I’m excited to share a guest post from Andrea Cutts, a local Digital Mums graduate and owner of her own marketing and social media consultancy, OscarCharlie. Read on to find out how Andrea went from a high-flying city job to retraining with Digital Mums, and finding flexible #WorkThatWorks.
Working and a family life, how does that even happen?
Once you’ve had a baby, your whole life changes. No longer can you afford to be just about you and neither do you want to! So, what does this mean when the maternity period is up? Do you stop working and dedicate your time to bringing up your family? Do you go back to work as it was before and if so does this really work? For some mums, it absolutely does and for a while that was me but eventually things needed to change.
So here I am to tell you my little story about how I found #WorkThatWorks – note that hashtag, it might give you a clue!
My journey to becoming a Digital Mum
I’ve worked since I left university. I worked long hours forging ahead with my career, continued my education and gained my CIM diploma in marketing. I moved onwards and upwards, and eventually ended up working in the city for a European telecoms company for nearly 20 years (yes, please don’t do the maths!).
During this time, I had my two beautiful children and took the full maternity leave I was entitled to. (I’d earned two years off for good behaviour, surely?) I returned back to work on a part-time basis after my first daughter. On the whole it worked. I had a three-day working week, one of which was home-based and then four days a week dedicated to the family. I’d cracked the work-life balance that I needed.
Slowly and surely changes happened. Decisions were made, my role was changed and opportunities to progress slowed down. It was frustrating but my priorities had changed. I wasn’t going to give up more time with the family to get a promotion. Maybe that showed a lack of ambition but to me, the days when I barely said good morning and goodnight to the girls were already too many. I had the mummy guilt, but equally I couldn’t give up working as I knew I needed the stimulation and the challenge of working, of doing a job well, and learning.
The company I was working for was always in constant change. They went through many restructures and redundancies. My role changed with them and there was always something new to learn. Eventually though, the inevitable arrived and my role was made redundant.
Time to bite the bullet
My initial reaction, as you can imagine, was shock. I mean, I’d been there such a long time and I’d always had great reviews. Then it turned to “why me” and, eventually, panic! What am I going to do? The good news was that the company had a vacancy in a different part of the company that they were pushing me to apply for. The bad news was that it meant increasing my hours. After a lot of soul searching, the thought of seeing even less of the girls was just not part of my plans for the future, so I bit the bullet and left.
This is my best decision to date!
What to do now?
So where did this leave me? Well, for a while I flirted with the whole stay-at-home-mum role. Full respect to all of you ladies who do this, but it became clear to me after a few months that this was not for me. My girls are both at primary school now and being left to my own devices during the school day did nothing for my own self esteem. I needed something to fill the void.
Joining Digital Mums
I came across Digital Mums. Their ethos is all about giving mums the tools to get back to work, whether they haven’t worked for a decade or they need something more flexible to work around the family – to get #WorkThatWorks.
They do this by upskilling women in social media. I ummed and ahhed but it was a great fit with my existing marketing experience (that’s not compulsory for the course) so I went for it!
With Digital Mums, you really do learn your craft
Don’t be fooled by the Digital Mums label. It’s not a quick fix, it’s not dumbed down, and it’s a full on 15-20 hours per week for six months (read more about the course here) but you really do learn your craft. It’s a little bit more than sending the odd post on Facebook, I promise!
I graduated a year ago. It’s pretty crazy thinking about it all now, but the thrill of graduating quickly became the excitement of setting up a business, rolled into the trepidation of will it work? Can I really have work that fits around me and the family?
Being my own boss
And yet, here I am running my own business. You may ask how that is panning out with the whole work-life balance thing? Surely it’s more stressful and long hours? It’s not perfect but it’s close. I run a marketing and social media consultancy (you see, I told you there was a reason for the hashtag!). I’m my own boss and take on work that fits in around my family. There is so much you can do when you are your own boss.
Flexibility eases the mum guilt
Okay, you have to be disciplined but us mums are great at getting things done in an efficient way! I tend to work Monday to Friday during school hours, but what is great is that I can work from anywhere. So if the kids have gym club, I can still do my work once my role as taxi driver has finished. And those last minute notifications from school where you have to drop everything and rush to see what your darling has been doing today, are usually possible.
Recognise that the reason you’ve set it up this way is to give you the flexibility. Don’t over promise, over work and stick your children into pre and after-school clubs if that’s not your plan.
A little less mum guilt in our life is what we all need!