Does blogging make you a bad parent?

Mummy bloggers

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?

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

25 Comments

  1. 20th July 2011 / 12:48 pm

    I love to blog, it helps me vent, get some advice, talk about my boys, encouragement and find like minded people. I work full time and I spend quality time with my children, who are very happy and healthy. I read them a bedtime story every evening and keep them in a routine. Once they are in bed I then blog. It’s all about balance. I think it’s wrong to imply the children may suffer because you are a blogger, it’s a hobby after all.

  2. 20th July 2011 / 1:00 pm

    I think the article is complete rot. How many people would accuse us of being bad parents if we sat and watched Eastenders one night. Blogging for me is my leisure activity. I actually think it has made me a better parent as I can contact with people who have the same views and beliefs as myself, giving me more support than I’ve ever had.

  3. 20th July 2011 / 1:01 pm

    I think you’ve got this pretty much spot-on, Sally. Blogging is a hobby like any other and as such it can be fitted around babies. If it gives people a chance to exercise their brain by writing and communicate with others online then it’s a good thing. Some people I suspect may just leave their toddler a little longer than necessary to finish off a blog post or a tweet but the same can be said for a parent finishing off a telephone call, cooking the tea and finishing a chapter of a book.
    By the way, you say you didn’t recognise Flea in a photo – I didn’t recognise my 15 year old son when he was sitting in the hairdressers the other day. I’d gone in to get a trim and to pay for us both and walked right past him!

  4. 20th July 2011 / 1:04 pm

    I don’t think blogging – as in actually writing blog posts – takes anything away from the time I spend with my children, because I simply don’t do it when they’re awake. I wouldn’t have the time (or inclination) to do any personal hobby when they’re around at this age.
    I think the pitfall can be more in the social side of it. Twitter, Facebook and parenting forums can be really absorbing. Unlike meeting friends or having a chat at the school gate, these discussions and interactions could draw a little bit of your attention all day.
    Aside from that, though, I think blogging is really healthy. It’s very good to have an interest and it’s good to share, because sometime the empathy of ‘I think/do/feel that too!’ can be more helpful than any advice.

  5. Domestic goddesque
    20th July 2011 / 2:06 pm

    Was there not a recent theory that benign neglect is crucial to your child’s development: it helps them learn to amuse themselves, resolve conflict, problem solve etc? Surely me blogging whilst they play is an example of being a better parent. Plus it is teaching them that everyone has interests, that I am not their persona plaything/slave and that I am a person independent of them…..blogging is better for me and for them. If I didn’t blog, I might have already killed them. #thatisall

  6. 20th July 2011 / 1:47 pm

    I totally agree with everything you say Sally , and the comments. However, there is no getting away from the fact that my 2yo sees the laptop as comptetition. I am to blame – one too many times I have put on a dvd and sat with it on my lap instead of doing puzzles or playing games with DD. When she found a toy laptop at a friend’s house the first thing she did was put it on her lap, turn to me with a stern voice and finger a-wag, saying: “DD busy on putor, no Mummy touch it!”
    Blogging adds so much to my life but I have to remember that DD should come first sometimes.

  7. susie@newdaynewlesson
    20th July 2011 / 2:25 pm

    Agree with all you said. The line I think comes when you choose the blogging and virtual life over real life stuff-when you can’t do something with your family because you HAVE to blog.

  8. 20th July 2011 / 3:25 pm

    Oooh!!! I blog when my kids sleep, mostly… so I am not taking from their time. AND we blog an outing a week, a craft a week, a recipe we tried each week together. So I do all those things with my kids that I never used to bother with, because I was reading a book… So gotta say blogging makes me a much better mother!!!

  9. 20th July 2011 / 3:38 pm

    I agree it’s about balance – I think many bloggers go through phases where that balance could be better, but is that any worse than being a golf or football addict?

  10. 20th July 2011 / 3:39 pm

    I would say if you’re ignoring your kids when they need you to blog, that’s not great – but most of us fit blogging in around kids, in the evening, say.

  11. 20th July 2011 / 3:39 pm

    I admit, I feel slightly differently about Twitter. When I see someone looking after a pre-schooler Tweeting every 20 seconds, it makes me feel a little sad. And of course, now I feel judgemental, but I think getting the balance right is important.

