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Category: Family

Social Media at Cybermummy Conference 2010

A couple of month’s ago I was up in London to meet with Vodafone peeps about their Working Women campaign, for which I have been one of their Brand Ambassadors.

One of the other women ambassadors was someone I knew in her online persona, A Modern Mother and British Mummy Bloggers, but not in person as Susanna, so it was really nice to get to chat with her face to face at last.

We soon realized we had a huge amount of synergy going on, not least a background of marketing, being early innovators online (we discovered we knew each other from the earliest Twitter days, when there were only about 50 of us Twitter peeps from the UK and not many more from the US!) as well as working virtually to enable us to maintain a professional career and be a hands-on mum.

And out of that came a big discussion about her latest baby, the Cybermummy conference, and I am delighted to share that I will now be speaking at Cybermummy about social media and how you can make it work for you.

The Cybermummy Conference is a first for the UK, who have consistently lagged behind the States with all things WAHM (www.funkyangel.co.uk was the first WAHM site in the UK, launching in 2005) and the online and virtual working mum revolution, and as such is to be welcomed with open arms.

Using technology to work virtually, and being able to promote your business and network without leaving your chair is an amazing thing when you think back to the past and the need to commute to do a job worthy or the title, to have to pay an agency huge sums to promote your startup or new product, or to get up at 5am to go along to a hideous BMI breakfast meeting!

With my business midwife hat on I have noticed a huge improvement in the speed in which a business can be set up and start to turn a profit, just using all the online tools and techniques now available.

The plus points, and they are HUGE, are that women are no longer quite as hampered by biology as previously (still hampered, but nowhere near the same level), children benefit from having their mums (and dads) around more,  household income isn’t swallowed up in traveling or childcare costs, and the business and marketing fields has been leveled quite radically. It has, in fact, never been easier to start a business and the chances of it succeeding are higher than ever before, mainly as a result of the flexibility and lowered costs bought about by technological advances.

The downside is, of course, the isolation when you work from home, and the lack of camaraderie that you have on tap in an office, which is why events like Cybermummy are so important. Networking online is one thing, and very valuable – I met both my business partners, Sally and Helen, through online networking – but the buzz and support you get from being with your peers and colleagues is something else again and a chance not to be missed!

So if you haven’t booked your tickets yet, what are you waiting for?! See you there…


I consult on social media and media strategy over at The Media Marketing Co, where we do digital marketing and pr strategy and campaigns. If you would like to contact me there, please do, or by my email on claire[at]claireburdett.com


The Joy of the Pre-Teen Years

Big changes happen between the ages of 10 and becoming a teenager at 13, from taking responsibility at the top of Junior school in that final year, before leaving buddies they’ve spent their entire lives with and moving into the next (exciting, daunting, demanding) phase ie secondary school.

Fashion, sport, mobile phones and the internet become an increasingly important part of their lives and the tussle between waiting to be all wrapped up safely at home and wanting independence really starts with a vengeance. They stop believing in Father Christmas and don’t want you to hold their hands anymore (crumbs, sometimes they don’t even want to be seen walking with you!).

So if your cherubs are on the turn, and you and your children are at that ‘inbetweenie’ stage, where is the joy or is it all downhill towards teenager hell from now on? Not at all – the key is a shift of attitude – yours and theirs!

Your attitude
They are no longer little children, and so your role changes from now on in from being a caretaker to being their manager. The demands of the average Tweenies’ social diary, from sleepovers to sports fixtures at 8am on a weekend, is likely to tax even the most organised WAHM, and this gives you the clue. While boundaries obviously need to be applied, they also constantly need reappraising as the children grow and change so that it fits in with you and the rest of the family, not dominates.

Their attitude
With your children’s increasing independence and wannabe consumerism comes increased responsibility. No longer little children needing to be shepherded and cossetted, that means they can now take on their share of the chores and jobs around and out of the house – and should be expected to as their contribution to the household. And what is best about tweenies is that they still want to be with their parents but they are much more their own people, so conversations and investigations become a central part of your daily lives as they notice and question everything around them. Yes, it is a bit like having toddlers again, but hopefully without the tantrums!

