Friday, 7 November 2014

Mumsnet Blogfest

Tomorrow I'm off to Mumsnet Blogfest at Kings Place in London. I am going at the behest of a friend who is going along too and who it'll be great to see, especially without our various children distracting us from our catch-up gossip.

My friend writes the world's best knitting blog. (Admittedly, it may be the only knitting blog I read.) She has over a thousand followers, wins awards, and writes not only brilliantly and colourfully, but continuously. In other words, she does it properly. As she went to Blogfest last year and shortly thereafter went pretty viral, I am hoping I this will be the start of an improvement in my own online fate too. Though I am slightly concerned that I am so behind the times that everything people are talking about will go flying over my head. I have probably missed the blogging boat by so far that it has long since sailed over the horizon and accidentally discovered the West Indies.

A lot of the Blogfest break-out sessions contain the word "advanced" in their title, when I very much consider myself in the camp "naive novice". I am unlikely to be able to contribute much to any round-table discussions  other than the line "I am here to learn". I have only about 20 readers, who are all my friends on Facebook. I use only a standard template, have no followers, no idea what a gadget is, no Twitter or Google + account, have never made a penny from my writing, and haven't yet switched to Wordpress. I also bet I am the only one at Blogfest who won't be making use of the free wifi throughout the building, and who will take notes using a pen and paper. I am also slightly concerned, with Mumsnet's ferocious reputation, that if I tell people what I write about, I might get lynched for having dared to use the words "children" and "television" in the same sentence in a not necessarily negative connotation. Be gentle with me, guys, please. Please. Come on. I love your cookbook! (Top Bananas. It is.)

I have little time for parenting blogs that like to tell the world how well they are doing. These aren't specific quotes, but you get the drift: "Look at all these amazing craft activities my little genius has been up to today!" "Here is an account of our family trip to Cambodia and Laos, with four children under the age of three but a lot of money from my husband's banking salary to spend!" "Here is why my child eats/sleeps/behaves like an angel and yours doesn't!". These just serve to make me feel, well, shit. Because I do my best. But unfortunately, my daughter's idea of a craft activity is to smear paint all over her hands, wipe them on the nearest surface, then spend an hour sitting in a big bowl of bubbles. And she's four. She loves baking, but prefers to limit her participation to stirring with enough centrifugal force to catapult the ingredients all over the kitchen and then licking out what is left from the bowl. We have little money, and take foreign holidays in caravans that cost less than 500 pounds for the whole week, including all travel. (Yet I write a travel blog! Care for an advertising slot, Eurocamp?) My daughter only eats food that you find on restaurant children's menus (pasta, sausages, fish fingers, baked beans). She doesn't do "bits", like seeds in bread. She laughs in the face of carrots and lentils, unless I have pureed them up into soup. (But that's because she will only eat soups that are orange.) I want to read blogs by mothers whose experience is similar to mine and who keep it real. And who don't tell me how to live my life. Because truth be told, as long as our children are fed, clothed and loved we are well on the way to doing just fine, and don't want to be made to think otherwise. I see blogging as a means of recounting stories or sharing ideas rather than dictating advice or showing off.

Anyway, I think it's almost impossible to write a parenting blog every day and still find time to be a parent. I only write while my daughter is at pre-school, and occasionally in the evenings after she has gone to bed, but usually by then I am too tired to think straight. Generally, if the four-year-old is awake and in the house she believes my existence to be purely here to serve.  I get bossed around from dawn to dust, as if she is the Disney princess she loves to dress as, and I am her minion. I barely have time to compose a "please buy some milk on the way home" text to my husband, let alone write anything worth reading for the world at large. Hats off to anyone who can achieve more without a nanny, full-time nursery or school place or willing grandparents nearby to take the kids away. I would love to have more time to write - it's currently my only creative output, apart from cleaning up those smears of paint if paper didn't happen to be the nearest surface that day.

I am really looking forward to Blogfest. Although I think I am most excited about the catering. As the event is being run by mums, and mums who know what a top day out involves, delegates are being offered pastries on arrival, a hot buffet lunch with a canalside view in the middle of the day, afternoon tea later on, and finally a gin cocktail or two, and a bag full of goodies involving chocolate and Boden. Because what does any mum crave other than cake and booze and clothes without stains? Maybe five minutes to herself on the toilet. But I bet I'll get that too. Hooray!

And if I learn a thing or two about blogging as well, so much the better.

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