Category: Digital Mums

What happens when a studying mum isn't looking?
February 23rd, 2018 by Suze

A less proud mummy moment occurred this week. I am afraid to say I let my daughter eat a leaflet.

Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Usually when I am studying and completely engrossed in what I am doing and the baby goes quiet, those mummy alarm bells start to ring. The thought that she may be climbing the stairs or the bookcase, pulling pages from much-loved novels or running sticky snot-filled hands through the rug/cushions/curtains, is usually enough to draw me from my preoccupied state and bring me back to reality.

Precious study time

But on this particular Wednesday morning she seemed to be happily playing with a box of wooden bricks at the other end of the room. So I snatched those precious moments to sneak into office corner and log in to the course I am currently studying. The Digital Mums course is great but it tends to do one of two things…

  1. Draw me into whatever the topic is I am meant to be learning about (GREAT)
  2. Send me off on a tangent which leads me to procrastinating and finding 3,781 “Really Interesting Things I Absolutely Have To Read Right Now” (not so great)

On this rather chilly mid-week morn it was, I am ashamed to say, the latter that had grabbed my attention and rather than working on the first draft of my campaign, I opted to check my emails which lead me down a Twitter-led-social-media-scheduling-rabbit-hole. The rhythmic background sound of wooden bricks hitting the floor, the cupboard doors and the walls subsided (at some point) and I was aware that Mini Cooper 3 had shuffled her way up the room.

Silence calling

A few moments later the silence was palpable and I turned to see what the banana-fuelled scamp was up to. She had a leaflet in her hand. It was made of firm paper and she was enjoying rolling it up into a tube and unrolling it again. Satisfied that was an acceptable pass time for the 14-month-old I turned back to the laptop with the intention of filling whatever few minutes I may have left before she demanded my attention. The vortex of social media sucked me straight back in and I was lost.

When I turned again a few minutes later I was aware the leaflet had gone from hand to mouth and that there was a certain amount of testing out the feel of the smooth printed card against her face and lips. Once again, I was too excited by the thought I may be allowed a few more seconds to indulge myself and did not make eye contact/any noise to suggest there was anything wrong with her actions or (and this is the guilt moment) any moves to remove the leaflet.

Leaflet lunchA photograph of the remans of the chewed up leaflet

Still I continued with my task. Still I allowed myself to think this was a good situation. Baby happily occupied on the floor. Me ensconced in office corner, researching what I should be studying (but not actually studying what I should be studying). Everyone’s a winner right? It was only when the sucking noise became just too irritating that I looked again. That’s when I saw it. The remnants of the leaflet. The chunks of chewed card and gummed paper. The toothy, wide-eyed smile of a child who believes she has earned herself an extra snack and has made a mess at the same time and who is excited by all of that at once.

Baby Number 3

Now in times gone by my reaction to this would have been very different. My thought processes would probably have gone something like this…

Mini Cooper 1 – Is he breathing? How much has he swallowed? What was in that ink? Is it stuck in his mouth? Do I need to take him to the doctor, no, the hospital?

Mini Cooper 2 – Is he breathing? How much has he swallowed?

My reaction on seeing Mini Cooper 3’s light lunch was merely; is she breathing? Oh that’ll be a nice nappy.

So yes, I let her eat a leaflet. It’s not something I am proud of. Now, you would be well within your rights at this point to ask why I am writing about this on the internet for everyone to see if it is something I am not too proud about. The point is, this is reality. This is real. Studying (or doing anything) and juggling children (I don’t recommend actually throwing them in the air) is rewarding but boy, is it hard.

Posted in Digital Mums, Mini Coopers, Studying, Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,

January 4th, 2018 by Suze

In the beginning there was a Facebook ad and the ad said I could retrain and work to build my own business. It said mums like me were working from home, around the school run, looking after businesses’ social media accounts. And I loved the idea. And I wanted to do it. And I started to immerse myself in social media in a way I had never thought of before. Suddenly rather than wasting time scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest I was learning. I was researching. In fact much of my year has been spent learning about social media. How it works. How it can work. How business and organisations can use it to great advantage.

Now training with Digital Mums starts in a matter of days and despite seeing the advert 12 months ago, making contact nine months ago and signing up six months ago it would appear I am still not ready. I am still teetering on the edge of being ready. I am all set to talk myself out of this ridiculous idea that I could re-train, set up my own business and make some useful money for our family while still being at home and looking after three children.

