Recently a new blogging friend of mine, Mammasaurus Blog, wrote about how blogging affects your relationships. Mammasaurus has only been blogging for a few months now but it is already starting to take over valuable time in her personal life. As I was reading Mamma’s post at 4:45 this morning whilst in the bathroom as I couldn’t get back to sleep (sign number one that you have a problem), I began writing this post in my head (sign number two that you have a problem).
I can totally relate to the issues Mammasaurus and many other newbie bloggers are facing at the moment. I remember, about 18 months ago, as I was trying to scramble my way up the blogging ladder, that I began to let blogging (and all that comes with it) take over. It began innocently enough with spending an hour here and there working on posts, blog design, Facebook, Twitter. Then I began to get sucked in. An hour here and there turned into 3-4 hours in the evening with the laptop on my lap and me on the couch next to Mark tappity-tap-tapping away. Someone, justifiably so, began to get a bit fed up. It wasn’t me…it wasn’t Ella…it was Mark. “Not now dear, I’m blogging” didn’t go down very well with him.
Mark doesn’t read my blog. Ever. Never. He says it’s “what you do”…it’s my “work” so he doesn’t feel the need to stick his nose into my work. Plus he isn’t very inclined to do anything other than his work (and only AT work) on his laptop. He doesn’t like the internet/email; doesn’t understand social media; wouldn’t know a tweet from a twat. In fact, he has probably grown to despise all things “virtual” because of my blogging and all that comes with it. He understands a bit better now, why it is so important to me, in part because I have been able to turn my “hobby” into paid freelance work. He does not, however, understand why I get so worked up about it all.
After I had been blogging for about 9 months, I had the opportunity to have some Life Coaching from the delightful Peggy Poyser. She was helping me to realise some of my freelance dreams but we also talked about how, perhaps, blogging was starting to take too dominant a role in my life and affect my relationship with my husband. Peggy helped me to see that I needed to STEP AWAY FROM THE LAPTOP and take time for my family. I listened. I learned. I stopped making the blog more important than it needed to be and got back to living the life that gave me my subject material.
I suppose, in part, because I am naturally a very competitive person, I wanted to give blogging my all to see where it could take me. But it also became unhealthy for my family and for me personally as I dipped into a rather dark hole just over a year ago. It was time to step back, smell the roses and reassess. I’d like to give all of you newbie bloggers a bit of advice to help you maintain harmony and sanity in your homes. If you find yourself regularly pushing your husband away and reaching for the laptop/smartphone/iPad/notebook, you may want to take these tips under advisement:
- If you can do your blogging during the day (in between naptime, housework, school runs, etc) then do it! Set aside one or two mornings a week to write a few posts, store them in draft form and/or schedule them for posting during the week. Your blog will not be neglected and you can get on with the rest of your day and be the mum, wife, woman you want to be!
- If Twitter is a lifeline for you, utlise your smartphone to keep in contact during the day but when you have time to sit down at the laptop, a platform like Tweetdeck and/or Hootsuite is very effective in keeping all of your “ducks” in a row and allowing you to monitor your social media presence. You can also schedule tweets through Tweetdeck which allows you to “tweet” while not tweeting, if you see what I mean. Keep in mind that the world will NOT, in fact, stop spinning if you miss a few hours of Twitter.
- If you need to do most of your blogging in the evening after the kids are in bed, talk to your partner about it. Work out an agreement that you’ll take 2 (maybe 3) nights during the week where you will be working on your laptop/computer for X amount of hours. He can watch motorsport/war documentaries/Match of the Day while you write posts, comment, read other blogs, Tweet and FB and distract yourself from the drone of whizzing engines on the telly. Perhaps agree that Saturday or Sunday mornings are going to be your “lie-in” mornings. You can prop yourself up in bed with the laptop and a cuppa while he takes charge of the kids and blog to your heart’s content. Then shut the laptop and walk away from it all. Enjoy family time and forget, for a few hours, that you ever started a blog.
- Try not to think of every moment/occurrance/photo as a blog post. This is tricky. Once you get in the “game”, you tend to look at everything as the perfect blogging opportunity. You might even find yourself itching to get back to the laptop to write it all down or download the 87 pictures you just took. Let life get on. If there’s a blog post in it, write it down in a wee notebook and come back to it later. If there really is something worth writing about, it will still be there when you get to the laptop. The photos in your camera/smartphone will still be there when you get home. You aren’t getting paid to fulfill a deadline…in fact, most of us aren’t getting paid at all so don’t live and die by your blog.
- Think about it for a minute: if you are offline for ONE week, what is the worst thing that will happen to your blog? Well, your traffic will dip a bit, your Klout score might go down a bit, you COULD lose a subscriber or two (because they’re daft obviously…who stops reading a blog if you’re gone for a week??). No one is going to hate you and no one is going to take your blog away from you. In fact, you may come back a healthier and happier blogger because you haven’t been a slave to it all! Be reasonable about the amount of time that you are spending on your blog. What’s more important, REALLY?? Get out there, live your life, be a wonderful mum and partner. The rest all falls into place as a result.
I am, by no means, perfect myself. And, in no way, shape or form, am I telling you how to blog! I’m just offering newbie bloggers a bit of advice from someone who’s “been there, done that and written a blog post about it.” I can still find myself getting wrapped up in the “blog race” too. But when I took one week away from the blog (mind you, I organised glorious guest posts in my absence so the blog wouldn’t be lonely) my traffic remained fairly good and consistent and nothing fell apart. Everything was where I left it when I got back. That helped me to see that perhaps I don’t always need to be so tied to my laptop/smartphone. Perhaps it’s better if I just take a few moments to STEP AWAY FROM THE LAPTOP and get on with life?