By mid 2000 I had managed, somewhat carelessly, to be the proud mum of four children under five and looked at the various childcare options available before concluding that the local nursery provision wasn’t for me.
As an alternative, I found an amazing person who could be our nanny. In a house with 4 young children, 2 large dogs and with parents who often worked from home this was going to require someone who would be a Super Nanny. This was Ali, who instilled table manners in the children, who listened as I downloaded the minutiae of every overnight breastfeed and who managed to cope with the rather hectic schedule of our lives.
Prior to having children I had spent much of my life working in recruitment in London but my original loves of biology and psychology were reignited by watching my children develop their own skills and characters.
The team enjoying a good ol' fashion tug of war (2023)
Building a vision
In 2001, I decided that I wanted to create a nursery that would provide the best environment possible to enable children to develop their interests, at their pace, and Ali was the perfect person to help me realise that vision. Of course, seeing a vision through to reality is rather hampered by mundane issues such planning permission and building logistics but I started out as a childminder and, after two planning appeals and a major building project, we excitedly opened in 2004.
The vision which drove this is still guiding us today:
- Building capable, competent, resilient and confident children. With these skills they will thrive and make the most of any environment.
- Spending lots of time in nature, in all weathers, as children have done for centuries.
- Learning about the natural environment, think real grass not artificial turf. This helps children want to and learn to take care of our world and teaches them that things take time and that outcomes can be worth the wait.
- Building a team of interested and motivated adults to help children learn, facilitating not doing things for them. We aim to scaffold the children as they learn new skills, be it climbing or negotiating a compromise.
- Ensuring we employ enough people, so each child gets time to talk, to discuss ideas, to share their thoughts. Nothing works if the adults are always very busy, they are stressed and that is always picked up by the children.
- Building a community where people know, understand and support each other. We want our children to go on and have healthy relationships that they enjoy and feel secure in throughout their lives. Attachments in early life are crucial to how you manage all your interpersonal connections.
I was extremely fortunate to meet many people along the way who share the same ideals and aims for children and they are the ones who have made it a reality. Together we have created nurseries where every child is well known and understood, where they are helped to develop to the best of their abilities.
The families we have met on this journey are our partners, we learn from them and they from us. The connections made have stood the test of time with many friendships formed and molded during their time at Beach Babies.
The Beach Babies family (2023)
I know other people who have created some wonderful nurseries and have recently seen several of these be sold to larger nursery chains. This never benefits the families, the children or the teams at these settings. It often destroys the ethos and values that were key to their identity and devalues what they hold dear with the end goal being simply to deliver profits to their corporate investors.
I am determined that won’t happen to Beach Babies. I have a long-term plan to transfer a majority holding in the nursery to an Employee-Owned Trust. This will give everyone who works at Beach Babies a stake in the future of the business, a share in the profits and a say in its future direction. This will ensure that we offer an amazing foundation in life for many more future children.
However, I can’t see me retiring, I’ll still be there even if just as the gardener, well into my 80’s. Team, you have been warned!!!!!
Tracy, Nursery Founder