I started my blog before I became a Mammy. It was in the lead up to my wedding and I crimped and crafted over a few blog posts about things that had been on my mind. Being skinny. Hen parties. Only one of those things still feature in my life.
When I was pregnant and after I had the bundle of cry, inspiration appeared from a place I didn’t know existed. It was a place where worry slept with exhaustion, where cradle cap nestled among balding baby heads. Where I, as a new mother, had no bloody clue what I was doing. And I needed help.
I turned to parenting blogs. And I started my own writing about motherhood.
I quickly discovered some amazing writers, who warmed my reading eyes, made me laugh, made me cry (more than normal) and had me hooked.
My blog filled up with parenting posts; I had so much to write about, so much to say. I aspired to be just like some of the blogs I was reading and I came to know of a world where (mostly women) were documenting their experiences and having a profound effect on me.
I still think of some of the posts I read. I still identify with the emotions and what they were saying. I still have a huge respect for the talent they have, the messages they portray and the connection they have with parents and Mums like me, who needed a lift or just a comforting, friendly look at things, when I thought only I was going through the same thing. And even though I don’t post as many parenting posts anymore, or even read in the same way I did, there’s been something on my mind about parenting bloggers.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a certain animosity sneaking in. I’ve seen in forums, where other bloggers (non-parents, I would imagine, although I can’t be sure) openly diss the genre that it is. “Not another Mummy blogger,” I saw one place. And when I attended a conference recently, the star person leading up the workshop on a certain medium said he was so bored by all the parenting pics he was being sent. “These people keep send me pictures of their kids,” he said. “How boring!”
Well, you know, I get it. I understand if you don’t have kids, or are past a certain stage with kids, or maybe are just BORED of kids, that you don’t want to see pics of kids. Or read about them. Or bother looking at a post discussing and this is not a longlist: breastfeeding, sleep patterns, babygro fashion, snack packs, tantrums, having more kids, having no more kids, crafting, and daily updates as to where a kid has been or what that kids’ parents have done with said kid that day.
I get it. But, being a parent, a parenting blogger and watching how my own interest has waned in certain types of posts, I do have to leap to the defence of my fellow bloggers and point out a few things I’ve been thinking. If you’ve never read a parenting post, maybe you should. And, instead of dissing something you think you have no interest in, maybe examine it a bit further and see if you do. You might be surprised.
Here are my nine lessons all bloggers can learn from parenting bloggers and some links to my favourite posts or bloggers. These are just some of the blogs I read, there are a ton out there. Go check them out.
1) It’s a crowded marketplace – you trying stand out
I’m not sure what the stats are on kids, as in, how many people in a population actually have them. But I bet it’s a lot. Like a majority. Almost all my friends are popping them out at the minute. And because (almost) everyone is doing it, it means there are a lot of people writing about it. The best parenting bloggers know how to own their voice, how to be true to themselves and write from the heart. Here’s some of my favourite parenting bloggers with unique and stand out voices: (in no particular order and no favourtism applied, they are all awesome!)
2) Same topics – new audience
I understand now why seasoned parents look to newbie parents with the same look your parents used to give you when you were heading for a teenage disco. It’s the ‘you have it all ahead of you, you think you know, but you’ve no clue, I’m so glad I am where I am now, it’s all behind me, I’m settled now, I’m grand’ look. I lapped up everything I could get my beady internet eyes on when I was pregnant and over the first few months. Everything was new to me, I couldn’t get enough of reading and absorbing all these new topics that were now important in my life. Now, I skip past these posts because well, I pretty much know it all, and they don’t interest me. But these posts are hugely helpful to other parents. And that’s why I like to read the bloggers outlined above, because of the new slant they put on topics that come up time and again.
3) A lesson in engagement
Not all the parenting bloggers I follow have social presences beyond their blogs. Most do, but as we all know, managing many social accounts, the blog itself and you know, parenting, can be time consuming and life-zapping. Here are some of my favourite bloggers and how they engage with their readers. It’s not about the numbers, but the content they produce. Some have gone on to earn money and make a living for themselves, simply by engaging the audiences they have built up.
