From backpacking across the world, to starting multi-million pound businesses, mums are maximising their mat leave.
At Digital Mums we’ve seen a rise in women using theirs to retrain and find flexible work as freelance social media managers.
But what are the realities of squeezing studying around night feeds and nap times? And is it really possible to secure a brand new career in less than a year?
Here we weigh up the pros and cons, and the questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge.
- How much do you want or need to change career?
Do you love your job - but it no longer suits family life?
Our recent #WorkThatWorks report revealed that 68% of UK employees still don’t have access to flexible working.
Or perhaps like one of our graduates Sakina Windeatt you cannot afford to stay in your previous career and pay for childcare.
“I was on maternity leave with my second baby when I received a letter informing me that I would be looking at £30k to put both my children in our local nursery.” explains Sakina.
“When I factored in travel I wouldn’t have been bringing in any money at all. I was thinking about getting an au pair when I saw an advert for Digital Mums. It was perfect timing for me.
“I did the Digital Mums Social Media Management Course after I had my second baby so it was slightly easier, however it was still tough. But the sacrifices and slight guilt were worth it as it meant I could swap my career as an admin manager in Canary Wharf to something much more flexible.
“I’m now working as a virtual assistant and do freelance social media management for The Parenting Chapter”
- Do you have a good support network?
Whether it’s paid childcare a couple of days a week or a partner taking the kids out at the weekend; all of our graduates say they couldn’t have done the course without some help.
For Sakina that meant dedicating Wednesdays and Saturday mornings to study.
“I couldn’t have done the course without my mum. She came up every Wednesday when I would l go upstairs and study for two hours at a time. Then at weekends I would spend another chunk of time studying.”
- Are you a time-management and productivity ninja?
We already know that mums are multi-tasking geniuses but our graduates take it to a whole new level!
Sign up to one of our courses and you will suddenly become an expert in cramming in study time between feeds, naps and play dates.
“I would get up super early and study from 5.30am until my first child woke up," explains Ruth Redding.
“Evenings didn’t work for me as I was just so tired but I would get a lot done during those early morning week days.” And as the training requires around 15 hours per week, that’s a lot of hours you can cover in the early mornings.
- Are you passionate about social media and learning something new?
The Digital Mums who successfully complete training while on maternity leave share a couple of things in common: A passion for all things social and the desire to put their brains to something a little more taxing than story time.
Laura began studying for the Digital Mums Social Media Management Course when her son Sam was four months old.
“I got the social media bug when I volunteered for a charity and was looking after its Facebook page, explains Laura.
“I then wanted to learn more about it and was searching for training courses. Doing it during my maternity leave appealed to me because as well as learning new skills, I had something to focus on other than nappy changes and feeding.”
- Are you concerned about keeping your skills up to date and staying employable?
The world of digital is so fast-paced that we have to constantly update all our Digital Mums training content.
So it’s understandable that when you take a break from work to have a baby you may worry about being left behind.
“I felt a real lack of confidence going back to work as a Marketing Manager after my first son was born.” said Wanjiku Calver.
“That’s why when I was off with my second I decided to study for the Digital Mums Social Media Management course as I was aware that digital was constantly evolving and I wanted to keep my skills up to date.
“I would really recommend doing the training during maternity leave as it gives you the confidence that you are remaining in the world of work.”
- Could you keep your job but enjoy a rewarding side hustle as a freelance social media manager?
“Like many mothers I have struggled with my work/life balance and so I decided to study for the Digital Mums Social Media Management Course to help me find more flexible work, says Kelly Stanton
“In the end I was lucky that I was able to go back to my old role as a complaints manager part-time. But my training has helped me to build up a second career and I now also freelance for The Soap Co, All By Mama, and Bee Smart Toys.”
Do you mind if yours (and your baby’s) social life slips for a few months?
Looking after a newborn and a toddler is tricky enough, but when you throw 15 hours of study a week into the mix, it’s inevitable that something’s going to have to give.
“There were definitely fewer baby classes and meeting friends for coffee during my second maternity leave, when I was studying," added Ruth.
“My downtime was pretty much non-existent but it’s only for a few months," says Sakina
“The sacrifice was totally worth it for me as now I’m working freelance I’m much better at factoring in self-care as my work/life balance is much better - that’s had an impact on my whole family.”
If you would like to find out more about our education programmes simply click here to find out more.