  12. 20th July 2011 / 3:40 pm

    I often work now when Flea is at home, but I don’t consider it neglecting her because when she has my attention, it’s my full attention. Laptop off, phone away, it’s just me and her.

  13. 20th July 2011 / 3:41 pm

    I adore the theory of benign neglect. It’s the only way to raise independent, healthy kids, in my book.

  14. 20th July 2011 / 3:41 pm

    Yes, it’s tempting sometimes when real life isn’t amazing to pour too much time and energy into a virtual life where you can be more selective about what you share, and you’re more likely to get uncritical support. But it’s a slippery slope, I agree.

  15. 20th July 2011 / 3:42 pm

    I agree – I love that I have captured so many of the adventures Flea and I have – first and foremost this blog is a record, a kind of digital scrapbook, that we’ll both be able to look back on in years to come.

  16. Nikkii
    20th July 2011 / 7:51 pm

    Oh FFS – the woman who wrote this load of bollocks has a… wait for it…..
    BLOG http://www.jojomoyes.com/blog/
    Where DOES she find the time. Two faced bint.

  17. 20th July 2011 / 8:12 pm

    I came back to see the other comments and it’s interesting that for most people blogging isn’t the issue as they do that when children are asleep but it’s the twitter/facebook pull that has to be curtailed. As I didn’t start blogging or tweeting until my son was in secondary school, I’m probably not best placed to have my say: it’s getting him off the laptop to interact with me that is more of a problem now!

  18. Pants With Names
    20th July 2011 / 9:26 pm

    The joy of blogging is that you can do it however often you like. So when times are busy you can blog less, when you have your head above the surface you can do it more. I’m struggling at the moment so you won’t see me much on the internet. But that is true of checking email, phoning friends, going to the movies or whatever.
    It is all about balance. Sometimes we get it wrong, but blogging isn’t the only culprit.
    Blogging, and the rest of the social media, provide an area to find people with similar ways of thinking which can provide massive support for mothers, particularly those finding themselves feeling very lonely.
    I do however, have moments of worry, about the ability to be able to access the internet at all times. Sometimes it is nice to not be available online. Much easier not to be tempted. I know, because I am weak, that I would not be able to resist being online constantly which is why I have the worlds most basic mobile phone.

  19. 20th July 2011 / 9:36 pm

    Well, her kids are older now, aren’t they?

  20. 20th July 2011 / 9:39 pm

    I something think, though, it takes a bit of time to have the confidence to walk away from blogging when you don’t have time – I suspect sometimes there’s a fear that, oh, I’ve built up this audience and if I’m not blogging twice a week and sharing on Facebook, then they’ll forget I exist – and maybe that’s where the lack of balance kicks in.
    And I agree Twitter in particular can be pernicious – those little kicks of feedback during the day are addictive like crack, I reckon – I am like you, I’m not sure I’d want to be in charge of a toddler AND a smartphone.

  21. 21st July 2011 / 12:18 am

    We all blog for different reasons but with one common interest that we all enjoy it . We’re doing something for ourselves. So if I didn’t blog I would in affect be neglecting myself but that would be ok? I know my children aren’t neglected, I know I can manage my time perfectly well without having to explain or excuse what I do with my time .

  22. 21st July 2011 / 1:15 pm

    I didn’t blog when Fran was little because the internet didn’t exist; blogs came into being around when I had dd3.
    I think over this last year or so, blogging may even have saved my life. The support through such a tough time has been phenomenal.
    Most of my friends in real life are people I met through the internet, my life is so much richer for them. And they are people with massively diverse parenting styles, so very different from how I was brought up and knowing them via internet, blogs and then real life has absolutely improved my parenting.
    However, the best thing is I quite often do something nice with the kids just so I *do* have something to blog about 😀

  23. playmobil
    23rd July 2011 / 1:44 am

    I think blogging does not make you a bad parent. Doing your passion is far from doing your obligation. It is very important to fulfill this two role.

  24. Nikkii
    24th July 2011 / 8:52 pm

    With my eldest having reached the dizzy heights of 16 I am still waiting patiently for that day when they don’t need you so much – methinks it’s a myth. In my experience it was way easier to find the time to for example, study an OU course, when they were tiny than it is now they are schoolchildren. There’s some time-warping going on that means the length of a school day as experienced by a child bears no relation to the length of a school day as experience by a parent. STROOO!
    (That and the buggers NEVER got to bed now – not whilst I’m still functionally awake anyway)

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