I met Tina Keogh back in 2007 when I was pregnant with my first child….before Professional Parents was even conceived! So I’m very pleased to welcome her as the first international interview to this site. She runs Childbirth, First Aid and Baby Massage classes in The Hague (Den Haag), The Netherlands and has recently relocated to Brussels, Belgium (but which is close enough so she can “pop back” to give classes in The Hague which she plans to do this year). Her Dutch website is Great Expectations and Brussels one in Brussels Babies.
Tina is 46, has been in business for 10 years and works around 35-40 hours a week. Her children are now aged 14 & 12. Here is my email interview with Tina:
How did you come to start your own business?
I trained in Brussels as a childbirth instructor when my daughter was born, based on the understanding that ACCESS had a job for me on my return to The Hague. However when I did return they felt they had enough instructors. I now had a university diploma in teaching adults – antenatal education and I wasn’t about to sit on it. So I did some clip art flyers and my husband drove around all the midwife practices in The Hague . People called me, we had a long chat generally getting to know them and they booked. They kept passing on my name and the rest is history. At the request of clients I trained later in Baby Massage and then First Aid. I have been very lucky that people liked my product and I also kept in contact with my local midwives at least twice a year with a thank you letter and new brochures. I really enjoyed expanding my network of experts that support my business and have huge admiration for women who have so much to offer society alongside being mothers. We are powerhouses.
What was life like before children?
BC as they say. I started work at 19 in Ireland for a small stationery company just setting up. You could say I cut my business teeth there and learnt all there is to know about the ins and outs of running a business. Unfortunately the pay was rubbish and it was tough going to study my marketing degree at night and work during the day. So after 2 years I chucked it all in and booked a one-way ticket to Brussels to work as an au pair to improve my French. After 3 months I was bored and wrote a letter to the Human Resources department at the European Commission applying for a secretarial position. A week later they offered me a contract for a year. Those were the days………. a couple of years later I met a young Dutch man, Richard Ossendorp, fell in love….. We stayed in Brussels for a few years where I worked as a PA to the Director of Deloitte and Touche. When Richard was offered a permanent contract in The Hague in 1994 we moved on to a new adventure. During that time I worked as office administrator to ACCESS for 3 years. We married; got pregnant and 7 months into my pregnancy Richard was offered a great job at the Dutch Permanent Representation back to Brussels. So I stopped work to raise my child for a year. This was the plan. I joined the organisation The Brussels Childbirth Trust. Although I found it rewarding being at home with my baby I tried crèche a few times and it didn’t sit right with my daughter or me. So when the BCT offered me a chance to trained as a childbirth instructor I went with it. My son came along a year later and it all made sense. What I was studying I was now living.
How does this compare to life “after children”?
Ha ha. Well you never ever say you are bored. I have no time to be depressed and even as I type this I am thinking that I need to get the washing into the washing machine, as we have to pack for London in the morning. I live with computer calendar and an electronic list. I tried two lists – one professional and one personal. I gave up. Dental appointments have to fit in amongst work and as does feeding the rabbit, arranging parent-teacher meetings or designing an elephant costume from nothing for school the next day with no warning. You become some kind of superbeing. Tell me about a man who does this?
One or two of your favourite products/services?
- My cranial osteopath: Ivo Trouw in The Hague
- Elysium – lovely Spa
Any professional training or qualifications you’d like to mention?
- Certificate in Marketing and Design – I never completed the degree
- Luton University –Diploma – antenatal Education – teaching adults –
- First Aid – Children and their environment – Dutch requirement annual retraining. Current certificate with First Aid International The Netherlands
- Baby Massage – International Association of Infant Massage – my chapter is in the UK as I wanted materials in English
- February 2013 – undergraduate course in Child Development – Open University
Tips for work family balance?
Plan time in for yourself and your husband. You literally have to sit with an agenda. If you do work for yourself there are times when you can switch off the computer and go read a book or have a bath because the e-mails will wait.
Thanks Tina! Great to get to know you a little better. I just went and searched my old YouTube videos and found the one I made after our birth class babies were born:
I’m pleased to say I’m still in touch with several of these families and a few of our our now 5-year-old children (and little brothers & sisters!) have had recent catch ups or have some planned soon.
This is part of a series of interviews on our Professional Parents People page so you can learn from other’s experiences of how they balance family and work. Would you like to share your story? Contact us
If you are a working or entrepreneurial parent, why not come and join us on the Professional Parents Facebook page, we’d love to meet you!
Renee Veldman-Tentori, founder, Professional Parents