Mooching around the internet the other day, I came across a thread on a very popular parenting website, pretty much slagging off ‘mummy bloggers’. The woman who started it couldn’t understand why people read blogs and the thread continued into an all-out bitch fest about mummy blogs. Basically, according to the women on the thread, mum bloggers are:
- self-absorbed and boring
- exploiting their kids
- crap parents or smug parents
- only doing it for the freebies
Now, everyone is more than entitled to their opinions on what they read (or watch – I think they were discussing vloggers as well!), and if parenting blogs aren’t their thing, that’s cool. But I can absolutely say that I, and most ‘mummy bloggers’ are none of these.
I’m certainly not vacuous. I’m a qualified primary school teacher, an avid reader, someone with a passion for learning and history. Not that my levels of education or previous career have any bearing whatsoever on blogging – there are mum (and dad) bloggers out there from all walks of life, all jobs, all backgrounds and every single one of them deserves more than the disdain that these women on an internet forum throw at them. They are doing something – whether their aim is making money, keeping an online diary for their children or simply as a hobby. They’re not sitting on their arses – they’re doing something.
I’m not self-absorbed. Of course, I write about me and my family. But guess what? That’s what readers want to read about. They want to read about an ordinary family, doing ordinary things because it’s relatable. My stats can back this up – posts, where I’ve written about days out or things like Harrison’s glue ear diagnosis or Ben’s illness, have had hundreds, and even thousands of views.
I don’t exploit my kids. I write about them, I use their photos and I use their names. I’m careful not to show what school they go to or give anything too specific about where we live. I make sure that I don’t put anything that I think will embarrass them in the future online – no potty training pics here! I regularly check in with Harrison, who is beginning to understand what the internet is and what my blog is about and make sure he is happy for me to talk about him or put photos on. He asks me if I can take pics of him sometimes for the blog. I’m not using them to get anything – they benefit from pretty much every single opportunity that comes our way, whether it’s money to be able to take them out and do things with them, or new toys and clothes.
I am definitely not a smug parent. I have nothing to be smug about – I’m a very ordinary, overweight 30-something mum of three kids, who can be little shits sometimes. I live in a very ordinary rented bungalow. I’m skint 70% of the time. I drive an 11-year-old car. The only thing that I am even a tiny bit smug about is the fact that I live by the seaside – but so do many people! I’m not a crap parent either. I don’t (very often!) ignore my kids – we do an awful lot together as a family and it was recognised in Alex’s school report that he is ‘exposed to some quality experiences at home’ (ok, slightly smug there!).
I am absolutely, 100% not doing it for the ‘freebies’ because there aren’t any freebies. That £12 paint set? I might not have paid any cash for it but it took me several hours of my time to photograph it, edit pictures, write about it, edit the writing, promote across social media. If we consider that minimum wage is £7.20, and that took me two hours (minimum) – well – it’s hardly free, is it? I only accept products to review if they are of relevance or interest to us, whether they cost £2 to buy or £2000.
So why do I blog?
I blog because it gives me a relatively good income. I work really, really hard on my blog and have a good social media following and audience. I obviously have some influence – people have read reviews on my blog and clicked through to Amazon and bought them. Advertisers and brands recognise this and are happy to pay for me to promote them. Blogging, and the freelance writing and social media career that I’ve built up because of it means I can be earning money whilst being at home with my babies. If I went and got a ‘normal’ job, the majority of my wages would be going on childcare, so it’s practical as well.
I blog because it creates memories for our family. We’ve been able to go to Bluestone for our first family holiday, we’ve been able to go to Chester Zoo. The kids are going to a sushi making workshop in the next couple of weeks. These are all experiences that have happened because of my blog. My blog also records experiences and memories for us – I’ve written about our days out, about their first days at school. I’ve written about my pregnancy with Benjamin. All things we can look back on in the future and remember the tiny details because they are there, in detail.
I blog because it gives me a voice. I’m not a particularly brilliant writer. I don’t write about anything particularly deep or political, but my blog is somewhere that I can freely write about whatever I want. As I said above, I’m a very average person from a very average family. I’m not out there making a huge difference to the world, but if one or two people read my blog and go ‘ahh, so that’s normal’ or ‘thank fuck I’m not the only person that thinks that’, I’m doing something positive. I had a friend who had children after me and said that my blog has helped her. If I can help just one person, I’m happy.
Mainly I blog because I want to. Because I enjoy it. Because whilst I may not be the most talented writer in the world, the fact I have a fairly successful blog makes me feel like I’ve achieved something. It stops me from being bored and it has helped me to keep sane. When I started this blog in 2013, I was slipping rather rapidly towards depression. In a very short space of time, I had gone from being a (slim!) 20 something year old, with a good career and an excellent social life to an overweight mum of two (and then 3!) very young children, no money, no social life and no job. I had completely and utterly lost my identity. My blog has literally changed my life in that it has given me some of my confidence back, it’s given me a career and it’s given me some of the best friends I could ever have wished for. My blog is now a huge part of who I am. I’m Rachel – a mum, a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a blogger.
That’s why I blog.
So whilst there might be 10000’s of ‘mummy bloggers’ out there, all doing the same sort of thing, don’t criticise them. They’re doing something for them and for their children.