Anna Coggan, Owner of Caterpillar Music Newark
Fun Caterpillar Music activity classes for babies, toddlers and young children
I knew I had to be a teacher back in my primary school days. After I finished my GCSEs, I decided I wanted to work with children.
I was 100% committed to teaching for years, but when I had my first child in 2007 everything changed. I returned to work full time after taking maternity leave, so in term-time I dropped my daughter off at 7.30am and didn’t see her again until 5pm. The childminder had my baby more hours than I did! I was busy pouring all my energy into other people’s children.
School holidays kept me going until I had baby number two in 2009. This time I went back to a different primary closer to home. My daughter was in school and I thought I had it all worked out, but by 2014 I couldn’t speak to anyone without bursting into tears. I’d already scheduled a GP appointment when my headteacher said: “If you’d broken your leg, I’d send you home; this is no different.” She’d had counselling training and recognised I was stressed; it made a massive difference.
I took three weeks off work and started to think about how I could be the teacher and the mummy I wanted to be. Running my own Caterpillar Music franchise felt like an option, but the finances didn’t stack up at first. I still had to teach two days a week and run my music classes the other three days. By Sunday nights, I started to feel sick at the thought of going into school; it was a relief to finally hand in my notice.
Two years on, I do four classes most days in nurseries, community centres and care homes. We explore themes through nursery rhymes, puppets, musical instruments and action songs, as well as lots of bubbles! Running these fabulous multi-sensory music classes provides me with all the best bits of teaching without the stress.
It’s life-changing to be there for my kids every day. Last year, I did a Live video on Facebook during Mental Health Awareness Week about my struggle to find balance. So many parents commented: ‘I feel like that too’. It’s shocking but talking about it helps.