There were ruffled feathers all over the place this morning over this piece in the Telegraph from JoJo Moyes about how she wouldn’t have time to write a blog, and particularly not as the Mum of young children.
JoJo then goes on to question how helpful parent blogging is – isn’t it just another version of the school gates, where women judge one another and snipe about different parenting choices?
To an extent, I agree.
Blogging can be judgmental – because parents (and people in general) ARE judgmental. You might tell yourself that we don’t judge one another, but I think it’s one of life’s great universals. We judge each other online just as the women in Caffe Nero this morning were judging the fact that I’d gone out for coffee in cut-off jeans and a hoodie, without brushing my hair.
We all have opinions about who raises their kids best, who Tweets too much, who should disclose more about sponsored posts, who should swear less or stop gossiping about their marriage – we make these judgements every day. I might try very hard not to let those judgements influence how I treat someone, but I can’t deny that I make them.
But we’re also massively supportive of one another.
I’ve admitted to all sorts of weaknesses and flaws on my blog, and I can’t think of a single occasion when I didn’t get at least one person tell me they’ve done exactly the same thing, at one time or another. Except the not recognising Flea in a photo story. That one really does just happen to me, it seems. Comments on my blog have helped shape my attitude to all sorts of things I do as a parent, from feeding my daughter to how she's educated.
So, yes, blogging can be judgemental – but does it mean you’re neglecting your children if you have time to do it?
Personally when Flea was young, I wouldn’t have had time to blog. I was back at work when she was six weeks old (freelancing, from home, part-time) and when I wasn’t working we would be out visiting friends and doing slightly pointless baby classes that were just an excuse to go and meet other women with small babies.
But it’s about choices, surely?
I might not have had time to blog, but I had time to meet my best friends every single Thursday at a local park and café, where we would eat cake, drink endless cans of Diet Coke, and chat about anything and everything.
I had time to spend reading newspapers cover to cover, and watching box sets of Gilmore Girls while I was breastfeeding.
I had time to leave Flea with the nanny one or two evenings a week to go to the health club for a swim in the outdoor pool and a read of the newspaper.
In other words, I had time to spare and I chose to spend it doing those things. Today, thousands of women and men choose to spend that time writing blogs, reading blogs, or chatting across various social networks.
I happen to think blogging is a bloody brilliant hobby for parents – it means you’re constantly connected to people going through the same experiences as you, no matter where they might be in the world. You’re able to get fast reassurance about parenting and its foibles, and it can open all sorts of doors to new experiences and opportunities. Once you have a laptop and a broadband connection, it’s pretty inexpensive, and you can fit it in to a few spare minutes here and there.
Lots of bloggers go through a phase of struggling to balance their blog with their ‘real’ life – but that sort of thing happens with almost every hobby, from golf to video games. It sometimes takes time to get new things in their right balance. But I don’t see Mums being accused of neglecting their babies when they take time out to go to a yoga class, or go to the cinema – what makes blogging so different?
My sneaky suspicion is that these accusations of ‘neglectful Mums’ that pop up from time to time stem from some people’s natural scepticism about technology and the Internet, combined with a fear of anything that gives women (particularly) a platform to be heard.
What do you think? Is blogging taking away from your ability to be a good parent – or adding to it?