Written with a small child swinging off me

It’s Week 20 on the Digital Mums Community Manager Course and my final assignment is to write this blog. As things stand, I am also in Week 2 of the school hols with a 5yo who understandably would prefer I devote her more face time (in the non Apple sense) than screen time to my Mac. So I have until the end of Tree Fu Tom to get this out!

A common thread on our local Mums’ Facebook page is finding a job that works around childcare. Everyone is after the same holy grail so there is much chat about options or lack of. I didn’t fancy selling anything or taking up a franchise but when someone posted last Christmas they’d trained as a Digital Mum I was curious. What did that mean exactly? I used to research all kinds of businesses in my previous life so I got snooping. Digital Mums came out well via my Google searches, reviews were positive and the approach innovative. Kathryn and Nikki the founders had interesting backgrounds and had obviously thought through their pitch. I thought I’d have a go, not having learnt a new skill for a long time.

I chose to run an Arts campaign as my local area is inundated with community pages and forums. Getting up to speed with the platforms was relatively easy. I hadn’t used Pinterest before but like Twitter, you only really “get” it by doing. That’s what really appealed about the course, actually getting stuck in.

I’ve read previous blogs where people confess to feeling quite nervous about starting Digital Mums. I have to confess, I wasn’t. I was just aching to do something new and different. That said, once I’d got going was my greatest challenge was not-so-much getting my head around digital platforms, it was the solitude. Having left the buzz of an office after child no 2 I found sitting in front of a computer by myself really difficult, if not quite boring at times. “Chatting” to people on social media is fine but nothing beats proper human contact. When a local social media manager direct messaged me to ask if I’d like a chat, via the phone (yay!) our conversation revealed this to be a common problem. It was a relief to know cabin fever is totally normal.

Having a group of cohorts to train with definitely helps. We set up a WhatsApp group for mutual help and general chitchat about our current and past lives. It is actually one of (if not) the best things about the course as despite coming from very different careers and backgrounds we got on very well and even met up at the end.

Running a local arts campaign means I know more about my neighbourhood than I ever did when I started. I’ve also realised how much the marketing landscape has changed in the last decade and how much it is likely to continue to do so over the next one. For anyone wanting to do this full time I think you have to commit to continuous professional development possibly more than most professions. Being a bit of a tech nerd might also help as well!

As much as I got enthusiastic feedback from my client media channel audit which is part of the course, after 6 months I’m not yet sure this is the life for me. While the flexibility is welcome, it’s the solitude and full on screen time I find difficult. I really need someone to annoy in the flesh!

As far as the course is concerned, I was very aware this is still in pilot phase so it will be interesting to see how the Community Manager Programme — and Digital Mums — develop from here. As students, we were sending weekly feedback to the course managers and there were certainly some weeks that would have made for colourful reading!

What this course does highlight is there remains a lot more opportunity for women in the workplace than most of us think. Technology can provide demonstrable results that does not rely on a worker having to be in an office 9–5 (or longer) every day of the week . Whatever I do next, I feel more confident about finding a balance that suits me and my family.

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