Firstly, let me just say, I don’t write an award-worthy blog, I know that and I’m under no illusions about it. But I do love my blog and I love blogging – over the past two years it’s become a huge part of who I am. So when the MAD (Mum and Dad) blog awards took place last week and my newsfeeds began filling up with pictures of some fabulous ‘compatriots’ (for want of a better word) being pampered, treated to a gourmet three course meal, and showered with praise and adulation for doing some of the kind of stuff I do (but better), I was thrilled for them – but – I was also deflated. I get the feeling that I may be the only person willing to say this publicly, because, let’s face it – there is a huge stigma attached to admitting that you feel disappointed in the face of other peoples’ success. A lot of people would rather resort to trying to tear others down – jealousy is the kryptonite that trolls harness to try to build themselves up whilst simultaneously knocking the work/thoughts/opinions of others.
I was recently contacted by the lovely people at 3 Mobile and Huawei to ask if I would like to review something which, not being a particularly techie person, was not on my radar before now: Mifi (or to be precise Huawei E5573 4G mobile wifi). Essentially this little piece of kit is like a wifi hotspot you own yourself and can carry around with you anywhere. This means that if, like me, you have a tablet (in my case a Kindle Fire HD) that you like to use when you’re out and about you no longer have to set up shop in the nearest Costa with an over-priced drink that you don’t really want, or camp out in the general environs of Urban Outfitters in the hopes that their free wifi will work at a distance. And lets face it free wifi can be a bit patchy at the best of times.
Funny how a lot of us dedicated parent bloggers often utter those words “my blog is like my other baby”. Last time I read that it got me thinking – why exactly do we say that? And I thought I’d make a little comparison:
- My blog was conceived on a bit of a wing and a prayer – I didn’t know anything about blogging. This is even more true of my journey into parenthood – you enter a whole new world and you rarely know what you are doing, you just know that you want to keep the baby alive.
- There are things you need to learn in order to be successful in this endeavour – with a baby you discover the world of ‘latching’ and, in getting to know your baby, you learn to intuit what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pacification. With your blog you discover linkies, stats, SEO etc, etc, all the things you need to make your little online space an ongoing concern, and you learn to intuit which kind of post actually makes you feel like you have an engaged readership.
- When you have a baby you quickly learn about the best products – be it those sanity-saving Avent dummies or that Baby Bjorn carrier that allows you to actually sit down and eat some beans over your baby’s head. With blogging you get to know which are the best apps and plugins you need in order to ‘optimise’ and successfully promote your little labour of love.
- As your child grows you do everything in your power to give him or her the very best opportunities in life and you feel so proud when you see them achieve all those little goals. Ditto your blog – you push for your blog to achieve something measurable in the blogosphere and feel incredibly satisfied when feedback comes in that people are impressed and really enjoy your work and compliment you on your writing or photography.
- You discover that there is a whole new group of friends who are going through the exact same set of challenges and emotions when you have a child… And also when you have a blog.
- Being a parent is an ongoing concern – something which pretty much seeps into every corner of your life and, when the kids are young, that means you will probably at the very least, think about them every single day no matter what else you are doing. If you have a living blog then you will spend a very large proportion of your time and typically evey single day thinking about it in one way or another – whether it be obligation, intention, inspiration or just an adoring little mental stroke of your blog’s head.
So there it is. My third baby – I just hope I don’t turn my back for too long one day and find my blog casually dangling from the bookshelves of Twitter or sliding down the bannisters of Facebook. You’ve got to have eyes in the back of your head/on every single social network these days.
I have been reliably informed by WordPress that today is the second anniversary of me starting up my blog – 12th July 2013 – a momentous date. I believe there’s some statistic floating around out there that 90% of blogs that fail do so within the first 90 days and there are a huge number of blogs failing every day.
So why has blogging been something I’ve stuck with so consistently over the past two years? I generally get bored of most new fads in my life within a few months. I also get interested in things that I see other people pursuing, particularly if they are doing a really great job of it – a little voice goes off in my head “I could do that just as well, if not better” when in actual fact people that do things well just tend to make them look easier than they are. It’s generally when I realise that most things done well take a lot of time and effort that my interest begins to wane.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of days, you’ll know that this weekend saw one of the UK’s biggest blogging events – Britmums Live in London. I had never been before (although I bought a ticket last year and then promptly forgot the date and booked a holiday at the same time – d’oh!).