Facebook engagement: Hurrah for Gin
Youtube Engagement: Love of Living
Twitter Engagement: Confessions of an Irish Mammy
Instagram Engagement: Simply Homemade
Linkies: Honest Mum / Life with Baby Kicks
4) Being honest without being TOO honest
I’ve seen some bloggers write posts that could only be described as ‘blog bait’. In the posts, they open up about marriages or feelings or experiences that might be suitable for a girly get together over a glass (or bottle) of wine, but really, shouldn’t be spread across the internet, or put out there just to get blog views. Most of the parenting bloggers I read have got the honesty just right. They talk about their feelings, their inadequacies, their worries, but they don’t sell their kids or their husbands to do it. It’s all about the voice and writing style.
I love this piece from Sandra Harty Conway of A Modern Mommy’s World on the very difficult birth of her first son.
5) Blogging through exhaustion
I’ve been a parent for coming up on 19 months now. For the first 13 of those months I never had any more than four hours of sleep together. Ok, maybe five, but who’s counting? I was wrecked, but sure what parent isn’t? That’s why all bloggers should take note of parenting bloggers output and work ethic. Anyone pumping out posts while minding small kids deserves a big fat medal / lie-in. True, parents may have swapped nights on the tiles for nights in front of the laptop (not by choice) and this does help with getting the blog posts done. Bloggers with social lives: imagine the work you’d get done if you weren’t all drunkey mcdrunkingtons out meeting people disco dancing with your snapchats. (Oh the longing).
6) Crack a joke, go on
Most of the blogs I identity with or love to read are hilarious. Their descriptions and anecdotes of parenting are brilliant. Maybe parenting lends itself to humour very well because you remember what it was like to be a child again yourself. Or maybe because all you can do is laugh when you have someone else’s poo on your hands. Take a read of these five parenting posts I’ve pulled out to brighten up your day.
Carry on Katy: Top 4 Toddler Tantrums and how to deal with them
Raising Ireland: I’ll Threeam and I’ll Threeam until I get sick
The Clothesline: An open letter to Persil about my eyeball injury
Confessions of an Irish Mammy: The 9 stages of a hangover with kids
Beating Myself Into A Dress: Threading, you’ll wish you were dead
7) No rudeness here
I’ve been a member of an Irish Parenting Bloggers’ Group for a year now and I can honestly say, the parents who communicate there, through the Facebook page mostly, have become friends, confidantes, supporters and the most welcoming of communities I have ever been part of. In general, parenting bloggers are hugely supportive of other parenting bloggers, maybe because you change a bit when you have kids and become more empathetic or maybe… just because. Why not be nice? I’ve seen other bloggers pit against each other in forums, and it’s horrible. That’s not to say we’re all in agreeance with each other on things and think exactly the same. But we understand the value of opinion and each person’s right to it.
8) Working with brands
I never really understood how a blogger could work with brands before I got into blogging bigstyle. At first I thought it would be nice to get a few freebies. Then, I came to learn about the mutually benefit relationship that can and should exist between bloggers and large or local companies. It’s not about the freebies at all, but about a brand getting its products and services out to the right audience and a blogger either being paid for their work involved or being happy with what they get in return. I now buy and use products I’ve seen through blogs. They stick with me because I trust the people I’m reading reviewing or they get to me through the myriad of print and radio or TV ads. Even bloggers who don’t have big audiences can make an impression on those who do read. There is huge engagement between brands in the parenting market and parenting bloggers. Choosing the right brands to work with is vital for a parenting blogger. That’s why I turned down the chance to link into that nipple tassel site. Now nipple shields… that would have been a different story.
9) A sense of purpose
There are many reasons why a parent might start a parenting blog. It could be something they’ve always wanted to do, something they are able to now find the time for or, possibly the number one reason, to record their journey through parenthood and take account of their experience and their feelings around this. It gives everything a sense of purpose. A reason to blog. I think you should have a reason to blog – you should know why you are writing and who you are writing for. People who want to be bloggers just for the sake of being a blogger don’t get very far from what I can see. Unless you have a need, a want and a passion for writing and blogging, well then it may just be a fleeting fancy. And nothing wrong with that. It’s just the best ones, tend to stick around.
So that’s it my fwends, that’s ma humble opinion. I’d be interested to hear your take on the topic, whether you’re a parenting blogger yourself or can relate to anything I say. If you’re still in the market for another parenting blog to visit you’ll get me at www.ladynicci.com.