When I went on maternity leave, five and a half years ago, I remember feeling a little lost. I went from whizzing around a busy magazine office, attending strategy meetings and editing features and fashion copy…. to sitting around in my house with a small baby, shaking a rattle at her from time to time and wondering if you can actually die from sleep deprivation. It wasn’t easy.
I had this overwhelming feeling that my whole identity had shifted. Whether you think it’s a good thing, or not, for the past 9 years, my career had been pretty much my whole identity. I’d meet people at a party (ooh remember those?) and they’d ask what I do. “I work in women’s magazines,” I’d answer. And it immediately summed me up: I’m creative, I can write, I’m determined enough to have worked my way up to being Executive Editor of a weekly glossy.
But now, when people ask me that question, I pause. I’m not really sure what I do. I’m freelance. I work from home. I do a bit of social media work for a small business. I still write for magazines and websites, but actually these days, I spend more of my time, and generate most of my income, through blogging.
So many of us, these days, are doing ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ as our careers. Compared to ten, twenty years ago when people tended to have one standard job – doctor, solicitor, teacher, PA – these days, lots of us are ‘slashies’ (according to the trend forecasters, they are “people who are simultaneously holding down several jobs, at a time when contracts are hard to come by and often not stimulating enough for those used to the fast pace of the digital world.”)
It’s hardly surprising that so many mums are slashies – lots of us have found that our pre-kids career no longer fits in with our lifestyle. Childcare is expensive, many of us don’t want to be apart from our children all day, every day, and if we’re lucky enough to negotiate a 3 or 4 day a week job, the reality is that we end up doing 5 days of work for less money.
I’m constantly inspired by women I know who are making things work for them and their families in a different way – people like Alice who runs a digital marketing consultancy and writes a blog and writes a column for the Telegraph. People like Steph who has created a business selling gift boxes for new mums. People like Morgana who runs a kids’ accessories shop as well as an award-winning blog. People like Clemmie and Katie, who have written a book around raising a family. But also, the many women I know who have poured so much time, skill and love into running their blog that they now make a decent living from it. I mean, that’s just insanely incredible, isn’t it?…