Rewind to a hairdresser’s chair December 2016. Rare alone time without kids found me flicking through Marie Claire where I read a feature on influential online businesswomen. A picture of Nikki Cochrane and Kathryn Tyler from Digital Mums pulled me in. Their story about retraining media mums and making them relevant once more rang oh so relevant. I wanted in.
The sad back story is that I left my world of work in a bit of a flurry in 2012. I was on my second maternity leave from my role as a digital editor for a European online retail brand when my husband died suddenly. I was left with two babies – Isla nine weeks old and Evie 22 months. I wanted to relocate home from London to Edinburgh – I needed my family. Work were amazing. My role could be remote. I could have my maternity leave and then return in a remote capacity, it was digital, I could do my role from anywhere. But boom the bubble burst just after all the arrangements had been agreed. The client had had a budget cut. I was to be made redundant. Actually it totally suited me. It gave me a year off to navigate the early days of my grief journey and be a full-time mum to two very precious girls.
Up in Edinburgh, a little at sea and certainly juggling life, grief and kids, I worked here and there for the next four and a half years. Freelancing, creating online content and subbing bits and pieces. Old colleagues threw me things and I managed. I started my own little company. I gained two fashion clients without trying, built on my reputation as someone who knew what they were doing. But I could never shake the feeling that I was winging it. Things had marched on digitally and I was feeling distinctly dinosaur. When I saw the Digital Mums course it fell into place. This was for me. I needed to do it. I would do it.
I can hum and haw over some decisions and others I just do it. Signing up for Digital Mums was the second for me. I didn’t think it through. I signed up. I wanted to be Social Media savvy as soon as soon could be. There was an interview process. I passed. I chatted with the team about when would suit. I wanted the sooner the better. So in February 2017 I logged on for the first time and my Digital Mums journey began and it’s been a rollercoaster. So here’s the honest truth of it…
Those DM Highs
- The Magic Of the Peer Group The odds of being thrown together with a group of six strange women spread across the UK and only really talking to them from living room to kitchen table via the wonders of your webcam and feeling like your part of a ‘we’ve got your back’ girl gang must be low. But wow this is my number one essential part of the DM experience. We juggled our lives and helped each other through. We all played our different roles perfectly. We had the brainy one, the blogging expert, the TV expat/video guru, the tenacious funny one, the calm in the face adversity one and then there was me with my chaos. We all had moments of wobble. We all had the kids/work/ life juggle and whenever one was low the others pulled her right back up. It’s been a blast and a privilege.
- The Jargon Ha suddenly I’m talking the language. The world of Buffer and Hootsuite are mine. Throw me a Trello and I’ll toss back a Ripl. Impressions, reach, KPIs and User Personas – I’ve got you. Tweetchat schmeetchats – I can do bedtime stories and keep up with the best of them with a little hashtag refresh over Julia Donaldson.
- The Confidence Pre-DM Facebook I got. Instagram…hmmm easy if you want to see pics of my kids. But Twitter. It was the party I never got invited to as far as I was concerned but now…well nobody puts baby in the tweetchat party corner anymore. Throw me a hashtag and I’m off and running.
- The Beauty of an Actual Plan I’d always worked haphazardly. Fire-fighting. It had been the nature of my job – never enough time to get on top of it all. React, react and react. But the magic of social media is that it does seem like its all instantaneous fun and frolics but a little bit of thought, research and planning wisdom can make it all run like clockwork thanks to Buffer of course (not mentioning the mad and sometimes random Buffer refills).
- The Proof Oh yes you can do all the lessons and take in all the learnings but does it all actually work. My cynic side was a little ‘Oh yes right – there’s no chance the followers will happen’. But they did. I’ll hand it to you Digital Mums you know your stuff.
Those DM Lows
- My kids hate Digital Mums My youngest asked me today, as I’ve finished the course, can she have three stories at bedtime again. Yes indeed bedtimes for six months have been a fraught and hurried affair as every second counts. I may be reading ‘What the Ladybird Heard’ out loud but inside I’m thinking an hour of content hunting and buffering will keep this show on the road another day before I even begin ploughing through endless ‘how-to’ Facebook videos and lessons on KPIs. Buffering is a verb in this house and everyone hates it. Peer group chat nights, well they meant a bedtime scramble of few hugs and I love you’s and a number of strops on my part and theirs.
- Haphazard Parenting In General There have been times on this course where going to the toilet has felt like a waste of precious time. So managing a house of two kids single-handedly and actually giving them nutrition as well as a some top parenting skills, well it’s been a challenge. So yes I may well have been tweet-chatting about living a healthy balanced diet/sugar-free/digital detox life (for the love of my peer group wonder women) but I’ve been throwing Chicken nuggets and Haribos at the kids while they watch endless drivel on Kids Youtube via the Ipad just to get some #metimeformama.
- Selfie Central I hate those Instagram accounts where women with fine figures and blessed lives (or are they???) send out the message to the rest of the world that it’s all super-easy to look amazing and be amazing. But with a little bit of tongue in cheek I posted a couple of those smug selfies and guess what…my likes soared. Nooooooo. I had to do a little bit of if you can’t beat them join them but all in the name of the campaign you understand.
- My Liver “Your Buffer for ***** is empty”, oh heck. Again. Buffering in a panic after hours post-bedtime trauma deserves wine. Oh how it deserves wine.
WHAT NEXT? Well this dinosaur is feeling more relevant and who knows? Lots of contacts have been made and confidence boosted. I am taking a well earned break and would like to thank all the followers and all the friends who have supported me. You know who you are. And in the meantime before I take on my next challenge I am going to revamp my own blog https://widowsdontwearblack.com/ and sprinkle it with all the magic I’ve found via my Digital Mums experience.