Hootlets & Dreams

Striking the mythical work-life balance is a challenge for most people these days and none more so than those of us who unexpectedly find ourselves as single parents. This was the situation I found myself in a couple of years ago; alone with a 15 month old and no income to speak of (having given up work to look after my son). As I had already worked in IT for investment banks for 10 years and then retrained as a psychotherapist I felt like I had done all the studying and retraining that I would surely need to do in my life. I was idly googling ‘flexible working’ one day and happened to see an ad for Digital Mums and it sounded like just what I was looking for. I had no marketing experience to speak of, but with all those years working in the dog-eat-dog world that is investment banking I was game for the challenge, right?

Time wasn’t something that I had on my hands so on an impulse I signed up and was accepted onto the course. Meeting my peer group (the lovely Honor Blackmans) for the first time and working out the enigma that is Google Hangouts was a challenge in itself. Little did I know that I would interact (mainly in a Whatsapp group) with these ladies more than I would speak to my own family and friends for the next 6 months and beyond.

I was assigned my client for the duration of the training course, a lovely Irish charity called Dogs for the Disabled. Only issue, I didn’t know anything about dogs! Never had a dog, never so much as walked a dog!! I didn’t realise that for the next 5–6 months I was going to eat, sleep and breathe them. I found myself completely immersed in my campaign. I even wrote a weekly DogBlog (I’d never written a blog before either, just so you know!) from the perspective of an assistance dog in training. I even introduced a Lego element to my campaign where I told the story of the assistance dog training programme through Lego, and often found myself creating Lego scenes to take pictures of at 10pm!!

For those of you wondering how you would manage your time through the training…it ain’t easy but it’s doable. I had two hours during the day while my little man was at nursery and evenings while he was asleep (which I also juggled with a small private practice as a psychotherapist). I often found myself in the queue for nursery pick up trying to restrain myself from jumping up and down because a celebrity influencer retweeted my campaign! Again, another instance where the only people who will care are your peer group! I’ll never forget the excitement we shared when each of us mastered a Hootsuite bulk upload.

Anyway, it’s all over now and my campaign was a success. I’m not continuing with my training client (mainly because they’re a charity and can’t afford to pay me!) but I’m very optimistic about the future as a freelance social media manager and am in the process of setting up my own company and approaching potential clients…so watch this space! I now find myself in the nursery pick up queue checking out potential clients’ platforms and making mental notes to add to my audits. Also, I’ve made 5 friends for life in my peer group and know that when I have success or failure in the future our Whatsapp group will be one of the first places to go; to fist bump, to whinge and moan, and to post a video of myself doing a victory dance if I ever get the damn Hootlet working on my iPad!