As it is I am typing this with Mini Cooper 3 pulling out the power cable to the laptop, hooking her fingers around the keyboard and deleting as fast as I type, and two chimpanzee small boys in the background leaping around while some inane cartoon blares out of the TV. What am I thinking? I daren’t even consider the professional side of this. The side that says ‘drop being mummy for an hour and create something someone wants to pay you for. Yes, it has to be worth paying for, so get your brain together and find work and create and sell and…’ * small brain explosion*

Screenshot from digitalmums.com

And anyway, this is so much more than study. This is where study gets real. As part of the course Digital Mums will pair me with a real-life-proper-bona-fide company that I will work with throughout my training. *mic drop* Suddenly study just got real. This is no longer about picking something I enjoy and trying to get a certificate. It isn’t about seeing how much I can learn in a short space of time or writing an essay just because I feel the need. This is more. This is re-training. This is having others rely on me to make a difference to their business and my family relying on me to bring in some money. And it matters. It matters oh so much to all of us.

Learning how to fly…

In fact it matters so much that in order to do this I have to forget about that. I have to take all the information I am being given and nurture it. I need to grow this creative baby and pour my heart and soul into it. I need to make it one of my own and do it in a way only I can because I want to do it and not because I need it to be great.

Clean Up The F-Word graphic from the Digital Mums campaignEver since I spotted the (very cleverly targeted) Facebook ad I have been drawn to doing this. The year-long wait has only heightened my anticipation. When I look back over the last 12 months I am amazed and really quite proud of the changes we have made. This time last year the family finances were firmly at DH’s feet. Along with a whole heap of stress, no time for the family and a working schedule that would make (and did make) grown men weep. We needed to take back control. So with some savings, a lot of courage and a lot of love we made the leap. We both decided to retrain. Now, at the beginning of January 2018, DH has just completed a 12-week immersive coding course and here I am ready to take on the social media world.

…or how to fall with style…

Over the last 12 months my brain has leapt in and out of overdrive. Trying to work out where this Grand Plan is taking us. Trying to minimise the little voices that pop up every so often saying we are foolish, ignorant, not thinking straight and just plain crazy. And then the idea that we really could change everything. That we really could earn money doing things that we love and do that while looking after our children, between us, together. The adrenaline pumps and I just have to see if we can reach that goal. The brain keeps whirring. The idea keeps strumming. The buzz of life keeps humming and no matter how exhausted I am, the excitement of that potential new reality keeps me going.

Most of the time I feel like I am on a tightrope. I am focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and keeping myself upright. Keeping myself on track. I am fuelled by copious amounts of tea, way too many biscuits and a massive dose of positive mental attitude. The latter of which I didn’t really know I had in me until we started all this. And it is still new. It is a different world. So despite my anxieties and my fears of being found out (that actually I am not very good at this and I haven’t a clue what I am doing) I have to keep going. I have to know where this leads. After all; I could fall, but what if I fly? And if I don’t fly, well I intend to fall – with style.

via GIPHY

 

*Here are some other posts I have written about joining Digital Mums and their campaign for more flexible working options…

Digital Mum to be

Why I can’t wait to get f******* working

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Posted in Digital Mums, Remote Learning Tagged with: , , , ,

Clean Up The F-Word graphic from the Digital Mums campaign
September 29th, 2017 by Suze

Why all this studying? There is a very important reason why and we are hoping it will be the key to changing our lifestyle completely.

Here’s the vision; both me and DH working equally to support our family in jobs where we are still able to be there for the school run and whatever else parenting throws at us.

Some days I think about that statement and I think it is unrealistic. Isn’t that just asking for it all? We don’t live in a culture where work works around life. Instead life must fit around work and work must be done to finance life. It seems an ever-decreasing circle.

Making a change

It’s a year since DH decided he needed a change from Never Ending Work. The relentlessness of working a crazy number of hours, crawling into bed at 2am and living off junk food seemed like a one-way road stretching into the future. And while he was the one travelling to town every day and living on six hours broken sleep, it wasn’t exactly a bed of roses juggling school and nursery runs, dinner, bath and bedtime alone here either.

