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?
I’m also a slasher…
I work part time behind a bar (was a teacher once)… I also blog, do graphic design, work on web design and social media and oh yeh- I’m a parent!
I think “slashie” sounds like the perfect job-flexible, diverse and interesting! Voted because “award winning slashie” does indeed have a nice ring to it.
Being a slashie seems a good compromise to keep working but also spend quality time with your family. I have to go back to an actual 9-5 job in November after my maternity leave, but I am going to see how things go….
I love that I get to be a ‘slashie’ – that I don’t have to be just one thing. I think i’ts great for my kids to grow up seeing that I can be a Mum AND still ‘me’
I’m currently a slashie too – definitely going to use that term from now on. Maybe I’ll even put it on my CV, maybe not 😉
I definitely think it’s great that this option is out there now! It is so annoying when people ask what you do though, especially for things like sorting out my car insurance. There is never a drop down option for ‘blogger’! And I know most of my friends don’t get it at all, some don’t even get I have a blog. They think my blog is what I post on Facebook!! x
Thanks for the mention Alison! This is a great piece, and I LOVE being a slashie, it definitely makes life interested and keeps me on my toes.
(and you know you’ve got my vote mrs) xx
Had to read this i though t you were about to ocnfess to something very odd! I know what you mean uits a job that’s hard to define
I love this Alison.
I think part of my meltdown this winter was about my career identity: I didn’t know what I was and that freaked me out! We put so much pressure on ourselves to define what we are when really, it doesn’t actually matter. We are slashies, and should be proud!
A hugely deserved place on the shortlist and a brilliant post. I still struggle to say what I am when people ask. So many people still don’t really know what blogging is so I tend to just say “journalist” although that’s not the only way I make a living these days. I like the idea of saying “slashie” although it does sound a bit sinister!!
Congratulations! I have never heard of that term! I suppose I’m one too. It can be quite hard to juggle loads of different things sometimes. Good luck with the awards! It’s super exciting to be nominated isn’t it? x x x
“Mummy when I grow up, I want to be a slashie…” Yep, I could imagine our little ones wanted to do something similar one day. Three months ago I went back to my corporate job part-time. Loving the time I get to focus on my little girl crew and also building Lucky Things. It’s so important as busy parents we also have our own creative spaces. Plus we are all way more talented than we realise and we should talk about it! Other people love talking about their jobs. Your blog is one of the first I ever read Alison. Cheers for inspiring me to play around with a blogging…
I hate the term slasher, so when people ask I say I have a portfolio career! I couldn’t ever 9-5 again!