As we launch our FLEX APPEAL – a campaign encouraging companies to loosen the 9-5 shackles and realise we can all be trusted to work remotely – we pin down mother-of-two Claire Bingham. A graduate of the Digital Mums course (a programme that trains up mums to run social media accounts for businesses) Claire, 41, might be one click closer to finding that elusive balance
Does 9-5 office work actually work? What’s your opinion on current flexible working in the UK? How has Digital Mums shifted this inflexibility?
To quote Nikki (co-founder of Digital Mums) in a recent interview: “Work should be a thing you do and not a place you go.” Advances in technology mean we can work from anywhere, yet so many businesses don’t seem to have moved with the times! There still seems to be this expectation that you need to go in and sit at a desk all day.
How do you now make it work?
I’m a freelance social media and marketing manager. I trained with Digital Mums last year and work for a talented interior design agency called Furniss & May. I also work for Digital Mums themselves – I currently run their Twitter and Facebook channels.
How many hours of the working week (not weekends) are you with your kid(s)?
I’m with Jake three out of five days, Maia goes to pre school now but I’m with her 2.5 out of five days. I’m very much hands on… chief negotiator, play date host, entertainer, taxi service to ballet & baby gym, storyteller, you know the drill… but I feel lucky that I get to hang out with them both loads and do a job I enjoy. I definitely don’t feel like I’m missing out on them being small and hilarious/mental.
Do you have this elusive balance? If not, why? if yes, how? Does Digital Mums play a part in this?
Ah the infamous work/ life balance! Digital Mums has basically helped reshape my career, which has had a really positive impact on my family life. I can work from home, or pretty much anywhere, 100% flexibly and by upskilling, I feel digitally relevant and much more confident to get out there to find work that works for me. Don’t get me wrong its still a juggle, but an enjoyable one.
What do you want from being a working mother?
It’s all about balance for me. Work is an important part of who I am and I want to be able to contribute to supporting the family BUT I want to be there for the kids and in the future, take them to school, help them with homework as well as be there to do the fun stuff and not feel guilty about missing bedtimes. The way things are right now I feel I have both – career and family.
Tell us one of your darkest moments balancing work/ parenting…
Both kids were at home poorly, one of my clients was keen to still do our planned call, so I stuck on back-to-back Peppa Pig and got on with it. I thought it was all going pretty smoothly, as I hadn’t heard a peep, however I found them in our bedroom; Maia had cracked out my BRAND NEW relentlessly red Mac lipstick and made herself and Jake into ‘pretty princesses’ by covering both their faces in said lipstick. Jake decided to top it off by using the rest of the lipstick to draw all over the wardrobe doors. GREAT! I was actually laughing so hard I had to call the client back…
Do you miss your previous work? Tell us what you did and why you decided to leave? How have things changed?
I have 15 years experience as an Account Director working for large branding agencies and smaller boutique design agencies. They were fun times, lots of amazing travel and lots of late nights working on pitches which was full on, but (kind of) do able when you don’t have a family, but I struggled to make this work once the kids came along. I knew I wanted to find another way of working, that would be more flexible and work around my family.
I definitely do not miss the stinking commute, boring office politics, last minute meetings, ranting clients… in this new guise, I’m back in control and it feels bloody brilliant!
What’s your biggest tip/s for other mothers trying to make it work for themselves; mothers looking to go it alone?
At the risk of sounding corny, I would say have the confidence to believe in yourself, be brave, take the initiative and the results will come. The Digital Mums crew call this #DoTheHustle. I was actually really laughing at your #DoTheRustle post on Instagram the other week!
What are your thoughts on the term ‘stay-at-home-mum’ (do we ever really just stay at home?) in 2016?
‘Stay-at-home-mum’ does feel like an outdated term… I’ve met lots of Digital Mums who have not worked in 5-10 years, they have struggled with confidence around how to get back into the workplace before starting the course, yet within a week of starting, they are just flying, everything changes, the combination of peer to peer support and the live learning format means you feel totally supported through the course. I think it’s very empowering.
What tools are essential for you to make it work?
A decent iphone (I recently upgraded to an iphone 6 but still have to carry a charger around), a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Buffer so you can pre-schedule content through out the day, a good sprinkling of self confidence + a large gin for late night workin
Work or play?
Stay at home or stay at office?
I love working from home! God I am WAY more productive and focused than I ever was in an office! Also, it’s actually really nice to be quiet sometimes…or play music I want to listen to ie; NO Frozen! It’s definitely not lonely, as you have the whole Digital Mums talented community to bounce ideas off, sharing their advice and support.
What’s the big plan? Or is it every day as it comes?
I’ve never been brilliant at planning the BIG stuff…if you would have told me a year ago that I would have a new career and be in the position I’m in now, I would have never have believed you…
To enrol on the Digital Mums course or to find out more, click here