Everything’s changing.

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When coming to the end of my maternity leave, despite being away from the office for a full 8 months, I was terrified of going back to work and rightly so. My fears pretty much came to pass and I quickly realised that I was not the same person I’d been when I first went on leave. For one thing, my career was no longer my driving force, I realised that my family was. 2008 me would be cringing right now because I distinctly remember two girls in a Durban flat hoping and wishing and praying for this great career in writing and social media.

In 2010 I landed my big break at Aqua, where for a few years I honed in on my social media skills and conceived, planned, executed and analysed campaign after campaign with incredible clients, eventually leading the social media team as the Head of the department, truly a dream come true. Three years in (almost to the day), I was offered a permanent position on the corporate side of life, from one of my then-clients at Aqua, Tsogo Sun. I couldn’t possibly say no to the opportunity – a job where I was paid to look after ONE brand, and get to travel on their account, to the most incredible hotels in the country and offshore. This, for me, was the life. Jon and I have since experienced our honeymoon in Seychelles, sipped on cocktails with our toes in the sand, visited Cape Town and Durban and other beautiful cities, we’ve watched world-class productions, been to incredible exhibitions and had so many adventures, all thanks to the work perks of Tsogo.

When I arrived at Tsogo Sun, they had only been doing social media in-house for a short period – and it was being run by a manager who had way too much on her already full plate, so I was met with a lot of excitement and a very warm welcome in March of 2013 to take over the portfolio and grow it to what it is today. Not long after I joined, the business understood the need to take social media more seriously, and also offer the role the support it needed, so I moved from the digital department over to the communications department, where I was given carte blanch to “go wild”. Lots of influencer activations, trips away, insanely awesome events later – we’re now sitting with a social media fan base of over 1.3million as a group, with incredible relationships with the media and special memories for good times had. I’ve made the best friends through this job, some who I will stay friends with for many years to come still. It’s been such an incredible blessing.

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But none of that mattered when I looked down at my little boy, snot-nosed and watery-eyed as I had to leave him at school one day knowing he had a fever and nobody at home to watch over him like I would. That night I had to attend an event until the late hours, after having been airlifted in helicopters all day with the likes of Maps Maponyane (honestly one of the nicest guys I’ve met) and SA’s biggest online influencers. It was an incredible day, one I’ll never forget – but one I had to sacrifice time with my sick little boy to be part of.

And this is where I realised I’m not the same person I was two years ago. Now I’m a mom, and that has to come first. And so, I’ve made the incredibly hard, but sensible decision to leave my corporate career behind. Whilst I could never be a SAHM I’ll now be a WAHM – which means I get the best of both worlds. I’ll be working hard on my own consultancy, but also free to keep my son at home on his next sick day, or pop into school on the days when he starts swimming lessons. I can help bake cupcakes for Baker-Baker Day instead of buying from Woolies. I can (hopefully) cook wholesome meals instead of heating up ready-made dishes from the shops. That’s the plan anyway.

Am I terrified? Of course. Am I excited? Yes – this is my biggest challenge yet. I’ll be running my own consultancy with my very own clients, accounts, tax returns and books to do. I know that I’ll need to work even harder than I do now, because this puts a lot more responsibility on my head than relying on a stable salary at month end that comes with permanent employment. But I’m passionate enough about what I do to know I’ll be ok. And I know that this is where I need to be in life right now. My family has to come first because I’ve realised that one day when I’m on my deathbed or at the pearly gates, it won’t be my career that I’ll say goodbye to – it’ll be my family that I’ll miss the most.

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So despite the fear, excitement, worry, nerves and anxiety, I have moments of calm when I remember why I’m doing this in the first place.

Wish me luck?

*I’ll do a proper launch and shout-out at the end of the month once my notice period with Tsogo comes to an end, out of respect for them.

19 comments

  1. Cath says:

    You are incorrect.

    “2008 me would be cringing right now because I distinctly remember two girls in a Durban flat hoping and wishing and praying for this great career in writing and social media.”

    2008 us is bringing out the champers because they knew this is what it was all about – XXXX

  2. Jennifer Gill says:

    Fabulous news, Sheena! Congratulations and all the very best for your – yes, YOUR new business! I have no doubt that you will rock.

  3. Sharon says:

    How fabulous! All the very best!
    And you are so right, when you become a mother, your priorities do change. Unfortunately too many corporates interpret that as a mother employee becoming a commodity, or at least that’s been my experience.

    • Shebee says:

      It’s so sad – the “oh, half day?” comments when you walk out at 4:30 after being the first to arrive in the office that morning – these comments kill me. Mom’s are such hard workers, they have a huge responsibility which drives them to be great.

  4. Gwen says:

    And the Momma Bear cries. This is the best choice and I can guarantee that. I love that your family comes first.

  5. Briget says:

    You have me close to tears here now!

    These kids have a funny way of changing our perspectives and focus.
    Sending Licks and Leghumps and Wishing you all the best !!!

    xoxoxox

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