In praise of parent bloggers!
There’s been much drama in the parent blogging community this weekend following a Mumsnet thread debating mummy bloggers. The general consensus of the thread was that a large number of people didn’t see the point of them. Posters on the thread called mummy bloggers irritating and cringe-worthy. Some felt bloggers were just trying to blag freebies, that the blogs were poorly written and boring, that bloggers were boasting about their pretend lives and, my personal favourite, that we are “dull as fuck, smug and self-absorbed”. Can I get that printed on a t-shirt, please?!
Now, I’ve never had a problem with people expressing their opinion (provided it’s not racist/sexist/derogatory or prejudiced). And I do think some of their points are valid to an extent.
I’m sure there will be some kids who grow up hating their parents for plastering their faces over social media, for example. And any bloggers in it solely for the freebies will soon give up when they realise how much work is involved in writing, photographing, promoting on social media, keeping up with comments on all your different platforms. It’s all-consuming.
Of course there are differing qualities of blogs. But I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing. There are also differing qualities of musicians. But just because someone is not going to be the next Ed Sheeran, why should they not enjoy getting up and singing karaoke at their local pub? Or just because someone’s paintings are never going to hang in a top gallery, why shouldn’t they enjoy painting in their spare time? If someone likes doing something, then let them. We’ve all got to start somewhere and by honing their crafts, who knows what talent may emerge?
I know a lot of bloggers have been quite upset by the Mumsnet thread. However, having been a journalist for 17 years, I know full-well that part and parcel of making a living by putting your words out there for public consumption means you’re also putting yourself out there to be attacked by those who disagree with what you are saying.
As my journalism lecturer said to me many years ago, the last thing you want is for your readers to be indifferent. If people have an opinion, whatever it is, at least they are engaging with what you have written. You want to create a response in people.
For those new to blogging, which is by and large a friendly and supportive community, reading negative and hurtful comments on your blog or social media for the first time can be like a punch to the guts. I have friends who have been devastated by comments from trolls on their blogs. Personally, I ignore most of the negative comments. I usually screen shot them and send them to my blogger friends with a crying with laughter emoji. We journalists have a saying, “never go below the line” – the line being the end of your article and the start of the reader comments. Technological advances mean people think they can say anything they like online, without consequence. Some of them deliberately say mean or hurtful things to create a response.
So, I’m not going to dwell on the negative comments on the Mumsnet thread. I read most of it laughing, to be honest. Like I said, they’re perfectly entitled to their opinion and we all have things which irritate us (in my case, it’s currently people who post a route and time on Facebook every single time they go for a run but, you know, scroll on by).
Instead, I’m going to focus on some of the positives I feel parent bloggers bring to the parenting community in general. Because I feel strongly that there are a lot of parent bloggers making a difference. Here goes.
We write honestly about the realities of parenting
Yes, there are some bloggers whose pages are filled with all the wonderful craft creations they have made with their kids, which is great, or their pristine monochrome houses and kids, and that’s great too.
But a lot of us write honestly about the tough parts of parenting too. You never see this in traditional parenting magazines. You get practical steps to weaning, baby milestones, reviews of a dozen high chairs, what to pack in your hospital birth bag, which again is great and really useful information.
But motherhood can be really isolating and it is so easy to feel like you are the only one struggling. There are amazing bloggers out there such as Hurrah For Gin, The Unmumsy Mum, Constance Hall and Brummy Mummy of Two who have numbers of followers most of us bloggers could only dream of. Because people – millions of people – relate to what they are saying. They get their fair share of criticism too mind due to writing humorously about the negative sides , but the fact that what they are saying resonates with so many readers, speaks volumes.
Even with my middle-of-the-road blog, I have lost count of the number of mums who have told me they relate when I’ve written about how I struggle to keep my house clean, how some days are so challenging they leave me in tears, how I constantly feel like I am winging it, how I struggle with mummy guilt. “It’s not just me feeling like this!” they’ll say. “I thought I was the only one.” “I needed to read this, thank you.”
Bloggers provide a voice often missing in the mainstream media. That voice you really need to hear when you are at the end of your tether and feel like you are the only one struggling. A reminder that you are normal.
We write about important issues and provide support to others
Raising awareness of miscarriage has been really important to me, both as a journalist and a blogger. When I miscarried eight years ago, blogs weren’t really a thing. I really wish they had been though because I found it such a lonely time; I don’t think a lot of people really understood what I was going through and reading blogs about others’ experiences would have really helped.
Every time I have written about miscarriage I have been overwhelmed by the response. And I know it is the same for other bloggers who have written about their experiences of baby loss too. The Dad Network’s recent vlog on how he feels about the fifth miscarriage he and his wife has experienced is utterly heart breaking, but so full of raw honesty too. It’s currently been viewed more than 44,000 times in just a few days and his social media channels are full of people sharing their own experiences.
