Lets set the scene. It was 2012, I had a long, fun-filled and rewarding marketing career in fashion ecommerce and I had a tummy the size of a beach ball. Out popped a tiny baby girl and ten wonderful months of maternity leave.
Then oops! The tummy started to grow again. A little sister was on her way! I decided that my return to work had better wait. Then I moved from Hertfordshire to East Sussex, ending any ideas I might have had for returning to my old job. I swam along happily as a stay at home mum for four years.
That takes me to the beginning of 2016. My girls were 3.5 and 2 years old and I suddenly got the feeling that I wanted to be working again. I set myself a target to be back at work when my youngest would be 3 and nicely settled into pre-school, which was less than a year away.
Well, almost there now so here’s how I did it in five massive leaps:
1. Research the options
I took a good, long look at the job market and realised I had three options available me. (1) Work part time in a junior marketing role (2) Start my own ecommerce business (3) Go back to work full time in my old career.
2. Return to square one
Well, the junior marketing roles were paying less than my first ever graduate job 15 years ago. The ecommerce business would be a 24/7 job, meaning no time for family and astronomical childcare costs whilst probably earning nothing to begin with. And the full time option would mean that neither my hard working, London commuting husband or I would see the kids much at all. No, no and no. Back to square one.
3. Have a light bulb moment
During my usual pottering around on Facebook I came across Digital Mums. Immediately it struck a chord with me. I researched it, spoke to friends and family about it and spent a long while considering how I could fund it. I finally took the plunge and signed up. I have to say it felt a bit like I might be signing up for the course equivalent of a pyramid selling scheme, in that I was completely jumping into unknown territory and there were definitely skeptics around me. (It was all perfectly legit, thankfully!)
4. Work hard
Then began 22 weeks of hard work. Despite it being a difficult course, for me the hard part really was the time management. My previous career in ecommerce marketing, matched with a marketing degree and a CIM diploma meant I was well equipped to deal with the course requirements, such as the creation of user personas, client management, analytics and content creation. It was all about understanding a new marketing channel and putting what I knew into practice on a channel that I’d never previously worked on.
The first couple of weeks were a slog, getting up to speed with using Moodle, Doodle, Google+ and Hangouts whilst also getting started with the course content. Then there was the (short) phase that was totally doable and I began to think it was easy. And then the third stage hit. The ‘jacket potatoes for dinner again?’ phase. The ‘grey hairs are out in force but there’s no time to dye my hair’ phase. The ‘Daddy’s taking you on another 3 hour bike ride’ phase. I can’t complain, there really is no way of fitting 20 hours of work into 10 hours of child-free time, no matter how hard you try, so evenings and weekends of work and study became standard.
I’m now on the last 2 days of the course and I feel like an athlete in her starting blocks. Ready to go and nervous as hell.
5. Begin the hustle
The next phase of life has now begun. Its the hustle. I’m ready to go out and find some rewarding work as a social media manager now. I’ve got plans to finalise my business name, set up a website and design a logo. I’ve got plans to work locally amongst the amazing and entrepreneurial people of Lewes and Brighton. I’ve also got plans to pay for my husband’s fortieth birthday present out of my own money, not his, for a change, and I’m so excited about that.
Being a Digital Mum isn’t for everyone. You have to have it in you to work hard, taking nuggets of time whenever you can. You have to be determined to make it work. Ultimately you have to have the right attitude. If this is you, I’d say go for it. Change your life and live the #WorkThatWorks dream.
Blog by Claire McNulty