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Striking a balance – The Mum vs. Work Dichotomy

Mother’s guilt is real. Nearly all of us working mums experience it. Yet we don’t often speak about it. Like it’s something to be ashamed of. In fact, it’s the antithesis to that. The feeling of guilt is a consequence of wanting to be a good mother, whilst maintaining a sense of normality with a 9-to-5 job and holding down adult conversations that stimulate the non-baby side of the brain.

For years I’ve tried to strike the perfect balance between a successful career and #mumlife. Maybe that’s because I’m a self-confessed organisation (ahem) “freak.” Whilst I sometimes feel I have a double-persona, spinning all these plates is possible. It isn’t easy, but it is possible.

I’m fortunate to work in an extremely supportive environment with amazing flexibility. We have part-time mums and also part-time dads working in the office giving us the opportunity to keep doing what we love, post procreating. But, that doesn’t mean that every day is perfect.

No two days are the same. It is this sentiment that initially made me fall in love with advertising and working in a creative field in the first place. The notion that one day I could be writing a brief to reduce the number of homeless families on the street for Mission Australia, to understanding the psychology behind purchasing luxury jewellery for Georg Jensen and everything in between. The thing is, this thought also extends far beyond advertising, especially when it comes to the unpredictability of children.

So, why do we struggle as parents with unplanned change and unpredictability? It often feels like no matter what we do right as parents, we tend to more often focus on our failings. I’d be the first person to put my hand up and admit that. Would you?

Why are we racked with feeling guilty? Feeling that our best isn’t good enough? Why are we crushed by the looks of disappointment on our children’s faces after we miss them coming down the slide at the park as we peer over our laptop screens?

When I’m asked if I’m a stay at home Mum or if I work and I mention that I, “work from the office and from home,” and the usual reply is, “that must be so nice.” Now, don’t get me wrong, it is. However, part of me feels that guilt when I think to myself that it’s so much easier to go in the office and work, rather than being at home and trying to do it all and keep everyone happy.

It took me some time to give in and surrender to the dichotomy, which was essential when returning to work two years ago, with two kids under 3. I would plan my day with a detailed checklist of things to do, with timelines and a lot of expectation to achieve it all, and then some. Preparation and planning are big parts of my job and I’d often feel disappointed if I didn’t have everything ticked off.

My perspective definitely changed after having kids. I used to sweat the small stuff and stress over the most ridiculous things. Now, I try to focus on the positive things that are on the go. Instead of looking at what isn’t working, what I’m missing out on when I’m not in the office or at home, I focus on what is going right.

So, how can we shake off this guilt? First of all, we have to turn in our ‘super parent’ cape and acknowledge that unconditional love is the only requirement to becoming an extraordinary paternal figure. And, even when it aches at our core, not sweat the small stuff.

If we can understand that perfection and parenting going hand-in-hand is a ridiculous notion, we’ll be on the right path. I’ve accepted that I will make mistakes, but so long as I am honest with myself, my kids and my work then it can be possible.

We are our own worst critics. We all have our good and bad days. But, as long as we do our best, that is more than enough.

DDIdeas / Featured DDIdeas

Travel DAZE

A shout out  to our MD Caroline who took to the stage yesterday at the inspiring 2018 “Travel Daze” conference themed “Kicking arse” where she immersed the audience in the future of brands. With key themes around personalisation, growth mindset, travelling with a light footprint, and more equitable wealth distribution in travel destinations (Bruce Poon Tip from G Adventures indicated only $5 USD of every $100 USD spent by travellers remains in local economies) – there was plenty to chew on. For any of you wanderlusters out there who’d like to know more, get in touch here

DDIdeas

Holiday-spiration

There is nothing like travel to get the inspiration juices flowing. Even just sitting on the plane for a few hours without devices (or kids) gives my mind a little time to go a bit wild. But that’s a whole other blog post.

I am not much of a shopper, but when I am somewhere new, I find pure delight in window shopping. Naturally gravitating to shop fronts soaking up how brands communicate in their windows through visual merchandising.

On my recent trip to Seminyak, Bali didn’t disappoint in this area. Scattered in amongst the massage parlours and tourist stalls filled with football jerseys, beach dresses and phallic wooden bottle openers, I was treated to some incredibly beautiful store fronts.

The level of care and consideration that had been taken, not just within the stores, but the entire building, was mesmerising. Clothing stores, cafes and shopping centres were modern, bold and playful with their branding. The area was a thorough joy to explore.

At a time when retailers are struggling to compete with an online behemoth like Amazon, for example, it would serve for Australian businesses to look for a fresh approach to store-fronts to fight indifference and apathy in the consumer mindset. Easier said than done and not something I can solve in this blog post, but hopefully food for thought…

Well that’s enough walking and talking…

…is it time for another massage and cocktail?

Sarah Bayley

DDIdeas

Game ‘Shift’

At a time when attention spans are getting shorter, it seems contradictory to see people dedicating hundreds of hours of their lives to, wait for it… video games. With the competitive nature of some games such as, League of Legends, Overwatch, CS:GO (to name three), a new “sport” has emerged from the shadows, born out of the immeasurably skilled players and a frighteningly engaged audience.

