What parents want (in a blog post)

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Well, I’ve been at this now for about four months (blogging, not parenting). Phew. My initial mission statement included a pledge to be true to myself and write about things that remind me of who I am – both inside and outside of parenthood. Consequently I have written recently on the subject of (my take on) religion, ‘spirituality’ and alternative living arrangements, but these have been triggered initially by my experiences as a mother. Now, I know I’m still a newbie, so my readership is relatively low, but I’m starting to wonder about blogging within a niche. Its nice, its great to be a part of this great big ‘exclusive’ club, but its also really difficult finding anything new to say which isn’t really, properly personal (and therefore of not much interest to a big group of strangers who have a massive pool of similar blogs to choose from). Or its just same old same old: tantrums, weeing accidents, food fights, the deconstruction of the English language (eg, JJ’s hilarious rendering of ‘radioater’ – the device you go to for a bit of news and music when its a bit chilly outside).

I’ve been reading a fair few blog posts myself and finding that most of what I’m looking at is parent-related simply because I pick and choose from within this pool I find myself floating in. I’m having trouble extracting myself from my identity as a mother – as I said before, even my non-child related posts tend to end up being child related – I can’t help myself!

What my reading is teaching me though, is what other people (mostly parents) respond to. Top of the Tots100 right now: Edspire – the blog of a mother who lost one of her babies to SIDS. I’m sure this is very well written and heartfelt and a lot of people like a tearjerker, personally I’m more of a comedy than a tragedy kind of person. The Frugal Family always seems to do very well up there too and its an inspired idea to find yourself a niche within a niche – like GeekMummy too for that matter. There’s also a lot of parenting blogs which are written by people who are very crafty (as in “into a nice bit of crochet”, not “keen to devise an evil plan for world domination”), an example of which being Tea is the Answer. This kind of blog can be beautiful, generally very well designed, with lush, wonderfully arty photographs of craft projects and soft-focus poppets. Gorgeous, but just a little bit too humbling for someone who can barely sew on a button.

I have to admit that I tend to fight against reading the most popular blogs, favouring the little guy, the newbie, other people like me who might be struggling for a bit of recognition – a connection which those big, loud, successful bloggers probably don’t have time to attend to (too busy rushing off to the MAD Awards, or thanking the 6000 people who entered their ever-popular linky, no doubt).

At this point I have to hold my hand up and admit to my one reader (hi mum!) that I am a world class sufferer of GIGS (Grass is Greener Syndrome) and therefore, its probably wise for me to avoid looking at other people’s beautifully manicured lawns (bit like an alcoholic avoiding the pub).

But no, that’s not fair because the blogs I really love reading are brilliant in their own right – The Secret Divorcee (bit like reading the next installment in an engrossing novel), Listen, Watch, Read, Share  (another blog I admire for not trying to crowbar itself into a niche – lots of interesting thoughts, ideas and media reviews),  and my latest favourite, Raising Edgar (brilliantly hilarious take on all those old subjects related to the early stages of parenthood that you thought you could never return to again [and anyone (or two in this case) who would riff on a Coen Brothers movie (hopefully intentionally!) is alright in my book]). Interestingly my new blogging friend Cleopatra has just re-named and re-defined her parenting blog Cleopatra Says to hop out of the niche with Trying to Live Naturally – now focussing on her quest to reduce the old carbon footprint whilst living what sounds like an idyllic lifestyle in rural Spain.

Anyway one day maybe I’ll get to read someone else’s post genuinely giving me and mine the thumbs up and that would be a good day.