When it came to fears that DH may fall asleep at the wheel or actually drive himself mad working in an environment that drained him on a daily basis, we knew we needed to make a drastic change. While the salary he was on may have meant he could retire early in 10 years time, it seemed like a hard price to pay. After all, our children are 7, 4 and 8 months old. They want us here now. We aren’t sure they will want us hanging about quite so much when they are 17, 14 and 10.

Learning about yourself

So he handed his notice in and we decided we would both train in web design and see where it took us. It might not take us anywhere. It might lead to things we haven’t yet thought of. What we do know is that this is change. It may not be easy, but it will be different and certainly every stage will present opportunities and experiences we would not otherwise have had.

At the end of my LearnDirect course in web design,  I will start studying with Digital Mums to become a social media manager. I am hoping this will be my key to flexible working. Where my work will fit around our family and not the other way round. This is something Digital Mums is striving to make more commonplace. Flexible working. After all, us mums still have working brains you know!

#CleanUpTheFWord

The Digital Mums campaign around flexible working is making waves. It’s made the national papers and it’s causing a stir on social media. The Clean Up The F-Word campaign hopes to highlight the benefits of flexible working, both for employee and employer, to those that can make a difference; the government. To get a response from the government their petition needs 10,000 signatures. To get a debate in Parliament, it needs 100,000. This is a subject that should be brought to the fore.

Flexible working taboo

“Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, eg having flexible start and finish times, or working from home…. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.”

(from the Government website www.gov.uk)

We have the right to, but how many of us would? I know I didn’t. There didn’t seem much point as I couldn’t see any way I could return to my job on a flexible basis; as a newsreader, you sorta have to be behind the microphone at the time the news is needed, and I knew that when I started thinking about having a family.

But flexible working shouldn’t be a taboo. As mums returning to work we should not be afraid to put forward a flexible option. So why does it feel like we are asking for something that is wrong, a cop-out, an easy option? It’s not like we want to be paid for doing nothing. Rather that we get paid for being productive during the hours that we able to put in 100%.

A different world

For us Coopers, flexible working will mean we can support our family by working in a way that provides for the Mini Coopers in more than just monetary terms. We can be the ones that see them through the school gates and pick them up at the end of the day, but we’ll also be able to pay for the day trips to London and ice cream in the holidays.

 

Click here to read the Digital Mums blog post about the #CleanUpTheFWord campaign

 

To sign the Digital Mums petition at Change.org and show your support for more flexible working options, click here.

Posted in Digital Mums, Thoughts Tagged with: , , , , ,

Meme photo collage of Mini Cooper 3 learning to crawl
September 8th, 2017 by Suze

It appears there are more similarities between learning to crawl and learning JavaScript than I first realised.

This has been One Of Those Weeks where I have felt like I am getting nowhere fast. Although I am speeding through this course, I really need to finish it before starting the Digital Mums Associate Programme in January. Now I have that definite date, it feels like I am not getting enough done, no matter how hard I try.

I feel a bit like I am running towards a mirage. Unit 22 is the oasis in the distance that never seems to get any closer. When I was on Unit 5, Unit 11 seemed months away. Now I am studying Unit 15 and Unit 22 seems years away.

Learning to crawl

I was having a good old moan to DH about this very subject as I changed Mini Cooper 3 and sat her down on the play mat. She immediately launched herself forwards, narrowly avoiding a face plant. She lay with her cheek on the floor and her legs tangled in front of her. Then she bounced back up and started fiddling with a toy. Over the next few minutes she did this again and again, until suddenly she gently unwound her legs and ended up on her tummy.

Never one for tummy time she lay still for a half a second before kicking her legs about. Her hands flat to the floor she pushed herself up, her legs still kicking manically behind her. She wasn’t upset, she was determined. She knew there was something she should be doing, but she wasn’t quite sure how to achieve it. She tried to roll one way then the other and then pushed up again before laying exhausted on the floor.

She looked like I feel.

Something new

And it struck me that I am learning to crawl. I am learning something I have never done before. I am taking a leap of faith that I won’t hit my face on the floor. I need to give myself the time to work through what I am doing, so I can learn it completely before rushing on to the next thing. I need to make mistakes and work out why something has gone wrong. Perhaps they aren’t mistakes, maybe I need to see them as challenges, as chances to learn.

