A day in the life of a business owner

“I try to be mindful of the time that I’m spending with patients”

Valarie Jerome, owner of Valarie Jerome Optometrists, in Newbury, takes OT  through a typical day of providing private eye care to patients in her community

Berkshire independent practice owner, Valarie Jerome, talks OT through her day – from morning dog walks to manifesting a visit from local resident and fellow US import George Clooney.


I would love to tell you that I wake up at 5.30am and do cardio and weights and then meditate for half an hour before getting the children’s lunches ready. But it’s so, so the opposite. I usually wake up about 6.45am in a panic, and rush to get myself up, get my daughter up, and get the dog out. It’s a bit of a manic morning, until 8.30am has arrived and my daughter is off to school.


I walk to work. I'll start my workday at 8.30am: come in and check my emails, and help my staff open the place. I‘m so used to being a one woman show that now that I have assistants, I still try to do everything. I’m learning to delegate.

We all motivate each other. We try to keep positive. We recently attended a lecture that was put on by Rodenstock. Staff had the privilege of listening to an excellent motivational speaker called Steve Head. He said something that he learned in order to maintain a good home life, which works in business as well: when you enter a room, for the first four minutes, say nothing but positive things.

That’s what we do for the first four minutes. No one says anything negative. We might complain about how cold it is, but we keep it positive, talk about the day, ask “how was your evening? How was your weekend?” and try to motivate each other.

The first patient is generally at 9am or 9.10am, so I get the room ready for them. That’s how the day starts.


I do all our testing. I might do a half an hour test if it’s a contact lens patient, but generally my appointment slots are an hour, which is nice. It gives me lots of time to chit chat. Even though I have only been in practice here three years, I’ve worked as a locum for many years in the area. So, I have been seeing a lot of my patients for close to 10 years.


We continue to see patients until 1pm, and then I have my lunch. I would love to say I have a healthy salad with lots of fibre and nutritious stuff, but generally it’s a tuna sandwich.

Some lovely brothers own Kings Cafe here in Newbury, about five doors down from the practice. I go down and they say, “Valarie, what do you want? We’ll bring it to you.” They know I’m always in a rush, and they bring my sandwich here.

Again, I’d love to say that I take the full hour and relax and digest my food properly. But usually I eat in a rush: I’m finishing charts, or I have to rush home to let the dog out. I often look down and say, “oh my goodness there is a cup of coffee that my assistant made me, that I haven’t even drunk.”


I’m back testing for 2pm. We test from 2pm until our last patient. We see a 2pm, a 3pm and a 4pm. We might squeeze in a 4.30pm or a 4.45pm, but generally that’s what we do.

I try to be mindful of the time that I’m spending with patients. In the afternoon, I try to finish the charts while I’m with the patient, so I don't have to do it after they walk out the room.


We wind down here at about 5pm or 5.15pm. I shut down my room myself, and help staff. It’s a very small place, but we all try to work together so we can leave on time.


On Monday my husband does dinner, so my goal is to get home by 6pm or I get the old looks: “mummy, why are you late? Dinner has been ready.” I don’t manage it every week. Last week I got home at 6.30pm, so I got the look. But I try my best.


Our Monday dinner is tuna pasta bake, my husband’s dish. We have a child who is neurodiverse. When you have a child who is neurodiverse, you have to just roll with it. We try to stick to a structure, but we do have to take into consideration what our child is going to eat and go from there.

I try to get her to eat diverse meals. But there’s a lot of tuna and a lot of fish being cooked, and a lot of quick food. Again, I’d love to say I get home and cook homemade potato and leek soup, or that I’ve done a homemade shepherd’s pie, but it just doesn’t happen.

I think that’s the real world. We look at Instagram or Pinterest or TikTok and we try to keep up with the latest trends and try to be this superhuman, this superwoman. As a perimenopausal woman I’ve come to realise that I'm not a superwoman, and that is okay.

We support a little restaurant across the way, a Japanese Korean restaurant. So, we do have takeout once a week. But we do the best we can. We see what's in the cupboard. We try to be healthy. I try to always have something green on the plate. That's something my grandmother told me: always have something green, even if it’s just cucumbers on the side. That is the one rule we always try to stick to: have something green every day. That's what I tell my patients: eat a diet that is rich and colourful vegetables. I try to practise what I preach. But with a young family, it is hard.

We try to keep up with the latest trends and try to be this superhuman, this superwoman. As a perimenopausal woman I’ve come to realise that I’m not a superwoman, and that is okay



It has been mainly family time in the evening. My daughter is seven years old, and it’s taken me seven years to realise that I need to put myself into both my work diary and my family diary.

I have an excellent business coach, who I’ve worked with over several years. She has been great at helping me with business issues and with the struggles of being a business owner and in particular a female business owner, with expectations of how we should maintain our home life and be the perfect mother and a perfect businesswoman.

She advises making an appointment with myself. For years I haven’t done it, and starting last month I did it – I actually put in my phone diary an appointment with myself.

I try to do it at home. I have one dog and two ragdoll cats, that tend to be like Velcro to me. My appointment with myself is as basic as having a hot bath with no pets, no kids running in, and no husband. Just me, in the bath, having my little meditation time.

I feel like I should always be doing something productive towards work or towards family. I’m learning to let go of that


Women often feel guilty. I know I do. I feel guilty that I’d like to delegate a task at work to staff members. I feel guilty if I want to spend any time on myself, even if I just want to walk around TK Maxx for half an hour. I feel like I should always be doing something productive towards the work or towards family. I’m learning to let go of that, and learning that if I cannot take care of myself, I can't really take care of my patients and can’t look after my family.

I recently joined the gym again after quitting in early 2020, when I wasn’t able to go because I was working so much, right before the pandemic. I haven’t been a regular gym member, and now I am forcing myself to do it because perimenopause and menopause changes can be quite debilitating at times. One of the key ways to help manage it is exercise. Exercise is a really hard thing to do when your brain is tired and you’re physically tired at the end of the day, but it is key to helping your body manage this transition that us women go through.