Last year I avidly scrolled through the photos, watching other bloggers get the chance to meet, bond, laugh and relax. For some it was a rare opportunity to have a day (or two) off the otherwise endless round of parenting duties, for some it was the opportunity to improve their knowledge of everything from working with brands to branding themselves. As soon as Britmums 2014 was over I immediately booked myself a ‘Super Early-bird’ ticket for BML 2015 – I just knew it was something I wanted to be a part of.
Mark Twain once said “there is no such thing as a new idea” and lately I’ve been noticing some definite trends in the world of the parent-heavy blogosphere that kind of bear out this theory. Essentially here is a list of the top subject matter which I feel I constantly stumble across:
- Posts about breastfeeding (guilty)
- Posts about grabbing some mummy ‘me time’
- Posts about the insanity of trying to get your children out of the house to a deadline
- Wry takes on childrens television (guilty!)
- Posts about tantrums
- Posts about feminism (guilty)
- The pink/blue debate on raising gender aware children
- How-to: blog better
- Posts about Bluestone Wales (man, those guys are giving out holidays to everyone but me I think 😉 )
- Ditto Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort Rhodes. (hint hint! #chancewouldbeafinething)
- How to go pro
- Posts about work-life balance when you have children (guilty)
- Coping with sleep deprivation
- Letters to our former selves…
Oh the list could go on and on and I’m not even talking about fitness updates, diet updates, family updates, birth stories – they are all very individual and yet alike. The point is, I sometimes read a blog title and think – oh great another one! But its easy to get a bit jaded – you move on from one phase of parenthood to the next and you forget. And yes, maybe sometimes it feels like there is nothing new to be said on a particular subject, but it’s just as well to be mindful of the rest of that Mark Twain quotation:
And by 50, I really mean: 5.
So without further ado here are my top 5 obsessions:
Obsession 1: The Halfway House:
The other day I had this flash of of inspiration about how to improve and beautify my home. I realised that, because there is a lot of clutter on most of the available surfaces, putting up some shelves would give me some valuable space to work with. I realise it’s not rocket science and everyone else in the world has already done this, but I digress – the point is, I didn’t then just leave it there, pencil in a quick trip to B&Q and crack out the power drill. Instead I went to Pinterest. I spent hours poring over beautifully coordinated, decorated and photographed shelving units. It was great! It made me happy. I told myself that this was inspirational, demonstrating what was within the realms of achievability. I even went on to clear some clutter from an existing shelf and pretty it up, creating what I’ve dubbed a ‘happiness alcove’.
I have really struggled lately with coming up with blog ideas – even just an idea for this post has not been particularly fruitful. So, I’m resorting to a post format that I’ve read before many times – the ‘banish writer’s block by writing about your writer’s block’ post. Other people might just decide to put their writing on the back burner until a good idea strikes but, as the custodian of a living linky I not only feel the need to publish at least this one new article a week, but I want and need to keep exercising my brain in this way. Columnists who are paid to produce a weekly piece can’t just drop a week or two (although paid columnists probably have a bit more thinking space than I do!).
When I started blogging, back in June 2013, I’m not quite sure what I was thinking. I know I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog – I’m not quite sure why though because I didn’t really read blogs. I didn’t know anything about blogging except that it was a bit like an online journal which you could use to try out any number of things from reviewing to fiction, feature writing to photo-journalling. As I’ve mentioned before, way back when I was trained as a periodical journalist – i.e. the emphasis was on magazines, feature writing, interviewing and laying out a published page of copy.
It’s happened before and it’s happening again. Instead of reaching January and writing a list of unattainable resolutions, I’ve reached January and began again to ponder the nature of happiness. I even bought a book, Happy This Year by Will Bowen, which falls firmly under the category of ‘self-help’ (after last year buying The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin). According to Bowen, the more you think about happiness and the more time you spend assessing your own happiness level, the happier you’ll become, because happiness is inherently a choice we make regardless of all life’s ups and downs.