By the time my two turned tweenie they were expected to go to the corner shop for milk and bread, tidy their rooms, set the table, and do the washing up. By ages 10 and 12, one is responsible for dusting the whole house on a weekly basis and the other for cleaning the bathroom. They walk the dog daily and do poo pick up from the garden, look after the cats and other pets, cook meals, wash and clean the car, set and clear the table, run errands and keep upstairs and their downstairs craft area tidy (ish). I haven’t taught them to iron yet (mainly because the younger one has a tendency to daydream, which could be dangerous!) but they take responsibility for their money (they have an allowance) and have mobile phones, which they are responsible for keeping charged up and safe so I can reach them or they can reach me at any time – they can make free calls to me and their father, but if they want to chat to their friends they have to use their allowance money or earn extra for top up by doing extra chores.

Adventures and Companionship
The other great joy of the tweenie is that they now become your companions in adventures and other activities. Trips out crayfishing, paintballing, surfing or ballooning, for example, become much more doable and fun now you don’t have to be constantly on red alert.

Shopping and lunching out (if they are female-flavoured) becomes a positive pleasure rather than an experience never to be repeated.

Just hanging out and having Top Nights In is fun because you like the same stuff, watch the same movies, play board games, whatever you like to do as an individual or couple now becomes stuff you do as a family. And that’s just how it should be, isn’t it?

That’s a proper family. So all hail the pre-teenie – and here’s looking forward to the fabulous teens they well become!

© Claire Burdett. Please only reproduce this article with permission, in its entirety and with a hyperlink to www.claireburdett.com. Thank you.

First published on www.funkyangel.co.uk, the ultimate lifestyle website for WAHM and Home Businesses.


Your Family and Other Animals

Let’s be honest. While most women who work from home or run their own businesses around their families wouldn’t have it any other way, many find that their families, the very reason they are working from home in many instances, can be less than wonderful at times.

Most WAHMs cite the flexibility, the sense of achievement, the control of one’s destiny, and the ability to get close to a happy life/work balance at least sometimes as bonuses they couldn’t live without. Their family, however, is sometimes quite another matter!

So why is this?
Isn’t it supposed to be the answer to everyone’s prayers? Didn’t you decide to work from home so you could spend more time with the family?

Yes, obviously, and most of the time it is. However, sometimes, just sometimes, there is a degree of everyone else taking the working mum for granted creeping in. Perhaps it’s one too many request to ‘pick up that’ or deal with that that can make the WAHM feel like she isn’t actually a working person per se, let alone a business woman, more a glorified housekeeper. Mind you, that’s a scenerio that is hardly unique to WAHMs, but it can be magnified when work and life is in one basket with sometimes not even a closeable door  betwee them.

Maybe a child, partner or other live in relative may start feeling neglected because your attention is on a client, a report, a telephone call or an important email, rather than them, regardless of whether it’s the 30th time they’re interrupted you that morning.

Sometimes I hear tantrums have been thrown. Heck, sometimes I even throw them myself!

So why does it happen?
I mean, aren’t you providing a valuable service to the household budget, perhaps the only contribution to the household budget? Didn’t you talk about it in great detail before you started? Didn’t everyone promise they’d be supportive? Ahhh, well, disregard the lip service because what we’re talking about here is either a lack of consistent boundaries or deep held belief that are stopping them respecting those boundaries.

Setting boundaries
Difficult as this is for some people to do, it’s actually beneficial for you and your family to have set boundaries and to have theem consistently applied. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for you to be successful as a WAHM if you don’t because there is no boss or manager fighting your corner saying “no, you can’t interrupt her at the moment, she’s busy on an important call” – there’s just you.

Having people trample all over you and your feelings is a fast track to making yourself stressed, overloaded and miserable, so if you’ve never been very good at being assertive, now would be a good time to learn how.

Deep held beliefs
These are beliefs adults hold from a very early age that may have no bearing on reality or that person’s actual life as it is now. We all have them to varying degrees and they can pop up in strange situations or show up as completely out of character. Most of the time people aren’t aware they hold them, and depending on who is acting out they could be along the lines of “my time is more important than you”, “mum doesn’t mind”, or perhaps “working at home isn’t really working,” or maybe “women are there to serve their husbands, just like my mum was”.

It can even be your own deep belief that’s doing the sabotaging. Perhaps you don’t believe you can do, or think you are not entitled to be rich and/or successful. Perhaps secretly you’d much rather not being doing this and so let everything else get in the way so it all falls around your ears. Perhaps you simply can’t bring yourself to say no!

So what to do about it?

