I have been a parenting blogger for almost as long as I have been a parent. But now it’s time to pivot, as they like to say in the business world.
When I first started writing Slouching towards Thatcham in October 2008, our eldest child, Isaac, was ten months old. He’ll turn 14 shortly before Christmas. In that time, he has developed and changed beyond all recognition. Since then, we’ve added Toby (now 11) and Kara (nine) to our family.
That was then
The blog was very different back in 2008 too, and has developed and changed beyond all recognition. As has blogging in general. Back then, it was a simpler, more innocent pastime. Bloggers wrote mostly because they wanted to write. The concepts of ‘monetisation’ and ‘influencer marketing’ had yet to emerge. And in a marvellously serendipitous coincidence, this blog shares a birthday (October 6th) with Instagram, which was born on the second anniversary of my first post here.
As my kids would say, I’m a dinosaur.
This blog started out as a place to capture my thoughts on parenting, TV, current affairs and indeed anything else I felt minded to write about. Early posts focussed on Jade Goody (of Big Brother fame), Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin (who now seems sane and normal compared to who has followed more recently) and ‘Sachs-gate’ (a relic of a bygone age when people actually resigned when they’d done something bad). But as time went on, I focussed increasingly on writing about my experiences with my children, and eventually this became a parenting-focussed blog.
It was good. The kids provided a rich vein of material to write about. I built a loyal audience. I almost won some awards. (Alas, I was always the proverbial bridesmaid. Sigh). I was part of a Guinness World Record-breaking effort. I even sang live on stage in front of 500 people. And I made new friends in a community of kindred spirits.
This is now
Times have changed, though. With the kids growing older, there are fewer funnies to write about. Their privacy is increasingly important, but creatively limiting. (Except when it comes to sharing embarrassing photos at their wedding receptions; anything’s fair game then.) Many of my new friends stopped blogging and moved on.
And, in truth, as ‘blogging’ has given way to ‘influencing’ and words have ceded priority to photos and videos, I’ve started to feel like the dinosaur the kids keep telling me I am.
I’m a simple guy. I write not because I want to earn money from it, but because I like to write. But what is a parenting blog if increasingly there is no parenting content to fill it with?
A new direction
I’ve been asking myself that question during a summer in which I took an unprecedented six-week hiatus from the blog to contemplate its future direction, if any.
And this is what I concluded: I still want to write, but it’s time to stop writing about parenting and start writing about me, a parent.
In truth, I was already edging in that direction even pre-Covid. Increasingly, my kids’ experiences are theirs and not mine to share. But I can still write about my experiences as a father. I wrote (more or less) weekly posts during lockdown from a combination of my and the family’s perspective. I occasionally muse about topical events through the lens of how it affects the kids. And, as I’ve passed 50 and accepted that there is now almost as much salt as pepper in my formerly jet-black hair, I’ve realised that the way I view life has changed significantly in recent years.
And so that’s where I am now; a rough template for a new direction. I’m not so much making an abrupt turn as the latest in a series of small course corrections. I’ll still write about family, but from my perspective rather than the kids’. Let’s see where that takes me. The same blog, but different; the blog of a parent, not a parenting blog.
Off we go.