Working 9 to 5…what a way to make a living… as the lovely Dolly sang. It’s the holy grail to work 9 to 3 for me though and I may have just found a way!
I’ve adorned many hats in my short and varied career so far.
My working life started in a shoe shop (where I lied and said I was 16 so I could get the job, I was actually 15…shhh!), then I moved on briefly to fold jumpers in The Sweater Shop (remember them!?), got bored senseless as a checkout girl at the local Sainsburys, then became a waitress and worked…well everywhere. Got a random bar job because my uncle owned a pub (The Fav in Leeds – uber cool), was a traffic and travel reporter and drove a Hummer for my local radio station and finally found my calling when I started working in telly. There I wore many different shaped and sized hats depending on the programme – some of which suited, some didn’t but they all left their impression – or ‘hat hair’ along the way. However, the most recent hat I’ve been wearing has been a bit of an oxymoron. #stopthehatanalogynow
What on earth am I rambling on about I hear you shout… your attention span is already tested. Well for the last six months I’ve been immersed in a world of tweets, scheduling, KPI’s, metrics, social media advertising and campaign planning. I’ve up-skilled and retrained to become a Social Media Manager with the in vogue Digital Mums! I’ve been working closely with a business based over 200 miles from where I live and running a campaign for her Mindful Parenting business in St Albans. Called Rise N Shine they run classes in the local area showing how parents can be more mindful. My campaign celebrated this with the hashtag #AMindfulMoment and I have enjoyed every minute of it!
Knowledge is power
I’ve always loved learning new things and acquiring knowledge. I finished uni and hated the idea of not being in the education bubble. So, after travelling the world and waitressing to save up for it, I embarked on a Journalism Post Grad – which meant when I eventually started looking for a proper job, I knew my onions when it came to legal blunders and it meant I was one step ahead of the endless stream of eager Media Studies graduates.
The Digital Mums course I’ve just completed is also a bit like that. Everyone knows something about social media – hell, if you don’t where have you been? But people tend to self teach and muddle on through – using social media for personal reasons and for well, being social. But if you have a business you need to be a bit more in the know. Also everyone has an opinion on it – whether it’s good or bad, it’s a talking point. It’s relevant right now, it’s all consuming in this digital world in which we live. It’s almost become something we can’t live without – but not everyone gets it right, or has the time to get it right. The course has taught me so much including how to navigate my way through the social media maze. I’ve become part of a tribe – soon to be called the ‘DM Collective’ – which is where you join once graduated. You become part of a network of like-minded, socially skilled mega mums who all have each others backs.
How did I get here though? Well, it was certainly a lightbulb moment for me. I can’t express enough how much I adored my career in TV. I’d worked so hard to get there and could see a real career path ahead of me, working my way up from Junior Researcher through to Series Producer if I was lucky enough. I had some fantastic opportunities in the TV industry and met a truly fab bunch of fun, like-minded people along the way. Many of whom are still some of my closest friends and one of whom is now my lovely husband! It’s a privileged job and one I never took for granted.
When I had my first child I knew I wanted to return to work and thought I could juggle it all. Like so many first time mums – you want to be super mum but end up being master of nothing. Your life gets tipped upside down by a small human and nothing is ever quite the same again. Returning to work full-time is a hard decision to make but being freelance I was able to dip in and out of contracts and found a few that fitted in with motherhood. Then the bombshell fell. We found out we were having twins. (Amazing but OMG). There is not way back from that I thought. Two babies and toddler to contend with just ruled me out of TV work from then on. If I was to return to work how would it ever compare to my telly job? I became a stay at home mama, bumbling along, blogging about twins and picking up bits of work here and there. Relying once again on my trusty journo post grad, I picked up some shifts at BBC Radio 5live.
Then, like when an industrial lightbulb catches your eye and draws you in, I saw an advert for Digital Mums. I loved their ethos of supporting and retraining mums and I was intrigued by their claims of flexible working and being your own mumboss. They call it #workthatworks – it’s about being there for the family you’ve created whilst being a successful career woman at the same time. Working flexibly around the school run. Earning money whilst being creative and social. It’s about feeling motivated when you wake up, showing your children that you are more than just their mummy. You too can bring home the bacon – even if it’s only from Aldi and not Waitrose…
It’s really happening!
So I got the ball rolling. I had to go through the application process, which is nerve-wracking in itself! You have to do a Skype interview – eek – and prove your worth! It all went well though and I was accepted on the course! When you start you literally hit the ground running. Any worries and concerns are quickly pushed aside as you get busy learning who your programme partner is, meeting your peer group, Doodle-polling and attending your first every Google hangout, getting to grips with the online learning modules and generally being non stop! Most exciting is applying for your NUS card and getting a Topshop student discount! True story.
Not that you have time to go shopping! The course is pretty intense and you do end up becoming a bit of a hermit. There is so much to learn and take in, assignments to do, dealing with your client and getting to know their business. All this whilst you have children tugging at your cardigan, washing piles growing taller and endless household chores that you can’t quite get around to anymore. I won’t pretend I didn’t use the I-player on more than one occasion as our main form of childcare!
New experiences, new friends
Your peer group are essential to getting through it though – they are the ones you can ask silly questions to and not feel like a fool, bounce ideas off, give each other support but above all else, meet four new mum friends who are all in the same boat as you – trying to keep it from sinking! There certainly were a lot of interesting events and some ups and downs in our peer group – the ‘Claudia Schiffers’ – but what’s said in the group stays in the group! Sorry! We had our last ‘hangout’ the other day and it was strange to say goodbye for the final time – it’s the end of a mini era and there will be a big ‘peer group hole’ left now.
Mindful parenting was also interspersed into all of this – and on many occasions felt at odds with social media, ironically. The whole concept of parenting mindfully is being fully present with your children and really being aware of the moments you are sharing together. Something I didn’t really feel I was doing at all – the course is all-consuming and social media takes over a bit – I was tweeting about mindful parenting but failing to practice it myself at times.
New adventures ahead!
However, slowly but surely, you see the light. I realised that I was doing this course to enable me to be better at managing this parent/work malarkey. Putting the effort in for a greater good. To actually find my #workthatworks. I was also learning that to practice mindful parenting isn’t a big deal and shouldn’t be all incense and meditation, it can be as easy as baking some cakes or just doing a jigsaw together with your children and giving them your undivided attention… (Whilst sneakily checking your Instagram notifications perhaps…!).
I have now come through the other side now and I’m raring to go. The course has given me the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge to get out there and make this new career happen. I’ve already picked up some paid social media for the company I used to work for, arranged lots of meetings and coffee dates with friends that may lead to work, actually started to ‘do the hustle’ and put myself out there at networking events which has led to a few people saying ‘I need your help with social media’ and have plans to set up my own digital business very soon! Exciting times ahead. If you’re reading this and trying to decided whether you should do the course – don’t hesitate anymore, it will change your life – do it!