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?
We’re not restricted by a standard 9-5 job so we can do the school or nursery run, spend time with our kids, take random days off when it’s an inset day, and if we need to work once our kids are in bed? That’s fine! Just pour yourself a glass of wine and fire up the laptop.
As a blogger, I’m lots of things at once – a writer, a photographer, a social media expert, a videographer, even a designer if you can count the fact I designed my blog header in Photoshop. So I struggle, when people ask me ‘What do you do?’ I might just start answering with ‘I’m a slashie’ – imagine the confused looks I’d get.
All of this leads me onto talking about recognition – as a freelancer, it’s brilliant to see my work in print, or have a blog post go viral but something that really makes it feel all worthwhile is winning an award. Last year, the travel blog I co-edit, won a Brilliance In Blogging award and it was the BEST feeling – like all of that hard work and passion we had channelled into the blog had been recognised.
This year, Not Another Mummy Blog has been shortlisted for the same awards – which is just fantastic. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve put a lot of work into this blog, over the last year or so, and I’m really proud of it. (I know that’s a really un-British thing to say.) You can help by voting for me in the Writer category over on the Britmums site. The blogs with the most votes will make it to the finalist list, and there’s a glitzy awards bash in June where the winners are announced. Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell people that I’m an award-winning slashie?