And it’s not just miscarriage and baby/infant loss. Other mums write candidly about post-natal depression, what it’s like being a parent to a child who is autistic or who has Down’s syndrome, or diabetes. There are bloggers talking about their battle with cancer, or having a baby in a special care unit.
We don’t always have a friend or relative who understands or has experienced what we are going through. Reading a blog from someone who knows what it is like can be immensely supportive. And if you have a friend in any of these situations, it can help you understand more about what they are going through and work out how best to support them too.
We are a source of information
One of the big focuses of my blog is family-friendly days out in and around Cardiff. I spend hours and hours putting together my listings of forthcoming events and days-out guides. And I know they are useful because my statistics show me they are some of the most-read stuff I write.
Yes, my family are lucky to get invited to review events and attractions, but I also write about free places we have visited – parks, beaches, woodlands. And I always write honestly and with as much detail as possible so that parents can be as informed as possible should they choose to visit such places and, indeed, whether it is worth their money or not.
Likewise, when I’m looking for information, I often find myself turning to bloggers because I know I’ll get an honest opinion from another parent. It’s the online equivalent of asking your friends what they think. There are local food bloggers I like to read because I trust their reviews of local restaurants and there are mummy fashion bloggers who inspire me with what to wear because mums who want to look stylish but also dress practically for life with little kids are pretty much ignored by the mainstream media.
We support and raise money for charities
Just before Christmas, followers of Hurrah for Gin donated £45,000 to Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to help people living in conflict zones. The donation was matched by The Financial Times, so was actually worth £90,000 to the charity. That’s incredible.
On a smaller scale, my local blogger friend Heledd of Yummy Blogger wrote about places in Cardiff desperately in need of donations of baby and children’s clothing, toys and maternity wear. The post went viral locally and so many of the charities received donations as a direct result of her article. Isn’t that fantastic? Most bloggers I know have supported a charity in some way or other through their blog.
We make people laugh
There are blogs which have actually made me cry with laughter. Not just the obvious big names such as Constance, Unmumsy and Hurrah, but smaller bloggers, such as Big Trouble in Little Nappies and Life Love and Dirty Dishes who manage to depict parenting in all its glory and with such wit. Some days this is exactly what I need! Some days are so knackering and testing that what you really need is a good belly laugh about the whole situation, and thankfully there are bloggers who will provide this.
I’d love to know what you think, whether you are a fellow blogger, someone who enjoys reading blogs, or someone who doesn’t like blogs at all*! Do let me know in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy
*prepares to be lynched by Mumsnet! 🙂
This says it all. I agree 100%.Thank you for writing this xxxx
Aw, thank you Kelly. Glad you liked it. x
Exactly right cath brilliant post I have never felt anything but support and love in the blogging world it is a fantastic community to be part of. Thank you for sharing 🙂
Absolutely! It’s a great community to be a part of.
I’m a mummy blogger and feel it’s a good way to get things out there that other parents may or may not understand but I don’t care Freebies? Not very often but we all take a wee freebie now and then.
❤️Mummy wants wine ❤️
So many parents get support from bloggers who take the time to write about what they are experiencing. I think it’s really important that we continue to do that.
It’s a case of so what? really isn’t it? If you don’t like mum blogs then don’t read them. We’re here doing this for a whole bunch of reasons – most brilliantly put above. I know I’d want more to my internet reading life than just the AIBU thread though 🙂
Haha! Yep! Exactly!
As a new blogger I have been overwealmed by the support and information bloggers supply. You really hit the nail on the head in this post. Fantastic!
Thank you so much, glad you could relate to it. The blogging community is so amazing x
I dont know how you get the time to write a blog tbh, you’ve got 3 little ones and still manage to do fun things, run a house and write and maintain a blog along with other things im probably not aware of, i take my hat off to you but (and please dont take this the wrong way) you make mummies like me who are struggling feel bad at times. Im a mummy to 1 daughter who is in full time school, i work 50 hrs a week, some times less, im self employed. Id love to do a blog of all the things i do while with my daughter and with work but i just never find the time. How on earth do you do it……
Oh gosh, I’m so sorry to hear that my blog has made you feel bad at times. You sound like you are doing a wonderful job running your own business, working so many hours, and raising your daughter. It’s definitely not easy. My blog is now my job though, so I have to write it, otherwise I won’t get paid! When I started out, it was an extension of my work as a freelance journalist, I had an idea of where I wanted to go with it, but it took a lot of hard graft to get there! I usually wouldn’t get to my computer until about 8/9pm at night after a day with three pre-school aged children! I was exhausted but I loved doing it so much, I was happy to do that, as it meant I could spend my days with my kids, do my work in the evenings and not to have spend all my income on childcare for three! I am struggling as much as everyone. I can ever keep up with the housework, my house is such a mess. I have days like everyone where I feel like I am failing miserably at motherhood and days where it is all just so hard. I’ve written about lots of this on my blog actually. If a blog is too much right now, why not start an Instagram account, just a photo and a few sentences as a form of micro-blogging?