Mini Cooper 3 isn’t about to give up on learning to crawl, and I am not about to give up on learning (even if it does make me want to lie face down, kicking and screaming alongside the 8 month old). Mini Cooper 3 is trying things out and she isn’t afraid to do so despite not knowing the outcome. She is brave. She isn’t going to be able to skip a step and move on to the next bit. She has to work through it, taking what she can from each new experience. Therein lies the lesson for me.

In the moment

There is so much happening in the Cooper world at the moment that my mind is always five minutes ahead, thinking about what needs doing next (note: This does not make my time-keeping any better). Worse than that, I can often be found thinking about what is going to happen over the coming months and years as the studying comes to an end and a new world opens up to us. After all, the Cooper Household is under reconstruction. Both me and DH are re-training, Mini Coopers 1 and 2 have started new schools. We are still a relatively new family of five. I have gone back to work. All of this makes it pretty difficult to feel satisfied with The Now. The moment I am in. The studying I am doing Right Now, and to see the little steps I am taking each day as part of The Big Picture.

It is amidst this whirlwind of learning and change that these words have spoken to me:

There is no other time than now. We are not, contrary to what we think “going” anywhere. It will never be more rich in some other moment than in this one. Although we may imagine that some future moment will be more pleasant, or less, than this one, we can’t really know. But whatever the future brings, it will not be what you expect, or what you think, when it comes, it will be NOW too. It too will be a moment that can be very easily missed, just as easily missed as this one.” from Arriving at your own door by Jon Kabat-Zinn

And so it is that I will continue learning to crawl this week. I will try to stop thinking about the What Nexts and focus on the Right Now in the hope that satisfaction will be my motivation to get this studying done.

 

Posted in Digital Mums, Studying Tagged with: , , , ,

Screenshot from digitalmums.com
August 18th, 2017 by Suze

It is finally reality. From January 2018 I am going to be a Digital Mum.

I first heard about Digital Mums thanks to some cleverly targeted Facebook advertising. Having Googled the words flexible, remote, work and job every which way you can think of,  I was beginning to think my ideas of building some sort of business, working from home would have to remain just ideas.

Since March I have become a Digital Mum stalker; taking part in their webinars, subscribing to their email lists and following past students on Twitter. It’s actually got a bit embarrassing. Now the time has come. I have been accepted onto the Associate Programme and will begin my social media management training on January 8.

“Learning, technology and journalism. The Digital Mums Associate Programme is the next step for me.”

That gives me around four months to complete the Level 3 in web development and design. Believe me, I know that won’t be a walk in the park. Ever impatient, I am hoping the thought of the next course will spur me on, rather than cause me to lose motivation with what I am working on at the moment. I believe mindful learning will have to be the key to keeping me focussed. I already have so much going on in my world that I keep having to remind myself that ‘this is what I am doing right now’.

Becoming a Digital Mum isn’t just about getting the training I want to build my own business. Digital Mums is also very active in driving forward the idea of flexible and remote working. It’s a cause I believe in. I have enjoyed my studies. I am not a silly person. Just because I am a mum, why shouldn’t I be able to earn enough to play a part in supporting my family, while raising my family?

“I already have so much going on in my world that I keep having to remind myself that ‘this is what I am doing right now’.”

The course is going to challenging. I am prepared for that. But, I am so excited about the opportunities it should bring about for me and my family. As a journalist I am eligible to join the Associate Programme, which hooks me up with a real live business to work with as I learn *gulp*. But no matter how scary that sounds I still believe it is the best way for me to transfer my journalism skills to the digital field while working towards the lifestyle I want for my family.

Ultimately I hope I can contribute to the family finances doing something I enjoy, while still being able to attend sports days and special assemblies.

“Just because I am a mum, why shouldn’t I be able to earn enough to play a part in supporting my family, while raising my family?”

Learning, technology and journalism. The Digital Mums Associate Programme is the next step for me.

#Digital Mums

To find out more Digital Mums and the training they offer visit their website https://digitalmums.com/about

Please also consider signing the Digital Mums petition at change.org to #cleanupthefword and change the way flexible working is seen in business. To sign click here https://www.change.org/p/time-to-cleanupthefword-and-stop-flexible-working-being-seen-as-a-dirty-word-workthatworks

Posted in Digital Mums Tagged with: , , , , , ,