Gaming culture has shifted dramatically over the years. Many celebrities now proudly declare themselves to be gamers – it’s a new kind of ‘badge of honour’. Drake rolling in Fortnite with Twitch streamer, Mila Kunis rocking Call of Duty, Snoop Dogg and his dodging skills in Battlefield 1… The list goes on. Celeb gamers are just a small piece of the puzzle as gaming culture slowly becomes mainstream.

It’s no secret, I love playing video games. Sometimes a single player game to indulge in a story, sometimes it happens in a co-op with friends. It’s how I catch up with mates who live in other cities and, most importantly, it keeps me connected. But there’s one thing I don’t do and that’s use in-game chat. Why? Because the gaming community is known for its toxicity.

It’s interesting that one game is flying the flag to change this stereotype.

Overwatch, a team-based first-person shooter (FPS) game, developed by gaming company Blizzard, is the most gender-diverse on the planet. The proportion of its players who are women equals more than double that of the closet FPS. Woman make up 16% of Overwatch’s player base. That’s around five million female players, generating a staggering $250 million in revenue for Blizzard. [1]

There are many facets to Blizzard’s success with Overwatch i.e. most shooter games don’t have female protagonists. This one is obvious. Their effort required to make their inclusive character design earned my respect and that of the female gaming community. Traditional “War” games tend to go for historical accuracy and thrive for realistic settings, while Overwatch is set in a future state leaving greater room for them to be imaginative.

Overwatch has one of the most vocal communities because the parent company understands the importance of listening and acting upon the words of the gamers. If a topic blows up, from server issues to game balance, the developers spend the time to talk (like humans) about the things their players care about. They don’t just say it, they mean it and work hard at fixing it.

As I mentioned, the toxicity of some players and vitriolic language used is a problem for most gaming companies that use an in-game chat feature. Policing this used to rely on players reporting and banning problematic behaviour, but this didn’t work. So, Blizzard listened and rolled out a new feature in an effort to increase positive player activity i.e. ‘Endorsement.’ After each match, players can celebrate others who made positive contributions on both your team and the enemy team. The result? Daily abuse has decreased by just under 30% in the Americas and 22% in South Korea [2]. If you’re a gamer, being given a pat on the back in the form of a well-timed compliment such as, ‘Shot Caller’ or ‘Good Teammate’? A little acknowledgement goes a long way. Simple, but effective.

Blizzard’s effort in making positive game impact doesn’t just stop at a virtual level. In May, they ran their first charity event with the Breast Cancer Research Fund to raise more than US$10 million with one particular character in the game – Mercy – a brilliant scientist and the guardian angel of Overwatch who protects the team in a battlefield. It’s surprising and heart-warming to see Blizzard doing such good with their loyal and active player base.

Jeff Kaplan, director of Overwatch, beautifully stated, “There’s always going to be someone upset with things that we do. We know we’re not always going to get it right. But it’s about trying to be welcoming to a lot of people and thinking about others.” [3]

Overwatch is one of my inspirations when it comes to inclusive design. Game making is a creative process. It starts with individual ideas which are then turned into a collective consensus. Games are consumed by all kinds of people from all around the world with their own passions, frustrations and desires. It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. However, this shouldn’t be an excuse for designing something that’s lacking in diversity. It’s only been two years since Overwatch’s launch, and I truly hope they’ll keep championing diverse, inclusive game design that continues to inspire the gaming community.

– Jenny Liu

DDIdeas

The Lost Art of Anticipation

I’m not ashamed to tell you (in fact I wear it like a badge of honour) that, over the course of a weekend, I can quite comfortably binge-watch entire seasons of my favourite show, order tasty foods through a variety of apps, get my clothes picked-up, washed, ironed and returned, and even (not that this happens very often), get someone to go and stand in the queue  for the new iPhone. All this, without ever actually having to speak directly to another human. What a time to be alive!

However, does all this convenience come at a cost?  You can see where I’m going with this one… I think so. I put it to you – have recent developments in technology meant that we’ve lost the art of anticipation?

The ‘On-Demand’ model means that long gone are the days where I would eagerly wait for the next episode of ‘The OC.’ Now I only have to wait 10 seconds for the latest instalment. And even then, I can’t let Netflix count me in. Give. It. To. Me. Now.  Consumers expect their wants and needs to be instantly fulfilled. For example, did you know that in 60 seconds Google serves 3.8 million search requests, Netflix clocks up 87,000 hours of videos watched and there are 18,000 matches made on Tinder?* Those are some SERIOUS numbers!

So, what implications does this have for Australian/Global businesses? If a company/owner makes a potential/existing consumer wait for information or content does that become detrimental to the success of their business? We live in an age where we, as consumers, we expect that everything should be available at the touch of a button or a voice command [link to Alexa article]. “Assistance is really the new battleground for growth. As expectations of the empowered consumer continue to rise, the most assistive brands will win.” – Allan Thygesen.

That being said, I firmly believe that no matter how long I have to wait for the payoff of my actions, it’s ALL about making a meaningful human connection. If brands and businesses can nail this, I think I (and most people for that matter) can wait. Establishing a relationship with me, on the same level that a friend or family member might do, means I can easily forgive a clunky website or even the fact that you don’t respond to me quickly on social media. We are all human after all and good things come to those who… wait.

I would love to know what you think… really looking forward to it in fact.

– HJ

*Source: Statista