This is so true. I’ve never understood why people knock things that they don’t have to get involved in. There are lots of things I find dull (tennis yawn) but I just don’t watch it. Same with blogs, if you find them dull move on.
Exactly! Each to their own. If you don’t like it, just move on.
I read this totally nodding along. I agree with you 100% . As someone who has recently been attacked by trolls I love your take on how you deal with them and despite their apparent hatred of me they still keep on reading! I love reading blogs but I steered well clear of this mumsnet thread so I can only imagine how bad it is from other threads I have read. If they don’t like them just don’t bother reading.
So sorry to hear you have been attacked by trolls. It’s not nice at all. I think that is one of the downsides of the internet, giving a voice to unpleasant people who take pleasure in hurting others.
You have put this perfectly. It could have been very easy to feel disheartened by those comments and ranting in a blog back at them but instead you have highlighted exactly what blogging is about. It is so much more than a ‘mummy blogging’. I write a blog and read lots of other blogs and have made some fantastic online friends because of this. They range from review blogs to PND ones, funny ones and those about disabilities. I love seeing inside others lives and I love that they can help us through tough times. If anyone thinks it is easy to write and review and hit deadlines and put yourself out there I invite them to try their hand at it also. Bloggers work hard and perhaps make it all look far too easy! I don’t look at threads like this one on mumsnet and it was only because it was shared in a bloggers group that I came across it but it is a huge shame that people feel the need to belittle others in such a way. Maybe some of them will read this and think twice before commenting next time?
I only came across the MN thread because it had been posted in a couple of blogging groups too… but once I’d seen it, I couldn’t help but read the whole thing! I know a lot of bloggers have been upset by it. Some of the comments are pretty harsh, but I take it all with a pinch of salt. We just have to take a deep breath and ignore it and remember all the positive things we do, all the people we help in different ways. And those o us who do blog know what a lovely community it is too.
The internet really is so incredibly huge that you have to assume anyone who posts saying “I don’t like this”, about anything which doesn’t attack or insult anyone, has temporarily lost the use of their fingers. I don’t read ‘perfect world’ blogs either, they aren’t my thing. Find a blog which is more like you. The ones with blended families, grandparents who look after the kids, single mums who have limited income or 40 year old couples who never get a babysitter. They’re all out there. Don’t waste your time reading things you don’t like, spend it more wisely 🙂
Exactly! Very wise words indeed! I take it all with a pinch of salt, but I know some bloggers have been really upset by this thread. But for every negative comment there are thousands of people who read blogs and love them get something positive out of it, whether that is support, ideas of things to do or buy, or an insight into someone else’s life. And those of us who do blog know what a wonderful community it is too.
great post. I didn’t bother reading the mumsnet thread but… agree…bloggers do so much good in the world and without this network I would be so isolated and very miserable as someone who is often housebound! Lovely to read your post. i think raising issues and speaking about the reality of life with honesty is very important.
Thanks for commenting Angela. Yes, there’s a real sense of community in blogging. It must be very difficult being housebound, but I’m so pleased that the blogging community provides you with support and virtual company. x
As usual, I’ve gone around with my head in the clouds (or somewhere!), and missed the whole carry on! I totaly agree with you though, blogging is hard work and those who do it, for whatever reason, have a lot to be proud of. I’m glad I discovered the blogging world, and those who bitch about it are probably just showing their jealousy, naivety, or just downright meanness. Haters gonna hate….
Exactly! The blogging community is so wonderful and I have made some lovely friends and connections through it. I was always taught if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing!
This is exactly what I needed to read today. That thread unnerved me somewhat and this has helped straighten me back out again. Thank you for highlighting the value we bring and bringing some pragmatic oversight to the debate.
I think it has upset a lot of bloggers. We have to keep remembering that for every negative comment on that thread there are thousands who read and enjoy blogs and bloggers are making a real difference to people’s lives.
I have come across a lot of threads like it. My reaction is who cares? So they don’t like it, that’s fine, but I absolutely cannot believe that spending hours on Mumsnet arguing and slagging off strangers is a better use of time than making people laugh, or cry, or relate, and the cathartic process of writing.
Great post lovely. I haven’t read the Mumsnet debate but I honestly couldn’t care!I blog for me – not to be smug, not to get freebies (I would seriously have given up by now if it was!) but simply because I want to.
As a parenting blogger I simply let these comments wash like water from a ducks back. We do it because we enjoy it, we work bloody hard and it makes others smile or laugh.
I missed all the furore on MN, but like you I usually laugh them off. Thankfully I’ve not had any trolls in 5 years!
It’s such a silly thing to debate. If you don’t like them, don’t read them. It doesn’t mean other people don’t like them. Wouldn’t the world be boring if we all only liked the same things?
I tend not to end up at Mumsnet so had missed this but yes to this post. But you did make me laugh because I do post my run on my Facebook. Guess it depends why you use a platform and my (personal) FB is my complete online diary – which (thanks to timehops) is more for me than anyone else these days.