Dealing with your family – and other animals
• Be assertive – stop saying yes all the time and start saying no occasionally – and mean it, whether that’s to the kitten, the kids or your partner.

Set boundaries – perhaps you claim an undisturbed hour every day, when the door is going to be shut and no one can interrupt unless it’s a life or death emergency.

Believe in yourself – You want to do this, you can do this, you just need time and space to do it in, so don’t let that little voice allow you to be so distractable you can point at the family at a future point and say “I could have succeeded if it wasn’t for them”.

Deal with unhelpful deep beliefs – sometimes just having a think about your patterns of behaviour and talking it over with your closest and dearest is enough. Other times you might want to use the services of a life coach. Whichever route you follow, however, it’s worth doing – as I know to my cost, some of these unconscious beliefs can keep you poor and overstressed for years.

© Claire Burdett. Please only reproduce this article with permission, in its entirety and with a hyperlink to www.claireburdett.com. Thank you.

First published on www.funkyangel.co.uk, the ultimate lifestyle website for WAHM and Home Businesses.

Other Related Articles

‘Work/life balance for CEOs’ – published in ‘1,000 CEOs’ by Dorling Kindersley, 2009


Top Tips for Business Mums

Tips for business womenYou need the extra money and want to work, but you can’t find a ‘proper’ job in this economic climate and anyway, you really want to be at home for the kids. You have the skills and the contacts. You even have the technical know how to set up an website and do your own marketing and sales.

But still the question remains, is working from home really workable?

The answer is yes, as the huge amounts of work at home mums and home businesses in the UK at the moment testify. Yet many people still worry that they won’t be able to work at the same time as raising or caring for the children. And to be sure, some people can’t manage it, and much prefer to leave the house and escape to the relative calmness and structure of a 9-5 office.

For others, however, being the Director of Everything is perfect. And it is especially perfect for the ones who love taking responsibility and being in charge, whose families are all on side, who are dab hands at drawing boundaries, being flexible, going with the flow, and that dreaded word, multitasking.

Being flexible
If you want to start work at 9, have an hour for lunch at 12.30 and finish at 5.30, this is not the job for you. Working from home means you need to be be prepared to catch the moment and do a shedload of work when you get a chance and then be able to back pedal and take some time out when the family need you or there are other demands.

Drawing boundaries
Be assertive and firm about applying the boundaries – see our companion article Your Family and Other Animals for more on this.

Be organsied
Being on top of the home and work admin is a real bonus when you work from home – it can be like having an extra pair of hands for the amount of time and energy it saves when you need to find something.

Key points here are to keep it simple, file promptly and be consistent. No point looking for the dog insurance renewal in the pet file if you’ve gone and filed it in the insurance file, for example.

Back up all your contact numbers and business files, especially invoices. Keep a big family calender where everyone can see it and be religious about filling it in – back it up with a portable diary that has time slots marked in it. This is especially important as the children hit those tweenie years and start to get a social life that involves you being the taxi service that is bound to clash with that phone call you have to make or take.

Keep on top of the admin, especially your accounts, and if you need extra support, then look at hiring a part time virtual assistant – see our section on Virtual Assistants.

Be realistic
Once upon a time it was just you, a job and perhaps your own flat or a shared house. Now it’s you, the entourage (kids, pets, partner), the house, the car, the job, the business (some people have both), school (almost as demanding as a second job sometimes), the list of life laundry can be exhausting and seemingly endless. So being realistic about what you can achieve and by when is crucial. Case in point – it took me five months longer than I originally planned to relaunch the revamped Funky Angel site in 2008 because of illness, house repairs, school holidays, and work commitments. I used to beat myself up about things like this; now I just accept it  takes as long as it takes. That doesn’t mean I don’t set myself goals, it’s just they are now realistic goals!

Going with the flow
If you have children your hours are likely to follow their schedule – around naps in the early years, then playgroup and then school times. Evenings become work time instead of afternoons, and Sunday morning is often the favourite time for home business networking – online of course!

Have good support
Family support is essential in the success of your work-at-home venture and you need to get them onside and keep them there. See www.funkyangel.co.uk for further information.

© Claire Burdett. Please only reproduce this article with permission, in its entirety and with a hyperlink to www.claireburdett.com. Thank you.

First published on www.funkyangel.co.uk, the ultimate lifestyle website for WAHMs and Home Businesses.


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