With a new year almost upon us, I’m looking back at what I’ve been writing about on the blog in 2015.
This is my 253rd post of the year, during which time I’ve written about everything from family days out to the Paris terror attacks. So here is a brief selection of some of my most popular and favourite posts from the past 12 months.
The boys are alike in many ways and yet so different in others. Both of them continue to excel in school and share common interests such as Top Gear, the London Underground and Minecraft.
And yet, while Isaac and Kara share similarly outgoing and chatty personalities, Toby has (until recently) been a quiet, introverted and largely undemanding boy – a lot like me, in fact. So on those rare occasions when he does make a specific request, I’m all too happy to oblige. And when he makes the effort to verbalise his satisfaction, it means that much more.
The fact that our two boys are like yin and yang is, I think, a good thing. They approach the world from different angles – Isaac is logical and process-driven, Toby more free-thinking – and they get so much more out of a situation by combining those perspectives.
Next year Kara will join the boys at primary school, which means we’ll have the joy of three sets of parents’ evenings. At least we’re well practised in this ritual now. I shared the fruits of my experiences in 10 things teachers say – and what they actually mean and it seemed to resonate with a lot of fellow parents.
A dad in a mum’s world
Although I’ve been writing about family life for seven years, it’s only been in the last 18 months that I’ve become active in the parent blogging community. 2015 saw me attend my first blogging conference – June’s BritMums Live – followed in quick succession by BlogOn in Winchester and Mumsnet’s Blogfest.
I enjoyed all of these but it’s noticeable how few dads there are at parent blogging events (11 out of 700-plus at BritMums Live) and I do wonder if these conferences should be doing more to encourage more dads to attend. Dads will always be in the minority – less than 10% of the parent blogging population in the UK is male – but barely 1% represents a pretty poor showing.
As a full-time working dad, I help out with the kids but rarely have to cope single-handed. That changed in March when Heather was away with work in South Africa for six days, leaving me to deal with the morning routine, pick-ups and everything else required to keep three kids fed, clean and in the right place at the right time. I dubbed it ‘Single Dad Week’ and, while I coped okay, in truth the real stars of the week were the kids themselves.
As a blogger, social media is close to my heart. I was an early adopter of both Twitter and Facebook, so I’ve observed how social media has evolved as the balance between engagement and promotion has shifted dramatically – and at times excessively – towards the latter.
On the serious side, I’ve posed the question ‘When did social media stop being social?’ and talked about both the positive and the ugly side of social media in people’s reaction to a campaign to support the plight of Syrian refugees.
And on a lighter note, I’ve poked fun at my own and other bloggers’ reliance – some might say ‘addiction’ – to social media. Here are a few examples:
- 10 types of people you meet on social media
- 10 more types of people you meet on social media
- 25 signs you’re addicted to Twitter
- 20 signs you’re taking blogging too seriously
Beyond the blog
In the second half of the year, I embarked on two major new projects spinning off from the blog.
The first is a book about parenting from a dad’s perspective. In truth, I’ve been struggling with this. I have no shortage of ideas but have suffered from a lack of time to really focus on translating thoughts into the hard currency of words. I’ll get there one day.
The second project has occupied more of my limited bandwidth than I’d ever anticipated but I’ve loved launching my parenting podcast. Every week a guest blogger and I read out one of our favourite posts, offering an opportunity to hear the words in the author’s own voice. I’m up to 20 episodes already and I’m planning to extend and expand it early in 2016.
I’ll be selling branded T-shirts and mugs next.
And finally …
Finally, here are a few other personal favourites from the past year.
- 10 reasons why I’m not reading your blog post. A personal view on the things that stop me from either clicking or reading to the end of a blog post.
- Do you know your own value? What does it really mean to know who you are as an individual, as a parent or as a blogger? And are we doing the things that make us happy?
- 8 great photos from 8 days in the Alps. A photo-journal of our summer holiday in the French Alps.
- An open letter to brands and PRs (aka Adventures with Cake). A wry look at all those times PRs make a mess of engaging with bloggers – and what can happen when a brand gets it right.
- 10 steps to being a better dad. My thoughts on what makes a good father.
- How should we explain terrorist acts to our children? A reaction to the recent Paris terror attacks in which I consider the best approach to explain these events to my own children.
And that, in my usual slightly roundabout way, is what I’ve been up to on the blog in 2015. I wonder what 2016 will have in store?