A portfolio career: why it’s the only choice for working mums

19 Oct

image courtesy of http://streetphoto.com

I’ve left and gone back to work at least 3 times in the past few years. It’s not so much that I don’t know what I want, more that that kind of work just doesn’t quite do it for me anymore.  I mean I like working, I’m much happier working and am in no way a voluntary stay at home mum.  So I keep going back to work, hoping to find something different.  Maybe to find that I’M different.  But I don’t. The corporate life just doesn’t seem to “fit” anymore.

And then someone mentioned the idea of a “portfolio career”.  I quickly googled it “A tapestry or a variety of eclectic employment experiences that when combined are the equivalent of a full-time position”.  Hmmm, interesting.  I read on. “Portfolio careers offer more flexibility, variety, and freedom..” mmm sounds good “but also require organizational skills as well as risk tolerance.” Organisation skills – check, I’m the professional equivalent of a one-man band. Risk tolerance?  Heck, my mum just died so I, more than most know the value of grabbing life by the short and curlies. Check, check and double-check.  

“Portfolio careers are usually built around a collection of skills and interests”.  Bingo. Just like my mum I thrive on being busy and am never happy unless I’m doing 3,4,5 things at once. I’m rubbish at focussing on one thing at a time without getting bored / distracted / impatient. Plus, it’s not like we’re talking about anything very new, us mums have been doing this kind of thing for ages. And now you can get paid for it? Huzzah!

So I was sold.  I think the thing is that once you’ve been out of work for any period of time, you realise that the typical 9-5 doesn’t have to be the only way. When you’re in the midst of it, it feels like a given. It’s what people do, it’s what YOU do. Only when you take time off, for maternity leave or some other significant life event, and you’re away from the confines of an office during those missing daytime hours, do you start to notice there’s a whole other world out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m more than aware just how fortunate I am.  For many, work is an obligation not a choice. Liking it or being fulfilled by it doesn’t mean jack. So lucky? Yes of course.  I’d still rather have my mum.  But if losing her means I have this chance to do something that fits me better, that gives us a better balance in our family life, well I reckon my mum would have been made up.

And if you want to know what the portfolio looks like, and how its risk/reward ratio stacks up? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see.


29 Responses to “A portfolio career: why it’s the only choice for working mums”

  1. Emily Carlisle October 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Good decision. I left my career earlier this year and now have a portfolio career which combines freelance feature writing, corporate copywriting, blogging, social media training and a few other bits and pieces. I like it – the variety is fun and the risk is spread out so you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. Good luck! x

    • marketingtomilk October 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      hurrah! If it’s good enough for you, it’s perfect for me ;>)

  2. Mayfair Mum October 19, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Good luck with your new career. Sounds like fun. Looking forward to reading more about it all in due course x

  3. CoffeeCurls October 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    It does sound like a great idea. As you said, it’s only when you stop working 9-5 that you realise the world doesn’t end if you don’t!

    How will you find the different roles?

    • marketingtomilk October 20, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

      I’ll let you know when I’ve figured that one out! the best bit is the planning..

  4. Potty Mummy October 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm #

    I love it – and now I finally have a name for what I do, so thankyou!

    • marketingtomilk October 20, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

      my pleasure. it’s always good to have a name. Much easier to answer people’s questions “what is it that you actually DO?”

  5. Alexander Residence October 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    I had a bit of a eureka moment earlier in the year when I realised I no longer had to have one career. Now I do bits of writing, video, bits of teaching and fit it round being at home with my kids. I think it coincided with losing mum for me too. Love the one man band analogy. Good luck, like you say it sounds like you have the drive to make it happen! X

    • marketingtomilk October 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

      I do think there’s something in it. Enforced clarity. That’s what i call it.


  6. Pip October 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Looking forward to doing something very similar very soon…. watch this space! Pip x

  7. mammasaver (@mammasaver) October 19, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    Aah… I’ve been hoping to put something similar together for myself but didn’t know that it had a name, or if it was a realistic goal.

    I shall follow your progress with keen interest!

    Good luck!

  8. reluctantrefereeP October 19, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    I genuinely believe that portfolio careers are the way forward. It’s hard work though, finding that patchwork balance. But when it works, boy does it work.

    I’m in the dark days of writing up a PhD, but once that is done and dusted I’ll be looking to get bits and bobs together to create that patchwork and feel quite liberated just thinking about it.

    Good luck with it all, I’ll be following with interest!

  9. Pants With Names October 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    Sorry that last comment was from me – not sure what happened with the posting. Actually I do. My study is in the babies room which means nighttime work is done in darkness – I couldn’t actually see what I was doing…

    • marketingtomilk October 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

      Blogging in the dark – sounds like a new gameshow

  10. Kate October 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    I’m working on this but so far, I only have one of the bits of work but that’s keeping me busy so far. I possibly have another assignment but the wheels are turning slowly on that one although that will hopefully be confirmed shortly, which is totally different to what I’m doing – tho they are both basically operating a computer. All of it can be done from home and it means that so far, my children have not been in any formal childcare since they left nursery to go to school.That makes it more economical for us apart from anything else and they know that they come home to mummy nearly every day. It’s only positive for our family, and I hope to continue to make a success of it.

    • marketingtomilk October 20, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

      Unfortunately it’s never going to be a money making scheme (unless you’re very lucky) but the other rewards are much greater.


  11. Muddling Along October 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    This is one of the things I wish I was brave enough to do – for the moment I am trying to spread my options by doing as much as I can for other things in and around my day job

    Am about to start breastfeeding counsellor training to try and increase my options

    • marketingtomilk October 20, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

      well you’ve made a start, just think about what all your skills are and keep your eyes open for opportunities. x

  12. scribblingmum October 19, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Hurray. You go for it girl x

  13. jfb57 October 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

    Now the reason I have only just got round to reading & commenting on this is due to the manic week I’ve had. I certainly have a tapestry of activities requiring all sorts of skills – governor, 100WC (for smalls & bigs), teacher meeting, supporting parent with school applications.It would be much easier for me to say if asked what do you do – I run a portfolio! Can’t wait to see how you develop it. Sounds like great fun!

  14. Mrs Teepot October 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    Sounds like an excellent idea hun, glad you’re grabbing the bull by the horns too!

  15. WestLondonMum October 23, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    This is the story of my life…I love having a lot of balls in the air at once…keeps life interesting. I think we underestimate how transferable/interconnected a lot of skills are…

    Good luck!!

  16. vegemitevixmitevix October 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Go girl! That’s what I did when I left Microsoft in 1992, and I’ve been doing a bit of this and that ever since. It’s FAB! Oh and hope to give you a project tomorrow if you’re ready and able. 🙂

    • marketingtomilk October 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      ready and able my love. my drawers still have room ;>) x


  1. I Rock the Powder Room! « - November 7, 2011

    […] Portfolio career? I’m getting there. Rate this: Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

I'm all about the debate. Would love to hear what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: