision!

For anyone who has set up their own business, or is in the throes of it, you will know what I am talking about when I say it becomes your whole entire life and more. One happy client can lead to another three clients, so saying no is really never an option, even more so in the early days. This often means working weekends and any spare hours that you can find. At times, this was difficult on my relationship, as I often went whole weeks without even seeing my boyfriend (now husband), and had to miss out on many a social occasion too. This is one of the biggest sacrifices of starting your own company, and I am so lucky to have found someone who wanted to be with me regardless of the number of hours I had spare to spend with him!

I was once told that it would take five years to have a business that was totally up and running and ticking over by itself, yet I spent the best part of five years denying that this was the case – years in and I realised that this person was indeed telling the truth – around 4.5 years in and I could finally say it was really working for me, and I could begin to cut down on the nanny and night nanny work, in order to make way for clients who were coming in from The Parent and Baby Coach. In the very early stages, any booking through the business was a huge achievement, and to be celebrated. With this though came the emotional rollercoaster of weeks where nothing came in at all, no matter how hard I tried – there were certainly endless nights of crying into Rowan’s lap about how I was failing and whether I should just go an interview for a graduate role and take a “normal” path.

For me, setting up The Parent and Baby Coach was all about striving to help parents with areas of “parenting” that often one can struggle with. I watched so many women go from high powered jobs to losing their confidence entirely with their newborn. I saw so many fathers feel left out during those early stages of having a baby, when they could do nothing but watch their poor wife in tears whilst struggling with breastfeeding. There were and still are, so many ways in which we are not given the right support as new parents and my aim was to help bridge this gap, by providing one to one consulting and now in the form of workshops too, for those parents who feel like they need that little bit extra than a book, google or a health visitor will give you.

The Parent and Baby Coach now deals with hundreds of parents each month, those hoping to gain more knowledge and expertise on all sorts of areas of parenting – sleep being the most popular, closely following by toddler eating and behaviour! I have been visiting sleep deprived parents overnight for 8 years now, and I can honestly say this it still remains to be one of the most rewarding and amazing parts of doing my job! When I arrive at parent’s homes, I am often greeted by a rather desperate looking Mummy, who is holding on to any hope of me being able to wave a magic wand and leaving in the morning with a baby or toddler who is sleeping better already. I really see many parents at their most vulnerable, and it would not be unusual for me to be comforting Mum (or Dad – not to stereotype!) as she/he cries a few tears given her sheer desperation and want for things to change.

The days that follow are always very exciting for me, as things begin to improve for the family and I stay in close contact to make sure that they are following the plan that we put into place. Needless to say, there is no magic wand I have waved – and changing sleep or behaviour patterns in young children takes times and effort, and it is certainly not easy (more on the cry versus no cry sleep training debate in future blogs), however, I do leave that household with parents who now have a sense of hope and confidence that things are on their way up, as opposed to being totally stuck in a rut that they had no idea how to get out of before I arrived. The first night is always the toughest, and I look forward to the amazing messages I receive in coming days when things have improved, and often quite dramatically.

Being “The Parent and Baby Coach” has enabled me to create a business I love, doing a job I absolutely adore, and expanding in to different areas that I am interested in so that as time goes by, I can add more and more skills to my bow. Having just set up the online webinars, I am excited to build those so that parents all over the county can access good quality, expert information. From then I also hope to expand my repertoire of workshops…with lots of exciting ideas in the pipeline. It’s been a great rollercoaster of a ride, and my top tips for building your own business success would be;

-If you are just starting out, or thinking of ideas – make sure that it is something that you really love! It has to be worthy of the time, energy and effort that needs to go into it.
-You will spend a lot of time feeling like you are taking two steps forwards, and then three steps back. Be prepared for this, and surround yourself with people who believe in you, rather than those who are questioning why.
-Eat well and make time for yourself – I failed to do this for the first 3-4 years and it did me no favours health wise. Yoga even just once a week help clears head space, and a short ten minute mindfulness exercise on an app can reduce stress and help you clear your mind.
-Know that unless you have an unlimited source of funding behind you, you may need to still do your “day job” for a little while at least – but that is ok! Progression will happen, as long as you put your mind to it.
-Make it Happen – things will go in the right direction as long as you put the hard work in. Hard work does pay off!